The life of a military chaplain is exciting and rewarding. Constant change is part of the everyday life and work of Catholic chaplains in the military. Unlike a priest in a civilian parish who moves periodically, chaplains in the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, Space Force, and Coast Guard work with a constantly changing group of people in a variety of settings. It is a personal ministry of presence, caring for the needs of Catholic military personnel and their families.
A Parish that Stretches Across the World
The work of chaplains is not confined to the chapel. They go wherever their people are—in a tent in the desert, on the deck of an aircraft carrier, in the barracks on base, in a combat zone, in the halls of the Pentagon.
Military service requires extraordinary sacrifices of those who serve and their families. Chaplains provide pastoral care through guidance, education, direction on Church doctrine, and spiritual counsel. Through their words and actions, they provide comfort and strength through the Word of God and the sacraments to those who serve to protect our Nation.
A Flexible, Creative Ministry
Chaplains often speak about the exciting, creative nature of their ministry. The Catholics served by chaplains are a diverse group: 5th generation soldiers, new citizens, young people from cities and farms, people in positions of command, young mothers and fathers.
The days are long. Yet if you talk to most any of the priest-chaplains in the military, they will tell you they would not trade this ministry for any other. The rewards are great. They experience the support of people in the military. They grow spiritually. As the people in our military do the difficult work of protecting our freedom, Catholic chaplains walk beside them, providing the spiritual and emotional strength they need.
Types of Ministry with the U.S. Armed Forces
The Archdiocese endorses Catholic priests to serve as active-duty, Reserve, National Guard, Civil Air Patrol, and Coast Guard Auxiliary officers in the U.S. Armed Forces. In addition to getting the AMS endorsement, priests must meet all the military requirements to be commissioned as officers.
Because of a current shortage of priests serving as officers in the chaplain corps of the Army, Navy, and Air Force, the Archdiocese also endorses priests to fill GS (General Schedule) and contract positions at military installations around the world. The requirements for these positions are different from those for commissioning as an officer and provide another avenue for priests to minister to a Catholic community on a military installation.
The Archdiocese does not endorse deacons as chaplains in the U.S. Armed Forces. With the favorable recommendation of the AMS priest at an installation, however, civilian permanent deacons can be endorsed and granted faculties to ministry in a Catholic community.