ROME – The Reverend Mr. Timothy G. Mergen, 2d Lt, USAFR, a candidate for the Catholic priesthood and United States Military chaplaincy, was ordained a transitional deacon on Thursday, Oct. 3, in Rome. He hopes eventually to serve as a Catholic chaplain in the United States Air Force with endorsement and faculties from the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA (AMS). He is tentatively scheduled to be ordained a priest next year in his home Diocese of Madison, WI.
The Reverend Mr. Mergen, 31, a 2010 graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy, is participating in the program for priestly formation at the Pontifical North American College in Rome. His diaconal ordination was celebrated at the Altar of the Chair of Saint Peter in Saint Peter’s Basilica through the laying of hands and the prayer of consecration invoking the Holy Spirit by Bishop Robert P. Deeley of Portland, Maine. AMS Auxiliary Bishop William (Bill) Muhm concelebrated the 9:30 a.m. ordination Mass. Also concelebrating were Fathers Joe Deichert, Ch Col USAF; Mark McGregor, Ch Lt Col USAFR; and Richard Novotny, Ch Col USAF (Ret.). Among those in attendance were the new deacon’s parents, Greg and Denise Mergen, his sister, Ms. Heidi Toth, and other members of his extended family.
Raised in McFarland, WI, the Rev. Mr. Mergen is a graduate of Edgewood High School of the Sacred Heart in Madison. At the Air Force Academy, he earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Political Science before going to pilot training school Sheppard Air Force Base (AFB) in Texas. He served as an Air Force pilot at Cannon AFB in New Mexico from 2012 to 2014 before entering Mount Saint Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, MD, then transferring to Rome, where he has since earned a Bachelor of Sacred Theology.
Commenting on his diaconal ordination, the Rev. Mr. Mergen said, “I am both overjoyed and humbled in receiving the great gift of the sacrament of Holy Orders through the ordination to the diaconate. It is an incredible moment of commitment which I have longed to make in service to Jesus Christ and his Holy Catholic Church. It is a stepping stone on the way to priesthood in which I am configured to Christ our Lord, the servant of all. I thank God for the gift of this vocation and I look forward with great anticipation to this service to the Church which is rooted in the love of God poured out for each one of us.”
The eventual service of the Rev. Mr. Mergen and other Catholic chaplain candidates is greatly anticipated by the Air Force, which, like all other branches of the U.S. Military, continues to suffer a chronic shortage of Catholic chaplains. Currently, only 59 priests are on active duty in the Air Force, serving a Catholic population of more than 80,000 airmen without counting their families. 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 Aidan Logan, O.C.S.O., by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.