Two Prospective Catholic U.S. Military Chaplains Ordained

Two Prospective Catholic U.S. Military Chaplains Ordained April 13, 2024
ASHBURN, VA — The Reverend Mr. Raymond E. Goins and the Rev. Mr. Michael C. Sampson were among 12 men ordained transitional deacons in the Diocese of Arlington on Saturday, April 6, before an overflow congregation at Saint Theresa Catholic Church in Ashburn, VA. Both are on track to become Catholic priests and U.S. Military chaplains—Mr. Goins in the Army, Mr. Sampson in the Navy—with endorsement and faculties from the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA (AMS).
As deacons, the Rev. Mr. Goins and the Rev. Mr. Sampson may preside over baptisms, marriages, funerals, public prayer, and read the Gospel during liturgies. They cannot celebrate Mass, hear confessions, or anoint the sick until they’re ordained priests next year. Upon priestly ordination the two chaplain candidates will minister in their home Diocese of Arlington before seeking accession to active duty through the AMS. The Rev. Mr. Goins, 32, and the Rev. Mr. Sampson, 41, are both enrolled at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, MD. Both were ordained by Bishop Michael F. Burbidge through the laying of hands and the prayer of consecration invoking the Holy Spirit. His Excellency, the Most Reverend Timothy P. Broglio, J.C.D., Archbishop for the Military Services, USA, concelebrated the 11:00 a.m. ordination Mass. Also concelebrating were Fathers James O’Neal, CH (MAJ), USA (Ret.), and Matthew Pawlikowski, CH (COL), USA (Ret.)—the Rev. Mr. Goins credits both retired chaplains for influencing his discernment to become a Catholic priest. “This is a wonderful step in what I believe to be God’s plan for me,” the Rev. Mr. Goins said. “He continues to exceed expectations in terms of His generosity and patience–both with me and through me. Jesus is truly better than we could ask, hope, or imagine.” Mr. Sampson commented, “Once the bishop said the prayer of ordination, it was truly as if something had changed, as if a veil had been lifted. It was really a joyful and glorious moment, and especially good to be there with my 11 brother deacons.” Among those participating in the ordination Mass were the Rev. Mr. Goins’ parents, Ray and Sally Goins, his sister, Ms. Katie Goins, and his brother, Mr. Eric Goins, and the Rev. Mr. Sampson’s parents, Michael and Diane Sampson, his sister, Mrs. Michelle Benitez and her husband, Mr. Santiago Benitez, nephews Mr. Brooklyn McDonald and Mr. Isaiah Benitez, and a niece, Ms. Danielle Benitez. The two new deacons are among 15 prospective Catholic U.S. Military chaplains set to be ordained this calendar year—eight as transitional deacons who, like the Rev. Mr. Goins and the Rev. Mr. Sampson, are on track to be ordained priests next year, and seven as priests—as the AMS works diligently to relieve a chronic shortage of priests on active duty. For decades now, aging chaplains have been reaching retirement faster than they can be replaced. Just since the time of 9/11, for example, the active-duty Catholic chaplain roster has withered from more than 400 to fewer than 200. While 25% of the military is Catholic, Catholic priests now make up only seven percent of the chaplain corps. The Rev. Mr. Goins is a 2010 graduate of Oakton High School in Vienna, VA. In 2014 he graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point with a Bachelor of Science (BS) degree in political science with a concentration in international relations. He entered seminary following five years on active duty in the U.S. Army as a field artillery officer, earning the rank of captain. The Rev. Mr. Goins continues to serve in the Army’s Individual Ready Reserve (IRR) while pursuing priestly formation. He says he discovered his vocation by way of “three gradual nudges from three different priests over a three-year period” while serving in the Army, and “a LOT of peace from the Holy Spirit on an AMS Discernment Retreat.” The Rev. Mr. Sampson is a 2001 graduate of Redwood High School in Visalia, CA. He earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of California at San Diego in 2005, a Master of Arts (M.A.) in International Relations and a Juris Doctor (J.D.) from Syracuse University in 2010, and a Master of Laws (LL.M.) with a concentration in national security and U.S. foreign relations from George Washington University in 2011 before eventually entering seminary. “I started to hear the Lord calling me to the priesthood during my holy hours,” he says, “but I hesitated. And during that time, the Lord eventually hit me very hard in a homily at daily Mass. At each step toward the priesthood, I continued to find peace, and peace that the priesthood is the manner in which the Lord is calling me to sanctity.” Both new deacons are enrolled in the “Co-Sponsored Seminarian Program” (CSP), a vocations support partnership between the AMS and other dioceses and religious communities. Since its founding in the mid-1980s dozens of men have come through the CSP, completing five years in seminary and typically another three years in civilian pastoral service before becoming chaplains. Another 25 are set to go on active duty over the next three years. Currently a total of 37 men are enrolled at various stages of the program, up sharply from seven (7) in 2008, thanks in large part to the creation of an active AMS Office of Vocations with the support of Catholic chaplain recruiters in the military and the cooperation of bishops and religious superiors across the country. The AMS Vocations Office continues to process additional CSP applicants and guide other men through the process of discernment, doing all it can to ease the Catholic military chaplain shortage. Young men interested in discerning a priestly vocation and the vocation within a vocation to serve those who serve can find more information at www.milarch.org/vocations, or may contact Father Marcel L. Taillon, acting AMS Vocations Director, at vocations@milarch.org or (202) 719-3600.
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