NEWBURGH, IN – The Reverend Mr. Garrett Braun, a candidate for the Catholic priesthood and United States Military chaplaincy, was ordained a transitional deacon on Saturday, April 4, in Newburgh, IN. He hopes eventually to serve as a Catholic chaplain in the U.S. Air Force with endorsement and faculties from the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA (AMS).
Rev. Mr. Braun, 28, is currently in priestly formation at Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology in Saint Meinrad, IN. His diaconal ordination was celebrated at a 10:00 a.m. Mass at Saint John the Baptist Catholic Church through the laying on of hands and the prayer of consecration invoking the Holy Spirit by Bishop Joseph M. Siegel of Evansville.
His Excellency, the Most Reverend Timothy P. Broglio, J.C.D., Archbishop for the Military Services, concelebrated the Mass and preached the homily. The new deacon’s parents, Randy and Judy Braun, were among those in the small congregation. Attendance was limited due to concern about spread of the coronavirus. The celebration was live-streamed so others could participate.
Rev. Mr. Braun is a 2010 graduate of Saint John Neumann Catholic High School in Naples, FL. He earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Operations Research from the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado, from which he graduated in 2015.
The new deacon, now a Second Lieutenant in the Air Force Reserve, says he discovered his priestly vocation through his experiences in scouting and Catholic education along with faith leadership positions in the Catholic cadet community at the Air Force Academy. He hopes to be ordained a priest next year and eventually go on active duty as a U.S. Air Force chaplain following three years of pastoral service in his home Diocese of Evansville.
Rev. Mr. Braun said:
“It is a huge blessing to have reached this first point of finality in my vocational journey – to surrender in a permanent way before God and the Church to the way he has been working in my heart for so many years. To receive the stole and dalmatic, and to serve at the altar as a deacon beside both Archbishop Broglio and Bishop Siegel was a joyful realization of the Holy Spirit’s work on my path to the twofold calling of priesthood and military chaplaincy!”
The new deacon reaches this penultimate milestone in his formational journey at a critical time for the exercise of Catholic faith in the Air Force. Like other branches of the U.S. Armed Forces, the Air Force continues to suffer a chronic shortage of Catholic chaplains due to attrition: priests are reaching mandatory military retirement faster than they can be replaced. Since 9/11, the number of active-duty U.S. Military chaplains in all branches of service has fallen from more than 400 to approximately 200. While Catholics make up about 25% of the U.S. Armed Forces, Catholic priests currently account for only 7% of military chaplains.
In the Air Force, 62 priests currently on active duty serve some 80,000 Catholic Airmen. That’s approximately one priest for every 1,350 Catholics spread thin across bases worldwide, not counting their families.
At the same time, according to the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate, the military itself continues to be a rich source of vocations in the U.S. The AMS is now busy tapping this source for prospective chaplains. The Vocations Office is focusing attention on active-duty servicemen expressing an interest in the priesthood, inviting more qualified candidates to join the Co-Sponsored Seminarian Program, a vocations partnership between the AMS and cooperating dioceses and religious communities around the country.
Thanks in large part to the support of U.S. bishops and religious superiors, along with increased awareness and discernment opportunities, the number of co-sponsored seminarians has risen from seven in 2008 to 48 today.
The AMS, which receives no funding from the government and depends entirely on private giving, is now looking for ways to fund a fast-rising seminary bill, now projected at more than $5 million over the next five years. Donations can be made at www.milarch.org/donate.
Young men interested in discerning a priestly vocation, and the vocation within a vocation to serve those who serve in the U.S. military, can find more information at www.milarch.org/vocations, or may contact the Vocations Director, Father Aidan Logan, O.C.S.O., by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at (202) 719-3600.