With Memorial Day weekend upon us, it is a time when we turn our thoughts and prayers to those who serve in the military, and those who have died in service to our country. And one group, in particular, that we can pray for this Memorial Day are military chaplains, who serve alongside military personnel in order to bring them Christ and the sacraments.
Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio, J.C.D. of the Archdiocese of the Military Services, USA stopped by Morning Air® this week to talk about military chaplains, and how they serve the Body of Christ in the military.
On the particular bravery of military chaplains, Archbishop Broglio said, “Chaplains have long exhibited an exemplary heroism of putting others first. That’s not to say that they are without fear, but certainly when we look at some of the heroes among the Catholic chaplains it’s quite amazing what they were able to accomplish out of love for their brothers and sisters. And I think it is that love that motivates them, that spurs them forward. It helps them look beyond the fear, to the good that they can accomplish.”
In addition to their priestly training and formation, military chaplains must also go through military training so that they can be prepared for any situation they are called to.
“All of the chaplains go through a two-month training course, which includes training for combat situations,” Archbishop Broglio explained. “And then, of course, if they are going to be deployed there is extra training that is offered with the units that they are going to be deployed with. Then they are protected by their chaplain assistants.”
And although some may see the priesthood and the military as a strange combination, Archbishop Broglio pointed out that there are actually more priestly vocations from those with a military background than any other source.
He said, “When you’re faced with the possibility of the rapid end of your existence, you do ask many, many fundamental questions. And I think that’s one of the reasons why the Armed Forces are still the largest source of priestly vocations in the United States today. In 2019, from those ordained this year, 22% came from either military families or from prior service. So that’s quite a statistic.”
But that doesn’t mean that there is an abundance of military chaplains. In fact, the situation is quite the opposite. Archbishop Broglio explained, “We are far short of chaplains. We only have 200 on active duty right now, and we probably would need about 500 to accomplish the tasks that are assigned to us.”
When asked what our country can learn from the example of military chaplains, Archbishop Broglio answered, “Something they can teach us is the willingness to look beyond differences in policy or differences in moving forward. Trying to consider the greater good and the things that unite us, rather than concentrating on those things that divide us. In the heat of many issues today, people tend to forget that we are fundamentally all brothers and sisters. That we all are endowed with human dignity.”
Listen to the full conversation with Archbishop Broglio below: