Minimum Expectations and Religious Accommodation for Catholic Chaplain Candidates


Many Catholic Chaplain Candidates have asked for clarification regarding the Archdiocesan expectations of Chaplain Candidates during basic officer training, at Chaplain School, and during reserve drill and pastoral OJT. The following is provided to assist Catholic Chaplain Candidates as they prepare to serve the men and women of the Armed Forces. It provides clarification on the expectations of this endorsing agent regarding basic religious accommodation for future Catholic chaplains, for the awareness of supervisors and training personnel. This document presupposes all that is stated in the AMS document Minimum Requirements for the Pastoral Care of Catholic Personnel of 1 August 2011.

Note: The term Catholic as used throughout this and other AMS documents refers not only to the Latin Catholic Church, but also to all the Eastern Catholic Churches in union with the Apostolic See.

1.Core elements in the formation of Catholic Chaplain Candidates

1.1 Catholic Chaplain Candidates are endorsed by the Archdiocese for the Military Services to serve Catholic personnel and to ensure implementation and support of these elements in the interest of Free Exercise of Religion. To that end every effort should be made to ensure that the training provided takes into account these core elements in the lives of any Catholic personnel:

a. Sunday, Holy Day and daily Mass.
b. Comprehensive Religious Education and Sacramental preparation, with an emphasis on youth character formation, individual moral development, and military family cohesion and readiness.
c. Comprehensive Sacramental Ministry. This includes the sacraments of baptism, First Holy Communion, confirmation, penance, matrimony and anointing of the sick.
d. Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA).
e. Young Adult Ministry focused on spiritual readiness for active duty (18-29 years of age).
f. Spiritual Enrichment programs (i.e. faith formation retreats, RENEW 2000, ~Encounter Christ, Life Teen, Troops Encounter Christ, etc.)
g. Pastoral Counseling

2. Authority and Governance

2.1. The Senior Catholic priest-chaplain, contract priest, or GS priest will have the final authority over all Catholic matters in any training program for Catholic Chaplain Candidates.

2.1.1. If the Catholic priest is not the senior chaplain of the school or installation, he will nevertheless always serve as the definitive advisor to the senior chaplain in Catholic matters in the training and evaluation of Catholic Chaplain Candidates.

3. Primary place of Sunday/Daily Mass and prayer in the training and formation of Catholic Chaplain Candidates.

3.1. Priest Chaplains and Priest Chaplain Candidates without exception are expected to celebrate daily Mass – even if privately on days off, holidays, or times when a scheduled Mass is not available. Personal spiritual resiliency is sufficient justification for this expectation because of the special challenges of the priest-chaplain living a military lifestyle.

3.2. As Catholic Seminarians preparing for the priesthood, Catholic Chaplain Candidates are expected to participate in daily Mass at every stage of their training, even if this means going off base to a civilian Catholic church.

3.3. In those places where there is a Catholic chapel community Catholic Chaplain Candidates should take part in the principal Mass on Sundays and Holy Days. Deacons, acolytes and lectors should exercise their ministries.

3.4. Along with daily Mass Catholic priests and deacons are bound ministerialy and in conscience to recite alone or with others the daily Liturgy of the Hours. In preparation of this obligation Catholic Chaplain Candidates are expected to do the same.

3.5. Personal private prayer, preferably before the Blessed Sacrament, is an essential part of the life and formation of any Catholic priest.

4. Sacrament of Reconciliation and Counseling

4.1. As with all Catholics serving in the Armed Forces, Catholics Chaplain Candidates will have access to an authorized Catholic priest for the sacrament of penance and personal counseling.

5. Catholic, Ecumenical and Interreligious Prayer and Worship

5.1. The Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA values highly its historic collaboration with families of other faith groups who serve military communities. It is my continuing desire and the desire of Chaplain Candidates learn to work with commanders and chaplains of all faiths to provide complete spiritual care for the men and women in uniform and their families.

5.2. An Ecumenical and/or Inter-religious Service is one which prays for and fosters unity and understanding among all those sharing in the Service. A Catholic priest who participates in a true Ecumenical/Inter-religious Service should bring something of our Catholic tradition to the celebration (Catholic prayers, excerpts from Conciliar / Papal documents, early Church Fathers, etc.). It is to be noted that Catholic ministers cannot preside at ecumenical celebrations that have comparable Catholic equivalents, e.g., Ash Wednesday or Good Friday services.

5.3. Training for ministry in the Armed Forces appropriately includes scenarios such as command sponsored memorial services, change of command ceremonies and retirements. While never compromising their Catholic identity, Catholic Chaplain Candidates will strive to offer prayers in an inclusive manner.

5.4. Training for Catholic worship in chapels, in the field and on deployment will always respect the liturgical and canonical norms of the Catholic Church.

6. Reporting Responsibilities of Catholic Chaplain Candidates.

6.1. At the conclusion of each training module or OJT opportunity Chaplain Candidates will submit a written narrative of their experience to AMS Director of Vocations who will copy the AMS Archbishop.

6.2. The Catholic Chaplain Candidate is expected to maintain dialogue with his diocesan bishop or religious superior, and to share with him copies of his written narrative.

+ Timothy P. Broglio

(The Most Reverend) Timothy P. Broglio
Archbishop for the Military Services, USA

Given at Washington, 22 June 2018
Memorial of Sts. John Fisher and Thomas More