Thursday, May 04, 2006

What's with these chaplains?

We mean, they seem to be everywhere in the news this week. First was this:
Chaplains can come from any faith group that has established a relationship with the Department of Defense. But statistics from the Defense Manpower Data Center indicate that while Christian fundamentalist and evangelical service members make up less than 20 percent of the military, more than a third of military chaplains come from such denominations. As a result, for every Southern Baptist chaplain, there are only 40 Southern Baptist service members. By comparison, Roman Catholics, who constitute the military's single biggest religious group, make do with one priest for every 800 Catholic service members.

It was followed by this:
Detention ministry is one of the most rewarding—yet possibly one of the least talked about—ministries within the Catholic Church. On any given day a surprisingly varied group of people bring Christ, in word and in Eucharist, into jails and prisons around the country. Some offer Communion services, retreats, self-help programs, individual counseling, faith-sharing, Bible studies, or sacramental preparation. Some simply offer a sympathetic ear. But I know that everyone from my home parish who volunteers at the nearby state prison, including my husband and me, actually feels ministered to and greatly blessed by this work.

And then we have this:
In a pediatric intensive-care unit, physician Robert Graham approaches the bedside of a teenage girl who is just beginning to confront some devastating news. After years of successful treatment, her leukemia has returned -- and there are no other options for a cure. As she weeps and clutches a teddy bear, Dr. Graham begins to talk to her about her thoughts, and how she wants to spend the time she has left, letting her do a lot of the talking. Though he speaks gently, he doesn't mince words, and it is still jarring to hear him say, "If you don't necessarily want to die at home. ...”

Chaplains do wonderful work for the Church. Why not call the diocesan vocations office and see if you have what it takes to become one? It does not hurt to ask.