Prospective Catholic Navy Chaplain Ordained a Transitional Deacon in Solemn Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica

James Hinkle enters final stage of priestly formation as AMS supports new vocations to relieve chronic shortage of Catholic military chaplains

Reverend Mr. James Hinkle ordained a transitional deacon Oct. 3 at St. Peter's Basilica in Rome.

Reverend Mr. James Hinkle ordained a transitional deacon Oct. 3 at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The Archdiocese for the Military Services (AMS) rejoices in the diaconal ordination of yet another prospective newmilitary chaplain. Reverend Mr. James Hinkle was ordained a transitional deacon on Thursday, Oct. 3, 2013 at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Imposing hands and invoking the Holy Spirit, His Eminence,James Cardinal Harvey, Archpriest of the Pontifical Basilica of St. Paul outside the Walls, ordained James and forty of his classmates. His Excellency, the Most Reverend F. Richard Spencer, AMS Auxiliary Bishop and Episcopal Vicar for Europe and Asia, concelebrated the ordination Mass.

Deacon Hinkle, a former lieutenant and submariner in the United StatesNavy, is on track to rejoin the Navy as a chaplain following his priestly ordination, expected sometime next year. Diaconal ordination is the last step in his formational journey through the Pontifical North American College in Rome. A private pilot who has broken the speed of sound in the backseat of an F-16 fighter plane, Deacon Hinkle is the son of Meredith and Retired Rear Admiral James B. Hinkle, former Deputy Chief of Naval Personnel and Commander of the Navy Personnel Command. The Hinkles and their daughter Jennifer were among family and friends who attended the ordination. The congregation included a pilgrimage group from St. Ambrose Catholic Church in Annandale, Va. within Deacon Hinkle’s home diocese of Arlington.

Rev. Mr. Hinkle said:

“I am excited to be ordained to the Order of Deacons, configured to Christ the Servant, on my way to the priesthood. Moreover, I will have the unique privilege of being able to serve at the altar for the Catholic community at Naval Support Activity (NSA) Naples on a regular basis over the course of this next year. It will be great to be working with those families of our servicemen and women and the larger community of the base.”

Deacon Hinkle said he first became aware of his vocation while teaching a high school religion class. He said, “I came to know and share Christ through faithful participation in the Sacraments of Christ’s Church in communion with the people of His Church.”

Rev. Mr. Hinkle is among a growing number of men in formation to become priests and military chaplains through the Co-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. Rev. Mr. Hinkle is among seven 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

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, the only official website for Catholics in the military and for the Cause of Father Vincent Capodanno, MM.

Contact: Taylor Henry