Military Archbishop Honors U.S. Veterans

In his annual Memorial Mass homily, Archbishop Timothy Broglio said they had gathered together ‘to give thanks in that perfect prayer for all of those who have served.’

Marine Corps War Memorial Iwo Jima in Arlington, Va.
Marine Corps War Memorial Iwo Jima in Arlington, Va. (photo: Wikicommons)

WASHINGTON — The head of the military archdiocese honored veterans and those on active duty, thanking members of the armed forces and praying for all who have served in the protection of the United States.

“We gather in this Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, because we want to give thanks in that perfect prayer for all of those who have served,” said Archbishop Timothy Broglio in his homily at the May 19 Mass of Remembrance in Washington.

“We are able to be here in prayer, because women and men have set aside their security, their plans, their families and what is familiar in order to serve this nation whose foundation is based on principles.”

“How can we fail to pray for those who have assured those principles throughout the 237 years of our national existence?” he asked.

The memorial Mass was sponsored by the Archdiocese for the Military Services, and it was the 19th year the archdiocese has sponsored this Mass. The archbishop served as the principal celebrant and homilist, and, according to the archdiocese, two auxiliary bishops and “more than two dozen” priests and deacons concelebrated and assisted.

The Mass prayed in a particular way for the sacrifices of members of the armed services and “the families who still suffer the ravages of war.”

Archbishop Broglio also offered prayers “for the fallen, so that they might also dwell in the presence of the Author of all,” including for those buried in Arlington National Cemetery and the recent posthumous Medal of Honor recipient Father Emil Kapaun.

In the weeks preceding the Mass, the archdiocese also “collected many petitions and requests for remembrance” from around the globe.

The Archdiocese for the Military Services is responsible for the pastoral care of the nearly 2 million Catholics who serve in the U.S. armed forces, are enrolled in military academies or are patients in VA hospitals and medical centers, as well as their families and United States civilian government personnel deployed overseas.

The archdiocese is the only body that is responsible for overseeing the military’s 265 Catholic chaplains, as well as deacons and lay ministers, and it helps to oversee the spiritual and sacramental life of Catholics in military service.

While all chaplains volunteer as members of the military and are paid by the federal government, the archdiocese itself is not under the purview of the government.

Although it is based in the United States, it is technically considered a “mission diocese,” with no borders or geographically defined territory. “Its mission is worldwide, and it supports the military members and their families wherever they are assigned or deployed,” the archdiocese website states.

In his homily, Archbishop Broglio reflected upon the worldwide nature of the archdiocese’s scope and its connection to the gifts of Pentecost.

Reflecting upon Christ’s victory over death, the archbishop rejoiced that the “Lamb of God who has taken upon himself the sins of the world makes certain that the Church will continue to apply that victory to the concrete situation of believers everywhere.”

“How important it is that such a priceless gift be assured for the men and women in harm’s way,” he remarked.

“It is in the celebration of penance and the holy Eucharist that the specificity of the Catholic chaplain is made manifest. Were this Archdiocese for the Military Services to offer nothing else, providing priests for that purpose alone would justify her existence!”


Other Tributes

President Barack Obama paid tribute to soldiers who have sacrificed their lives for the nation in his weekly address May 25.

Memorial Day is a time “to honor and remember all the men and women who have given their lives in service to this country we love,” the president said. “They are heroes, each and every one. They gave America the most precious thing they had — ‘the last full measure of devotion.’ And because they did, we are who we are today — a free and prosperous nation, the greatest in the world.”

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, a veteran who volunteered to serve in Vietnam in 1968, released a Memorial Day video message May 26.

“Nothing makes me prouder than my association with the military and the veterans,” Hagel said. “Our country will never forget those who fell in battle and those who have yet to return home.

Said Hagel, “Their dedication and selfless service resonates deeply across the country, and their legacy is carried forward proudly by those who wear our nation’s uniform today. Thank you for your service, and God bless you and your families.”

Register staff contributed to this report.