MENLO PARK, CA – Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio accepted St. Patrick Seminary’s Patrician Award on Saturday evening at the seminary’s 11th annual gala in Menlo Park, CA. Archbishop Broglio accepted the award—a statuette of St. Patrick—on behalf of the gala honoree, the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA, (AMS), of which he has been the chief shepherd for the past ten years.
Father George E. Schultze, S.J., the seminary’s President-Rector, noted that “[f]or at least the past ten years, St. Patrick’s has hosted an AMS retreat… The retreat normally has 30 to 40 men who are enlisted, academy cadets, or seminarians interested in the military chaplaincy, who spend three days at St. Patrick’s listening to the experiences of military chaplains from each branch of the armed services… St. Patrick’s is the only seminary on the West Coast that has a military discernment retreat,” he added.
The discernment retreat, held each spring at St. Patrick’s, is one of two that the AMS holds annually in the United States, one on either side of the country. The eastern retreat usually takes place in the fall at a seminary somewhere in the eastern U.S. Collectively, over the past ten years, those retreats have yielded an abundant harvest of young men answering God’s call to become priests and military chaplains through the “Co-Sponsored Seminarian Program,” (CSP), a vocations partnership between the AMS and cooperating U.S. dioceses and religious communities. Enrollment has steadily climbed from just seven in 2008 to 45 this year, bringing a growing number of new priests into the ranks of the U.S. Military at a time when an increasingly desperate shortage of Catholic military chaplains is making it harder for military Catholics to exercise their faith without regular access to the sacraments. The shortage is due to attrition: aging priests are reaching their military retirement faster than they can be replaced.
In accepting the Patrician Award from Father Schultze, Archbishop Broglio said in part:
“The seminary that Archbishop (Salvatore J.) Cordileone and I attended had a copy of an ancient Roman statute of the Good Shepherd currently in the Vatican Museums. It depicts the Shepherd with the lost lamb on his shoulders.
“It is for me the best image of the ‘reckless’ care by the Good Shepherd of those entrusted to Him. May it also be a good image for those who are formed here to serve you.
“Allow me to express my gratitude for this prestigious award given to those I am privileged to serve. I am grateful to this seminary, Father Schultze, and to the whole seminary community. Every year the AMS brings here a group of young men who are considering the priesthood and the chaplaincy. You always welcome them, shower them with hospitality, and inspire them with your good example.
“I also recognize the Gold Star families present here. Your sons and daughters made the ultimate sacrifice, but you continue to experience that absence in your lives. We join you in pledging an eternal remembrance of your sorrow.
“I am grateful to all of you who support St. Patrick Seminary. Know that the military continues to be the largest single source of vocations in the United States today. The CARA study reminds us that 4% of those ordained priests in the USA this year are prior service, while 13% came from families where either Mom or Dad served in the military.”
Nearly 700 St. Patrick’s supporters attended the gala on the seminary grounds under clear skies and cool, early autumn weather. They included military personnel from nearby Beale Air Force Base, other Armed Forces, and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)chaplains from Menlo Park and Palo Alto. Many veteran service men and women also joined the celebration.