Chaplain Paul Madej greets Pope Benedict XVI with AMS Archbishop Edwin F. O'Brien standing next to the Holy Father.The three were in Rome 26October06 for the 5th Annual International Congress of Military Ordinariates.
One of the things made clear during the Vocations Directors Conference was the need for Cathololic Chaplains for our military men and women. Truthfully it is a critical need. However, on the upside the military chaplains there at the conference explained how many vocations may come out of the military ranks - quite a few potentially. But it's a challenge for priests to leave their home Diocese, which may be in dire need of priests as well, to serve as a chaplain in the military. Even then discernment would be involved for this call within a call. In any case we need to pray for more military chaplains and for the men and women they serve. For more information about military chaplaincy visit the website of the Military Archdiocese.
On the subject of military chaplains I had to relay part of a post Fr. Schnippel posted over at his blog Called by Name. The story comes from an Air Force Chaplain that Fr. Scnnippel met at the vocations conference:
During the social hour at the end of the day Tuesday, he was telling some stories of his experience in the military as a priest. I share one story he related here:
While he was in Chaplain Training School, which is sort of a basic training for the chaplains, he related that a Marine General (or a 'Higher Up,' I don't remember the ranks) came towards the end of the program to give them a pep talk and an introduction into life in the military. One of the Protestant Chaplains raised his hand to ask a question during the open forum portion: "Sir, what is your advice as to what we should do during open combat?"
The General, in a moment of political incorretness, asked the 25 or so new chaplains if there were any priests among them, four (including my storyteller) raised their hands. (One man raised his hand and said: "I'm an Episcopalian priest." He responded back: "No, I meant a Real Priest!"
The General looked at the gathered crowd and told them: "If you are in a combat situation, you stay the Hell out of these four men's way! They have something to do, they have something to offer which you do not have. Let them do their job!"