They hear confessions in far-flung base camps in Afghanistan. They administer the sacraments on Navy destroyers. They travel constantly in combat zones, often saying Mass six or seven times in one weekend.
The work of Catholic chaplains in the U.S. military is far from easy, yet it’s vital work, especially to the more than 250,000 Catholics who are on active duty. But Catholic military chaplains are in short supply, with only 100 priests filling 400 Catholic chaplain spots in the U.S. Army alone.
In an effort to address this shortage, the Archdiocese for the Military Services initiated a program to recruit seminarians from within the military and, together with their home dioceses, pay their educational costs. The program receives support from Catholic Extension, and in just two years has quadrupled in size from seven to 28 seminarians. There have been 500 inquiries from men interested in military chaplaincy.
“These brave military members have already demonstrated attributes of honor, self-discipline, obedience and valor, which are fundamental to the priesthood,” says Father John McLaughlin, Vocations Director for the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA. “Catholic Extension’s funds will make it possible for us to continue promoting priestly vocations from within this incredible group of dedicated men.”
In 2010, Catholic Extension provided a grant of $125,000 to the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA, to support this essential and successful program.