Videos: Today's Military

    A Ministry of Presence(03:56)

    Navy chaplains of various faiths discuss the emotional and spiritual support they provide to service members. Chaplains provide an important outlet for service members to share their emotional and spiritual concerns while serving, including while on deployment.

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Speaker 1: The Navy chaplain has an opportunity do something that no other ministry professional can do. The Navy chaplain is with their Marine, they're with their sailor, they're with their guardsmen day and night. They eat with them, sleep with them, march with them. They go to sea with them. They go to war with them. They're there in the hospital when they come back. They're home with the families. The Navy chaplain has a ministry of presence.

Speaker 2: I think everybody who goes into ministry goes into ministry because they want to make an impact on people's lives.

Speaker 3: Being out at sea with our sailors, it's an incredible opportunity that we as chaplains have. We go where our sailors go.

Speaker 4: You're out in the middle of you know, God knows where, literally, out on the ocean, and you're with these people who are all sacrificing their time and talents.

Speaker 5: And these are the most amazing people on the planet. I mean I'll argue with anybody that sailors, Marines, and coastguardsmen are the most amazing people on the planet. I mean just look at the sacrifices they make to do the things they do, and to keep this country free. And we as chaplains get to be there with them.

Speaker 6: Mission, field, and youth work, and campus ministry, and parish pastor all rolled into one.

Speaker 1: As a parish pastor, I take care of people. But I don't live with them day in and day out.

Speaker 7: Being in the field with them, it is digging ditches with them.

Speaker 2: And by being there, it gives you the right to be able to speak to them.

Speaker 8: And that's what we mean by ministry of presence. Being present in the good and the bad with the Marines and the sailors.

Speaker 9: Having that presence with the people that they know that someone cares for them, and is there to take care of them, and make sure that they're OK.

Speaker 10: You're credible, you're a credible chaplain. And you're someone that they can rely on, because you're suffering with them.

Speaker 8: When I am separated from my family, he is -- or she is separated from their family too.

Speaker 10: Just a bond, and a cohesiveness that happens that might not happen in a civilian setting.

Speaker 11: We care for them in a way that shows them that there is hope.

Speaker 6: You can encounter people in those holy moments when they're really open to hear, and they really need to hear that God loves them.

Speaker 11: Being with them in those moments where they're, like you said, they're just ready to grab a hold of you, because something is happening in their life, and you get to incarnate God in a sense, into their life.

Speaker 12: The chaplain on board a ship is an avenue of escape. He or she is like a window into which a shipmate can go in order to find respite within themselves.

Speaker 2: And one of the best memories I have is walking up to the side bridge in the middle of the night to have a counseling session in total darkness, and have people just open up their hearts, and to share, and talk with you. And you have no idea who you're talking to, but you're there as their pastor, and people pour out their hearts, and you walk away, and maybe two or three days later you'll run into somebody who will say hey chaplain, thanks so much for being there last night.

Speaker 13: A lot of counseling sessions don't happen when these Marines come into my office. A lot of it happens when I'm in the field with them, and they pull me aside, and just because I was there.

Speaker 10: They'll come up to me sometimes even in my sleep and say chaps, you got a minute? I just need to talk to you about my day.

Speaker 7: Sometimes it just means being with them, and being someone they can trust, being someone they can be honest with. Being someone who cares.

Speaker 1: My Mass congregation is between 18 and 22. It's a great opportunity to be present when people are forming their values that are going to give them the foundation for the rest of their life, and their decision-making ability. To be able to provide some sort of compass for them. This is a complex world. It's not going to get simpler.

Speaker 13: Things are going to get tough for these guys. And for them to have that relationship with a chaplain to turn to, that's golden. That's why I'm there.