Four weeks into his new job, Fr. John McLaughlin says that that his position as the first national vocations director for the Archdiocese of the Military has so far been “a pleasurable experience.”
“The military personnel have been very welcoming,” he told CNA, adding that he has “met great service people” who are interest in the priesthood.
Early this month, Father McLaughlin, 50, left St. Monica Parish in Methuen, Massachusetts to become the first national vocations director for the Archdiocese of the Military, located in Washington, D.C. The Associated Press reports that in the new position, the priest will travel to bases around the U.S. “speaking to troops about following a commitment to their country with commitment to their religion.”
When he received the call from the Archdiocese of the Military, he was hesitant to accept the new title. He explained to CNA that the call was completely “out of the blue.” He wasn’t sure what the position would entail since it was brand new and he enjoyed serving the Church as a pastor.
However, he decided to accept the position with the support of Cardinal Sean O'Malley, who leads the Archdiocese of Boston.
Fr. McLaughlin believes his new position will benefit both the Church and those in the military. The new vocations director sees his work as helping ease the extreme shortage of priests serving as chaplains in the military, especially since thinks he might find priests who are more apt to serve in the military amongst their ranks.
Fr. Paul Hurley, an Army chaplain who attended seminary with Father McLaughlin, was a supporter for Fr. McLaughlin to be considered for the position.
Fr. Hurley spoke highly of his classmate, saying he has an authenticity and a knack for getting young people to talk about what's important to them. Those characteristics are crucial when someone is deciding if life as a priest or nun is right, Fr. Hurley added.
"He's got that special touch," said the priest. "He finds a way of connecting with people where they're at."