Evangelization and Religious Education Initiatives Undeterred by Sequestration Cuts

AMS uses first-of-kind video teleconference to build Catholic Faith among overseas military communities

FORT MEADE, MARYLAND—Catholic evangelization and religious education leaders are not letting federal budget cuts under sequestration stand in the way of faith support initiatives for U.S. military families. When Congress allowed the sequester to take effect earlier this year,the United States Army Installation Management Command (IMCOM)-Europe Chaplaincy Academy for Religious Education (CARE) had to rescind its invitation to Dr. Mark Moitoza, Vice-Chancellor of Evangelization for the Archdiocese for the Military Services (AMS), to come lecture in Germany. So religious education directors in the Army settled on the next best thing: a video teleconference.

This week, in a first-of-its-kind pilot project to use media and video teleconferencing to support religious training, Dr. Moitoza delivered his talk live and direct from the Garrison Headquarters at Fort Meade, Maryland for more than six dozen military family members, chaplains, chaplain assistants, religious education coordinators and chapel volunteers at more than 20 Army and Navy installations, mostly in Europe, including the military communities at Heidelberg, Baumholder, Wiesbaden, and Kaiserslautern. The presentation was delivered Tuesday as part of a series of “BRAT” lectures, named after a conference set up to support the needs of military “brats” or children growing up in military-connected families.

During his 90-minute talk, Dr. Moitoza shared insights from his book, Unpacking Faith: Reflections for Catholic Military Connected Adolescents and Their Parents. Mr. Jose Amaya, AMS Director of Faith Formation, also spoke for 90 minutes, outlining the new AMS religious curriculum for grades Pre-K though 8,Forming Disciples for the New EvangelizationArchdiocesan Religion Curriculum Guide,promulgated in January by His Excellency, the Most Reverend Timothy P. Broglio, J.C.D., Archbishop for the Military Services, and scheduled for implementation on August 6, the Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord. During the interactive teleconference, Mr. Amaya also fielded questions from participants about applying the curriculum in military Catholic faith communities with smaller populations.

At the heart of Dr. Moitoza’s talk hung a central question: how do children and teenagers of roving military families develop a rock solid foundation in their Catholic Faith amidst the rootlessness and restlessness that come along with frequent moves and transitions? Due to sequestration, both Dr. Moitoza and Mr. Amaya agreed to present without an honorarium. This allowed CARE to open the three-hour training to all garrisons of IMCOM-Europe as well as additional sites.

Dr. Moitoza considers the teleconference a resounding success. He said:

“Interacting live with U.S. military communities in Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and the United States was a terrific experience of sharing and learning. These ministry leaders and volunteers are dedicated to serving military families. They are seeking resources and helping us to better understand the ever changing pastoral needs. While we constantly pray for one another and provide support from a distance it was a gift to gather via this new method to share faith together. I am grateful to Dr. Rebecca Powell who was the main organizer. Her mobilization of technical support and local participation was stellar.”

With sequestration ongoing, the military is planning more video teleconferences as a cost-efficient way to support religious education for the families of men and women in uniform.

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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.