WASHINGTON, DC — His Excellency, the Most Reverend Timothy P. Broglio, J.C.D., Archbishop for the Military Services, USA (AMS), will preside at a Holy Hour for Vocations on Saturday, Feb. 6, 2021, at 7:00 p.m. (EST) in the main chapel of the Edwin Cardinal O’Brien Pastoral Center. The Exposition and Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament will be livestreamed on the AMS Facebook page at www.facebook.com/milarchusa.
The need for Catholic vocations continues to vex the U.S. Military as it copes with a chronic shortage of priests serving on active duty as chaplains. The shortage is a trend that has been growing for decades due to attrition: Active-duty Catholic military chaplains are reaching retirement faster than they can be replaced. Currently, the Military has only 196 Catholic priests on active duty covering all branches, serving a Catholic population of approximately 325-thousand based worldwide, not counting their families. That roster is down from around 400 just since the time of 9/11.
Among those invited to participate in the Holy Hour for Vocations virtually are dozens of military-affiliated Catholic young adults registered for this week’s SEEK21 conference, sponsored by the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS). The Feb. 4-7 live broadcast event is an interactive, immersive faith-building experience bringing more than 21-thousand college students, Catholics from across the United States, benefactors, clergy, and others together in small group sessions from a multitude of locations, including more than 16-hundred parishes. Speakers include Bishop Robert Barron, Father Mike Schmitz, Jeff Cavins, Leah Darrow, Jason Evert, John Zimmer, Jennifer Fulwiler, Trent Horn, Damon Owens, Oscar Rivera Jr., Lila Rose and Sarah Swafford, among others.
Sixty-four U.S. Military-affiliated Catholics are registered for the four-day event, which is normally held in person every other year, but is being broadcast live this year due to social distance restrictions imposed by military and civil authorities because of the coronavirus pandemic. The AMS is paying their registration fees.
Ms. Casey Lee, AMS Associate Director for Young Adult Ministry, said “FOCUS is emphasizing the necessity of community throughout this virtual Catholic conference to make it more than an on-demand Catholic speaker series.” The AMS, she said, “has really tried to encourage this dynamic by encouraging military young adults to form in-person small groups, where COVID restrictions allow, of 10 or fewer people as well as encouraging individuals to join the Archdiocese digital small group. The element of a small community will support military young adults to pray and reflect on the keynotes and impact sessions of SEEK21. I hope this virtual conference will help military young adult participants encounter Christ in the sacraments as well as in one another.”
The AMS is a SEEK21 co-sponsor. The Archdiocese is providing a virtual information booth for the conference, offering videos and other media giving participants the opportunity to learn more about its mission and the desperate need for vocations to the military chaplaincy.