"Freedom always comes at a high price. It requires a generous heart, ready for sacrifice. . . We cannot excuse ourselves from our own personal responsibility for freedom. There is no such thing as freedom without sacrifice."
-Pope Saint John Paul II
There are few who comprehend the ideals of sacrifice and selfless service that form the bedrock of priestly ministry better than those in the United States military, for whom service and sacrifice are a way of life. Nearly ten percent of men ordained priests in the United States every year have prior military service or grew up in military households. The life of a military priest-chaplain, ministering to the spiritual and sacramental needs of those men and women in the United States armed forces, is a natural vocation for a man with prior military experience, and one that the Church and the military desperately need.
The Vocation of a Chaplain
Left to Right: Jay Horning (2nd Theology, Army); Tim Mergen (2nd Pre-Theology, Air Force); René Pellessier (3rd Theology, Navy); Phil O'Neill (4th Theology, Air Force). Middle: Fr. Aidan Logan
Priestly ministry to those serving in the military is a unique and special vocation. The Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA is the largest geographical diocese in the country, and within its bounds those called to serve as chaplains must be prepared to undertake ministries as diverse as the regions they visit. As a sacramental minister, the priest-chaplain must bring Christ and the healing power of the Church to men and women serving in an endless range of stressful, dangerous and possible deadly circumstances. He must be prepared to transfer from parish ministry to ministry in a war zone at a moment's notice, and act as comforter to service members and their families in a way few others will ever experience.
Providing for the spiritual and sacramental needs of men and women in uniform is an essential task, and priest-chaplains are in higher demand now than ever before. Christ needs men to answer the call to the chaplaincy for the good of the Church, the country and the world.
Who Is Eligible?
Any single Catholic young man who is a US citizen with college experience who shows signs of having a vocation to priestly ministry, can meet the academic requirements for seminary training, and qualifies for military service is eligible to apply.
Unless you have prior military service you must be young enough to complete your seminary training and serve in a parish for three years before reaching the age of 42. Adjustments on the entry age may be made for those with prior military service as long as the total number of years of military service can equal twenty years or more.
If you are currently a seminarian, you must first discuss your interest in the military chaplaincy with your formation director and bishop or religious superior; follow his directions.
If you are a layman, military or civilian, and not yet formally accepted to a diocese or religious community priesthood formation program, you may contact the Director of Vocations, Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA.
If you feel Christ may be calling you to serve as a priest and a chaplain, or if you have any questions at all regarding the military chaplaincy or the priesthood, please contact our Director of Vocations for more information.