WASHINGTON, DC – The Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA (AMS) is celebrating the diaconal ordination of two prospective new Catholic U.S. Air Force chaplains. Reverend Mr. Vincent (Vinny) Gillmore was ordained a transitional deacon on Saturday, April 7, in St. Meinrad, IN. Reverend Mr. Carignan (Corey) Rouse was ordained a transitional deacon on Saturday, April 14, in Lowell, MA.
Deacon Gillmore, who is pursuing his priestly formation at St. Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology, is on track to be ordained a priest in June of 2019. The Most Reverend Charles C. Thompson, Archbishop of Indianapolis, celebrated the ordination at the Archabbey Church of Our Lady of Einsiedeln. The AMS Vocations Director, Father Aidan Logan, O.C.S.O., concelebrated the 10:00 a.m. ordination Mass.
The Rev. Mr. Gillmore said: “I feel overwhelmed with thankfulness for the grace and blessings that this ordination is bringing. It makes all my doubts so much more laughable and the choice to live a calling in the life in Christ such a no-brainer. Throughout seminary, I believed the faith and prayers of Jesus and his Church would put me right where I belong in their service but I have never felt that happening more immediately than now.”
Deacon Rouse, whose priestly formation is at St. John’s Seminary in Boston, is on track to be ordained a priest in May of 2019. Sean Cardinal O’Malley, O.F.M. Cap., Archbishop of Boston, ordained Corey at Immaculate Conception Church. Father Logan concelebrated the 10:00 a.m. ordination Mass.
The Rev. Mr. Rouse said: “It is a gladdening sensation to be ordained during the month of Saint George, Soldier, Priest, Martyr, and my own patron at Confirmation. As one of the patrons for those who bear arms, it is reassuring to know that Saint George has been a part of my journey from Confirmation to Holy Orders. One of my first assignments as a deacon will be to minister at the chapel of the Air Force Academy for about a month. I am greatly honored to share in the apostolic ministry shared by the august company of the Academy chaplains.”
Both new deacons reach this milestone in their 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 205. While Catholics make up about 25% of the U.S. armed forces, Catholic priests currently account for only 6% of military chaplains.
In the Air Force, 59 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 a record 42 today. They come from 29 U.S. dioceses and are enrolled in 18 seminaries nationwide and the Pontifical North American College in Rome.
This year, three of those co-sponsored will be ordained priests, and five seminarians, including Rev. Mr. Gillmore and Rev. Mr. Rouse, will be ordained transitional deacons. Another 11 priests, now in reserve status, are set to phase into active duty over the next three years. Meanwhile, another five men are scheduled to enter the Co-Sponsored Seminarian Program in the fall, and the AMS Office of Vocations is currently processing the applications of still others.
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 $2.9 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 Father Logan by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.