SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA – How can Catholic U.S. Military couples hold down a successful marriage in a lifestyle built on frequent moves, long separations, persistent career pressure, and growing secularization? That is the main topic Catholic military chaplains will explore over the next couple of months in a series of convocations starting this week in San Diego.
Chaplain convocations are sponsored biennially by the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA (AMS). The focus of discussion varies every other year. This year, under the theme, “Discerning Marriage in the 21st Century,” chaplains and other priests in service to the AMS will examine ways to improve pastoral support for military couples. The main speaker is Mr. Murphy Lierley of the Catholic marriage support group FOCCUS Inc. USA, an apostolate of the Archdiocese of Omaha, founded on the principle that communication and problem solving are the keys to a successful marriage. FOCCUS stands for “Facilitate Open, Couple, Communication, Understanding and Study.” Mr. Lierley will train the chaplains and priests as facilitators in using the FOCCUS Pre-Marriage inventory, a comprehensive, user-friendly tool to help engaged couples appreciate their unique relationship, learn more about themselves, and discuss topics important to their lifelong marriage. Chaplains will also receive updates on Canon Law and news from the AMS.
His Excellency, the Most Reverend Timothy P. Broglio, J.C.D., requires that all AMS-endorsed chaplains and priests attend at least one convocation every other year. The first convocation of 2019 is being held Aug. 20-23 in San Diego. Others will take place Sept. 3-6 in Washington, D.C.; Sept. 24-27 in San Antonio; and Oct. 22-25 in Rome. As in years past, each convocation will follow the same basic program schedule. The AMS presents it at four different times and places to make it more affordable and convenient for the nearly 200 Catholic chaplains on active duty worldwide to attend the one nearest them. Archbishop Broglio will direct and participate in each convocation. Archbishop Broglio said:
“These gatherings are important for many reasons. First of all, the theme always offers an opportunity for growth and continuing education, so important today. Secondly, the opportunity to pray together as a presbyterate serving those who serve is a rich source of grace. Finally, the interchange, the rivalries among the chaplain corps, and the opportunity to hear ‘from the field’ what is happening in this global archdiocese make these moments time well-spent.”
The chaplains hope to draw on their convocation experience, learning, and inspiration to hone their vocational and pastoral skills as they embark on another two years serving those who serve. They will resume their ministry with a renewed focus on what it takes to build a successful marriage and how they can help military couples achieve that goal using the FOCCUS tools of communication and problem solving.