Prospective Catholic U.S. Military Chaplain Ordained Transitional Deacon in Ohio

Diaconal ordination of Rev. Mr. Daniel Swartz marks next-to-last step before ordination to the Priesthood

 Rev. Mr. Daniel Swartz with his father John, brother Matthew, sister Maria, and mother Donna, Columbus, Ohio, May 1, 2015.

Rev. Mr. Daniel Swartz with his father John, brother Matthew, sister Maria, and mother Donna, Columbus, Ohio, May 1, 2015.

COLUMBUS, OHIO – The Reverend Mr. Daniel Swartz, a candidate for the Catholic priesthood and United States military chaplaincy, was ordained a transitional Deacon Friday, May 1, in Columbus, Ohio. He hopes eventually to serve as a Catholic chaplain in the United States Navy with endorsement and faculties from the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA (AMS).

Rev. Mr. Swartz is undergoing priestly formation at the Pontifical College Josephinum in his home diocese of Columbus. His diaconal ordination was celebrated at St. Joseph Cathedral through the laying of hands and the prayer of consecration invoking the Holy Spirit by His Excellency, the Most Reverend Frederick F. Campbell, Bishop of Columbus. The AMS was represented by Vocations Director Father Aidan Logan, O.C.S.O., who concelebrated the 7:00 p.m. ordination Mass.

Rev. Mr. Swartz, 26, the son of Mr. John and Mrs. Donna Swartz of Columbus, is the youngest of the couple’s three sons and he has a younger sister. Mr. and Mrs. Swartz, his brother Matthew, and sister Maria all attended the ordination. His oldest brother John and wife Kristin reside in England and could not attend.

Rev. Mr. Swartz is a 2012 graduate of St. Vincent College in Latrobe, Pa., where he majored in Political Science, Philosophy, and Theology. Rev. Mr. Swartz, whose paternal grandfather, Charles Swartz, served in the U.S. Army during World War II, joined the Navy and was commissioned as an Ensign last month. He remains on inactive status pending completion of his ordination and commencement of service as a Catholic Priest. Diaconal ordination marks the next-to-last step in Rev. Mr. Swartz’s formational journey. He hopes to be ordained a priest in May of next year and go on active duty as a U.S. Navy Chaplain following three years of pastoral service in the Diocese of Columbus.

Rev. Mr. Swartz said:

“The whole prospect of being ordained for ministry as a deacon in the hopes of becoming a priest one day is the greatest hallmark of my life this far. The Lord has been ever faithful in His love and call for me and for that I am truly blessed. This is a humbling, exciting, surreal, and beautiful gift. It is worth mentioning St. Joseph’s role as well: with my middle name taking after Joseph as my patron, coming from a seminary called the Josephinum, going to be ordained at St. Joseph’s Cathedral, and on the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker…I would say he has my back.”

Rev. Mr. Swartz’s eventual military service, and that of other prospective new Catholic chaplains, will come not a moment too soon. The Navy 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 theCenter 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 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.