Prospective Catholic U.S. Military Chaplain Ordained Transitional Deacon in Florida

Diaconal ordination of Rev. Mr. Christopher Dorsey marks next-to-last step before priestly vows

BOCA RATON, FLORIDA – The Reverend Mr. Christopher Dorsey, a candidate for the Catholic priesthood and United States militarychaplaincy, was ordained a transitional Deacon Saturday, April 26, inBoca Raton, Florida. He hopes eventually to serve as a Catholicchaplain in the United States Army with endorsement and faculties from the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA (AMS).

Although Orlando, Florida is Rev. Mr. Dorsey’s home diocese, he is undergoing priestly formation at St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary in Boynton Beach, the primary seminary for all Florida dioceses. His diaconal ordination was celebrated at St. Joan of Arc Church in Boca Raton through the laying of hands and the prayer ofconsecration invoking the Holy Spirit by His Excellency, the Most Reverend Gregory L. Parkes, Bishop of Pensacola-Tallahassee.

Rev. Mr. Dorsey, 27, comes from a military family background. He is the youngest of three children born to Lee and Mary Dorsey of Melbourne, Florida. His father, now a contractor with United States Department of Defense, was in the U.S. Air Force, and like many military families, the Dorseys moved around quite a bit during his childhood, rotating between assignments in Washington, California, Alabama, Virginia, and Florida. Rev. Mr. Dorsey’s mother is the Director of Religious Education at his home parish, Holy Name of Jesus in Indialantic Beach. He attended the University of Central Florida where he received a bachelor’s degree in English before entering Seminary for the Diocese of Orlando. He attended Saint John Vianney College Seminary as a pre-theologian before moving on to St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary to study Theology.

Rev. Mr. Dorsey said:

“It is slightly surreal, but an amazing grace that I have reached this point in my formation to the priesthood. To be ordained to the diaconate on the same weekend as the canonization of John Paul II, who has had a great impact on my personal spirituality and faith is a blessing as well. I am humbled that the Church is entrusting me with the care of its people, to preach and baptize children and witness marriages. It is both exciting and overwhelming but even more so, it is a joyous occasion that I know will forever change my life. I hope and pray that I can live up to the examples of the priests and deacons I have had in my life as I continue on to my last year of studies and ministry before the priesthood.”

Diaconal ordination marks the next-to-last step in Rev. Mr. Dorsey’s formational journey toward priesthood. He hopes to be ordained a priest sometime next year.

The new Deacon 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 229. 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 anddiscernmentopportunities for prospective chaplains, the number of co-sponsored seminarians has risen from seven in 2008 to 33 today, and still more candidates are on the way. Rev. Mr. Dorsey is among eight prospective chaplains to be ordained transitional deacons this year. Also this year, another six will be 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 more than $2.5 million over the next five years. Donations can be made here.