Weekend ordinations the latest yield in bumper harvest of new vocations for military service
WASHINGTON, D.C.—Father Jason Burchell and Father Angel Marrero were ordained priests Saturday, June 8, with hopes of answering the “vocation within a vocation” to serve as Catholic chaplains in the U.S. military.
Father Burchell was ordained by His Excellency, the Most Reverend Paul S. Loverde, Bishop of Arlington, Virginia, in a solemn Mass at the Cathedral of Saint Thomas More. His Excellency, the Most Reverend Timothy P. Broglio, Archbishop for the Military Services (AMS), attended the ordination Mass. Father Burchell completed studies at Mount Saint Mary’s University and Seminary in Emmitsburg, Maryland. He hopes to serve in the Navy following a period of pastoral work in his home diocese of Arlington.
Father Marrero was ordained by His Excellency, the Most Reverend William E. Lori, Archbishop of Baltimore, Maryland, in a solemn Mass at the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen. Representing Archbishop Broglio, Rev. Msgr. Frank Pugliese, AMS Vicar General, concelebrated the ordination Mass. Father Marrero completed studies at Saint Mary’s Seminary and University in his home diocese of Baltimore. He hopes to serve in the Army following a period of pastoral work in his home diocese.
Father Burchell and Father Marrero are the latest products in a 2013 bumper harvest of prospective new military chaplains ordained as priests or transitional deacons in preparation for priestly ordination. Ordained as transitional deacons earlier this year were: Rev. Mr. William Appel on March 23 in Covington, Kentucky; Rev. Mr. Paul Shovelain on May 4 in Mineapolis, Minnesota; and Rev. Mr. Christopher Christensen and Rev. Mr. Steven Walker on June 1 in Arlington, Virginia. At least one more diaconal ordination is scheduled later this year.
The bumper harvest is the fruit of ongoing efforts by the AMS Vocations Office to overcome a Catholic military chaplain shortage as aging chaplains reach the military’s mandatory retirement age of 62 faster than they can be replaced. Since 9/11, the active-duty roster has shrunk from more than 400 to fewer than 260. Currently, 25% of the military is Catholic, but Catholic priests make up only 8% of the chaplain corps.
To fill this shortage, the AMS, in cooperation with local bishops and religious communities, is using the “Co-Sponsored Seminarian Program” to support young men called to pursue priestly vocations, both in their home dioceses and in the military. Over the past five years, the number of seminarians, deacons and priests enrolled in the program has risen from seven (7) in 2008 to more than 50 this year. As many as five (5) more are expected to enter in the fall, and the AMS is processing applications of nine (9) others.
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 Father Kerry Abbott, OFM Conv., AMS Vocations Director, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The 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 chaplains 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 www.milarch.org, the only official Web site for Catholics in the military and for the Cause of Father Vincent Capodanno, M.M.