I have an upcoming visit to a mom’s group that meets regularly at their military installation. All of them are married to heroes who daily serve our country. I’m truly honored that they would invite me to meet and pray with them.
So Liz and her fellow moms were some of the first souls I thought of when operation #shutdown went into play. As Deacon Greg shared yesterday, the Archdiocese for the Military Services has indicated that at many military installations, Masses will be cancelled this weekend.
This is the case for Liz and her friends and family. Thankfully, they live in a community where they can attend Mass off base. But she wrote me last night to share a first-hand perspective on how the shutdown is impacted our Catholic military families. She shares:
The government shutdown has consumed all forms of media this week and a bipartisan agreement is not yet looming on the horizon. Many Americans are impacted by the shutdown financially and emotionally, but what about spiritually? There has not been any discussion about how the shutdown is affecting military families spiritually. Imagine my surprise when I received the following message: Due to the government shutdown all Catholic services must cease immediately until further notice. At first I thought, that is okay, we will just attend a service off post. Then I began to think about the message and what was really occurring in some military communities. ALL Catholic services must cease. This means no daily or weekend masses, no religious education, no reconciliation, no counseling, no baptisms, no First Holy Communions, no weddings, and any other Catholic services you can think of.
The Archdiocese for the Military Services which was founded by Pope John Paul II supports Catholic ministries for the United States Armed Forces. There is a shortage of active duty Catholic priests, so the positions are filled with GS employees and government contractors. The government shutdown makes it illegal for these priests to provide any services or volunteer. What results in this case, is no Catholic services in military communities that do not have an active duty priest, if a replacement priest is unavailable. Think about our service members serving on boats, abroad, deployed, in VA hospitals, and remote locations. If they do not have an active duty priest, chances are they have no alternative if Catholic services are cancelled. Fortunately, some military families have other options and they can attend other parishes in the community. For my family, this means there will be no mass outdoors this Sunday to celebrate Saint Frances and bless our pets, unless another priest is available. There will also be no CCD. In addition the adult religious education course was also cancelled this past Wednesday. Please pray for all those affected by the shutdown financially, emotionally, and spiritually.
Please join me in responding to Liz’s call to prayer for those impacted by this stalemate.
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A question for you: Is your family being impacted by the shutdown? Do you see a solution in sight?