Co-Sponsored Seminarians Celebrate Labor Day Weekend in Nation’s Capital Thirty-five gathered for prayer, fraternity, and dialogue

Archbishop Timothy Broglio welcomes Co-Sponsored Seminarians and prospective U.S. Military chaplains to Washington, DC, on Oct. 3, 2022, for annual Labor Day gathering.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Thirty-five prospective Catholic U.S. Military chaplains from 27 dioceses, one eparchy, and one community of apostolic life gathered in the Nation’s Capital over the weekend of Sept. 2-4 for the annual Labor Day weekend gathering for Co-Sponsored Seminarians. The gathering, hosted each year by the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA (AMS), is a three-day celebration of prayer, fraternity, and face-to-face dialogue between the chaplain candidates, AMS clergy and staff, and His Excellency, the Most Reverend Timothy P. Broglio, J.C.D., Archbishop for the Military Services. AMS Vocations Director Father S. Matthew Gray, Ch, Capt, USAF, directed the gathering.

The prospective chaplains converged on Washington from seminaries throughout the U.S. They took part in a Friday evening tour of the Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in America in Northeast Washington and dinner at the nearby AMS headquarters, the Edwin Cardinal O’Brien Pastoral Center; a Saturday morning briefing and afternoon barbeque provided by the Knights of Columbus, James Cardinal Hickey Assembly #2534 and St. Michael the Archangel Council #14823; a series of outdoor games meant to build team spirit and camaraderie; and Holy Hour and Mass on Saturday in the main chapel of the O’Brien Pastoral Center, and Sunday Mass at the U.S. Naval Academy Chapel in Annapolis, MD. Archbishop Broglio celebrated both Masses.

The Co-Sponsored Seminarian Program (CSP), of which these chaplain candidates are members, is a vocations partnership between the AMS and cooperating dioceses and religious communities around the country. Co-sponsorship means that a cooperating, non-AMS bishop or religious superior agrees to accept a prospective chaplain in his territorial diocese or religious community as a seminarian, and the seminarian will participate in the chaplain candidacy program of one of the U.S. Military branches. The AMS and the seminarian’s home diocese or religious community split the cost of his five-year, $50,000-per-year formation in half, each paying 50 percent of tuition, room and board, and other expenses, or about $25,000 a year per Co-Sponsored Seminarian.

Under the Co-Sponsorship agreement, once the seminarian is ordained a priest, he will work in his home diocese or religious community for three years before going on active duty. Once he completes his military service, he will return to his home diocese or religious community to serve out his vocation.

The AMS established the CSP in the 1980s to encourage military service commitments from candidates for priesthood. Enrollment has grown from seven (7) in 2008 to an all-time high of forty-seven before the pandemic, producing a dozen new ordinations this year alone. Currently, 38 prospective chaplains are enrolled in the CSP. This growth is welcome news for the U.S. Military, which is struggling to fill a chronic shortage of Catholic chaplains as aging priests retire from active duty faster than they can be replaced.

Meanwhile, the AMS is struggling to pay the Co-Sponsored Seminarians’ tuition and other formational expenses. The AMS receives no funding from the military or the government and gratefully welcomes donations 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 the AMS Vocations Office at vocations@milarch.org or (202) 719-3600.