WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today marks the tenth anniversary of His Excellency, the Most Reverend Timothy P. Broglio’s installation as Archbishop of the Military Services, USA. Archbishop Broglio was installed on Jan. 25, 2008, by the late Most Rev. Pietro Sambi, then Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.
Archbishop Broglio said:
“I continue to give thanks to Almighty God and the Church for this extraordinary privilege to serve the men and women in uniform, their families, and patients in the medical centers of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs. Their generosity and their faith sustain me as I travel thousands of miles every year to make pastoral visits. My gratitude extends to all of those whose contributions sustain the ministry of the AMS.”
In celebration of the anniversary, the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA (AMS) announced today that, thanks to a number of generous benefactors, it has surpassed its target for minimum funding of The Most Reverend Timothy P. Broglio, J.C.D. Endowed Co-Sponsored Seminarian Scholarship, the first fully endowed scholarship for the AMS. Ms. Mary Lavin, AMS Executive Director of Advancement, said donors generously contributed $270,366 before Dec. 31, 2017. The sum will matched with funds collected from the 2013 National Collection for the AMS in Catholic parishes throughout the United States as part of the Archdiocese’s 2017 Matching Endowment Opportunity. Ms. Lavin said that milestone brings the total to 13 named and endowed scholarships established in support of the AMS Vocations Endowment first announced in 2014. Donations are still being accepted in order to help the scholarship continue to grow. Go here to make a donation on the occasion of Archbishop Broglio’s anniversary.
The Co-Sponsored Seminarian Program is a vocations partnership between the AMS and local dioceses and religious communities to support young men discerning priesthood and help fill a desperate shortage of Catholic chaplains in the U.S. Armed Forces. The shortage comes as more and more priests reach the military’s mandatory retirement age faster than they can be replaced. The shortage has been growing for decades. Just since 9/11, the number of active-duty chaplains has fallen from more than 400 to around 200. While Catholics make up about 25% of the U.S. Military, Catholic priests currently account for only six percent of military chaplains.
However, thanks in large part to the support of U.S. bishops and religious superiors, along with efforts to continue to increase awareness about discernment opportunities for prospective chaplains, the number of AMS Co-Sponsored Seminarians has risen dramatically in recent years. The AMS currently partners with 31 U.S. dioceses, and one religious order, and has 45 co-sponsored seminarians studying in 20 seminaries. That is the largest number of seminarians in the thirty-year history of the program. An additional seven men are in various stages of discernment, including five who currently serve in the military.
In 2017, two prospective military chaplains were ordained priests and another two were ordained transitional deacons, on track toward priestly ordination. This year, three are expected to be ordained priests and another four to be ordained transitional deacons. Once ordained, and after completing three years of pastoral service in his diocese or community, each new priest becomes eligible to serve on active duty as a military chaplain. Since 2008, 23 priests have been ordained through the Co-Sponsored Seminarian Program. Currently, five are serving on active duty, with more on the way.
“Senior leaders in the armed forces will tell you that their greatest resource is their people,” Archbishop Broglio said. “The greatest resource of the AMS is represented by the priests it endorses for service as chaplains. The AMS Vocations and Co-Sponsored Seminarian Programs will continue to provide full-time priests for home dioceses across the U.S. – and full-time Catholic military chaplains.”
Ms. Lavin pointed out, however, that the increase in new seminarians has brought dramatic cost increases to the AMS for tuition and related educational expenses. The average annual cost to the AMS, she said, now amounts to $18,000 per seminarian, or $90,000 per seminarian over the course of his five-year seminary formation. With 45 men currently in the Co-Sponsored Seminarian Program, the AMS’s annual share of expenses is projected to be more than $800,000 this year alone, and to exceed four million dollars over the next five years. That is in addition to the AMS annual operating budget of more than $7.3 million for all programs and services.
The AMS receives no funding from the military or the government and relies solely on private donors to support its programs and services. With ten years under his belt at the helm of the AMS, Archbishop Broglio still has his work cut out for him, but the contributions of generous donors to the scholarship that bears his name are a great sign of progress.