Magazine article Momentum

Diversity Is the Order of the Day for the Archdiocese for the Military Services

Magazine article Momentum

Diversity Is the Order of the Day for the Archdiocese for the Military Services

Article excerpt

Archdiocese serves more than 1.5 million Catholics in more than 62 locations throughout the world-and half of them move every year

Imagine a diocese with no geographical boundaries. Imagine a diocese with more than 1.5 million Catholics serving in more than 62 locations throughout the world. Imagine a diocese where every year more than half of its population moves away and welcomes just as many newcomers into the community. Imagine a diocese that operates with different operational structures for each population served. Imagine a diocese that assists in making sure that the right of religious expression is met as guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution. Imagine a diocese that relies on the generosity of all the other dioceses and religious orders to provide the Catholic priests needed to serve those that serve. Welcome to the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA.

Historically, the Military Archdiocese was a part of the Archdiocese of New York. In 1985, the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA, became its own archdiocese to serve the needs of men and women in all branches of service, those in the Veterans Administration (VA) hospitals and those in government service serving overseas as well as the family members of each of these populations. The global nature of the Military Archdiocese at many times represents a microcosm of the universal church. This is found in the multiethnic backgrounds of those served and is experienced in the many ways in which these Catholic communities interact with the local church wherever they are.

Religious education throughout the Military Archdiocese encompasses three important factors that support the mobile population in nurturing their Catholic identity. They include Catholic chaplains, professional directors of religious education and /or volunteer coordinators of religious education and a sense of hospitality. Depending on the location of the military installation or the U.S. population serving overseas, one tends to experience at least one of these three factors or some combination of the three.

Catholic Chaplain

First and foremost, the Military Archdiocese serves as the endorsing agency for all Catholic chaplains serving in the U.S. military and in VA hospitals. When a Catholic priest feels called to serve these populations, he must first seek the permission of his bishop or religious superior. Upon receiving that permission, the priest must then apply to the Military Archdiocese to request an endorsement. A series of procedures are in place to ensure that the applicant is indeed a priest in good standing.

Upon receiving an endorsement from the Military Archdiocese the Catholic priest may then apply to the branch of service or VA hospital where he would like to serve as a chaplain. All chaplains in the military, no matter what their denomination, are required to receive an endorsement from an approved ministry-endorsing agency. For Catholic priests the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA, serves as that endorsing agency.

The Catholic chaplain sets the vision for the Catholic faith community where he serves. The Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA, coordinates specific guidance as it relates to religious education. That guidance provides the basic outline of requirements regarding religious education, preparation for sacraments, age requirements and the responsibilities of the chaplain, who serves as a representative of the teaching ministry of the bishop. Specific resources are offered for a comprehensive approach to Catholic youth ministry, the development of peer ministry groups for single young adults in uniform, along with the recent development of many U.S. Military installations participating in the Why Catholic? Program. All of these are designed to promote a comprehensive approach to catechesis.

The Catholic chaplain in essence has national, regional and local resources to assist him in the ministry of religious education. …

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