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These are the religious duties of a Navy Chaplain

Ruddy Cano Avatar
Navy Lt. Vincent Capodanno conducts a field prayer service for the men of A Company, 1st Battalion, 7th Marines. Photo courtesy of the Father Capodanna Guild, 1967. (Photo by Katie Lange)

Military service members put a lot on the line, including their lives, in the service of their country. Every aspect of protection is significant for the troops, from the weapons and armor to their spirituality. Most people have, without a doubt, come across Saint Michael, the patron saint of warriors, whom soldiers heavily respect.

A Navy Chaplain is there to safeguard the religious rights of service members and help them spiritually by conducting vast religious programs geared to meet and satisfy the requirements of the military. 

Universal Religious Environment 

Navy chaplains have an extensive education background in religious studies. Also, they attend job training that constitutes on-the-job and classroom learning in several environments. 

Capt. Michael Brown, left, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing chaplain, and a Sailor, who is the youngest chaplain’s assistant, cut the ceremonial cake honoring the Chaplain Corps’ 242nd birthday at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, California, Nov. 28, 2017. The Chaplain Corps was established Nov. 28, 1775, making it the oldest corps in the Navy. (U.S. Marine Corps courtesy photo)

Like other officers, Chaplains must finish a comprehensive training program that encompasses numerous subjects such as military structure, traditions, responsibilities, etiquette and leadership development. Chaplains must be incredibly knowledgeable and ready for their duties. 

Navy Chaplains provide the utmost spiritual care and guarantee that all associated with the military, including families, have great opportunities to use their constitutional right to the free exercise of religion. In a nutshell, a Navy Chaplain offers religious services, pastoral care, religious understanding, unit commitment and counseling to all military members as appropriate. 

Navy chaplains can serve full-time when on active duty in the Navy, Coast Guard, and Marine Corps. They can also serve part-time in the National Guard and Reserves while employed as a civilian.

The military chaplains must minister successfully in a universalist religious environment, accommodating and respecting members of every faith without disconcerting their respective religious beliefs. They minister aboard Coast Guard and Navy ships at sea and during combat situations.

Duties of a Navy Chaplain

In addition to the duties mentioned above, a list of responsibilities known as General Ministry Responsibilities guides the Navy Chaplains in exercising their duties effectively. Navy Chaplains counsel the commanders concerning other officers’ religious rights and needs. They also advise them on the spiritual, ethical, and moral well-being of officers and the effect of religion on their performance and missions.

Moreover, a Navy Chaplain should grow and assist chapel-sponsored youth activities, study programs and religious education strategies. They teach classes to the service associates on leadership, religion, ethics, and other subjects that develop moral character in humans. 

Navy Chaplain Lt. Anthony Carr, deployed to Joint Task Force Guantanamo with the Navy Expeditionary Guard Battalion, listens to Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Montavious Jackson, 2010. (Photo by Sgt. Athneil Thomas)

A Navy Chaplain is responsible for offering pastoral counsel to families and service members during crises and assisting them in the numerous challenges they face during military developments and periods of family disconnection. Deployment is a stressful time for both service members and their families. Here, the Navy Chaplain gives them support and strength to carry on with their mission with great faith and strength.

The Navy Chaplain must have the ability to listen and communicate ideas briefly and clearly. Also, they should be sensitive to the needs and feelings of others. They need to be interested in organizing and administering the people’s work. Becoming a Navy Chaplain is a big decision and should not be taken lightly. Navy Chaplains are a critical part of the military community since they provide officers with spiritual support and guidance.

From the Navy’s website:

There are those who are born to lead. And then there are those who are born to lead in faith. As a Navy Chaplain, you will be the voice of encouragement, reason and hope to thousands of Sailors and Marines. From morning prayers to Sunday mass services to baptisms at sea, you will support and uplift the brave men and women who have chosen to serve their country.

The Navy Chaplain Corps boasts more than 800 Navy Chaplains from more than 100 different faith groups, including Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist and many others. Each Chaplain is also a Navy Officer, meaning each holds an important leadership role. Chaplains offer everything from faith leadership, to personal advice, to much-needed solace – all while living up to the guiding principles of the Chaplain Mission:

  • Providing religious ministry and support to those of your own faith
  • Facilitating the religious requirements of those from all faiths
  • Caring for all servicemembers and their families, including those subscribing to no specific faith
  • Advising the command in ensuring the free exercise of religion

For additional information regarding the Chaplain service, please call 855-904-4002.