WASHINGTON, D.C. – The United States Military continues to need more Catholic priests to serve as active-duty military chaplains. The Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA (AMS), is pressing forward with efforts to fill the need. This autumn, the AMS will hold its third, all-expenses-paid discernmentretreat for priests who are already incardinated in a U.S. diocese or religious order and currently engaged in pastoral service, but who may sense a further call to military chaplaincy. The retreat, called “For God and Country: a Call to Serve Those Who Serve,” will be held Oct. 17-21, 2016, in Washington, D.C.
Priests interested in attending “For God and Country: a Call to Serve Those Who Serve” may apply here. For those selected, the AMS will pay all expenses, including travel and lodging. To qualify for consideration:
- Priests must have a minimum of two years of ministry in a parish;
- The applicant must be a citizen or have a Green Card; priests with only a Visa will not be considered;
- Preference will be given to those priests who can enter active duty before their 42nd birthday.
During the four-day gathering, AMS clergy, staff, and chaplains will join His Excellency, the Most Reverend Timothy P. Broglio, J.C.D., Archbishop for the Military Services, in giving the priests a realistic picture of what it is like to be a military chaplain and how to become one. The priests will stay at the Washington Retreat House on Harewood Road in Northeast Washington, and from there, go on field trips to Andrews Air Force Base, Fort Belvoir, Marine Corps Base Quantico, and the Pentagon. In these real-life settings, they will meet and talk with military officers, enlisted personnel, and other chaplains. The highlight of the gathering will come in the Pentagon Memorial Chapel at the 9/11 crash site, where the priests will concelebrate Mass.
The first “For God and Country” retreat, held in October of 2015, was “very successful,” according to Archbishop Broglio. “I thank those Bishops who released five of the ten participants for ministry in the military,” he said in remarks to the fall General Assembly of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in Baltimore, Md. The second retreat, held in April, was also fruitful, with four of the ten participants released by their bishops for military service.
Archbishop Broglio told his brother bishops the need for more Catholic military chaplains has become “desperate.” “Approximately, one fourth of the active-duty personnel and their immediate families are Catholics,” he said. “At present those Catholics– totally around a million people– are served by only 217 priests in a territory that covers the globe. They represent only 8% of all military chaplains. That suggests that others might easily cultivate Catholic young people seeking spiritual counsel.” Archbishop Broglio urged his brother bishops to release more priests to serve on active duty, saying it is “imperative that every diocese have at least one priest to ensure that your faithful who defend our religious freedom do not have to sacrifice theirs.”