WASHINGTON — The familiar military recruitment slogan “Uncle Sam Wants You!” could be replaced for Catholic young adults with “Team Saint Paul Wants You!” since the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA, is hoping to get new recruits to serve as missionaries at U.S. military installations.
The archdiocese, based in Washington, launched Team Saint Paul last year as part of the Catholic Church’s emphasis on the new evangelization.
Archbishop Timothy Broglio, head of the archdiocese and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, commissioned two new members of the team during a Sept. 15 Mass in Washington.
The new members — Regina Fontana and Caroline McDermott — will join two other members of Team Saint Paul at Travis Air Force Base in California. The new team members had to complete missionary training prior to being sent to their assignment.
Membership in Team Saint Paul is a full-time ministry position. According to its job description, the aim of this work is “to accompany Catholic young adults serving in the military through authentic relationships that grow into discipleship with Christ.”
Fontana, who is from Texas and a graduate of Tarleton State University in Texas, said she was excited to join this work because she said she feels she has been blessed in her life and wants to share this with others.
McDermott, who is from Pennsylvania, and a graduate of Christendom College in Virginia, said she is “beyond grateful and excited” to take on this new role. McDermott is familiar with military life since her uncle is a U.S. Army chaplain and her sister is an active-duty soldier.
On the archdiocese’s website, she said this ministry “was definitely a calling.
“With family members in the military, it has become more personal. Hearing their stories helped me see more clearly what it is actually like, how difficult it is to maintain one’s faith in the military, which gives me a drive to go out and be a presence for these people and their families. To be present, to be open, to be a resource, the drive to put a little of the world back together,” she said.
The Military Archdiocese’s Office of Evangelization hopes to place new team members in other military installations in the months and years ahead.
McKenzie Mauss, the young adult missionary coordinator for the archdiocese’s Office of Evangelization, said the U.S. military has one of the largest populations of young adults, ages 18-29.
She told The Tablet, “The need for young service men and women to be accompanied by people of faith is crucial” particularly as religious affiliation statistics decline each year.
She said Team Saint Paul was formed “out of a desire to support Catholic chaplains and reach the young adult population of services members” and that the members of this “groundbreaking journey” are rooted in prayer and the sacraments as they “stand out as witnesses to the joy of an authentic relationship with Christ.”