Navy Chaplain Corps celebrates 236 years as a beacon of hope

 

KODIAK, Alaska - Chaplains use tools such as bibles, pamphlets and guide books for command advisement, these tools are current as of Dec. 17, 2010. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Jonathan Lally.

KODIAK, Alaska - Chaplains use tools such as bibles, pamphlets and guide books for command advisement, these tools are current as of Dec. 17, 2010. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Jonathan Lally.

By Petty Officer 3rd Class Jonathan Lally

A lighthouse is a beacon of safety to mariners coming into a harbor or transiting through treacherous waters near shore. In many ways, a chaplain is like a lighthouse to military members and their families.

U.S. Navy chaplains have served the men, women and families of the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard for 236 years as leaders in spiritual matters. They are a resource for military members to confide in and get help in non-spiritual matters as well.

Since 1775 the chaplains have been guiding members of the nation’s sea services. Their rich history began with the Navy’s predecessor, the Continental Navy. Since the commissioning of the Navy’s first chaplain, William Balch, the chaplain corps has expanded to more than 850 members. These men and women serve the nation throughout the world.

“Navy chaplains have four main functions,” said Lt. David Bradley, the protestant chaplain for Coast Guard Base Kodiak. “We provide care for the nation’s sea services, advise command on morals, ethics, morale and the impact of religion on operations, provide for the free exercise of religious rights and facilitate meeting religious requirements.”

Chaplains can provide guidance in life’s struggles and tragedies. They are also a source of inspiration and wisdom. In recent months chaplains in Kodiak have flown on aviation missions, gone underway with the cutters and provided training in financial matters, suicide prevention and relationship management.

“Chaplains are concerned with the spiritual readiness of the members under their care,” said Lt. John Monahan, the command chaplain for Coast Guard Base Kodiak. “Healthy relationships, sound financial foundations, contributing to the larger community are all facets of spiritual readiness, as well as the traditional role of providing a meaningful worship experience and faith formation.”

A Navy chaplain’s job is much like the waves of the ocean, constantly moving to and fro guiding or pushing the vessels in their care to shores of safety and like the lighthouse they beckon mariners into harbors of protection during life’s storms.

For more about Navy chaplains click here to visit Chaplain Care.

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