Check presented to Archbishop Timothy Broglio on Friday at AMS Pastoral Center
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Efforts to support young men seeking a vocation as Catholic priests in the United States military just got a financial shot in the arm. The Virginia Knights of Columbus (K of C) has donated $10,000 dollars to the Vocations Programof the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA (AMS).
Today, at the AMS Pastoral Center in Washington, D.C., Mr. Anthony Fortunato, K of C State Deputy for the Jurisdiction of Virginia, presented the $10,000 check to His Excellency, the Most Reverend Timothy P. Broglio, J.C.D., Archbishop for the Military Services. Mr. Fortunato said the money was collected over the past year from K of C members and councils throughout Virginia.
Mr. Fortunato said:
“On behalf of the Knights of Columbus in Virginia, it is an honor and a privilege to present this check to Archbishop Broglio. It is our sincere hope that this contribution will help support young men pursuing worthy vocations as Catholic chaplains in the U.S. military and VA Medical Centers. Our nation is in great need of their service.”
In accepting the check, Archbishop Broglio said:
“The Knights of Columbus, over many years, has been most generous is providing much needed financial support to this Archdiocese as well as providing it with a wide range of programs and services. This significant contribution from the Virginia Knights is but the latest instance of the organization’s generosity, and for that I am most grateful. It was very kind of the State Deputy and Mrs. Fortunato to make the trip up to Washington to deliver this important contribution.”
The $10,000 donation is above and beyond the million-dollar “Father McGivney Military Chaplain Scholarship,” established three years ago by the K of C at the national level to support the seminary education of future Catholic military chaplains. The AMS has already received the first $600,000 from the K of C for the McGivney Scholarship, named after the Venerable Father Michael McGivney, the 19th Century priest who founded the K of C, now the world’s largest Catholic fraternal organization. The K of C has committed to donate $1 million to the McGivney Scholarship through 2015.
The McGivney funds are dedicated to the Co-Sponsored Seminarian Program, a partnership between the AMS and localdioceses and religious communities to support vocations and fill a fast-growing shortage of Catholic chaplains in the U.S. military. The shortage comes 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 229. While Catholics make up about 25% of the U.S. armed forces, Catholic priests currently account for only 8% of military chaplains.
Thanks in large part to the support of U.S. bishops and religious superiors, along with increased awareness and discernment opportunities for prospective chaplains, the number of co-sponsored seminarians has risen from seven in 2008 to 31 today, and still more candidates are on the way. Eight prospective chaplains will be ordained transitional deacons this year, and another five will be ordainedpriests.
The AMS continues to seek ways to fund a fast-rising seminary bill, now projected at $2.7 million over the next five years. The AMS receives no funding from the government and depends entirely on private donations, such as the $10,000 received today from the Virginia K of C. Contributions can be made at www.milarch.org.