WASHINGTON, D.C. — All who support the free exercise of Catholic faith in the U.S. Military have a unique opportunity this weekend to do their part. The occasion is Sunday, July 21, the 34th birthday of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA(AMS), which Pope Saint John Paul II erected in 1985 to provide pastoral care to Catholics in the U.S. Armed Forces. To celebrate the occasion, the AMS is sponsoring its first-ever “Day of Giving.”
On the Day of Giving, the public may wish the AMS a “Happy Birthday” with a present in the form of a donation, large or small, at www.milarch.org/dayofgiving. The link will be live from 12 Noon on Sunday, July 21, until 10:00 p.m. on Monday, July 22, a period of 34 hours, one hour for each year in the life of the AMS.
Mr. Salvador (Sal) Perez, AMS Director of Advancement, says the focus of the Day of Giving is the 182 Catholic priests now serving on active duty as military chaplains with AMS endorsement and faculties. “During the 34-hour period,” he said, “we hope to receive at least 182 gifts, one for each chaplain,” although he says any gift will go into the general operating budget in support of their collective service, not to the chaplains individually. “No amount is too large or too small,” he says. “If we receive 182 donations of one dollar each, we will be happy and grateful.”
Proceeds will help meet of variety of specific needs, including seminary expenses for prospective chaplains to relieve a desperate shortage of those now on active duty; evangelization and catechesis programs for Catholic U.S. Military families based worldwide; a robust religious education program for the K-through-12 school children of these families; sacramental record-keeping for baptisms, first communions, confirmations, and other sacraments performed on U.S. Military installations; a fully functional tribunal; a busy international travel schedule for Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio, J.C.D., and his five Auxiliary Bishops, and much more.
The AMS is the Catholic Church’s only jurisdiction responsible for endorsing and granting faculties to priests to serve the U.S. Military. Its annual operating budget is more than $8 million, not counting seminary expenses projected at nearly $5 million over the next five years alone. The AMS receives no funding from the military or the government. The AMS has no community of parishes to provide regular support. The AMS depends entirely on private giving to support pastoral care for Catholics in uniform based around the world or hospitalized in the nation’s VA Medical Centers.