Military hopes retreat will help recruit more priests for the army

.- The U.S. Army and its chaplains are hoping to recruit Catholic priests to serve in the Pacific theater, reported Stars and Stripes.

But rather than reaching out to seminaries and parish communities, they’re hoping to recruit from within the ranks and attract men who might be discerning a call to serve both God and country.

For the second year, U.S. Forces Korea is holding a three-day vocations retreat — from Dec. 27 to Dec. 29 — for men who discerning a call to the priesthood. Any man in the Pacific theater, civilian or military, is invited.

Nine men attended the retreat last year in Seoul, and two are now in seminary. About 20 people have expressed interest this year, including two men in Japan.

The military tries to provide one minister for every 1,000 servicemembers of a particular faith. It has chaplains from dozens of denominations and religions, including Christian, Jewish, Muslim and Buddhist. Catholics make up about a quarter of the military.

According to this ratio, the Navy should have 250 priests, but only half of that number is expected to serve next year. In the Army, the numbers are worse.

In 1977, there were 260 Catholic priests serving as Army chaplains. Now, there are about 90. Eighteen priests have agreed to work during their retirement to address the shortage.

For information on the retreat, e-mail:

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