National News

Franciscan Priests Return to Walter Reed Medical Center

Walter Reed National Military Medical Center is seen in an Oct. 2, 2020, photo. (OSV News photo)

PROSPECT HEIGHTS — A few months after a contract issue ended the services of a community of Franciscan priests at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA, has announced the issue has been resolved, and the priests have returned to their ministry. 

Back in April, the medical center chose not to renew a contract with Franciscan priests from the Holy Name College Friary in Silver Spring, Maryland, who had provided pastoral care to service members and veterans at the hospital for more than two decades. Instead, the contract was slated to go to a secular defense contractor. 

The move prompted backlash from Archbishop Timothy Broglio of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA, and even some congressional leaders, which prompted the medical center to table the decision and launch a review of the matter.

The archdiocese announced June 15 that to “confront the concerns” expressed by Archbishop Broglio and others, the U.S. Defense Health Agency reopened bidding in May, and on June 8 awarded the Franciscan priests a new contract to continue their ministry. 

Specifically, the new contract has a team of five priests taking turns on-site six days a week to minister to those hospitalized, according to the archdiocese. They returned to work June 14.

Archbishop Broglio said in a statement that he is grateful the matter is resolved. 

“Of course, it is a source of great joy that the Franciscans have returned to the medical center and care for patients and staff there,” Archbishop Broglio said.