Your Navy Chaplain Corps, Providing a Ministry of Presence for 238 Years

By Rear Adm. Mark L. Tidd
Chief of Navy Chaplains

For 238 years, Navy chaplains have had the privilege to serve the religious and pastoral care needs of Sailors, Marines, Coast Guardsmen, and their families, both at sea and ashore. Since 1775, chaplains have helped to ensure that our warfighters have the tools needed for spiritual resilience and individual readiness to face the mission ahead.

Father Capodanno (born Vincent Robert) delivers religious services during the Vietnam War.

Father Capodanno (born Vincent Robert) delivers religious services during the Vietnam War.

 

“The men and women of America’s Navy and our partners in the US Marine Corps stand watch around the globe, always ready for any mission and any task. Our ability to be where it matters, when it matters is in no small measure grounded by the support, counsel and spiritual guidance provided by our Navy chaplains.”

Vice Adm. Bill Moran, Chief of Naval Personnel

Chaplains are embedded within the command alongside our Sailors, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen as they operate forward, ready to go where it matters when it matters. Whether walking the deck plates, the flight line, in office spaces, in the field, or in combat, chaplains are available as a source of comfort and refuge for our people.

Chaplain Lt. Andrew Edwards baptizes  Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Fuel) 3rd Class Jessica Matos aboard the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74).

Chaplain Lt. Andrew Edwards baptizes Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Fuel) 3rd Class Jessica Matos aboard the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74).

 

Whether at the aid station or the mobile hospital, we have the privilege to provide support and encouragement during some of the most crucial moments in the lives of our people. We provide words of comfort and hope to the wounded and to those who have lost a brother- or sister-in-arms. We call this a ministry of presence. And as you well know, presence matters.

An integral part of our ministry of presence is our commitment to care for all regardless of their religious beliefs. Chaplains honor the sacred trust our people place in us by guarding and protecting an individual’s confidentiality. When someone talks to a chaplain, it stays with the chaplain. This allows us to provide our people a safe place to talk without fear or judgment, to confess and to grieve. Safety builds hope, and hope builds resilience.

The last year has presented tremendous fiscal challenges and uncertainty for all of us, from significant budget cuts across the DoD, to the federal government shutdown and furlough of our Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard civilians. With so much outside of one’s control, chaplains embody the reassuring presence of God, a God who, in the words of the Psalmist, is a very present help in times of trouble.

Cmdr. Joel S. Morton, chaplain aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Boxer (LHD 4), delivers the evening prayer on the bridge.

Cmdr. Joel S. Morton, chaplain aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Boxer (LHD 4), delivers the evening prayer on the bridge.

 

On our 238th anniversary, which happens to coincide this year with Thanksgiving, we give thanks for the brave men and women who volunteer to wear the cloth of our nation. We are honored to support these warfighters as they remain on the watch around the globe, protecting the many freedoms we enjoy as Americans. This includes their constitutional right to the free exercise of religion, the reason for which we, as chaplains, have been appointed to serve in the Naval service.

“Part of ‘Be Ready’ is having the opportunity to practice one’s faith wherever our Shipmates serve. Whether at home or operating forward, our Navy chaplains play a vital role in ensuring our Sailors, Civilians, and families have the resilience to meet every challenge they face.”

-Admiral Jonathan Greenert, Chief of Naval Operations

I am honored to serve as your Chief of Chaplains. Whether active or reserve, our 1,055 chaplains and 992 Religious Program Specialists are unified by one mission: the call to serve our Sailors, Marines, Coast Guardsmen, and their families. Happy anniversary, Chaplains!

You can view with 2013 Navy Chaplain Corps Anniversary message below:

Check out the new official blog of the Chaplain Corps for more information on what Navy chaplains bring to the fight.