Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Fr. Randy Sly

5/26/2014 (6 months ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

We honor those priests who serve our military and their families

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.

Highlights

By Fr. Randy Sly

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

5/26/2014 (6 months ago)

Published in U.S.

Keywords: priest chaplains, military, memorail day, Fr. Randy Sly


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 Associate Editor of Catholic Online and 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.

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for December 2014
Christmas, hope for humanity:
That the birth of the Redeemer may bring peace and hope to all people of good will.
Parents: That parents may be true evangelizers, passing on to their children the precious gift of faith.



Comments


More U.S.

A journey to the land of the free: Part One -- Beaten and scared young children flee violence and turn to the United States for hope Watch

Image of Many young immigrants have no more fight in them when they decide to cross the border, they're only trying to survive.

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Blistered feet and filthy, blood-stained skin is the forlorn image of immigrants preparing to cross the border. With hopeful hearts and anxious minds, immigrants, of all ages, assemble to make the leap into their promise land. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Most ... continue reading


Pope Francis, the real architect behind the U.S.-Cuban thaw Watch

Image of With personal appeals, letters, and hosted meetings, the Vatican and Pope Francis can accurately be called the masterminds behind the recent thaw between the U.S. and Cuba.

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The thaw in relations between the U.S. and Cuba took the world by surprise, but perhaps one man was not as shocked as the rest. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - A senior official with the White House reported that Pope Francis made personal appeals to both President ... continue reading


Looking forward to your tax refund this year? Don't hold your breath. The IRS suffers after extreme budget cuts. Watch

Image of

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Heavily stricken with budget cuts and new tax-related laws, the IRS considers implementing its own temporary shutdown. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Congress has recently cut the IRS budget by $346 million. The IRS' budget has been cut a total of $1 billion since ... continue reading


OBAMACARE DOES NOT WORK! Vermont gives up free healthcare plan as too expensive Watch

Image of Vermont's governor announced that a planned universal healthcare program for the state has been cancelled because the massive tax hikes would devastate the state's economy.

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Peter Shumlin, the governor of Vermont, announced that he was canceling his longtime dream to create a single-payer health care system for his state. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The announcement came on December 17, citing problems with paying for the Green ... continue reading


The disgusting new fact of American life: More than 46 million Americans on food stamps for 37 straight month Watch

Image of Obama has been in office for about 70 months, and 37 of those months have seen the most amount of Americans on food stamps, ever!

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

It is self-evident that President Obama continues to undermine the abilities of the lower class, enforcing government-reliance on those who can least afford it. The number of Americans on food stamps under Obama has continued along its record breaking path, as, ... continue reading


Faith in the United States' race relations hits a strikingly low point after no indictment verdicts Watch

Image of 57 percent of American's say race relations in the United States are bad, according to the latest NBC News/ Wall Street Journal poll.

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." Those are the words of Martin Luther King, Jr, a man who fought long and hard for a better today. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - A land where discrimination no longer prevails is a reality that seems no ... continue reading


The Pope, the Pets, the Paparazzi and the Propaganda Media

Image of Pope Francis pets a dog

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

The passing on of this complete fabrication, as well as the embellishment which accompanied it, were not simply a matter of the secular press failing to comprehend this Pope. In fact, religious news sources, both Catholic and Protestant, jumped in. This all ... continue reading


Why is he so upset? Because of the secret Republican time bomb in the government funding bill Watch

Image of The federal government has funding through the 2015 fiscal year, but Republicans will have many opportunities to fight the president's programs in that time.

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The Senate has approved a $1.1 trillion spending bill, aimed to fund nearly the whole of the federal government through the 2015 fiscal year, ending weeks of drama in Congress and relieving doubts that the government might be shut down again while Democrats and ... continue reading


You know about the 'Bishop of Bling' but do American clergy have the same problem too? Watch

Image of The Bishop of Bling was sacked after he spent $43 million renovating his home.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Pope Francis has called for "a Church which is poor and for the poor." However, not every member of the clergy may have read the memo. A number of high-ranking Church officials in the United States live in lavish homes, sometimes bordering on the scandalous. LOS ... continue reading


Water leak leads to discovery of 1795 time capsule - left by Paul Revere! Watch

Image of A worker holds the time capsule left by the revolutionaries.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Paul Revere, the fearless revolutionary who mounted his horse to declare that "The British are coming! The British are coming!" has left an enduring national legacy - in both deed and actions. Excitement is mounting with the discovery of a time capsule left by Revere ... continue reading


All U.S. News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Judges 13:2-7, 24-25
2 There was a man of Zorah of the tribe of Dan, ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 71:3-4, 5-6, 16-17
3 Be a sheltering rock for me, always accessible; you ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 1:5-25
5 In the days of King Herod of Judaea there lived a ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for December 19th, 2014 Image

St. Nemesius
December 19: Martyr of Egypt. He was burned alive in Alexandria, Egypt, ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter