|Dear Friend of Church and Military,
After more than a decade of war, our Nation has grown all too familiar with the grim scenes and stories from the front lines. You and I still shudder at the statistics of those killed or wounded. Upon reflection we cannot help but realize that each casualty and every wounded warrior represents not one, but many lives affected. His or her tragedy involves so many others—a spouse, parents, family and friends.
What about those who are prisoners or missing in action? Their fate is uncertain, cruel and, at least as far as their loved ones are concerned, without closure. Their families and friends wrestle with nagging questions: Will I ever see him again? Is she okay? When will I hear something?
Each year on the third Friday of September, these heroes are officially recognized and honored by the Country they have served. In 2012, the National POW/MIA Recognition Day falls on September 21st. Permit me to invite you to spend a few more moments in prayer on this day of recognition to remember the persons still listed as POW or MIA and their families. Christians always offer their first gesture of assistance by lifting mind and heart to Almighty God, as countless chaplains continue to do each day.
It is not difficult to appreciate what the sacraments mean to someone about to set out on a dangerous mission or to a Veteran confined in an extended-care facility. Do you and I not have an obligation to ensure that the men and women who defend our precious freedom have access to a priest to talk to about their fears, worries, doubts, or anything else on their minds before a mission? Priest-chaplains have often told me that their presence is vitally important to service members serving constantly in harm’s way.
You know that the AMS has a Vocations Program charged with the responsibility of filling the severe chaplain shortage. The Vocations Director, Father Kerry Abbott, OFM. Conv., has completed a fruitful first year on the job, guiding seven new priests and two new deacons through ordination. But many more new vocations are needed. Your generosity encourages all of us in the quest for more candidates to serve as chaplains.
The Seminarian Co-Sponsorship program identifies and encourages men in the military to seek a vocation to the priesthood for the benefit of the entire Church and as well as service as a military chaplain. In recent years about 10% of those ordained to the priesthood in the U.S. had prior military service, and 20% came from military families. Today’s military provides more vocations to thepriesthood for the Catholic Church in America than from any other single source. I have no doubt that the same statistic would soar if more priests were in contact with service members.
Please pray on the 2012 National POW/MIA Recognition Day, and every day, for the service members whose whereabouts are still unknown. Pray for their families. Pray for those working hard to bring closure to those families. Pray that no more service members will face captivity or become “missing in action,” and they will all return safely home. Pray for a lasting and just peace. Help me to be there to console families at the conclusion of their ordeal with the consolation of the Prayer of the Church. Thank you and may God bless you and your family.
With sentiments of gratitude, I remain
Sincerely in Christ
(Most Reverend) Timothy P. Broglio
Archbishop for the Military Services