Paths to Chaplaincy







 

Co-Sponsored Seminarian Program

What is the Co-Sponsored Seminarian Program?

The Archdiocese for the Military Services USA, (AMS) in partnership with other U.S. dioceses and religious communities, offers the Co-Sponsored Seminarian Program. This program enables a man with a vocation to priestly ministry in the military to be financially co-sponsored throughout his seminary training by both the military archdiocese and the seminarian's civilian diocese or religious community. Upon graduation from the seminary, he is ordained a priest for his civilian jurisdiction. After completing at least three (3) years of pastoral ministry as a priest, he will be permitted (as part of the co-sponsorship agreement between the AMS Archbishop and the co-sponsored priest's Ordinary or religious superior) to serve on active duty as a military chaplain. All Catholic priests who have served and who are serving in the U.S. military chaplaincy have been "borrowed" or are "on loan" from dioceses or religious orders. Priest-chaplains do not become incardinated in the AMS. They remain incardinated in their diocese or religious order, have faculties to function within the jurisdiction of the AMS granted by the AMS Archbishop, yet can be recalled by their Ordinary or religious superior at any time.

What are the advantages of the Co-Sponsored Seminarian Program if I feel called to serve both as a Catholic priest and in the Military Services?

The Co-Sponsored Seminarian Program ensures that you have good pastoral training and experience before inviting you to share the unique responsibilities present in the military environment. In other words, it grounds you as a young priest in sacramental ministry and priestly fraternity before going on to serve as a military chaplain for as long a period as you and your bishop or religious superior decide. Regardless of whether you choose a full military career or not, the myriad experiences and training gained through the armed forces will serve you well in the many pastoral opportunities you will surely have back in your home diocese or community.

What steps are necessary if I feel called to serve both as a Catholic priest and in the military?

Bishop Coyle and the Co-Sponsored Seminarians at Mount Saint Mary's.

If you are currently a seminarian for a local diocese or religious community, you must discuss your interest and discernment in the military chaplaincy with your formation directors and your Bishop. Follow their directions. You should not contact the military archdiocese prior to speaking with your Bishop and those responsible for your formation (i.e., diocesan/religious community vocation director, director of seminarians, seminary rector). With their permission contact the AMS Director of Vocations.

If you are a layman, military or civilian, and not yet formally accepted to a diocese or religious community priesthood formation program, and feel a call to the priesthood and the military chaplaincy, prayerfully seek the advice of your Catholic military priest-chaplain (if you are on active duty), or your local parish priest. He will put you in touch with the vocations director in your home diocese. The vocations director can outline the steps to discern your call, enter into seminary formation, and become an ordained priest. You may also contact our AMS Director of Vocations for information and guidance.

When you contact the AMS Director of Vocations, you will be asked to complete a survey which provides personal, academic, ecclesiastical, and military information about yourself. On the basis of the information gathered, specific guidance will be offered to you by the AMS Office of Vocations.

Attend one of the two annual vocation discernment retreats provided by the AMS. This retreat will give you the opportunity to meet with the AMS Director of Vocations and military chaplains from the different branches of the armed forces to learn more about the rewards and challenges of serving both God and country.

If a mutual decision has been made between you and your bishop or religious superior giving you permission to be a Co-Sponsored seminarian chaplain candidate, you will be invited to apply for the Co-Sponsored Seminarian Program.

Who can participate in the Co-Sponsored Seminarian Program?

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.

A candidate must be able to enter active duty before age 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.

What are the steps to become accepted for the Co-Sponsored Seminarian Program?

Step 1: If you are a seminarian, discuss your interest and discernment regarding the military chaplaincy with your formation directors and bishop or religious superior. Follow their directions.

If you are a layman, military or civilian, and not yet formally accepted to a diocese or religious community priesthood formation program, and feel a call to the priesthood and the military chaplaincy, prayerfully seek the advice of your Catholic military priest-chaplain (if you are on active duty), or your local parish priest. He will put you in touch with the vocations director in your home diocese. The vocations director can outline the steps to discern your call, enter into seminary formation, and become an ordained priest. You may also contact our AMS Director of Vocations for information and guidance.
Step 2: With their permission contact the AMS Director of Vocations. You will then be asked to complete a survey which provides personal, academic, ecclesiastical, and military information about yourself. On the basis of information gathered, specific guidance will be offered to you by the AMS Office of Vocations.

Step 3: Attend one of the two annual vocation discernment retreats sponsored by the AMS. This retreat will give you the opportunity to meet with the AMS Director of Vocations and military priest-chaplains from the different branches of service to learn more about the rewards and challenges of serving both God and your country.

Step 4: If a mutual decision has been made between you and your bishop or religious superior giving you permission to be a co-sponsored seminarian chaplain candidate, you will then be invited to apply for the Co-Sponsored Seminarian Program.

Can I choose which military branch I would serve as chaplain?

Yes. Candidates are free to choose whether they wish to serve with the Army, Navy, or Air Force. The Coast Guard and the Marine Corps are served by Navy chaplains.

What if my bishop or I discern that I should not be a military chaplain?

The decision to end a candidate's status as a Chaplain Candidate or a Reservist whether by the candidate, his bishop, or the military service removes you from the Co-Sponsored Seminarian Program. Termination of this program, however, does not directly affect your status as a seminarian or priest of the local diocese or religious community.

Who do I contact to start the process to become a military chaplain through the Co-Sponsored Seminarian Program?

If you are a layman, military or civilian, consult your local pastor, vocation director or Catholic chaplain before applying. If your priest feels you should begin the process, the pastor or chaplain will make initial contact for you with the Director of Vocations of the Archdiocese for the Military Services. You may also initiate contact yourself at the following address:

Director of Vocations
Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA (AMS)
P O BOX 4469
Washington, DC 20017-0469
Web site: www.milarch.org
Phone: (202) 719-3615
Fax: (202) 269-9651
E-Mail: vocations@milarch.org

Chaplain Candidacy

What is the Chaplain Candidacy Program?

Chaplain candidacy is a program offered by each of the three service branches (Army, Navy, and Air Force) to provide seminarians with the most thorough introduction possible to the realities of military ministry. Participating seminarians become commissioned officers and train with their respective branches several weeks a year, but primarily during the summer. This training generally involves an assignment to an active duty military installation under the mentorship and supervision of a Catholic priest-chaplain. Roughly equivalent to a civilian parish assignment, chaplain candidacy allows seminarians to observe and participate in the unique and diverse chapel programs within a particular Catholic community. Moreover, this program serves as an introduction to the distinctive military environment where chaplains of all faith groups work together to provide for the Constitutionally guaranteed free exercise of religion.

What are the advantages of the Chaplain Candidacy Program if I feel called to serve both as a Catholic priest and in the military Services?

The Chaplain Candidacy Program gives you the opportunity to witness the life of a military chaplain without first requiring your commitment to become one. This way, you can discern, based on your experience and observations, if military chaplaincy is for you.

How do I join the Chaplain Candidacy Program?

To join the program, you must be enrolled in seminary at the graduate school level, that is, in pre-theology or the school of theology. After (1) receiving permission of your Ordinary and Seminary Rector, you must then (2) apply to the military archdiocese. It is the only Endorsing Agent that can validate your application to be a Catholic Chaplain Candidate. The final process is (3) to complete the appropriate application required by the appropriate service branch.

Upon final acceptance by the military, you will be offered a commission as a Reserve officer chaplain candidate in the grade of O-1 (an Ensign in the Navy, and a 2LT in the Army and Air Force).

The Chaplain Candidacy Program does not require you to become a chaplain subsequent to ordination. However, the time spent in uniform in the program remains a part of your military record and affects the total-time-of-commissioned-service date. This affects promotion eligibility and years-of-service pay level.

What steps are necessary if I feel called to explore the possibility of pursuing my priestly vocation in the military?

 If you are currently a seminarian for a local diocese or religious community, you first must discuss your interest and discernment in the military chaplaincy with your formation directors and your Bishop. Follow their directions. You should not contact the military archdiocese prior to speaking first with your Bishop and those responsible for your formation (i.e., diocesan/religious community vocation director, director of seminarians, seminary rector). With their permission contact the AMS Director of Vocations.

If you are a layman, military or civilian, and not yet formally accepted to a diocese or religious community priesthood formation program, and feel a call to the priesthood and the military chaplaincy, prayerfully seek the advice of your Catholic military priest-chaplain (if you are on active duty), or your local parish priest. He will put you in touch with the vocations director in your home diocese. The vocations director can outline the steps to discern your call, enter into seminary formation, and become an ordained priest. You may also contact our AMS Director of Vocations for information and guidance.

Attend one of these retreats will give you the opportunity to meet with the AMS Director of Vocations and military priest-chaplains from the different branches of service to learn more about the rewards and challenges of serving both God and your country.

If a mutual decision has been made between you and your bishop or religious superior giving you permission to be trained to be a priest for the military chaplaincy, you could then participate in the Chaplain Candidacy Program.