A Surprising Number of Vocations Via the Military


The largest group of young men who are taking their vows as priests are prior-service military.

Aug. 17, 2017 I read Matthew Hennessey’s “The Priesthood Is a Heroic Vocation” (Houses of Worship, Aug. 11) as I was getting ready for a road march with several of my fellow chaplains and chaplain assistants. As an Army chaplain and Presbyterian minister, I have served with many faithful, inspirational Catholic chaplains. Roman Catholic soldiers make up the largest denominational group in the Army, and the sacramental ministry our Catholic chaplains provide is irreplaceable. One of our heroic priests, Chaplain Emil Kapaun, posthumously received the Medal of Honor in 2013 for his actions as a POW in the Korean War. We, too, struggle with finding enough priests who are able to serve, especially when it is up to their bishops, who are under tremendous pressure to keep their own parish positions filled, to release a capable priest to serve in the military. However, on closer inspection the largest group of young men who are taking their vows are prior-service military. If you want heroes for the parish, send us heroes for our soldiers and you might find that in our soil the larger Roman Catholic Church will reap a hundredfold harvest.

Lt. Col. Kevin Wainwright

Fort Campbell, Ky.



Print:  Section A, Page 14, Column 3

On-Line:  https://www.wsj.com/articles/a-surprising-number-of-vocations-via-the-military