Father Daniel L. Mode, CHC (CAPT), USN, Assumes Watch as New Chaplain of the U.S. Coast Guard First Catholic priest in more than a decade to assume service’s top-ranking chaplain position

Father Daniel L. Mode, CHC (CAPT), USN (left), assumes watch as Chaplain of the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) from retiring Rev. Thomas J. Walcott, CHC (CAPT), USN (right), as USCG Commandant Admiral Karl L. Schultz looks on. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Travis Magee/Released.)

WASHINGTON, DC — On Wednesday, April 20, Father Daniel L. Mode, CHC (CAPT), USN, assumed watch as the new Chaplain of the U.S. Coast Guard, the service’s top-ranking officer for religious ministry. The induction took place in a 90-minute Change of Watch ceremony at Coast Guard headquarters in southeast Washington. Father Mode relieves Rev. Thomas J. Walcott of the Christian Reformed Church, who is retiring from military service after 28 years, the last four of which he served as Chaplain of the Coast Guard. The Coast Guard relies on the U.S. Navy to provide ministry and pastoral care to more than 40,000 “Coasties” on active duty and their families along with thousands of reservists, civilians, and auxiliarists. Both Father Mode and Rev. Walcott are Navy chaplains.

According to the Coast Guard’s website, the Chaplain of the Coast Guard “advises the Commandant on religious support and promotes the well-being of all personnel, manages Navy Chaplains assigned to the Coast Guard, and ensures personnel and families are provided the full continuum of pastoral care.” In that role, Father Mode will supervise more than 50 active-duty and reserve Navy chaplains and over 90 auxiliary chaplains in their ministry to the Coast Guard. In his remarks upon assuming the new role, Father Mode vowed to champion two initiatives that have been hallmarks of his predecessor’s tenure: “to remain steadfast in building spiritual readiness within our force,” and to “continue the efforts to operationalize religious ministry.”

Father Mode is the 12th clergyman to serve as Chaplain of the Coast Guard since the position was created in 1983, and the first Catholic in 12 years. Father Mode serves with endorsement and faculties from the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA (AMS). His Excellency, the Most Rev. Timothy P. Broglio, J.C.D., Archbishop for the Military Services, was among Catholic leaders attending today’s ceremony alongside senior Coast Guard officers, family members, and others. Also attending were Bishop Michael F. Burbidge and Bishop Emeritus Paul S. Loverde, D.D., S.T.L., of Arlington, VA. Father Mode is a priest of the Diocese of Arlington.

In his remarks, Father Mode said, “The Coast Guard values Delivery of Mission Excellency Anytime, Anywhere. Chaplains are eager to engage with the men and women of the Coast Guard (uniform and civilian). We can shift seamlessly from mission support to operational roles as needed by operational commanders. I want to increase the operational presence of our chaplains. The Chaplain Corps will continue to serve the Coast Guard with Honor, Respect, and Devotion to Duty. Thank you again for the honor to serve as the Chaplain of the Coast Guard, and know that I will covet your prayers, guidance, and support as I stand the watch. Peace and Semper Paratus (the Coast Guard’s motto, meaning ‘always ready’).”

Father Mode was ordained in 1992 after completing studies at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, MD. He joined the Navy Reserve in 1997 and was assigned to active duty in 2007. Father Mode has served on four U.S. Navy Warships: the USS John F. Kennedy (CV 67), the USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75), the USS George Washington (CVS 73), and the USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19).  He is a veteran of numerous deployments, including stints in the Persian Gulf, Afghanistan, Japan, and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where he served as command chaplain managing pastoral care for all 6,000 on base. Nor is Father Mode any stranger to the Coast Guard. From 2009 to 2012, he served as a chaplain to the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, CT. A seasoned priest who has come to view himself as a “military missionary,” Father Mode is author of The Grunt Padre: the Service and Sacrifice of Father Vincent Robert Capodanno, Vietnam 1966-1967 (CMJ Marian), a biography of the Servant of GodU.S. Navy chaplain, and Vietnam War hero whose Cause for Canonization is being reviewed by the Catholic Church to determine if his giving his life for others while serving U.S Marines in combat constitutes sufficient reason to raise him to the altars.

Watch video of Change of Watch ceremony.