Memorial Day: Chaplains - A Reminder that We Are One Nation Under God
The work of our chaplains extends much farther than the post chapel. They labor on land, at sea and in the air. There are 1.4 million Catholics in the military; wherever they are stationed, the chaplain is there. These chaplains can be found bringing Jesus Christ to their people in desert tents, on the aft deck of a guided missile cruiser, underwater on a submarine, and in post chapels.
WASHINGTON (Catholic Online) - I'm a veteran. Not just a military veteran (which I am) but a Memorial Day Parade veteran. My career began in Cub Scouts, marching what felt like 50 miles through downtown. As I grew older I graduated in assignments from Cub Scouts to Boy Scouts and then Marching Band. When I returned from Vietnam, I again marched on Memorial Day in my naval uniform complete with campaign ribbons.
The parade always ended at the cemetery where wreaths were placed around the war memorial and flowers decorated the stone monoliths marking the graves of departed soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen.
The markers meant a lot more to me on the other side of serving. I knew friends who had fallen and watched plenty of tracer bullets from the deck of my destroyer whose targets could have ended in death.
Often, for many of our military who died in action, a chaplain was the final person in charge of their soul. In harm's way, these faithful servants of Christ's Church don't just stand beside the men and women in various branches of the service, they wear the uniform.
The work of our chaplains extends much farther than the post chapel. They labor on land, at sea and in the air. There are 1.4 million Catholics in the military; wherever they are stationed, the chaplain is there.
Their parishes are much different than a local church. Made up of mostly younger men and women, these congregations can change, through transfers and deployments, every two to three years. They also come from different cultural and ethnic backgrounds, some from the city, some from the country. As a friend of mine used to say, "It's like preaching to a parade."
These chaplains can be found bringing Jesus Christ to their people in desert tents, on the aft deck of a guided missile cruiser, underwater on a submarine, and in post chapels. We also honor the wonderful Archdiocese for the Military Services under the dedicated leadership of Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio, J.C.D., S.T.B., B.A.
The U.S. Army was the first branch to use chaplains in 1775. They were not in uniform but traveled with the troops to provide spiritual care. The Second Continental Congress authorized chaplains and voted to pay them $20 a month.
According to a post from Donald R.McClarey on the blog "The American Catholic" the first Catholic chaplains were appointed in 1846 during the war with Mexico. While Catholic priests had informally offered their services before, this war was different as Mexico claimed this was a Protestant war against a Catholic nation. Morale among Catholic soldiers was very low and desertions were taking place.
The two priests first appointed for military service were Father Anthony Rey, vice-president of Georgetown and a Jesuit, and Father John McElroy, also a Jesuit, who went on to establish Boston College.
In an interview with the Christian Science Monitor, Retired Col. John W. Brinsfield, US Army Chaplain Corps historian talked about the this beginning of chaplains in America.
"Washington wanted [chaplains] to be religious leaders.... But the chaplains were also to visit the wounded, take care of the dead, write letters home for soldiers who couldn't write, give discourses of a patriotic nature to keep the soldiers from deserting. The chaplain was a very important link between the commander and the troops.
"Chaplains have been counseling soldiers since 1775 on things like trying to stay sober; don't cheat at cards; don't gamble away your pay, send it home; all that sort of thing. But in World War II, because the armies were so big, the chaplains got involved in a major way in trying to counsel the soldiers. We even had chaplains in Nuremberg to try to counsel the German POWs.
"Chaplains now have additional duties ... funeral duties, premarital counseling duties, religious education duties. Some of them are resource managers; some are historians."
Today chaplains serve all branches of the military: Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines, and the Coast Guard. Navy chaplains are assigned to serve the latter two. Chaplains are also assigned to Veterans Administrations hospitals.
On May 21, 1989 a special memorial for Catholic Chaplains was erected at Arlington Cemetery. Located on Chaplain's Hill, the monument remembers 83 priests who gave their lives in World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War.
Because these brave men were willing to go into harm's way, our Catholic military had the opportunity for confession and Eucharist prior to a conflict. In many case, they were also able to receive last rites.
This Memorial Day, let us pause and remember our Chaplains. Let's give thanks for the sacrifice in serving their country as they serve the Lord. Let us especially remember those who laid down their lives for their friends.
For our Catholic Chaplains and all in military service this Memorial Day, we can pray:
"God, we beseech Thee, watch over those exposed to the horrors of war and to the spiritual dangers of a soldier's, a sailor's or airman's life. Give them such a strong faith that no human respect may ever lead them to deny it, or fear to practice it. Do Thou by Thy grace, fortify them against the contagion of bad example, that, being preserved from vice, and serving Thee faithfully, they may be ready to meet death whenever it may happen through Christ Our Lord.
"O Sacred Heart, inspire them with sorrow for sin, and grant them pardon. Mother of God, be with them in battle, and if they should be called to make the supreme sacrifice, obtain for them that they may die in the grace of Thy Divine Son.
"May their guardian angels protect them. Amen."
Fr Randy Sly is the Chaplain of the ecumenical movement, Common Good. He is a former Archbishop of the Charismatic Episcopal Church. He laid aside that ministry to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church a lifelong search for the fulness of Christian truth. He participated in Church history when he became one of the first former Anglicans ordained as a Catholic priest for the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter established by the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, through the Apostolic Constitution "Anglicanorum Coetibus." He is currently the chaplain of the St. John Fisher Catholic Community, a priest in residence at Our Lady of Hope Catholic Church and Director of Pro-Life Activities for the Ordinariate.
Copyright 2017 - Distributed by THE CALIFORNIA NETWORK
Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for MAY 2017
Christians in Africa. That Christians in Africa, in imitation of the Merciful Jesus, may give prophetic witness to reconciliation, justice, and peace.
The Ascension invites us to reflect on who Jesus is - and who we are empowered to become in Him, beginning now and opening up into the ... continue reading
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens, as ... continue reading
As a church we know the dignity of our humanity belongs on Gods throne with him and not in a medical waste dumpster. The conviction, ... continue reading
Just before President Donald Trump set off to meet Pope Francis for the first time, he made his formal nomination for the new U.S. ... continue reading
On this Mother's Day I still mourn the loss of my earthly mother Ellen and draw strength and hope in reflecting on Mary, the Mother of ... continue reading
by Catholic Online
- JESUS IS ALWAYS BY OUR SIDE: Pope Francis reminds all that even in ...
- First Daughter, Ivanka Trump holds groundbreaking meeting with human ...
- Daily Reading for Saturday, May 27th, 2017 HD Video
- Catholic priest and his worshipers taken hostage by ISIS-aligned ...
- St. Philip Neri: Saint of the Day for Friday, May 26, 2017
- Daily Readings for Friday, May 26, 2017
- First Lady Melania Trump is a practicing Catholic
- Pope Francis and Donald Trump have monumental first meeting HD
- Daily Reading for Friday, May 26th, 2017 HD
- Daily Reading for Thursday, May 25th, 2017 HD
- Bomb explodes during Ariana Grande concert full of young fans HD
Copyright 2017 Catholic Online. All materials contained on this site, whether written, audible or visual are the exclusive property of Catholic Online and are protected under U.S. and International copyright laws, © Copyright 2017 Catholic Online. Any unauthorized use, without prior written consent of Catholic Online is strictly forbidden and prohibited.