U.S. Air Force Chaplain Candidate Ordained a Transitional Catholic Deacon

Diaconal ordination marks next-to-last step toward priesthood for Rev. Mr. Jacob Valle

PEORIA, ILLINOIS – The Reverend Mr. Jacob Valle, a candidate for the Catholic priesthood and United States military chaplaincy, was ordained a transitional deacon Saturday, May 17, in his home diocese of Peoria, Ill. He hopes eventually to serve as a Catholic chaplain in the United States Air Force (USAF) with endorsement and faculties from the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA (AMS).

Rev. Mr. Valle’s diaconal ordination was celebrated at the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception through the laying of hands and the prayer of consecration invoking the Holy Spirit by His Excellency, the Most Reverend Daniel Jenky, C.S.C., D.D. AMS Auxiliary Bishop Robert J. Coyleconcelebrated the ordination Mass. Among those in attendance were the new deacon’s parents, Maj. Charles Valle, USAF (Ret.), and Mrs. Mary Beth Valle; his brother and sister-in-law, Capt. Nathan Valle, USAF, and Mrs. Valerie Valle; and his brother, Mr. Benjamin Valle.

Rev. Mr. Valle, 25, is a 2007 graduate from Marian Central Catholic School in Woodstock, Ill. He says that during his freshman year of college at Illinois State University, he came to know Jesus through eucharistic adoration. The following year, he entered theImmaculate Heart of Mary College Seminary in Winona, Minnesota, where he earned a Bachelor’s degree in philosophy in 2011.

The new deacon is currently enrolled at Mount Saint Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Maryland. Diaconal ordination marks the next-to-last step in his formational journey toward priesthood. He hopes to be ordained a priest next year upon earning a Master of Divinity and a Master of Arts degree in theology. Meanwhile, he holds the rank of Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force, where he is a chaplain candidate.

Rev. Mr. Valle said:

“It is an honor to be chosen by our Lord to give my life in service to the Church as his deacon and, eventually, as a priest. At the same time, it is humbling to know that I, though unworthy, will be used by God as his instrument to proclaim the Gospel and celebrate the sacraments. I am excited to give my life in service to God and country.”

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 and discernment opportunities for prospective chaplains, the number of co-sponsored seminarians has risen from seven in 2008 to 31 today, and still more candidates are on the way. Rev. Mr. Valle is among eight prospective chaplains to be ordained transitional deacons this year. Also this year, another five 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 $2.7 million over the next five years. Donations can be made at www.milarch.org.