Although Catholics comprise the largest single religious group in the military, the number of Catholic chaplains has dropped in the last several years, according to a Fox News report. The nation’s armed forces include approximately 275,000 active-duty Catholic servicemen and women, with just over 200 Catholic chaplains.
This ratio strains soldiers’ ability to practice certain staples of their faith, including Holy Communion, Reconciliation, and Anointing of the Sick.
One initiative to address the shortage is a scholarship program offered by the Military Archdiocese, which calls for the cost of training a seminarian to be split with a civilian archdiocese. The program has attracted more than 30 seminarians in the last several years.
Chaplains have been a part of the U.S. military since the Revolutionary War.
About Father Thomas Maikowski: A former Air Force chaplain, Father Thomas Maikowski received numerous medals during his 25 years of service, including two Air Force Commendation medals and three Meritorious Service medals.