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Funding Completed for Father McGivney Military Chaplain Scholarship

4/24/2015

Knights of Columbus pays final installment on $1 million scholarship for prospective Catholic military chaplains

Military Chaplain Scholarship

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The Knights of Columbus has paid the final $200,000 installment on the Father McGivney Military Chaplain Scholarship program which funds the education of seminarians preparing to become Catholic chaplains in the U.S. Armed Forces.

The scholarship program was first conceived by Supreme Knight Anderson in 2011, during his visit aboard the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower. While touring the aircraft carrier, the supreme knight had the opportunity to think about how Catholics in uniform often go weeks — and sometimes months — without being able to attend Mass or receive spiritual guidance from a priest.

“It can be very difficult for Catholic members of the armed forces when they're on forward deployments," the supreme knight said at the time. "The U.S. military archdiocese, which supplies Catholic chaplains, estimates that it needs 800 priests to fully serve all of the Catholic men and women in uniform today, but they are only able to supply 280.”

These Catholic military chaplains — described by Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA, (AMS) as having “a vocation within a vocation” — minister to U.S. military personnel and their families, and work as military service men both in the United States and abroad. Often, these chaplains are pulled from homeland ministry to bring the sacraments and healing presence of Christ to men and women serving in combat zones.

Having barely a third of the number of chaplains needed to meet the needs of the 1.8 million Catholics served by the archdiocese worldwide, AMS created the "Co-Sponsored Seminarian Program" to recruit priestly vocations for the benefit of the armed forces. The military archdiocese contracts with participating dioceses and religious orders to fund 50 percent of the cost of a seminarian's five-year education — typically $15,000 per year. In return, the candidate agrees that following ordination and three years of service at a parish, he will commit to serve as a military chaplain under the auspices of the military archdiocese for a minimum of three to five years.

The number of seminarians has increased as a result of the Co-Sponsored Seminarian Program. However, according to William Biggs, chief financial officer for the AMS, the program initially placed a huge burden on the archdiocese, which receives no financial assistance from the military or government for its various pastoral services and programs.

Through the completion of this scholarship, the Knights of Columbus has relieved some of this burden. The scholarship program is named for the founder of the Knights of Columbus, the world’s largest Catholic fraternal organization.

“Since 1971, the Knights of Columbus has been most generous in providing much needed financial support first to the Military Vicariate and now to this archdiocese, as well as providing it with a wide range of programs and services,” Archbishop Broglio said as he expressed his thanks for the Order’s continued support.

The $1 million in scholarship money was distributed to the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA, over a period of five years at a rate of $200,000 per year. The Order-wide fundraising projects to support the program were led by members of the Fourth Degree, the patriotic degree of the Knights.