"Here I am, Lord"

More Men Seek Military Vocations

The work of Catholic chaplains in the U.S. military is far from easy, but it’s vital, especially to the more than 250,000 Catholics who are on active duty. Many are young, away from home and in difficult situations, especially if they’re serving in combat zones. They need and deserve the comfort of the church.

But Catholic military chaplains are in short supply. In the U.S. Army, only 100 priests fill the available 400 Catholic chaplain spots. Still, there are encouraging signs of growth. Only three co-sponsored or military-affiliated seminarians were studying in the 2008-2009 academic year; today that number stands at over 30.

Better yet, with the hundreds of inquiries that the archdiocese has received from prospective military chaplains, the number of seminarians is expected to continue to grow, said Father Kerry Abbott, OFM Conv., director of vocations for the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA. Catholic Extension donors help support this growth by funding the recruitment and education of chaplains in the military.

Father Abbott credits the generosity of donors not only for putting more young men through the seminary, but also for helping men and women on assignment recognize vocational callings. “What we are trying to do,” he said, “is support the obvious work of the Holy Spirit within the lives of these men and women who have then responded and said, ‘Here I am, Lord.’”

As more young men answer God’s call, there will be more military chaplains to shepherd the flocks. “Catholic Extension grants have been put to great use in supporting the work of the church and allowing us to provide sacramental ministries to men and women in harm’s way, far from the United States,” said Father Abbott.

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