For God and Country: a Call to Serve Those Who Serve Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA, to hold summer discernment retreat experience for ordained priests considering joining the military as chaplains

Ten priests walk the opening procession for Mass at the “For God and Country” Retreat for prospective new military chaplains in Washington, DC, on June 25, 2019.

WASHINGTON, DC – The United States Military is in desperate need of more Catholic priests to serve as active-duty military chaplains. The Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA (AMS), is pressing forward with efforts to fill the need. This summer, the AMS will hold its sixth, all-expenses-paid discernment retreat for priests who are already incardinated in a U.S. diocese or religious order and currently engaged in pastoral service, but who may sense a further call to military chaplaincy. The retreat, called “For God and Country: a Call to Serve Those Who Serve,” will be held June 22-26, 2020, in Washington, DC.

Priests interested in participating in “For God and Country: a Call to Serve Those Who Serve” may apply at https://www.milarch.org/for-god-and-country/application/. For those selected, the AMS will pay all expenses, including travel and lodging. To qualify for consideration:

  • Priests must have a minimum of two years of ministry in a parish;
  • Be a citizen or have a Green Card; priests with only a Visa will not be considered;
  • Able to meet the military’s height/weight standards and have no serious pre-existing medical conditions;
  • Preference will be given to those priests who can enter active duty before their 42nd birthday, but older priests may apply.

Space is limited, so timely application is advised. Any questions may be directed to the AMS Chancellor, Father Robert Cannon, MA, JCL, by email at Chancellor@milarch.org or telephone at (202) 719-3600.

During the four-day gathering, AMS clergy, staff, and chaplains will join His Excellency, the Most Reverend Timothy P. Broglio, JCD, Archbishop for the Military Services, in giving the priests a realistic picture of what it is like to be a military chaplain and how to become one. The priests will stay at Theological College, the Catholic Seminary on the campus of the Catholic University of America, on Michigan Avenue in Northeast Washington, and from there, go on field trips to Andrews Air Force BaseFort Belvoir, the Quantico Marine Base, and the Pentagon. In these real-life settings, they will meet and talk with military officers, enlisted personnel, and other chaplains. The highlight of the gathering will come in the Pentagon Memorial Chapel at the 9/11 crash site, where the priests will concelebrate Mass.

Catholics make up about 25% of the U.S. Armed Forces, numbering about 325,000 of those on active duty, but currently, Catholic priests compose only seven percent—just barely over 200—of the active-duty chaplain corps. That’s down from more than 400 priests on active duty at the time of 9/11, as more Catholic chaplains reach retirement faster than they can be replaced.

Father Cannon said:

“Often when I am talking to a priest about my experience as a military chaplain, the priest will say that he had considered serving as a chaplain during the seminary or at some point in his ministry, but just didn’t know where to begin. Through the AMS ‘For God and Country’ retreat experience, priests are able to have all their questions answered to help them discern whether God is calling them to this vocation within a vocation. Many of attendees are now serving on active duty. I hope that anyone who feels that they may be called to be a military chaplain will join us in DC for the retreat.”