Effective July 1, 2011: All priest applicants must provide a video of the applicant celebrating the Liturgy of the Word at a weekday or Sunday mass that includes a homily of at least five minutes in length.
Effective March 18, 2015: All International priest applicants must comply with additional requirements. Click here to review them.
1. Who can be a Catholic chaplain?
A validly ordained Catholic priest can be a chaplain in the military or for the Department of Veterans Affairs. A deacon cannot be endorsed as a chaplain because he cannot provide all of the priestly sacraments. A layperson is ineligible to become a chaplain.
2. Will the AMS endorse a married Eastern Rite Catholic priest?
It is possible for a priest of the Eastern Rites to receive the AMS endorsement and faculties, however, the priest would need bi-ritual faculties because the normative Mass for the AMS is the Roman Rite in English.
Each case is reviewed individually. A priest may celebrate the Divine Liturgy at a time other than the regular times for mass according to the canons of his church. If you are a priest of an Eastern Rite and are considering military chaplaincy, contact the AMS Chancellor.
3. What is involved in the application process?
It is important to understand the relationship between the AMS and the government. You must apply to both entities and each application is different. If you want to become a military chaplain, you must contact and apply through a military chaplain recruiter for the particular branch of service that you are interesting in joining. See the FAQs for further clarification.
None of the military services or government departments will complete your application until they receive a DD Form 2088 from the Archdiocese for the Military Services. To receive the AMS endorsement you must submit an application that can be found on our website. In addition to the application, you must submit a photograph of themselves (yourself), a letter of permission from their (your) Ordinary for the particular ministry they are seeking (you seek) to perform. (i.e., Army active duty military chaplain, Air National Guard, contract priest at xxx installation, etc.), a signed and stamped original of the Dallas Charter statement from their Ordinary, and proof of Youth Protection training mandated by the Dallas Charter.
4. What is an endorsement and what is a DD Form 2088? How does an endorsement differ from faculties?
A completed DD Form 2088 issued by the AMS is the statement of endorsement. For Catholic priests the Archdiocese for the Military Services is the only organization that can issue the DD Form 2088. It allows the government to process the priest’s government application and to eventually accept the priest in the military or issue a contract, whatever the situation warrants. Without the properly completed and signed DD Form 2088, the priest cannot be accepted into the military or issued a contract. The AMS endorsement does not mean that the priest has AMS faculties.
Faculties grant the priest or deacon permission to celebrate the sacraments within the limitations of their ordination. No priest or deacon with faculties from his own diocese automatically has valid faculties at a military installation, a VA facility or military cemetery. Faculties must be expressly issued by the AMS. The AMS application may lead to the granting of faculties, but the granting of the AMS endorsement (DD Form
2088) does not mean the priest has the AMS faculties. They are issued separately. The endorsement is normally given to to complete the military application. Faculties are issued when the priest receives his first military assignment.
5. How long does it take to get an endorsement from the Archdiocese for the Military Services?
The length varies with each candidate. If the candidate submits all of the required documents with the application, the process goes more quickly. If a background investigation includes multiple dioceses, the process takes longer because the diocesan Ordinary of each diocese must be contacted. The minimum time for an endorsement is approximately one month. However, it can take as long as six months if a diocese overseas has to be contacted.
6. Can my own bishop or Superior issue the DD Form 2088?
No. The only authorized endorser is the Archbishop for the Military Services. The government will reject all other endorsements for Catholic clergy.
7. Do I need to make an application to the military if I have applied to the AMS? Or, do I have to apply to the AMS if I made application to the military?
You must apply to both. Applying to the AMS is not an application to the military or government. Applying to the government or the military is not applying to the AMS.
8. What branch of service should I consider?
The AMS does not recommend any branch of the military. Priests are needed in each branch. Only you can answer the question. It is best to contact the recruiter from each service and talk about the mission of that particular service. Ask them for the names of current and past chaplains so that you can discuss their experiences. Each branch of service offers a different experience and unique opportunities. Discussions with the chaplain recruiters and current and past chaplains should help you align the particular military mission with your own goals for ministry.
9. How do I contact a military chaplain recruiter?
The following is a list of current military chaplain recruiters, all priests, who would be glad to assist you?
Chaplain (CPT) Thomas Foley – Air Force
Chaplain (CPT) Arkadiusz (Arek) Ochalek, USA – Army
Chaplain (LCDR) David Daigle – Navy
10. How many years experience is required to be considered for the military?
The AMS will not grant an endorsement for any priest without at least three years of pastoral experience. A priest who is incardinated in a diocese or a religious community where his training and experience is mostly from outside the U.S. must be able to document three years of pastoral experience within the United States.
11. What is the difference between active duty, the Reserve and the National Guard?
An active duty chaplain is a full-time member of the military with a 24/7 position. He wears the uniform to work every day and is subject to the needs of the military for his temporary and permanent assignments. The Reserve is a component of the military that generally meets for training one weekend a month and for a two weeks of active duty support each year. Reserve units are subject to being called up for active duty and assignments around the world as needed. The training requirements of the National Guard are similar to the Reserve but the state governor is their Commander-in-Chief and they can be mobilized by the governor to assist with natural disasters or any other emergency requiring their expertise. Some National Guard units are also temporarily federalized to assist the active duty military.
12. What documents do I need to apply?
Supplemental documents that must be submitted with the AMS application include a photograph in clerical attire, a letter of permission from your Ordinary, the Dallas Charter statement from your Ordinary and proof of Child Youth Protection training as mandated by the Dallas Charter.
13. What are the military’s qualifications? Is there an age limit? Are there physical qualifications?
There are age limits and physical requirements; however, each branch of the military has different requirements. In general, the age limit is early forties; however, each military branch grants waivers but has different reasons for granting waivers. Physical requirements also vary as do waivers for not meeting the physical and medical requirements. Your recruiter is the best source for answers to these questions.
14. Does the Archdiocese for the Military Services incardinate priests or deacons?
No. All priests and deacons are “on loan” to the AMS.
15. Do I have to be a U.S. citizen to be a chaplain?
To be an active duty, Reserve, National Guard or full-time/part-time VA chaplain, the priest must be a citizen of the United States. You cannot hold dual citizenship, U.S. citizenship only. The Army Reserve will accept a priest who is a permanent resident (Green Card holder). A contract or fee basis priest with the VA can also be a permanent resident.
16. Can a priest with an R-1 visa work for the Department of Veterans Affairs?
17. Will the AMS help me get an R-1 visa?
18. What is a contract priest?
A contract priest is an independent contractor who has a contract with a particular military installation to provide priestly ministry for a specific contract amount and for a specific period of time. The endorsement of the AMS is a prerequisite for a priest’s contract to be valid. The contract terms are determined by the needs of the installation and the contract is issued by the installation to the priest. The AMS is not involved with the contract terms other than to provide an endorsement. Unless required by the contract specifications, the contract priest does not have to be a U.S. citizen.
Note: The AMS will not grant an endorsement for a priest working through a third-party staffing agency. The contract must be held by the priest, his parish, or his diocese/religious order. See written third-party policy here.
19. What is a GS priest?
GS is an acronym for General Schedule. A GS priest is an employee of the U.S. government and is not a military chaplain. In some cases the military has determined that it is in their best interest to provide a GS priest rather than a uniformed chaplain. Chaplains for the Veteran’s Administration are also GS employees.
20. How do I find the civilian contract and/or GS chaplain positions that are available with the Department of Veterans Affairs or at a military installation?
Open contract and employee positions with the federal government can be found at government websites. Besides the particular department website, two good sources for job openings are Federal Business Opportunities (FedBizOpps) for contractor openings and USA Jobs for available GS positions. Occasionally the AMS is aware of job openings and will post them on this website. However, this is not a complete list and you should search other websites for job openings.
21. Does a contract or GS priest need the AMS endorsement and faculties?
Yes. The application and approval process are the same, including the need for the Ordinary’s or religious superior’s permission, the Dallas Charter statement and proof of Youth Protection training.