Prospective Catholic U.S. Army Chaplain Ordained a Priest

Father Alec Scott ordained in Washington, D.C.

 Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio with newly ordained Father Alec Scott on Saturday, June 20, 2015, in Washington, D.C.

Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio with newly ordained Father Alec Scott on Saturday, June 20, 2015, in Washington, D.C.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA (AMS), is celebrating the priestly ordination of a prospective new Catholic U.S. Army chaplain. Father Alec Scott, 28, was ordained a priest Saturday, June 20, in his home Archdiocese of Washington, D.C. The Army chaplain candidate, now serving in the Army Reserve, hopes eventually to go on active duty with endorsement and faculties from the AMS.

Father Scott was ordained along with eight other men at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception by His Eminence, Donald Cardinal Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington. His Excellency, the Most Reverend Timothy P. Broglio, J.C.D., Archbishop for the Military Services, participated in the ordination Mass. The AMS Vocations Director, Father Aidan Logan, O.C.S.O., concelebrated.

Father Scott said:

“It is difficult to express how grateful I am to Christ for allowing me to serve his Church as a priest. After so many years of preparation, it is hard to imagine that the day has finally arrived; but I truly desire to be a priest more than I think I ever have in my life because my seminary formation has shown me, time and time again, how remarkable this vocation really is. Even as I know the challenges that may await me and perhaps because of those challenges the prospect of serving the Church as a priest fills me with tremendous joy. I hope to be a fruitful minister in Christ’s Church and always a faithful shepherd for his flock!”

As with about one of every six newly ordained priests in the United States this year, Father Scott comes from a military family background. He was born in Frankfurt, Germany, the fifth of six children to now-retired U.S. Army Major General Bruce K. Scott and Ms. Mary Scott of Lorton, Va. He spent his early years moving frequently around Germany and the United States before settling with his family at Ft. Belvoir, Va., when he was 10 years old. He finished elementary school and attended middle and high school in Northern Virginia, graduating from Hayfield Secondary School in Alexandria, Va., in 2005. He went on to attend the College of the Holy Crossin Worcester, Mass., on a full ROTC scholarship, graduating in 2009 with a Bachelor’s of Arts degree in Philosophy and History. Father Scott says prayer and discernment at Holy Cross led him to consider the priesthood, and he applied for and was granted an educational delay in his military service for the purpose of attending seminary.

In 2009, Father Scott began his seminary studies at Mt. St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Md., and after two years there, he earned a Master of Arts in Philosophical Studies. At the request of Cardinal Wuerl, he transferred to the Pontifical North American College in Rome where he earned a bachelor’s degree in Sacred Theology in 2014 from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas in the City (the Angelicum). Last fall, he began studies at the Angelicum for a License in Sacred Theology in the field of Dogmatic Theology. Father Scott will complete a summer assignment at the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament at 3630 Quesada Street NW in Washington before returning to Rome to resume studies. He is scheduled to complete approximately three years of pastoral service in the Archdiocese of Washington before commencing service as an active-duty Army chaplain.

Among those in attendance at Father Scott’s ordination were the new priest’s parents, Maj. Gen. Bruce K. Scott, U.S. Army (ret.), and Mrs. Mary Scott; his sister, Maj. Kate Scott Gowel, U.S. Army, and her husband, Major John J. Gowel, U.S. Army, and their four children, Matt, Sam, Annmarie, and Joseph; his brother, Maj. Andrew Scott, U.S. Army; his sister, Mrs. Karoline Scott Newell, a veteran U.S. Air Force captain, and her husband, Mr. Russell Newell, and their son, Peter; his sister, Cpt. Kerney Scott Perlik, U.S. Army, and her husband, Capt. Sam Perlik, U.S. Army; his brother, Lt. Adam Scott, U.S. Army; and members of the extended family.

Father Scott’s eventual service as a chaplain, and that of other prospective new Catholic chaplains, will be timely. The Army and all other branches of the U.S. Armed Forces continue to suffer a chronic shortage as more and more priests reach the military’s mandatory retirement age of 62 faster than they can be replaced. Since 9/11, the number of active-duty chaplains has fallen from more than 400 to 228. While Catholics make up about 25% of the U.S. armed forces, Catholic priests currently account for only 8% of military chaplains, representing only one priest for every 1,300 Catholics in uniform, not counting families of those service members.

At the same time, more Catholic servicemen are stepping forward to answer God’s call. According to an annual survey conducted by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University, the number of U.S. Military veterans being ordained priests this year nearly doubled from each of the past two years, rising to at least 24 in 2015, compared to 13 in 2014, and 14 in 2013.

The AMS is now busy tapping this source for prospective chaplains. The Vocations Office is focusing attention on active-duty servicemen expressing an interest in the priesthood, inviting more qualified candidates to join the Co-Sponsored Seminarian Program, a vocations partnership between the AMS and cooperating dioceses and religious communities around the country. Thanks in large part to the support of U.S. bishops and religious superiors, along with increased awareness and discernment opportunities, the number of co-sponsored seminarians has risen from seven in 2008 to 28 today. They come from 26 U.S. dioceses and are enrolled in 15 seminaries nationwide and the Pontifical North American College in Rome. This year, five of those seminarians will be ordained priests and two priests will go on active duty. Another 13 priests, now in reserve status, are set to phase into active duty over the next three years. Meanwhile, another four men are scheduled to enter the Co-Sponsored Seminarian Program in the fall, and the AMS Office of Vocations is currently processing the applications of still others.

The AMS, which receives no funding from the government and depends entirely on private giving, is now looking for ways to fund a fast-rising seminary bill, now projected at $2.7 million over the next five years. Donations can be made here.

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 Logan by email.