Chaplain Dies After Being Wounded in Iraq

Five years after being wounded by a roadside bomb in Iraq, Army chaplain Father Tim Vakoc has died.

In a letter to his sister, he said, “The safest place for me to be is in the center of God’s will, and if that is in the line of fire, that is where I will be.”

Register readers will recall getting to know Father Vakoc through previous articles, such as the article that came out just prior to when he was injured, or this one after he was injured, or the article about when he regained his voice.

One of Father Vakoc’s superior officers commented on his dedication and noted that he was injured while returning from serving soldiers out in the field.

“The fact that he was returning from service for our soldiers shows that he never let the dangers of our battlefield prevent him from serving,” said Lt. Col. Dennis Thompson with the 296th Brigade Support Battalion stationed in Mosul.

Thompson explained that Father Vakoc’s attempt to provide Mass to all the soldiers in the Stryker Brigade was most challenging.

“Our soldiers are often spread out in numerous places over an area the size of Connecticut, always through hostile territory,” Thompson said. “None of this prevented Father Tim from being there for the soldier. Wherever we went, Father Tim would conduct a Mass, often for only two or three soldiers who were located on remote outposts.”

Father Vakoc’s CaringBridge web page provides more information on his hospitalization, recovery and funeral arrangements. His funeral Mass will be celebrated at 10 a.m. Friday, June 26, 2009, at the St. Paul Cathedral in St. Paul, Minn.

In a world short on heroes, Father Vakoc is a man like Christ, who sacrificed everything for the sake of others. What an appropriate example he is in the Year for Priests, which just began last Friday.

“A man of peace, he chose to endure the horror of war in order to bring the peace of Christ to America’s fighting men and women,” said St. Paul-Minneapolis Archbishop John Nienstedt in a statement.