Daily Mass a Way of Life Aboard Carrier John C. Stennis on Deployment to Gulf

AMS-endorsed Navy chaplain on board to serve the spiritual needs of Catholic Sailors

Pacific Ocean, Sept. 17, 2012: Chaplain Lt. Jose Bautista-Rojas celebrates Mass in the chapel aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74). ). U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kenneth Abbate/Released.

Pacific Ocean, Sept. 17, 2012: Chaplain Lt. Jose Bautista-Rojas celebrates Mass in the chapel aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74). ). U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kenneth Abbate/Released.

PACIFIC OCEAN—Catholic Sailors aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74), currently serving an earlier and longer-than-expected deployment to the Persian Gulf region amid growing tensions over Iran’s nuclear program, have daily access to Mass, sacraments and counseling, thanks to the on-board presence of a priest. Chaplain Lieutenant Jose Bautista-Rojas is among 260 Catholic priests now on active duty in the United States military with faculties and endorsement from the Archdiocese for the Military Services (AMS), based in Washington, D.C. Thanks to these priests, Catholics in uniform can practice their Faith wherever they serve, even on the frontlines of combat and hot spots around the world, such as the Persian Gulf.

One of three chaplains assigned to the USS John C. Stennis, home ported at Naval Base Kitsap in Bremerton, Washington, Father Bautista-Rojas is responsible for Catholic ministry to Sailors throughout the John C. Stennis strike group (JCSSG), which comprises the flagship carrier, the embarked Air Wing, and USS Mobile Bay (CG53).

The Pentagon dispatched the JCSSG to the western Pacific and Gulf region last month, four months ahead of schedule for an eight-month deployment–twice as long as originally planned. During the deployment, Father Bautista-Rojas will hopscotch between ships via helicopter, celebrating Mass and ministering to thousands of Sailors.

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.