Prospective Catholic Military Chaplain Ordained Transitional Deacon

Rev. Mr. Paul Shovelain lastest product in bumper harvest of new vocations

Archbishop John Nienstedt ordains Paul Shovelain a transitional deacon at the Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis on May 4, 2013.

Archbishop John Nienstedt ordains Paul Shovelain a transitional deacon at the Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis on May 4, 2013.

MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA—Rev. Mr. Paul Shovelain was ordained a transitional deacon Saturday in a solemn Mass at the Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis. A seminarian at the St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity, Rev. Mr. Shovelain is on track to become a Catholic priest and U.S. Army chaplain with endorsement and faculties from the Archdiocese for the Military Services (AMS). Rev. Mr. Shovelain hopes to be ordained a priest next year.

His Excellency, the Most Reverend John C. Nienstedt, Archbishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis, ordained Rev. Mr. Shovelain along with six other new deacons at the 10:00 a.m. Mass. Concelebrants included Father Kerry Abbott, OFM Conv., AMS Director of Vocations. Rev. Mr. Shovelain’s parents, James and Marie Shovelain, were among those in the congregation.

Rev. Mr. Shovelain is the latest product in abumper harvest of prospective new military chaplains this year. A total of seven (7) diaconal and two (2) priestly ordinations are scheduled. 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, 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.