Prospective Catholic Military Chaplain Ordained Transitional Deacon

Rev. Mr. John Crutchfield on track to become priest in U.S. Army

Bishop George Leo Thomas ordains John Crutchfield a transitional deacon on June 21, 2013 in Helena, Montana. Photo courtesy: Eric Connolly, Montana Catholic.

Bishop George Leo Thomas ordains John Crutchfield a transitional deacon on June 21, 2013 in Helena, Montana. Photo courtesy: Eric Connolly, Montana Catholic.

HELENA, MONTANA—Rev. Mr. John Crutchfield was ordained a transitional deacon Friday during the celebration of Mass at the Cathedral of St. Helena in Helena, Montana. A seminarian at Mount Angel Seminary in St. Benedict, Oregon , Rev. Mr. Crutchfield is on track to become a Catholic priest and U.S. Army chaplain with endorsement and faculties from the Archdiocese for the Military Services (AMS). Rev. Mr. Crutchfield hopes to be ordained a priest next year.

His Excellency, the Most Reverend George Leo Thomas, Bishop of Helena, ordained Rev. Mr. Crutchfield at the 5:00 p.m. Mass. Concelebrants included Father Kerry Abbott, OFM Conv., AMS Director of Vocations. Rev. Mr. Crutchfield’s parents, Graham and Betsy Crutchfield, were among those in the congregation.

Rev. Mr. Crutchfield is the latest product in a bumper harvest of prospective new military chaplains this year, during which five (5) diaconal and two (2) priestly ordinations have been celebrated and at least one more diaconal ordination is scheduled. The bumper harvest is the fruit of ongoing efforts by the AMS Vocations Office to overcome a chronic shortage of Catholic military chaplains as aging priests reach the military’s mandatory retirement age of 62 faster than they can be replaced. Since 9/11, the active-duty roster has shrunk from more than 400 to fewer than 260. Currently, 25% of the military is Catholic, but Catholic priests make up only 8% of the chaplain corps.

To fill this shortage, the AMS, in cooperation with local bishops and religious communities, is using the “Co-Sponsored Seminarian Program” to support young men called to pursue priestly vocations, both in their home dioceses and in the military. Over the past five (5) years, the number of seminarians, deacons and priests enrolled in the program has risen from seven (7) in 2008 to 34 this year. As many as five (5) more are expected to enter in the fall, and the AMS is processing applications of nine (9) others.

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, or may contact Father Kerry Abbott, OFM Conv., AMS Vocations Director, by email at

The 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 chaplains also serve at 153 VA Medical Centers throughout the U.S.Worldwide, an estimated 1.8 million Catholics depend on the AMS to meet their spiritual and sacramental needs.

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.

For more information on the Archdiocese for the Military Services, visit, the only official website for Catholics in the military and for the Cause of Father Vincent Capodanno, M.M.