Prospective Catholic Military Chaplains to Discern Vocations as Church Winds Up National Vocation Awareness Week

Nov. 12 benefit at Saint John Paul II Shrine offers faithful opportunity to support Catholic vocations in the U.S. Military

WASHINGTON, D.C. – As the Catholic Church in the United States winds up its observance of National Vocation Awareness Week Nov. 1-7, the Vocations Office of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA (AMS), is making final preparations to host its annual Fall Discernment Retreat—a retreat for young men considering a vocation to the priesthood, and the “vocation within a vocation” to serve as a Catholic military chaplain. Thirty (30) men, mostly in their 20s and ranging in age from 18 to 55, are scheduled to make the retreat Nov. 19-22 at St. Joseph’s Seminary in Yonkers, N.Y. They include eight (8) civilians as well as servicemen from all three branches of the U.S. armed forces: nine (9) from the Army; seven (7) from the Navy; and six (6) from the Air Force.

The prospective chaplains will spend the weekend in prayer, celebrating holy hours, receiving the sacrament of reconciliation, and talking about what it means to discern a vocation. His Excellency, the Most Reverend Timothy P. Broglio, J.C.D., Archbishop for the Military Services, will participate, leading the group in prayer and discussion sessions as well as celebrating Mass. AMS Vocations Director Father Aidan Logan, O.C.S.O., himself a retired Navy chaplain, will share his experiences, along with other priests and active-duty chaplains and recruiters.

Archbishop Broglio said:

“The generosity of our donors makes these weekends possible. They offer a time of silence, prayer, and information to young men trying to hear the voice of God who invites them to use their talents to build up the Body of Christ. Not all the discerners are called to ordained ministry or the chaplaincy, but all are called to make a vital contribution to the community of faith as witnesses of hope and light for others. It is a privilege for the AMS to provide this opportunity.”

The strong show of interest, particularly among the ranks of the U.S. Military, is an encouraging sign for the AMS, which is working diligently to relieve a chronic shortage of Catholic chaplains. At the same time, the military itself has proven to be one of the nation’s richest sources of Catholic priestly vocations. Over the past seven years, the AMS has seen a substantial increase in the number of men, many of them veterans and reservists, entering seminary to become priests and chaplains. More than two dozen are now enrolled in the Co-Sponsored Seminarian Program, an ongoing vocations support partnership between the AMS and local dioceses and religious communities around the country.

For the AMS, that has turned out to be a mixed blessing. The archdiocese is now confronted with a fast-rising seminary bill. Seven years ago, when only seven young men were enrolled, according to AMS Chief Financial Officer William Biggs, the expense was running less than $90,000 per year. It is now roughly a half million dollars per year, and accounting for expected tuition increases, the projected cost for the next five years is more than $2.6 million. That’s in addition to the AMS’s annual operating budget of nearly $7 million.

The AMS receives no funding from the government, and since Catholic congregations in U.S. military chapels are restricted in the use of their Sunday collections, they provide the archdiocese with little income on a regular basis. The AMS survives almost entirely on private giving, which funds all expenses including support for vocations and the education of future priests and chaplains.

On Thursday, Nov. 12, the faithful will have an opportunity to contribute in a meaningful way by joining Archbishop Broglio and his four Auxiliary Bishops at the AMS 7th Annual Benefit. It will be held at the Saint John Paul II National Shrine, 3900 Harewood Road, Northeast, in Washington, D.C. 20017. The reception starts at 7:00 p.m. (EST). Advanced ticket purchase is required – please contact Mary Lavin, Director of Major Gifts/Development at mlavin@milarch.org or (440) 223-6482, or else go here, for tickets or sponsorships:

Tickets

$250 per individual (*$200 for active duty)

$500 per couple

-OR-

Sponsorships

$1,000 (Trustee)

$2,500 (Patriot)

$5,000 (Vocations Sponsor)

$10,000 (Leadership Sponsor)

$25,000 (National Sponsor)

$35,000 (Corporate Sponsor)

$50,000 (Pastoral Sponsor)

Donations can also be made here.

Proceeds will go to support Catholic military chaplain vocations and other pastoral services to Catholics in uniform.