KANEOHE BAY, HAWAII—Today, His Excellency, the Most Reverend Timothy P. Broglio, J.C.D., Archbishop for the Military Services, told a gathering at Marine Corps Base Hawaii (MCBH) the naming of the base chapel for his late Auxiliary Bishop Joseph W. Estabrook, D.D. calls to mind “a fundamental value in our American tradition, the freedom of religion.” Archbishop Broglio said Bishop Estabrook “lived and served in fidelity to that oath he swore to respect the U.S. Constitution. In the command chaplain positions he occupied, he did all that he could to meet the needs of each person. How important is that freedom of religion that the chaplaincy exists to support! It is fundamental to who we are as a people.”
Bishop Estabrook served the Archdiocese for the Military Services (AMS) as an Episcopal Vicar first for the Western half of the United States and then for the Eastern half from July 3, 2004 until his death at the age of 67 on February 4, 2012. Before his ordination as an AMS auxiliary bishop, he served for 28 years as a United States Navy Chaplain, including four years at MCBH from 2000 to 2004, during which time he organized local support and federal funding for construction of the $9.5 million base chapel named in his honor at today’s ceremony.
Archbishop Broglio spoke to an outdoor gathering of approximately 150 after helping unveil a new bronze plaque to Bishop Estabrook alongside Col. Brian Annichiarico, Commanding Officer, Marine Corps Base Hawaii; Maj. Gen. Peter Talleri, Commanding General, Marine Corps Installations, Pacific; and Mr. Timothy Estabrook and Ms. Mary Ann Tortolano, brother and sister of the late bishop.
Originally dedicated on June 3, 2005, the eight-year-old, one-story chapel with five elaborately stained glass windows and a freestanding bell tower contains 22,577 square feet of floor space, including a 543-seat main worship area, 45-seat Catholic Blessed Sacrament Chapel, sacristy, cry room, reception/administration area and kitchen, five chaplain offices and seven multipurpose rooms complete with a conference room and library.
Here follows the complete text of Archbishop Broglio’s remarks:
The power of the ocean is very evident on an island. I t moves things around and changes appearances. Yet, it is beautiful.
Just a few days short of one year after the end of the earthly pilgrimage of the Most Reverend Joseph W. Estabrook, we find ourselves in a place that he loved and where he served. Water is very plentiful here and it conjures up thoughts of the sea services. This chapel was built under his guidance. I would be remiss if I did not thank the Commandant of the Marine Corps and the Commanding Officer of this installation for the decision to name this chapel after Bishop Estabrook. He was a good priest, a faithful chaplain, and a tireless collaborator of the Archdiocese for the Military Services in his ministry as an Auxiliary Bishop.
There is no question that he loved this place and that he enjoyed his service as a chaplain in the Navy as he ministered to the Sea Services. Priesthood is ministry and, while there may have been some initial reluctance to the idea of enlisting in the Navy, I know how enthusiastically he threw himself into that aspect of his priestly ministry.
While he was distressed that more was not being done to ensure an adequate number of priests to guarantee that Catholics in the Sea Services had access to all of their first-amendment rights, he was always ready to tell a story or two from his days in the Navy. Most of those gathered here know the stories better than I.
We are here to dedicate a chapel on a military installation, which reminds us of a fundamental value in our American tradition, the freedom of religion. We dedicate it to Bishop Joseph Estabrook, because he teaches us something about those values.
Dedication means setting apart. This space is set apart, because we, as a people, recognize the value of religious convictions. You do not have to be a scholar of US history to understand that the founding Fathers of our Nation respected religious principles. The references to God and to inalienable rights point to deeply held convictions and the value of respecting the human conscience. I never tire of reminding people that the US is the only Nation on the planet founded on principles. We are not a nation, because of a common culture, language, even location (after all for the people on the East Coast, we are still only someplace west of Worchester!). We are a Nation, according to the Declaration of Independence, founded on inalienable principles: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
In this chapel men, women, and children of different religious convictions will worship. They will pray to the one God whom they identify with different Names. They will all pray for the welfare of their loved ones, for the safety of those in harm’s way, and for the return of the deployed. They will be united in their belief in God and protected by the Commander’s obligation to ensure the religious accommodation of all.
Therefore, it is fitting that we dedicate this space to Bishop Estabrook. He was a Catholic, but he lived and served in fidelity to that oath he swore to respect the US Constitution. In the command chaplain positions he occupied, he did all that he could to meet the needs of each person.
How important is that freedom of religion that the chaplaincy exists to support! It is fundamental to who we are as a people. How many peoples fled situations of intolerance in search of a land where they could worship God as they believed right? The Puritans might have been the first, but they were quickly followed by Catholics from Ireland, Jewish people from Europe, and most recently Christians from the Near East.
Our Founding Fathers were brilliant, because they wrote not about the freedom of worship, what you do on Sunday or Saturday, or Friday, or whatever day you deem holy, but about the ability to profess faith. That applies to what we do in worship, in catechesis, in way of life, and in what we transmit about our faith. The survival of the Nation depends on that freedom.
In his Letter from the Birmingham Jail, Martin Luther King talked about the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution as the “great wells of democracy” that express “the most sacred values in our Judeao-Christian heritage.” You cannot deny those foundational elements of this Nation.
There are many things I recall with fondness about my late Auxiliary Bishop. So much of our communication was by e-mail. On one occasion he forwarded a message with a question to which he did not have the authority to respond. The well-meaning interlocutor addressed it to him as the Auxiliary Archbishop.
In responding to him, I noted that obviously there was no such thing. He shot back. “Of course not, just drop the “Auxiliary” part.
In conclusion therefore, I am grateful for one more opportunity to reverence the life and ministry of Bishop Estabrook. He welcomed me when I arrived from the Dominican Republic on 18 November 2007. There is no doubt that he was skeptical about this career diplomat of the Holy See who had just been appointed Shepherd of a far-flung archdiocese.
Joe and I did not always agree. He was impetuous, eager to share what he was reading at the moment, and never without an opinion. His enthusiasm was contagious. His commitment to authentic pastoral ministry could not be equaled. His desire to communicate was incredible. He was a model of what the Holy Father wants to capture in this Year of Faith.
People continue to tell how he touched their lives. Many chaplains recount how he mentored them at the beginning of their service. Even in death he taught us how to die and not to fear that ultimate putting off into the deep.
It is true that water changes, recreates, and renews. It is also true that men and women, family, and friends never forget one who has touched their lives. Those impressions cannot be washed away. Today we remember and, whenever the faithful gather in this holy place, they will also remember and give thanks.
The AMS was created as an independent archdiocese by Pope John Paul II in 1985 as the only Catholic jurisdiction responsible for endorsing and granting faculties for priests to serve as chaplains in the U.S. military and VA Medical Centers.
AMS-endorsed priests serve at more than 220 U.S. military installations in 29 countries, making the AMS the nation’s only global archdiocese. AMS-endorsed chaplains also serve at 153 VA Medical Centers throughout the U.S.
The AMS service population also includes American Catholic civilians working for the federal government in 134 countries, but currently, due to limited resources, the AMS cannot adequately serve this population.
Worldwide, an estimated 1.8 million Catholics depend on the AMS to meet their spiritual and sacramental needs.
For more information on the Archdiocese for the Military Services, visit www.milarch.org, the only official Web site for Catholics in the military and for the Cause of Father Vincent Capodanno, M.M