Chaplain Sweeney: In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, the grace of our Lord, Jesus Chris, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you always.
Went into the seminary out of high school, spent five years, and just wasn’t sure at that point. So I left. I work in -- worked in retail management, ran a cigar store for a number of years. An old World War II Navy chaplain that I knew passed away. And I remember thinking about at his funeral, what would somebody do if they wanted to be a Navy chaplain? Started falling through the right doors, into the chaplain candidate program when I was in graduate school. The more I found out about the ministry in the Navy, the more intrigued I was, and saw the tremendous need for chaplains. Went into the seminary, graduate school seminary. We’d do a four-year graduate degree. I’ve been active duty for 13 years, I’m coming up on 19 years commissioned.
It’s a very different ministry than, like, a parish ministry, where there’s a lot of stability, which is nice. Going into the Navy, my first assignment was overseas in Japan, I was with the Marines. You live their life, whether you’re with the Marines or the sailors. You’re with them in what they do every day. You feel part of the crew, you feel like you’re serving your country, you’re out in the middle of, you know, God knows where -- literally -- (laughter) out on the ocean, and you’re with these people who are all sacrificing their time and talents. Some of the best young men and women our nation has. And you’re sharing in their joys and sorrows. You’re part of this. And as a chaplain, you’re there for everybody. You may specifically minister to Roman Catholics sacramentally, but during the week, I’m doing a lot of counseling, so it’s -- it’s everybody. The chaplain is the person that provides the safety net. When I sit down and talk to the sailor, I usually tell them, “What we talk about is between you and me. If you want me to help you fix something that needs fixing, I will ask you for permission to talk to your sergeant or the -- the chief, or whoever I need to talk to that might be able to help you fix it.” I know guys that have been asked by their commanding officer, “What did he tell you?” “Sir, I can’t tell you that.”
My passions outside of Navy life would be my cars. (laughter) I have a couple cars that I tinker with. You go to car shows, you bring a car -- I’ve got a 1950 Buick, and they will come and they will tell you stories. Car shows are about people, too.
I believe God always has a better plan than I do, so I go where the Navy needs me, and everywhere I’ve been, I’ve been able to connect with people. To be able to help them enriches me. It makes me a better person.
My name is Kevin Sweeney, I am a Navy chaplain and a Commander in the United States Navy.