Ministry of Presence
I am Father Joel Panzer. I'm in training here at Fort Jackson at the United States Army Chaplain Center and School. I've been studying here for the last 9 weeks and we have about 4 weeks left in our program.
I got the calling when I attended a priest retreat. I very much wanted to give the Chaplaincy a try because I could feel the Holy Spirit starting to lead me to trying this important ministry.
I entered the Army Chaplaincy with the same attitude that I had entered the seminary: That if I as a committed and practicing member of the Catholic Church don't answer this call, who else is going to?
An Army Chaplain has to have what we call "A Ministry of Presence." That means being out there with the Soldiers wherever they, are not just on Sundays but wherever they are training out in the field so they know we are constantly behind them.
I would simply encourage any priest or Catholic seminarian who is thinking about serving in the Army Chaplaincy not to be afraid to delve a little bit deeper into the possibility none of us knows what we can do until we give it a try and certainly the Army has a great need for priests and is very supportive and welcoming of us.
I look forward to serving in the Army in whatever way I'll be needed. I think that's where I want to be and where the Lord wants me to be as well.