The Denver Archdiocese gave one of the largest donations in the nation to the first-ever collection to support the spiritual needs of the armed forces.
Denver faithful gave $20,944 to the Collection for the Archdiocese for Military Services in January to help bring the sacraments, Catholic education and priest chaplains to more than 1.8 million military families and to veterans.
Archbishop Timothy Broglio of Military Services wrote to Archbishop Samuel Aquila saying the support is needed now more than ever because of fiscal restraints on military chapel programs.
“With no military or government financial assistance, this archdiocese must rely wholly on the generosity of the Catholic community to operate her many programs and services,” he wrote. “Your support shows service members and their families that their faith need not be part of the sacrifice they make in service to our country.”
The collection was an initiative of bishops in Colorado—including then-Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput—to support families undergoing hardships from years of war overseas.
“They rely on our Catholic chaplains for spiritual guidance and support,” Archbishop Broglio stated about the collection. “The (military archdiocese) must pay all the considerable travel costs for its bishops and clergy staff to visit military installations around the world.”
The U.S. bishops approved the collection at parishes nationwide on Nov. 9-10. The collection will be taken once every three years.
The military archdiocese—created in 1985 by Blessed Pope John Paul II—is the only arm of the Church responsible for supplying priests as chaplains in all branches of the military and patients in veteran’s medical centers.
This amounts to 1.8 million American Catholics served by 1,105 military-endorsed priests across 220 military bases in 29 countries and 153 VA centers, according to the archdiocese.
With the help of these priests, military Catholics will have access to the Mass, spiritual direction and Catholic education no matter their location.
The archdiocese is also reliant on the collection to help fund the formation of seminarians wanting to relieve the military chaplain shortage. The shortage occurred as aging priests reached the military’s mandatory retirement age of 62 faster than they can be replaced, according to the archdiocese.
Over the past 12 years, priests on active duty fell 40 percent—from 400 in 2001 to 234 today, the military archdiocese reports.
With the help of the collection, the military archdiocese said it will have greater opportunity to fulfill its mission “serving those who serve.”
“I think caring for military personnel is a concern of most American Catholics and I am confident that they will be generous.” Archbishop Broglio said.