.- Colombian-born Father Luis Silva is set to travel to Iraq and Afghanistan as a member of the US military chaplaincy to provide for the spiritual needs of Hispanic troops.
“There is a great need for priests who speak Spanish in order to care for those young Hispanic Catholics who are fighting in the areas of conflict,” Father Silva told the EFE news agency.
The Colombian priest, who had been serving as pastor at the Cathedral of St. James in Orlando, has received orders to arrive at the Army Reserves base in Mississippi this Saturday. For security reasons, Father Silva still does not know where his finally destination will be, where he will spend 14 months. “As a human being one always feels somewhat afraid and of course the people with whom one is serving and my family are a bit concerned, but for now I try not to think about what I will be facing there and I try to fill myself up with God,” he said, adding that if you firmly understand the call of God, “you realize that it is there that you need to be and you should strive to be positive.”
Father Silva served for five years at a small parish in Minnesota, where he was ordained before being transferred to Orlando. “Since I was little I always wanted to be either a soldier, a doctor or a priest, and now I will be able to fulfill my dream of being a soldier, at least as a priest,” he said.
In order to serve as Army chaplain, Father Silva’s petition for citizenship was put on the fast track. “That’s when I knew I was going to go,” he said. After a brief interview on May 22, he became a US citizen. “When I finished the interview I thought they were going to tell me to come back in a month, but I was surprised to hear that I was to return that same day,” Father Silva explained.
According to statistics from the Military Archdiocese, in 2002 there were 369 priests in active duty, and 405 in the Reserves and National Guard.