Chaplain (Capt) Joel Panzer, a Catholic priest who has served in the US Army for the past five years, recently made a push with fellow Catholic leaders to encourage priests to become military chaplains:
By doing so, he hopes to reverse a rising shortage of priests in the military.
About a quarter of the soldiers in the Army are Catholic, but only about 6% of the Army’s chaplains are Catholic priests.
All military branches combined have just 239 Catholic priests on active duty, said a spokesman for the Archdiocese for the Military Services USA, which oversees Catholic military chaplains.
Discussions of the Catholic chaplain shortage have been ongoing for years. For his part, Chaplain Panzer noted his experience was “eye-opening:”
It’s a calling that has taken now-Capt. Panzer to Iraq twice and transformed him from a parish priest into a kind of missionary. Most of his time these days is spent among people who don’t share his faith. And he said he’s loved almost every minute of it.
Nicely done with the discreet qualifier: “almost every minute…”