A Los Angeles-based apostolate is sending relics of Catholic saints to U.S. troops based around the world and to their families in the United States.
The Apostolate for Holy Relics (AHR), working with the Archdiocese for Military Services in Washington, D.C., is touring military bases with the relics of saints who are patrons of armed forces. The tour is co-sponsored by the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of St. George.
AHR is bringing to military bases the relics of St. Anthony of Padua (patron saint of sailors), St. Therese of Lisieux (patron of pilots and aircrew) and St. Ignatius Loyola (patron of soldiers). The tour began on April 22 with an opening celebration at the Archdiocese for Military Services Chapel in Washington, D.C. Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio presided over the event.
"Under pressure and in circumstances that most civilians cannot even imagine, our troops have to deal not only with the constant reality of death but – in addition – with the ups and downs of life as well," said AHR President Thomas Serafin in a press release. "Our hope is that the visit of these relics will allow our troops a special moment of prayerful reflection and will give them a sense that we at home stand behind them in prayer as well as in word."
Serafin described to Catholic News Agency the first stops of the tour, which took place at several Los Angeles-area parishes. He said that parents of military personnel would come with pictures of their children to put on the bulletin boards.
“At one point one woman put up a picture of her son who passed away,” Serafin told CNA. “The people there who had kids in the military also could pray with parents who had lost their children, so there was kind of a neat comfort there.”
“We all came together for one commonality,” he said.
“Whether or not we agree with why we’re at war,” Serafin said, “the fact is that we still have to support the kids who are over there now. We still have to pray for the souls of the ones who were lost.”
More than a dozen stops are scheduled for the tour and more are being added as military bases request them. The schedule is available at www.relictour.org.