Local News

U.S. Military Needs More Priests In Uniform

Posted November 21, 1999

— The Catholic church is dealing with a shortage of priests, and the U.S. military is no exception.

There is a huge push to recruit more priests to stand by soldiers.

Father Gary Studniewski is one of fiveArmyCatholic priests at Fort Bragg. He stays busy because the base is short five Catholic chaplains.

"I find myself torn between my responsibilities as a unit chaplain and as a Catholic priest. I want to devote time to the Catholic faithful," said Studniewski.

The shortage of active-duty Catholic chaplains is a problem for all branches of the military.

The Army alone needs 225 more nationwide. At Fort Bragg, they rely on contract civilian priests to help out.

Videos pointing out the importance of military priests are being shown at every Mass. People have also been asked to identify anyone they know who would make a good candidate for priesthood.

Father Steven Carlson knows all about the need. He spent 20 years as a special forces soldier.

The retired Chief Warrant Officer is now a Catholic priest in Burgaw, NC.

He thought about returning to the Army because of an experience he had with a chaplain when he was a soldier.

"It gave me a sense of balance. It rooted me as a soldier and as a patriot," said Carlson.

Military religious leaders are looking at the high school and college level, but they are also looking from within.

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