ATLANTA, GA. – The Reverend Mr. Michael Metz, a candidate for the Catholic priesthood and United States military chaplaincy, was ordained a transitional deacon Saturday, May 27, in Atlanta, Ga. Deacon Metz is on track to be ordained a priest in June of 2018, and he hopes eventually to serve as a Catholic chaplain in the United States Army with endorsement and faculties from the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA (AMS).
The new deacon was ordained, along with three other young men, at the Cathedral of Christ the King. Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory of Atlanta administered the ordinations through the laying of hands and the prayer of consecration invoking the Holy Spirit. His Excellency, the Most Reverend Timothy P. Broglio, J.C.D., Archbishop for the Military Services, concelebrated the 10:30 a.m. ordination Mass.
Like Rev. Mr. Metz, whose father served in the U.S. Navy, two of the three others ordained with him—Rev. Mr. John P. Knight and Rev. Mr. Michael K. Bremer—also come from U.S. Military families, demonstrating the vast potential of the armed forces as a source for new vocations in the Catholic Church. In fact, a 2017 survey of men being ordained to the American priesthood this year, conducted by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University, finds at least 17% either served in the Military or come from military families. The actual numbers are almost certainly higher, because only 75% of the 590 ordinands responded to the 2017 survey.
Deacon Metz, 27, the son of Patrick and Marion (Thompson) Metz of Cummings, Ga., is the second of the couple’s eleven children. His parents and nine of his ten brothers and sisters attended the ordination, along with their grandparents, John and Michaela (McGannon) Metz of Memphis, Tenn.
Rev. Mr. Metz is a 2012 graduate of Christian Brothers University in Memphis, where he majored in Business Management while enrolled in the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC). In 2014, He earned a master’s degree in Philosophy and English at Mundelein Seminary in Mundelein, Ill., where he will spend the next year finishing work on a Baccalaureate in Sacred Theology.
Rev. Mr. Metz said:
“I am very happy about my ordination and am full of gratitude to God for this gift. It is an incredible joy to receive this first sacrament in the Priesthood of Jesus Christ. He has created me out of love for service in His Church and I’m excited to live into that mission.”
The new deacon’s prospective military service, along with that of other prospective new Catholic chaplains, comes at a crucial time. The Army and all other branches of the U.S. Armed Forces continue to suffer a chronic shortage of chaplains as more and more priests reach mandatory military retirement faster than they can be replaced. Since 9/11, the number of active-duty chaplains has fallen from more than 400 to approximately 207. While Catholics make up about 25% of the U.S. armed forces, Catholic priests currently account for only 8% of military chaplains.
At the same time, the military itself continues to be a rich source of vocations in the U.S. The AMS is now busy tapping this source for prospective chaplains. The Vocations Office is focusing attention on active-duty servicemen expressing an interest in the priesthood, inviting more qualified candidates to join the Co-Sponsored Seminarian Program, a vocations partnership between the AMS and cooperating dioceses and religious communities around the country.
Thanks in large part to the support of U.S. bishops and religious superiors, along with increased awareness and discernment opportunities, the number of co-sponsored seminarians has risen from seven in 2008 to 34 today. They come from 26 U.S. dioceses and are enrolled in 20 seminaries nationwide and the Pontifical North American College in Rome.
This year, two of those co-sponsored will be ordained priests, and two seminarians, including Rev. Mr. Metz, have been ordained transitional deacons. Another 10 priests, now in reserve status, are set to phase into active duty over the next three years. Meanwhile, another four men are scheduled to enter the Co-Sponsored Seminarian Program in the fall, and the AMS Office of Vocations is currently processing the applications of still others.
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 $2.9 million over the next five years. Donations can be made at www.milarch.org/donate.
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 www.milarch.org/vocations, or may contact the Vocations Director, Father Aidan Logan, O.C.S.O., by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.