SAVANNAH, GA – Father William (Will) C. Cook, LTJG, USNR, a former active-duty U.S. Marine and prospective U.S. Military chaplain, was ordained a Catholic priest on Saturday, June 4, in Savannah, GA. Eventually, the new priest hopes to serve as a Catholic chaplain in the U.S. Navy with endorsement and faculties from the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA (AMS).
Father Will, 36, completed his program for priestly formation at Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans, LA, where he earned a Master of Divinity degree. His presbyteral ordination was celebrated at the Cathedral Basilica of St. John the Baptist through the laying of hands and the prayer of consecration invoking the Holy Spirit by Bishop Stephen D. Parkes, D.D., of Savannah. His Excellency, the Most Reverend Timothy P. Broglio, J.C.D., Archbishop for the Military Services, USA, concelebrated the 10:00 a.m. ordination Mass. Also concelebrating was Bishop Emeritus John Kevin Boland, D.D., of Savannah. Among those in attendance were the new priest’s parents, Cynthia and Bernard Cook, brother John Cook and his wife Nieves, and other family members and friends.
Father Will is a 2009 graduate of Oklahoma State University, where he earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Construction Management Technologies. He completed four years of active-duty service in the U.S. Marine Corps as an Air Support Control Officer, reaching the rank of Captain, before beginning his priestly formation a few years later at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, MD, in 2015. He transferred to Notre Dame Seminary in 2020.
The U.S. Navy chaplain candidate says that he discovered his vocation after completing his active-duty military service. “I went on a mission trip after getting out of the military, where I lived and worked in a religious community,” he said, “and it was the best year of my life! It really opened my eyes to a whole new reality.” Commenting Monday on his priestly ordination, he said, “What an absolute joy these last couple of days have been! The ordination was so beautiful and powerful and then to see all of the support from family and friends… it was just so special, the whole experience has left me totally awestruck and absolutely humbled. It’s going to take a while for my head to stop spinning but I’m really looking forward to starting my assignment and focusing on ministry! Please continue to pray for me!”
Father Will celebrated his first Mass of Thanksgiving at the Cathedral Basilica of St. John the Baptist on Sunday, June 5, at 11:30 a.m. EDT. In his first priestly assignment, he will serve as parochial vicar at St. Anne Catholic Church in Columbus, GA, starting July 1.
The eventual service of Father Will and other Catholic chaplain candidates is greatly anticipated by the Navy, which, like all other branches of the U.S. Military, continues to suffer a chronic shortage of Catholic chaplains. Currently, the Navy has only 39 priests on active duty, serving a large Catholic population of Sailors, Marines, Coast Guardsmen, and their families, spread worldwide.
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 milarch.org/vocations, or may contact AMS Vocations Director Father S. Matthew Gray by email at email@example.com.