Bumper Harvest of Prospective Catholic Military Chaplains Continues with Weekend Diaconal Ordinations

Two more transitional deacons ordained on path to priestly ordination and military service

Rev. Mr. Christopher Christensen
Rev. Mr. Steven Walker

ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA—Christopher Christensen and Steven Walker were ordained transitional deacons Saturday in a solemn Mass at the Cathedral of Saint Thomas More in Arlington, Virginia. Rev. Mr. Christensen is a seminarian at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania. Rev. Mr. Walker is a seminarian at Theological College—the National Seminary of The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. Both are on track to become Catholic priests and U.S. Navy chaplains with endorsement and faculties from the Archdiocese for the Military Services (AMS). They hope to be ordained priests next year.

His Excellency, the Most Reverend Paul S. Loverde, Bishop of Arlington, ordained Rev. Mr. Christensen and Rev. Mr. Walker along with six other new deacons at the 11:00 a.m. Mass. Concelebrants included Father Kerry Abbott, OFM Conv., AMS Director of Vocations.

Rev. Mr. Christensen and Rev. Mr. Walker are the latest products in a 2013 bumper harvest of prospective new military chaplains. On March 23, Rev. Mr. William Appel was ordained a transitional deacon in Covington, Kentucky, and on May 4, Rev. Mr. Paul Shovelain was ordained a transitional deacon in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

The bumper harvest is the fruit of ongoing efforts by the AMS Vocations Office to overcome a Catholic military chaplain shortage as aging chaplains reach the military’s mandatory retirement age of 62 faster than they can be replaced. Since 9/11, the active-duty roster has shrunk from more than 400 to fewer than 260. Currently, 25% of the military is Catholic, but Catholic priests make up only 8% of the chaplain corps.

To fill this shortage, the AMS, in cooperation with local bishops and religious communities, is using the “Co-Sponsored Seminarian Program” to support young men called to pursue priestly vocations, both in their home dioceses and in the military. Over the past four years, the number of seminarians, deacons and priests enrolled in the program has risen from seven (7) in 2008 to 40 this year. As many as five (5) more are expected to enter in the fall, and the AMS is processing applications of nine (9) others.

Young men interested in discerning a priestly vocation and the vocation within a vocation to serve those who serve in the U.S. military can find more information at . www.milarch.org/vocations, or may contact Father Kerry Abbott, OFM Conv., AMS Vocations Director, by email at vocations@milarch.org.

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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