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Wanted: A few good chaplains

Posted by: Gary Stern - Posted in Chaplains on Dec 02, 2011

I got two interesting releases today about the need for military chaplains.

First I got a mass email from Father James Joslyn, a retired Navy captain and chaplain, explaining that there aren’t enough Catholic priests these days to fill the needs of the military services.

So the Archdiocese for Military Services is actively recruiting “contract priests,” civilian priests who can help out for stretches as chaplains.  “The word has to get out to bishops, religious superiors and priests that contracting is a way to serve without committing to a twenty year military career and without having to meet the rigorous age and physical requirements for active duty service,” Joslyn wrote.

Many priests don’t know that the opportunity is even there to serve the military in this way, he wrote. He urges all Catholics to become a contract priest recruiter by referring priests to the archdiocese website or the website for Federal Business Opportunities.

“Together we can meet the needs of our Catholic service men and women and their families,” Joslyn writes.

Not long after, I got a release from the Chabad-Lubavitch Hasidic sect trumpeting the news that a Chabad rabbi has won a lawsuit and can become a chaplain—despite having a beard.

The release explained: “In keeping with Jewish teachings regarding preserving a man’s facial hair, Stern does not cut or trim his beard. This previously stood him in opposition to official military codes for dress and appearance. Back in 2009, he had received preliminary approval for a reserve commission in the U.S. Army, but he was twice contacted about errors that would delay his swearing-in because the issue of his facial hair was not resolved.”

Rabbi Menachem Stern filed a federal lawsuit in December, contending that the Army violated his Constitutional rights to religious freedom and equal protection under the law. But the Army has settled the case.

After his commission, Stern wants to request active duty. Chabad rabbis and their families travel the world to serve Jews in many capacities, so Stern is ready to head out.

He said: “A soldier, whether they’re Jewish or not, will see someone who is serious and standing by his faith without compromise. They’ll respect that person and come to trust him.”


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4 Responses to “Wanted: A few good chaplains”

  1. frank stanton

    The phrase “the lord be with you” with the answer “and with your spirit” is not new.

    We were saying it back in the 1950’s.
    I am the Head Heathen on these posts, so if I know this; why don’t others?

  2. Hyeon-Joong Kim

    The threefold mission of the US Army Chaplains is “nurture the living, care for the wounded, and honor the dead.” Regardless of its religious background or the source of endorsement, military chaplains, especially Army Chaplains, provide their ministry to fulfill this mission in conjunction with ensuring the free exercise of religion. Although counseling is one of the many professional qualifications of the ministry in the military, performing religious services to the service members and their families is the primary reason of commissioning military chaplains.

    The biggest challenge for contract priests is that they are only good for providing mass service in garrison environment. They are not responsible for counseling Soldiers on religious matters or deploying to the battlefield with their parishioners. That is why the military needs commissioned priests and pastors to offer ministry wherever their parishioners go. The military does need a few good chaplains to care those Soldiers from the war and their family members. Over ten years of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have burdened all of us, in one way or another. Those Soldiers who fight for the peace of our country want to find the peace of mind and assurance of salvation through worshiping God. And military chaplains offer them to worship God and find peace.

    “Pro Deo Et Patria” (For God and Country)

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