Church Joyfully Welcomes U.S. Navy Chaplain Candidate

Church Joyfully Welcomes U.S. Navy Chaplain Candidate April 20, 2024

BOCA RATON, FL — The Reverend Mr. Jacob Christian Gwynn, LTJG, USNR, a candidate for the Catholic priesthood and United States Military chaplaincy, was ordained a transitional deacon on Saturday, April 13, for the Diocese of Venice, FL. The new deacon is on track to be ordained a priest next year and hopes eventually to serve as a Catholic chaplain in the U.S. Navy, providing pastoral care to Catholics in the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard, and their families with endorsement and faculties from the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA (AMS).

The Rev. Mr. Gwynn received his diaconal ordination at St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church in Boca Raton through the laying of hands and the prayer of consecration invoking the Holy Spirit by Bishop Gerald M. Barbarito of Palm Beach. AMS Auxiliary Bishop Joseph L. Coffey concelebrated the 11:00 a.m. ordination Mass, where nine other seminarians from dioceses throughout the Sunshine State were also ordained deacons.

Among those in attendance were the Rev. Mr. Gwynn’s parents, a sister and husband, a niece and nephew, and many friends.  A younger brother could not attend because he is participating in training exercises with the U.S. Army.

The Rev. Mr. Gwynn, 26, was born and raised in Palmetto, FL, graduating from Palmetto High School in 2016. In 2020 he earned a Bachelor of Arts (BA) Degree in Philosophy from St. John Vianney College Seminary in Miami before entering St. Vincent DePaul Regional Seminary in Boynton Beach where he is currently working on a Master of Divinity Degree. Upon priestly ordination he will provide civilian pastoral care in his home Diocese of Venice for five years before going on active duty under its co-sponsored seminarian agreement with the AMS.

The Rev. Mr. Gwynn said his religious vocation is a lifelong dream. “As a child, one of my earliest aspirations was to become a priest,” he said. “While in middle and high school, I wanted to pursue other options but the call to the priesthood was always there. One of my mentors from a young age was Monsignor Joseph Ferraro, a retired priest who served as a Navy Chaplain who inspired me to pursue my path to not only the priesthood but also the Navy Chaplaincy.”

The Rev. Mr. Gwynn, who joined the Navy’s Chaplain Candidate Officer Program in 2021 during his first year of theology study at St. Vincent DePaul Regional Seminary, has spent two summers in Navy training attending Officer Development School (ODS) and taking part in chaplain basic leadership training. Commenting on his diaconal ordination, the new deacon said, “My heart is still overflowing with the graces received at ordination. The theme that was said many times on my day of ordination continues to resound in my heart today: ‘This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad.’ (Ps 118:24). I am eternally grateful for the call to serve the Lord and His people through the ministry of the diaconate and eventually as a priest!”

The eventual service of the Rev. Mr. Gwynn and other Catholic chaplain candidates is greatly anticipated by the Navy, which, like all other branches of the U.S. Military, continues to suffer a chronic shortage of Catholic chaplains. Currently, the Navy has only 38 priests on active duty and just 23 in the Reserve, serving a large Catholic population of more than 85,000 Sailors, Marines, Coast Guardsmen, and their families, spread worldwide.

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