Kenneth Malley enters final stage of priestly formation as AMS supports new vocations to relieve chronic shortage of Catholic military chaplains
WASHINGTON, D.C.—The Archdiocese for the Military Services(AMS) rejoices in the diaconal ordination of a prospective new military chaplain. Kenneth Malley was ordained a transitional deacon Sunday at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in the Eparchy of Parma, Ohio. His Excellency, the Most Reverend Bishop John M. Kudrick, Bishop of Parma, administered the ordination through the imposition of hands and the invocation of the Holy Spirit.
Diaconal ordination is the last step in Father Deacon Kenneth’s formational journey toward priestly ordination through the Byzantine Catholic Seminary of Saints Cyril and Methodius in Pittsburgh, Pa. A 12-year veteran of the United States Air Force, where he attained the rank of second lieutenant, Father Deacon Kenneth, 32, hopes to pursue his military career as an AMS-endorsed chaplain. Before joining the Air Force, Father Deacon Kenneth graduated from Somerset Area High School in Somerset, Pa. He holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from California University of Pennsylvania and a master’s degree in philosophy from the Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus, Ohio. A violin player, he performed two seasons with the Washington Symphony Orchestra.
Father Deacon Kenneth says he discovered his vocation while deployed overseas. “I had a very hard time in my earlier years. Before I learned to trust in the plan and power of God, I always thought I had to figure everything out on my own. After abject confusion, depression that sent me wandering on a 3,000 mile road trip, and ultimately, homelessness resulting in the need for food and shelter, I joined the Air Force knowing they would cover my necessities. It was on a deployment to southeast Asia, much to my surprise, that I first felt the guiding hand of God. Eventually, I knew that there was nothing else I could do but follow that calling, and now I can’t imagine doing anything else!”
Father Deacon Kenneth is among a growing number of men in formation to become priests and military chaplains through theCo-Sponsored Seminarian Program, a partnership between the AMS and local dioceses and religious communities to support vocations and fill a fast-growing shortage of Catholic chaplains in the U.S. military. The shortage comes as more and more priests reach the military’s mandatory retirement age of 62 faster than they can be replaced. Since 9/11, the number of active-duty chaplains has fallen from more than 400 to 234. While Catholics make up about 25% of the U.S. armed forces, Catholic priests currently account for only 8% of military chaplains.
Thanks in large part to the support of U.S. bishops and religious superiors, along with increased awareness and discernment opportunities for prospective chaplains, the number of co-sponsored seminarians has risen from seven in 2008 to more than 30 today, and still more candidates are on the way. The AMS is processing the applications of an additional 14 men while nearly two dozen others are currently in a stage of serious discernment. Father Deacon Kenneth is among six co-sponsored seminarians who have been ordained transitional deacons so far this year alone, and another two have been ordained priests.
The AMS, which receives no funding from the government and depends entirely on private giving, is now looking for ways to fund a fast-rising seminary bill, now projected at $2.5 million over the next five years. Donations can be made atwww.milarch.org.
The Archdiocese for the Military Services (AMS) was created as an independent archdiocese by Pope John Paul II in 1985 as the only Catholic jurisdiction responsible for endorsing and granting faculties for priests to serve as chaplains in the U.S. military and VA Medical Centers.
AMS-endorsed priests serve at more than 220 U.S. military installations in 29 countries, making the AMS the nation’s only global archdiocese. AMS-endorsed priests also serve at 153 VA Medical Centers throughout the U.S.
The AMS service population also includes American Catholic civilians working for the federal government in 134 countries, but currently, due to limited resources, the AMS cannot adequately serve this population.
Worldwide, an estimated 1.8 million Catholics depend on the AMS to meet their spiritual and sacramental needs.
For more information on the Archdiocese for the Military Services, visit www.milarch.org, the only official website for Catholics in the military and for the Cause of Father Vincent Capodanno, MM.