United States Army Chaplain Lieutenant Colonel John Frank O’Grady serves the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA. His current assignment is clinical chaplain at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, to minister to active duty military and their families.
The Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA, provides a full range of pastoral ministries and spiritual services to those in the United States Armed Forces. It serves more than 220 installations in 29 countries, patients in 153 V.A. Medical Centers and federal employees working outside the U.S. borders in 134 countries. The archdiocese is responsible for more than 1.8 million men, women and children.
Father O’Grady previously served at U.S. military installations in South Korea, Germany and several U.S. states. His mission is to encourage military leaders and personnel to serve with character, provide spiritual guidance at key moments in their lives — listening to their needs, honoring their dignity and leading them in prayer.
At Walter Reed, just as he has in previous assignments, Father O’Grady offers the gift of healing to those who struggle to regain a sense of purpose after suffering injuries. He counsels and prays with the wounded, brings them Holy Communion and anoints the sick. As he walks with soldiers through their grief over losses and through post-traumatic stress disorder, he always points to the hope of Christ. His ministry is called the Warrior Transition Brigade and serves more than 600 patients at the hospital.
Father O’Grady also works with the families of active duty personnel. He prepares them for the challenges of long-distance relationships during deployments and for the struggles when service members return from duty and reintegrate into civilian life. He holds retreats for couples to discuss topics including, giving and receiving affection, dealing with stress, conflict resolution and forgiveness. He comforts them when they lose loved ones.
Even after military personnel have left active duty, Father O’Grady continues to support families as they carry the spiritual, psychological and physical burdens of the warriors who persist to make sacrifices for the country long after they have returned home.
Father O’Grady understands that the Church has a role in helping military personnel to find a new mission after war, to comfort their distresses, and to accompany those who battle for years with the indelible marks of war. His ministry is to keep families strong, throughout their entire military experience.
Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio, who heads the archdiocese, said that Father O’Grady “nourishes the faithful amid many trials.” He believes Father O’Grady went beyond the call of duty when he was assigned to the mortuary services team after the Pentagon attack on September 11, 2001. “His presence and prayers became a source of strength that honored the dead and sustained the morale of those devastated by the loss of peers,” he said.
After this tragedy, Father O’Grady was recognized with an Army Commendation Medal for his “leadership, dedication to duty and calm professional demeanor during a time of extreme crisis.”