A Chaplain of the Great War

Wednesday, May 5, AD 2010

A truly remarkable interview conducted in 1982 of the experiences as a Catholic Chaplain of Father William Bonniwell, O.P.  during World War I.   At the time of the interview Father Bonniwell was 96 and I think his vigor and clarity of recollection and speech are astounding.    I have done my best on this blog to tell the stories of some of the Catholic Chaplains who served in the military in our nation’s history, and it is heartwarming to be able to present a video of one of these brave men telling his story.

After the War he had an illustrious career.  He was a professor of homiletics at the Dominican House of Studies in River Forest, Illinois.   He was head of the Preacher’s Institute in Washington DC.   For  many years  he was on the staff of St. Vincent Ferrer in New York City.  He was the author of  ”Margaret of Castello,” , a biography of the 14th-century Italian Dominican nun, who is a true patron of unwanted children, as she was born a dwarf, hunchbacked, blind and lame and was ultimately rejected by her parents, and throughout her travails radiated the love of God.   He translated from Latin ”The Martyrology of the Sacred Order of Preachers”, and produced the groundbreaking History of the Dominican Liturgy 1215-1945.

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Great Jesuits 5: Medal of Honor

Sunday, February 21, AD 2010




Number 5 in my series on Great Jesuits of American history.  A hallmark of the Jesuit Order has always been utter fearlessness.  The Order founded by that Basque soldier turned saint, Saint Ignatius Loyola, had as little use for fear as it did for doubt.  The “black robes” of the Jesuits in New France were typical of the Jesuit soldiers of Christ in their almost super-human courage in disdaining the torture and death they exposed themselves to as missionaries to warlike tribes.

Firmly in this tradition of courage is Joseph Timothy O’Callahan.  Born on May 14, 1905 in Roxbury, Massachusetts, he attended Boston College High School.  He joined the Jesuits in 1922  and obtained his BA from Saint Andrew’s College in Poughkeepsie, New York in 1925, and his Masters in Philosophy at Weston College in 1929.  Ordained in 1934, he served as a professor of Mathematics, Philosophy and Physics at Boston College until 1937.  He then spent a year as a professor of Philosophy at Weston Jesuit School of Theology, before becoming head of the Mathematics department at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts.

On August 7, 1940, Father O’Callahan was appointed a Lieutenant JG in the United States Navy.  His decision to join the Navy as a chaplain shocked some of his friends, one of them remarking, “Let someone younger help those boys.  You can’t even open your umbrella!”  Nothing daunted, Chaplain O’Callahan served at the Naval Air Station in Pensacola,  Florida from 1940-1942.  From 1942-1945 he served as chaplain at Naval Air Stations in Alameda, California and at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii.   It was almost at the end of the war when he was assigned to sea duty and reported aboard the Franklin, an Essex Class Fleet Air-Craft Carrier on March 2, 1945.  The Franklin was the fifth ship in the United States Navy to be named after Benjamin Franklin, and had seen a lot of combat during the War.  It was about to see more.

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16 Responses to Great Jesuits 5: Medal of Honor

  • Thank you for this great feature and videos about Fr. O’Callahan. Absolutely amazing.

    I seem to remember that the Philippine government also honored Fr. O’Callahan for helping then Commonwealth President Manuel L. Quezon get to the U.S. for treatment for TB during the war. The award may have been post-humous, as it was received on his behalf by his sister, Sr. Rosemarie O’Callahan, a Maryknoll Sister in the Philippines.

    Sr. Rosemarie was my English professor at Maryknoll College. She was no intellectual slouch, either.

  • Thank you for the info Marie! In 1946, Father O’Callahan served as Escort Chaplain as the body of the late Philippines President Manuel Quezon was carried from the United States to Manila.

  • Thank you, Donald, for this precious bit of history.

    I’ve just done a search on Sr. Rose Marie O’Callahan, MM, and I’m saddened to know that she passed away on Dec. 24, 2004. She was a devoted Catholic religious, a no-nonsense teacher, and a great American.

    This article,

    written by their mother’s cousin’s son tells that Sr. Rose Marie was among the heroic Americans who (resisted the Japanese occupation of the Philippines and) were incarcerated for three years in the Los Banos (Laguna) concentration camp.

    (I was born in 1943, but know the story of the Los Banos prison camp as I came from the area and because my baptismal godfather was among those who fought side-by-side with U.S. troops in liberating Los Banos. It was on the same day that U.S. marines planted the American flag on Iwo Jima, so Los Banos didn’t get any press at all.)

    “During that time the O’Callahan family had not heard a word about her fate. While in the Pacific Father Joe had hoped to discover his sister’s circumstance first-hand. He was unable to do so.”

    Sadly, Sr. Rose Marie’s obituary (2004) has no mention of her famous brother:


    “Sister Rose Marie O¹Callahan, M.M.
    a missioner to the Philippines for 42 years, died Dec. 24 in the Residential Care Unit of the Maryknoll Sisters Center in Ossining. She was 96. She was assigned to the Philippines in 1930, first serving as an elementary school teacher and then as a hospital bookkeeper. During World War II she and other Maryknoll Sisters were kept under house arrest and then confined in the Los Banos internment camp before their liberation by U.S. forces in 1945. She then taught at a high school before serving as registrar and an English and theology teacher at Maryknoll College in Manila, 1947-1967. She was dean of La Salette College in Santiago, 1967-1972. After returning to the Maryknoll Sisters Center in 1972, she served as secretary to the Renewal Office and on the Senior Center Council. After study, she began a new career in nursing at age 71, serving on the staff of the Center Health Unit at the Sisters Center and as a nursing assistant at the Maryknoll Sisters Nursing Home. Born in Cambridge, Mass., she entered the Maryknoll Sisters in 1927 and made final vows in 1933. A Funeral Mass was offered Dec. 30 at the Maryknoll Sisters Center. Burial was in the sisters¹ cemetery.”

    Eternal rest grant unto Sister Rose Marie, O Lord.

  • Marie, once again thank you! I think Sister Rose will have her own post here on American Catholic eventually. What a truly remarkable brother and sister!

  • Thanks – great post – I needed to read it…

  • Good stuff. Always glad to hear stories that demonstrate the Holy Spirit at work.

  • Well, its a real pleasure to read this post and a real change from the Jebbie-bashing that Catholic blogs seem to enjoy. Thank you!

  • Though he didn’t say it himself, O’Callahan’s feat inspired the headline, “Praise God and pass the ammunition!”

    The story is included in Tom Brokaw’s The Greatest Generation Speaks which is a worthwhile read, never mind the author’s politics.

  • Great story. I am so glad you are posting these inspiring accounts. I have a question. Do you know how many warships, destroyers or frigates were named in honor of Catholic chaplains? Your article names two. And I remember the other chaplain hero who died saving lives at Pearl Harbor. Don’t have his name before me, but you wrote a tribute to him some months ago.

  • George that would be be Lieutenant JG Aloysius Schmitt who died saving 12 men on the USS Oklahoma during the Pearl Harbor attack. He could have avoided death by drowning easily as the compartment he was in filled with water, but he thought it was more important to save the lives of the other men. The destroyer USS Schmitt was named in his honor. His actions warranted a Medal of Honor although he did not receive that decoration.


  • Selfless religious like the O’Callahan siblings are a reminder of why it is so very important to financially support the vocations. Many who get a calling struggle with the economic burden of schooling. Giving towards vocations is truly a gift that keeps on giving.

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  • It was nice to come across this site tonight and read all of your kind words about Sister Rose Marie Father Joe. They were my grandmother’s cousins (Katherine O’Callahan daughter of “handsome Jack” O’Callahan…their father and and my great grandfather were brothers). Growing up we always heard the stories, but we never realized how great they both were until getting older.

    In 2000 I received a Christmas card from Sister Rose Marie – her handwriting was very shaky, but her words flowed and her mind was still as sharp as a tack. I’ll always treasure it, along with a pair of Father Joe’s rosary beads.

    There is a room dedicated to Father Joe in SC at the USS Yorktown Museum if any of you are ever in the vacinity.

    You can also see that very famous original film clip of Father Joe praying over a wounded sailor in the Victory At Sea Series in the USS Ben Franklin section.

  • Lee, one of the joys of doing these posts on chaplains is hearing from relatives of these very brave men. We live in freedom only because of the dauntless courage shown by men like Father Joe. This reminds me too that I need to do a post on Sister Rose Marie who led a remarkable life in her own right.

  • Good morning Donald, you’re up with the birds this morning 🙂

    With yesterday being 9/11, I was doing some reading online about the brave first responder police and firefighters who lost their lives. Since “Handsome Jack” (we called him Pa) was a firefighter, at some point in my searching I keyed in his name and the Central Square Cambridge fire dept. I have a few pictures of Pa on the horse drawn fire wagon that I thought would be nice to donate to the station – and don’t you know, up popped Father Joe’s name…as it always does… which, in turn, led me here.

    It gives those of us in the family a very warm feeling to see all of you taking an interest in the story of his and Sister’s lives, no matter if it’s over the internet, in books, or wherever there is a gathering.

    By the way, the USS Ben Franklin Association had one of their reunions at a college in Franklin VA several years back. I believe it was one of the crew members who wrote a play about Father Joe and the students performed. The hat, gloves, Medal of Honor and a few other personal possessions of Father Joe were on display on a table at the front door to the small theatre. Of course I could not resist running my finger over that medal and thought the same thing you mentioned, how lucky we are today because of these brave men and women.

    Another cousin, Jay O’Callahan, has quite a lot of information on Father Joe. He’s a storyteller and is on NPR very often. He has published some books about Father Joe and various recordings if you haven’t already come across him in your research.

    I’m looking forward to your posts on Sister Rose Marie.


  • I came across Jay O’Callahan Lee when I was doing my initial research. As long as there is a US Navy, Father Joe’s memory will be honored. He was a Jesuit to remember!

The Irish Brigade at Fredericksburg

Sunday, January 10, AD 2010

A moving video of the Irish Brigade at the battle of Fredericksburg, December 13, 1862, based on the movie Gods and Generals.  It was criminal military malpractice for Burnside, perhaps the most incompetent general in the war, to assault the fortified Confederate positions, but his idiocy does not derogate in the slightest from the extreme heroism of the Union troops who suffered massive casualties while attempting to do the impossible.

The Irish Brigade was one of the units called upon that day to do the impossible.  One of the regiments in the Brigade was the  69th New York, the Fighting 69th as they would be designated by Robert E. Lee for their gallant charge at this battle, a unit faithful readers of this blog are quite familiar with.   This day their chaplain personally blessed each man in the regiment.  They called him Father Thomas Willett.  That was as close as they could get to pronouncing his actual name.

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13 Responses to The Irish Brigade at Fredericksburg

The Fighting Chaplain

Monday, January 4, AD 2010

William Henry Ironsides Reaney was a cradle Catholic.  He was also cradle Navy, having been born to Commander Henry Aubrey Vailey Reaney and his wife Anne on July 21, 1863.  His middle name was Ironsides after the steamer his father was serving aboard.  Some accounts say that his birth came unexpectedly as his mother was visiting his father aboard ship.  The proud father then asked the crew what name they should call the baby boy and they shouted out, “Ironsides”!  Probably apocryphal, but it was a fitting beginning for the man if true.

After the Civil War, Henry Reaney stayed in the Navy, eventually reaching the rank of Captain, while he and his wife had six children in addition to their first born, William.  The family settled in Detroit, and William graduated from Detroit College.  Deciding on becoming a priest, William enrolled at the Saint Mary’s Seminary in Baltimore.  He was ordained by Cardinal Gibbon at the Cathedral in Baltimore in 1888.  From 1889-1891 he was pastor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel parish in Emmitsburg, Maryland.

The ancestral lure of the sea called to Father Reaney, and in 1892 he was appointed a chaplain in the Navy, the second Catholic chaplain in that branch of the service.  He served on many ships as a Navy Chaplain, perhaps the most notable being the Olympia, the flagship of Admiral Dewey during the Spanish-American war.

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Great Jesuits 3: Dynamo From Ireland

Monday, November 9, AD 2009

Father John McElroy, S. J.

Number 3 of my series on great Jesuits of American history.

A year before the colonies won their fight for independence, John McElroy first saw the light of day in Brookeborough, County Fermanagh, Ireland on May 11,1782.  At this time English imposed penal laws meant that Irish Catholics were treated like helots in their own land.  The great Edmund Burke described the penal laws well:

“For I must do it justice;  it was a complete system, full of coherence and consistency, well digested and well composed in all its parts.   It was a machine of wise and deliberate contrivance, as well fitted for the oppression, impoverishment and degradation of a people, and the debasement of human nature itself, as ever proceeded from the perverted ingenuity of man.”

As a result of these laws McElroy could receive little education in Ireland.  Ambition and a thirst for knowledge caused him, like many Irish Catholics before and since, to emigrate to the US, landing on our shores in 1803.  He became a bookkeeper at Georgetown College, studying Latin in his off hours.  In 1806 he joined the Jesuits as a lay brother, but his intelligence and his industry quickly marked him down to his Jesuit superiors as a candidate for the priesthood.  Ordained in 1817 , for several years he served at Trinity Church in Georgetown, until being transferred to Frederick, Maryland, where, during the next twenty-three years, with the boundless energy which was his hallmark,  he built Saint John’s Church, a college, an orphan’s asylum, and the first free schools in Frederick.  He was then transferred back to Trinity in Georgetown where he remained for a year until the Mexican War began.

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Padre of Guadalcanal

Monday, October 26, AD 2009

BE058992Frederic Gehring was probably lucky that he was born and reared in Brooklyn.  It has always been a tough town and it prepared him for the adventurous life he was to lead.  Born on January 20, 1903,  he went on to attend and graduated from Saint John’s Prep.  Setting his eyes on being a missionary priest, he entered the minor seminary of the Vincentians, Saint Joseph’s, near Princeton,  New Jersey.  Earning his BA in 1925, he entered the seminary of Saint Vincent’s in Philadelphia.

Ordained as a priest on May 22, 1930, he was unable to immediately go to China due to military activity of the Communists in Kiangsi province.  For three years he traveled throughout the US raising funds for the missions in China, and, at long last, in 1933 he was able to pack his bags and sailed for China.  Laboring in the Chinese missions from 1933-1939 in the midst of warlordism, civil war and the invasion of China, commencing in 1937, by Japan must have been tough, but Father Gehring was always up to any challenge.  For example,  in 1938 Japanese planes strafed a mission he was at.  Father Gehring ran out waving a large American flag in hopes that the Japanese would not wish to offend a powerful neutral nation and would stop the strafing.  The Japanese planes did fly off, and Father Gehring was pleased until someone at the mission pointed out that maybe the Japanese had simply run out of ammo!  In 1939 Father Gerhring returned to the States to raise funds for the missions.

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18 Responses to Padre of Guadalcanal

  • Another great story Don.

    My oldest son is currently in Honiara on Guadalcanal with the Australia & NZ Bank as their regional corporate manager. He has sent some interesting photos back (also on Facebook) of some of the memorial sites around the island.
    He will be returning home in November after a year away – haven’t had the chance to go and visit him there, much to my chagrin – I love travel.

  • Thanks for the great article about the Padre of Guadalcanal.
    He was my instructor at St. John’s, Jamaica, NY..and we all loved him, especially his wonderful stories.
    Loved it. God Bless!

  • A beautiful story. I am glad that the good Padre lived on to do many other good works after the war was over.

    And I love the story about Ross and “The Yiddisher Mama” song. I’m sure there was plenty of mutual respect among the men of different faiths fighting that war, even if that generation did not feel the need to trumpet their “diversity” and “inclusiveness” to the world.

  • Don, I will say again that it is a small world! I know only one person who has been to Guadalcanal, a retired Methodist Minister, who was a navy corpsman with the Marines in 42. He has some interesting tales to tell!

    Helen, I envy you. In addition to being a great priest and a very brave man I also suspect he was a character and a half, and I would have loved to have heard his stories!

    Donna, I have noticed in the military that almost all differences become small ones when facing a crisis, and there is no crisis like combat.

  • The article on Father Gehring and Barney Ross was fasinating to read and is very personal to me. I have been researching the 52nd Field Hospital on Guadalcanal. I had heard about the Christmas Service from a army veteran who was with the 101st Medical Regiment with the Americal Division. People forget that the Army entered combat in Nov. ’42’ and fought along side the Marines. I have often wondered about the details of the Christmas Service as mentioned in the letter from a veteran. He humbly stated that on Christmas Eve services were held at the chapel tent and Barney Ross, ex-boxing Champ sang and played the orgin and he was quite good! I have often wondered where did the organ come from on a jungle island during some of the most savage combat of the pacific? Well now I know, thanks to Father Gehring’s personal belongings. I love the photograph and would like to use it for a unit history that I am working on for the 52nd. I plan on devoting a segment to the Ministries including the Chapel that the natives built for the cemetery dedication, and also the hospitals own chapel tent who’s altar was painted in frescos by one of the enlisted personnel. One more interesting fact that I was told by my dad who was a member of the 52nd was the death of Father Neil Doyle who was wounded on New Georgia and died on the operating table after being evacuated to Guadalcanal. He had developed gangrene in his leg and my dad donated blood for his surgery. The hospital personnel really took it hard when news spread that he had died. He was wounded giving last rites on the battlefield on Munda, New Georgia. How can I obtain copy of the picture of Gehring and Ross for my publication and consent. I would like to hear any fedback regarding this subject. By the way, Oct.26th is my birthday, this is one of the best presents ever!

  • Thank you for your comments Raymond and especially for the interesting information on Father Neil Doyle who will be a subject of one of my future posts. I will try to find where I got the picture from. I recall it took some doing. Unfortunately I have no rights to it, but I will attempt to locate the original source and post it here.

  • Thank you for replying. I am looking forward to reading your article on Father Doyle. If you haven’t researched the Archdiocese of Hartford you might consider a inquirey. Sister Irene Fortier was kind enough to send me some material on Father Doyle back in 1995. This event remained forever etched in my Dad’s memory and although it was difficult, I did eventually hear his side of the story. I have some photos of a Chatholic Chaplain saying mass inside a tent on Guadalcanal. This was before the Natives built and dedicated the chapel at the cemetery in March of ’43’. I would like to identify the Chaplain in my photos although I know there were many men of the cloth serving with different outfits. Perhaps it may be John F. Culliton,John P. Mahoney, Bishop Aubin, John P. Daly, Thomas O’Malley just to name a few who were on the island at the time. I don’t believe it is Father Gehring. If I can be of any help let please let me know. You had mentioned that you knew a Methodist Minister who was a medic on Guadalcanal. Would it be possible to forward my information regarding the 52nd Field Hospital? The army took over the Marines field hospital “C-1” after it arrived in Nov ’42’ and treated the sick and wounded from all branches of the military until evacuation was possible. I would love to hear from him.

  • Has anyone mentioned Marine Chaplain “Padre” Tom Reardon? I have gorgeous photos and article about his time at Guadalcanal. He went in with the first wave of Marines and eventually contracted malaria and left the island unconcious, before recovering in California. He is the PADRE showcased in the book and motion picutre “Guadalcanal Diary.” He was my dad’s first cousin and had an accomplished life post-war, and is still honored each year with an award at the Seton Hall University School of Law. The photos I have of him saying mass on the island are spectacular.

  • Great information. I too have been collecting informatoin on the 214th Coastal Artillery (AA)regiment, attached to the Americal Division on January 1943 on Guadalcanal. My father s/sgt Robert Burns served with the HQ Battery, 2nd Battalion of the 214th CA (AA). The unit Chaplain’s name was J.F. O’Connell, he may appear in the March 1943 photo mentioned above on Guadalcanal. I would appreciate any information you can provide for this period on Guadalcanal.

  • If I come across any additional information Robert, I will pass it on to you.

  • Tom, I will have to make time to do a post on the remarkable Father Tom Reardon.

  • What a terrific story – thank you. I visited Guadalcanal about 30 times in my 5 years as the Catholic Police Chaplain with RAMSI 2004>2009. In 2006 we blessed a beautiful thached roof open sided chapel overlooking the Red Beach landing zone, where ironically RAMSI came ashore in 2003. From the altar you can look out across the Channel toward the Florida Islands and Tulagi. Conducting services there each Sunday is alive with the spirit of all the men who were killed in ’42 & ’43. I always offer prayers for the thousands who died right here in this area – Tenaru is a few miles away – you can hear the waters lapping on the beach from the chapel, and Savo Island is just around the corner to the left. If you want to visit this beautiful memorial chapel you’d have to request permission at the security gate of the RAMSI compound, called Guadalcanal Beach Resort [GBR]. The Australian Government through RAMSI largly funded the chapel with its heavy wooden pews, altar, chairs and large Christian cross prominent. Thanks again for enshrining the stories in our memories. Blessings, Rev Mick O’Donnell, former Australian Federal Police Chaplain

  • Thank you Father!

  • Here is a letter from Padre Thomas M Reardon to his sister Mary Reardon (who was Sister Margaret Thomas, Sisters of Charity) dated August 6, 1942 (the original letter is in very good condition in a scrapbook page.
    I was born 17 years later TO THE DAY and named for him: Thomas Matthew Looney. Here is his letter written on the eve of battle.

    Dear Mary,

    Remember me, your brother. I used to say, “join the convent and see the world.” Well, you can change it—join the Marines and see the world. I hope you are well and taking good care of yourself. Regards to Sister Rosalie.
    We are on the eve of battle Mary. We have full expectations of licking the enemy. All of the boys are ready! Confessions conversions communions are a big part of my life with the boys.
    My life has been hidden from you so I wouldn’t have you worry about me. You know how much I love you and how proud I’ve always been of you. Both of us can be so thankful for such a grand Mom and Pop and cousins at 276. I know your prayers follow me. Don’t worry about me—I have a job to do and am proud to be with the boys. I feel that all your prayers at home will protect me. Remember Mary your brother loves you very much too much that you should worry about me. Together as grateful children of good parents we place ourselves in the arms of Jesus for his love and consolation. Adieu–God Bless You Fr. Tom

  • Where is the best place for me to place Padre Tom Reardon’s war papers, etc.? Marine Corps Museum?

  • That is some letter Tom. I would suggest the Marine Corps Recruit Depot Museum in San Diego:


  • I discovered this item online and thought it would be of interest regarding Msgr. Reardon

    Chaplain Heroes

    Chalice of Rev. Thomas M. Reardon, U.S.N.R. (1909- 1987)
    silver and gold plated
    Gift of the Reardon Family to the Archives of the Archdiocese of Newark, Seton Hall University
    Thomas M. Reardon (1909-1987) was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Newark in 1934. In 1941, before Pearl Harbor, he entered the United States Navy as a chaplain, volunteering for service with the United States Marine Corps. He was the first chaplain to go ashore with the Marines at Guadalcanal. His exploits were featured in the book and film, ?Guadalcanal Diary,? with actor Preston Foster in the leading role. Monsignor Reardon later served as Regent of the School of Law of Seton Hall University and Pastor of Sacred Heart Parish, Bloomfield, NJ.

    Inscribed ?In Memory of My Parents Thomas and Mary Reardon Chalice used at Guadalcanal Aug. 8th- Dec.2nd, 1942.? This chalice was part of Father Reardon?s ?Mass Kit,? and was used by him during the Battle of Guadalcanal.

  • Thank you Tom. Great info.

Into the Minefield

Sunday, October 18, AD 2009

Father Craig in Minefield

October 27, 1913.  The Great War was soon to begin in Europe and Leo Peter Craig was born into this world in Everett, Massachusetts.  He was five years old when his mother died, leaving his father with five young children to raise.  Under these unusual circumstances, his Aunt, Veronica Craig, a member of the Dominican Sisters of Springfield Kentucky, received a dispensation from her vows in order for her to help raise her brother’s children.  For 18 years she dedicated herself to this task, becoming a second mother to young Leo.  After the children were all raised, she returned to the religious life.  Leo attended the LaSalle Academy of the Christian Brothers in Providence, Rhode Island.  Going on to Providence College, he obtained his BA in 1935, at which time he entered the Dominican novitiate at Saint Rose’s in Springfield, Kentucky.  He completed his philosophy courses at the Dominican House of Studies in River Forest, Illinois, and his theological training at the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, DC.  He was ordained to the priesthood on May 21, 1942.

Father Leo P. Craig

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10 Responses to Into the Minefield

  • I was married in Holy Innocents Catholic Church in Pleasantville, NY.

    Thank you for this story.

  • Thanks for the great piece on Fr. Craig. Do you mind if I report it to our website?

  • Not at all Father. My chief reason for doing these posts on Catholic Chaplains is so that these brave men are remembered, so I am always happy to have these posts relisted on as many web-sites as possible.

  • Thank you for this post about Fr. Craig. I have included his story in my own posting, “Shepherds in Combat Boots.” Catholic priests pack the gear!

  • Oh, and I linked to Fr. Pietrzyk’s post as well as yours.

  • Thank you Anita!

  • Great idea to feature the story of Providence College alumnus Fr. Leo Craig OP ’35 in your edition which covered Veterans’ Day. Fr. Craig is honored at Arlington National Cemetery with his named engraved on a Catholic Chaplains Monument at Chaplain’s Hill. Also honored on the plaque are the names of approximately 75 Catholic Chaplains Killed in Service in WWII, Korea, and Vietnam. The site also has monuments to WWI and Proetesant Chaplains.

    Our Sons of the American Legion organization is working with several Jewish organziations to add a fourth monument to this site which will honor ten Rabbis killed in service. We hope to gain approval and erect the monument by next Veterans Day.

    We were drawn to this project by the WWII story of the “Immortal Four Chaplains”, revered in the American legion, who’s heroism on a doomed troop ship became legendary. The four chaplains represented the Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish faiths. When their troop ship, the Dorchester, was torpedoed in the North Atlantic in February 1943, they did everything they could to help their fellow soldiers survive, even giving up their life preservers and gloves.

    Any individual or group interested in supporting the project is welcome to contact me. Pictures of Chaplains Hill can be found on our website.

  • A very worthy project Mr. Kraetzer.

  • FYI: We received an email from a city clerk in Everett, MA, where Fr. Craig was born. According to their records, Fr. Craig was born in 1913, not 1918. Thought you’d like to know. Thanks again for doing this posting.

  • Thank you Father for the correction. I have altered the post to reflect this information.

POW Servant of God Recommended for Medal of Honor

Tuesday, October 13, AD 2009

Father Emil Kapaun

Hattip to the Curt Jester.  Father Emil Kapaun, the POW Servant of God who died a heroic death in a Chinese POW camp during the Korean War, and who I have written about here, here and here may soon have a new earthly honor.  Army Secretary Peter Geren has recommended that Father Kapaun be awarded the Medal of Honor.  Now it is up to Congress to pass the legislation to send the award on to President Obama.  I recall when I drafted my original post I was surprised that Father Kapaun had not been awarded the Medal of Honor since clearly he had earned it many times over.  If awarded the Medal, he would bring the number of chaplains to eight who have received the highest military decoration this nation can bestow.

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Great Jesuits 2: Chaplain of the Excelsior Brigade

Thursday, August 6, AD 2009


Excelsior Brigade

Part 2 of my series on great Jesuits in American history.  Ireland has given many great gifts to the United States of America and one of them was Joseph B. O’Hagan who was born in the Olde Sod in County Tyrone on August 15, 1826, the feast of the Assumption.  His family emigrating to Nova Scotia, he entered the seminary in 1844.  Meeting a Boston Jesuit in 1847, he joined the order in December of that year.  Finishing his theological studies in Louvain, he was ordained a priest in 1861.

Returning to the US he joined the Union Army as a chaplain for the New York Excelsior Brigade, one of the hardest fighting outfits in the Army of the Potomac.  Assigned to the 73rd New York, at first Father O’Hagan didn’t think much of many of his fellow soldiers as this passage from a letter he wrote on August 7, 1861 indicates:  “Such a collection of men was never before united in one body since the flood. Most of them were the scum of New York society, reeking with vice and spreading a moral malaria around them. Some had been serving terms of penal servitude on Blackwell’s Island at the outbreak of the war, but were released on condition of enlisting in the army of the Union, and had gladly accepted the alternative..”  The sense of humor of Father O’Hagan is demonstrated by his account of a regiment electing a chaplain:  “Over four hundred voted for a Catholic priest, one hundred and fifty-four, for any kind of a protestant minister; eleven, for a Mormon elder; and three hundred and thirty-five said they could find their way to hell without the assistance of clergy.” .

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35 Responses to Great Jesuits 2: Chaplain of the Excelsior Brigade

  • What percentage of your “Great Jesuits” will be related to the military?

  • Keep reading, which I know you would in any case, and find out Catholic Anarchist.

  • Seems the Company of Jesus is related to the military in its very makeup and its founder’s roots and vision.

  • Ignatius left the military, you twit.

  • And Saint Ignatius was the General of the Order, required military style obedience, used military imagery throughout his writings and had no qualms about Jesuits serving as military chaplains. Rick nails it.

  • Always pleasant witness to authentic Christianity(TM), Michael. Even as I don’t dispute being called a twit, I never said or implied that Ignatius never left the military. As Don explained, the military allusions and character of the Company of Jesus is evident to most, even semi-functional twits like myself.

  • Rick & Donald:

    Why don’t the two of you tossers quit picking on Iafrate and try to follow his rather exemplary demonstration of genuine Christian ideals such as derogatory name-calling and outright condescension, will ya?

  • Catholic Anarchist I deleted your comment. I will not tolerate your calling me a fascist and I certainly will not tolerate your calling Rick a fascist. When you can behave like an adult, I will approve your comments. If this is simply beyond you, peddle your insults elsewhere.

  • Yeah, I can understand someone thinking me a twit. The person who thinks that has to have a fairly developed world view (valid or not) and consider me outside the bounds of what is or ought to be. The measure is their own view of reality. However, while the word fascist is considered in many different lights, it’s still a fairly objective term and to consider me a fascist is to not know what a fascist is or to not know the first thing about me. It’s just not a reasonable conclusion to make.

  • I wonder if michael understands that fascism (by which I mean Fascist political parties and philosophy) was very much a movement of Left.

    Perhaps, though, such a recognition would have gotten in the way of the name-calling and cheap labeling.

  • The real question is why Michael I. feels an automatic desire to spit and rage whenever Donald puts up a post about a military chaplain. Are these men he feels should not be honored? Does he consider their service contemptible? Should their sacrifices be forgotten and their names erased from history? Well, I think we know the answer to those questions.

    But even if he holds these men in no esteem, why feel the need to drop a predictably sour and uncharitable comment into a thread meant to honor them? Simply scrolling past the post is an option.

  • Keep posting these historical vignettes, Donald–I am enjoying them immensely.

  • Thank you Dale! I enjoy writing them!

  • I note with interest that Vox Nova now has a blogger who doesn’t like Michael’s style of argumentation. http://vox-nova.com/2009/08/08/establishing-a-raca-principle/

  • Pope John Paul the Great, in his 2003 message to military chaplains, wrote: “Peace can only be achieved through love! Right now we are all asked to work and pray so that war may disappear from the horizon of humanity.”

    While we must honor the courage of Jesuits who administered sacraments to men engaged in warfare, we must also recall that those men should never have been there in the first place. The best service our chaplains can offer American soldiers is to protect them from the evil of modern war itself – especially with regard to its demonic methods of indoctrination and training. Here’s one of the cadences I recall singing heartily:

    “Burn the town and kill the people
    Throw some napalm in the square
    Do it on a Sunday morning
    While the people are at prayer
    Throw some candy in the school yard
    Watch the kiddies gather ’round
    Slap a mag in your M-16
    And mow those little f#*$&#s down”

    We sang these, and worse.

  • Here’s the one we used to sing the most often, I recall:

    “I went to the playground
    Where all the kiddies played
    I pulled out an uzi
    and I began to spray

    Left Right left right
    Left Right Kill
    Left Right Left Right
    I think I will

    I went to the market
    Where all the people shopped
    I pulled at a machete
    and I began to chop

    Left Right left right
    Left right Kill
    Left right left right
    Ya know I will.”

  • I’m not sure why it is that Catholic chaplains come in for so much disapproval from modern Catholic pacifists. I don’t know if it’s still the case now as it was prior to Vatican II (now that people are so much more “rational” about Last Rites), but in Fr. O’Hagan’s time Catholic chaplains went into battle battle and braved enemy fire (unarmed, and making no attempt to defend themselves) in order to bring the sacraments and first aid to the wounded and dying — of either side.

    I would think that for a Christian pacifism, the witness both of battlefield chaplains and of the medics/stretcher bearers of that period (who were often Quakers or other pacifists) would be a powerful and positive one, not something to be rejected.

  • The great problem as I see it, DC, is that the chaplains are officers in the military rather than ’embedded’ civilians. Chaplains are bound not only by the UCMJ, but also by the military’s efficacious indoctrination and culture. Many of the chaplains I met in the military were very sympathetic to peacemaking, but these sympathies were private beliefs that they kept to themselves.

    The secondary reason why pacifists focus on chaplains is one of scandal. The presence of uniformed priests in the military serves to legitimize modern war, especially for young soldiers. I will never forget the day that the Archbishop of the Military Archdiocese preached at West Point. This was right before the invasion of Iraq, and he told us that it wasn’t our duty to listen to the Pope when he spoke out against the war. Rather, it was our duty to obey the orders of the Commander in Chief.

    God bless Archbishop O’Brien, but he let many of us down that day. He wanted to reassure our consciences, but he only made our struggle worse. The chaplains are in a tough spot – how are they to preach resistance to unjust wars when both the UCMJ and their training say they must do otherwise – that they must comfort soldiers in their duty? Chaplains must not only be priests. They must be prophets. God help them!

  • Well, guess one of the first things you’d have to ask yourself is whether your thinking on this is the same as that of the Church. After all, the see of US Military Archdiocese fell vacant a couple years ago, and Pope Benedict XVI immediately filled with Archbishop Timothy Paul Broglio. I think one could probably take it from this action that our pope does not consider it a scandal for there to be uniformed priests providing the sacraments to US soldiers — even with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan actively ongoing (as they certainly were in 2007 when Apb Broglio was appointed.)

    Traditionally, certainly at the time of Fr. O’Hagan (when Pope Pius IX himself was actively calling for faithful Catholics to come serve in the papal army and fight Italian nationalists — armed with the very latest military rifle technology), the Church has not called on each soldier to decide if the war he is ordered into by the ruler he is sworn to serve is just — rather rulers were held responsible for waging just wars, and soldiers were held responsible for behaving justly in the individual situations they found themselves in.

    While I think there’s some virtue to calling on soldiers to question whether they are being deployed in a totally unjust or downright evil cause (a category into which I can hardly see the Iraq war falling — but that’s a topic for another day) I think that Church has traditionally had it’s priorities right in focusing first on individual souls: on providing the sacraments to men living near death. Indeed, I always found it rather inspiring that bishops in both the North and South in the Civil War went to significant lengths to authorize chaplains with both armies to provide the sacraments to those in need within their diocese. That despite the truly weighty causes which lay between the two sides, the Church focused first on the needs of the souls on both sides, rather than on delivering lectures on which side was just who and who conscientiously object, strikes me as ringly far more truly to the universal nature of the Church than the modern peace movement.

  • You make some good points, DC. Pope Benedict’s filling of the post of Archbishop certainly indicates that he feels there is a need for the position. Howeover, the Archbishop is not an officer in the US Military, he is not liable under the UCMJ, and he does not undergo indoctrination and training in warfare. I think it is right to have an Archbishop and priest assigned to minister to soldiers, even soldiers engaged in unjust wars. But I do not think it is right to force our priests to endure military indoctrination and to be subjected to military law and authority.

    Aggressive warfare is an intrinsic evil, and those who kill in such a war commit the grave sin of murder. God help them, and our chaplains, to resist orders to wage unjust wars!

  • Aggressive warfare is an intrinsic evil, and those who kill in such a war commit the grave sin of murder.

    I agree with the first part of your statement, Nate, but I’m not so sure the second part necessarily follows. One only need to think of a conscript going into battle and fighting only because he doesn’t want the sergeant to put a bullet in the back of his head. If God understands all, including what’s in our hearts, and is just and merciful, then I doubt He considers that soldier guilty of murder. It seems to me that those who culpably put the soldier in that position will have to answer for consequences and injustices of their actions.

  • Rick, I think you and I probably agree, if we make the distinction between grave sin and mortal sin. Are you saying that killing in an unjust war is a grave sin, but not necessarily a mortal sin? I would agree with that wholeheartedly. Many (if not most) soldiers who fight in an unjust war typically do so without full knowledge or full freedom – lessening their culpability.

    Think of the Japanese and Germans who died fighting in an aggressive and unjust war – I doubt that most of them did so with full knowledge and full freedom. Yet surely the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor must be described as a murderous action – a grave sin. Yet if I’m understanding you correctly, we should be clear in making a distinction between grave sin and mortal sin.

  • I think it is right to have an Archbishop and priest assigned to minister to soldiers, even soldiers engaged in unjust wars. But I do not think it is right to force our priests to endure military indoctrination and to be subjected to military law and authority.

    I guess I’d have to understand more clearly what you think is being done to chaplains that is so horendous. Overall, however, I’m having trouble understanding how on the one hand you’d accept that it is a good thing that the Vatican has a US military chapliancy, and on the other insist that the chapliancy as it exists (and the Vatican has accepted it) is totally unacceptable — indeed so unacceptable that one shouldn’t even praise the bravery a priest living 150 years ago who worked under fire to bring the sacraments to the dying.

    Are you saying that killing in an unjust war is a grave sin, but not necessarily a mortal sin?…
    Think of the Japanese and Germans who died fighting in an aggressive and unjust war – I doubt that most of them did so with full knowledge and full freedom. Yet surely the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor must be described as a murderous action – a grave sin.

    See, I guess the thing that rubs me the wrong way about this way of looking at things is the “the good side and the murderers” element of it. This strikes me as judgemental and dualistic in a way that’s more likely to inspire conflict than peace.

    Also, working with the precise modern, Catholic definition of “just war” I’m having a bit of trouble with it. I mean, take the following: In WW2, the Soviet Union invaded Finnland in an aggressive war. Germany later invated the Soviet Union in an aggressive war. Finnland, which was still desperately fighting off the Russian invasion, sought and received German help — in the form of arms and even a small number of German soldiers as “advisors”. So here are a German and Finnish soldier sitting in a foxhole together, and Soviet soldiers are charging at them. Is it murder for the German to shoot because Germany is waging an unjust war against the Soviet Union, but legitimate defense for the Finn to shoot because he’s defending his country against the unjust aggression of the Soviets?

    Or if one accepts that the war in Iraq is unjust: When US and Iraqi soldiers are out on patrol together looking for members of an illegal militia which has been terrorizing civilians in the area, is it murder and unjust for the US soldier to be there but legitimate for the Iraqi soldier to be there? When they’re working together and doing the same thing?

    Those just don’t make sense to me.

  • DC, I didn’t say that the current military chaplaincy was totally unacceptable, but rather that they must be prophetic, and that their status as officers makes that very difficult, if not illegal under the UCMJ. I also didn’t say that we shouldn’t praise the bravery of chaplains, but rather that “we must honor the courage of Jesuits who administered sacraments to men engaged in warfare”.

    Your questions about the Fins, Germans, Soviets, Americans, and Iraqis are complex ones, I agree. I think that highlights the need for a better theology of war, peace, and homicide. The intense focus on just-war theory is analogous to focusing on the bare minimums of the Catholic life. What would we say about a priest who regularly preached about the minimum requirement of receiving communion once a year rather than the merciful grace of receiving communion daily? When it comes to our thinking about war and peace, we’ve really let the minimum set the standard instead of calling us to something greater.

    Archbishop Carlson of Saint Louis has a wonderful peace letter that he wrote a year ago, which you can find on my website. I think he nails it:


  • “And Saint Ignatius was the General of the Order, required military style obedience, used military imagery throughout his writings and had no qualms about Jesuits serving as military chaplains. Rick nails it.”

    It’s important to be careful Donald about how far you stretch that “military” language. For example, Superior “General” is just meant as far as I can tell to mean the opposite of “particular,” which would be the superior of a particular house in a city. The “general” superior governs the whole world.

    I don’t think that the obedience is particularly military style. That would be the Legionaries maybe, but not us. There are many forms of representation in the Society of Jesus, where superiors can be questioned and even sidestepped. The obedience that Ignatius founded — which was an afterthought by the way — was meant to be practical, to keep them together when already as a young order they were going all over the world. Their form of obedience, as opposed to the monastic form, precluded them returning for Chapter on a regular basis. It made for easier and more practical missionary work.

    The military language that Ignatius used is more akin to his former allusions to knighthood, such as Amadis de Gaul, rather than the Prussian military form that we know. A “soldier” in the former sense referred to one who had more of a “vocational” relationship with his king than the relationship that we would associate with a soldier in the American military. Go back to the Spiritual Exercises and read the Kingdom of Christ meditation again. It is all about a knighthood or soldiering of personal relationship. Hence, the individual has quite a bit to say, which goes back to the obedience bit. There is a dialogue at work in this meditation, particularly at the end in the Colloquy.

    By laying down his arms at Montserrat, Ignatius truly left the military, and by using some of this language again, he subverted it in the service of a higher calling. It is primarily the “impulse” to higher service that he borrows from the military as opposed to anything substantial.

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  • Good points Nathan, although I disagree with your ultimate conclusion. I think that Saint Ignatius deliberately set out to have his Company of Jesus, company of course being the basic military unit in the sixteenth century, established along military lines to form an army for Christ. This perhaps is seen most clearly in the opening words of his Formula of the Institute:

    “Whoever desires to serve as a soldier of God beneath the banner of the cross in our society, which we desire to be designated by the name of Jesus, and to serve the Lord alone and the Church, his spouse, under the Roman pontiff, the vicar of Christ on earth, should, after a solemn vow of perpetual chastity, poverty and obedience, keep what follows in mind. He is a member of a Society founded chiefly for this purpose: to strive especially for the defense and propagation of the faith and for the progress of souls in Christian life and doctrine, by means of public preaching, lectures, and any other ministration whatsoever of the word of God and further by means of the Spiritual Exercises, the education of children and unlettered persons in Christianity and the spiritual consolation of Christ’s faithful through hearing confessions and administering the other sacraments.

    Moreover, he should show himself ready to reconcile the estranged, compassionately assist and serve those who are in prisons or hospitals and, indeed, to perform any other works of charity, according to what will seem expedient for the glory of God and the common good.”

    Although the Jesuits themselves were not to wield carnal weapons, they would, and did, serve as chaplains for those who did. Unfortunately I can not find it on line, but I recall a letter from Saint Ignatius to Emperor Charles V urging a naval crusade against the Turks. I have always been struck by the strategic insight shown by the Saint in that letter. Of course long after the deaths of both Saint Ignatius and Charles V, Pope Saint Pius V cobbled together such an alliance to shatter the Turkish fleet at Lepanto in 1571.

  • Here is a link to the book,
    History of the life and institute of St. Ignatius de Loyola, by Daniello Bartoli


    and the quote,

    “He brought about a reconciliation between the Pope and the king of Portugal; he concerted with John de Vega to persuade the Emperor Charles V. to fit out a fleet against the Turks”

  • Thanks for the info and the link Joseph!

  • Donald – You are living in a fascist dreamworld. Your children must be proud. Happy Sunday to you. Go to Mass, clean the guns.

  • Catholic Anarchist, I approved your last comment so our readers could see the typical type of bilge I delete which you submit. You are banned forever from commenting on any of my posts on this blog. Go be a total jackass elsewhere.

  • You know, I’ve long been a sucker for the “maybe there’s some redeeming quality in this guy, we shouldn’t shut out the opposition” school of thought on Michael — but I think that kind of comment pretty much underscores how, in the end, there is not a Christ-like fiber in his being. This alleged pacifist is one of the most consistently angry and in-humane people I’ve ever encountered online, and it seems well past time to cut things off with him. He just doesn’t add anything positive.

    I’ll commit to banning him from my posts as well — and to be fair I’ll go ahead and never try to comment on Vox Nova (or Catholic Anarchy) either. At a certain point, sanity and standards have to kick in.

  • Michael,

    I didn’t appreciate your last comment on my post.

    Please stop with your juvenile comments.

    You’ve been warned.

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Father Cyclone and the Fighting 69th

Monday, July 27, AD 2009

Father Larry Lynch


Larry Lynch was born, the first of 12 kids in his family, in the City Line neighborhood of Brooklyn on October 17, 1906.  He grew up on some pretty tough streets while also serving as an altar boy at Saint Sylvester’s.   He came to greatly admire the Redemptorists, an order of missionary priests founded by Saint Alphonsus Liguori in 1732.  In America the order had distinguished itself by its work in some of the roughest slums in the country and thus it was small wonder that a tough street kid would be attracted to them.  Larry Lynch was ordained a priest in the Redemptorist Order in 1932.

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6 Responses to Father Cyclone and the Fighting 69th

  • I think if Father Lynch had survived, considering his great faith and love, he would have likely seen the terrible inhumanity of modern war and come to speak out against it. How could he not, having seen those he loved so dearly destroyed by not only metal and fire, but spiritually impoverished due to killing so many innocent civilians? He would likely have followed in the footsteps of George Zebelka, the Chaplain who ministered to those who dropped the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki:


  • What do you think we should have done after Pearl Harbor, Nate? Should all of the Pacific have been left to Japanese imperialism? You must know how the Japanese treated the people of the Phillipines, China and Korea. Many thousands of women were forced into sexual slavery.

    Contrary to what Michael I. might think, I do not love war. I am at loss to imagine what else we could have done under those circumstances.

  • Nate, I think it is the height of folly to say what Father Lynch would or would not have done beyond the years that the Lord alloted to him, since that is based upon nothing but speculation. All we can do is to celebrate what he did with his life, and that is what I have done.

  • Another inspirational story of a truly inspirational, and manly man of God.
    Thanks Don.

  • Thank you Don. Priests like Larry Lynch light the way in dark world for all of us.

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Hero of the Maine

Friday, July 24, AD 2009

Monsignor Chidwick

 The Maine

Night, February 15, 1898, the American battleship USS Maine lay at anchor in the harbor of Havana.  Although tensions were running high between the US government and Spain, the colonial power occupying Cuba, the night was calm.  Suddenly, at 9:40 PM,  a huge explosion devastated the forward section of the Maine, an external explosion setting off the powder in the magazines of the Maine.  Into this vision of hell on Earth strode the Catholic Chaplain of the Maine, John P. Chidwick.

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5 Responses to Hero of the Maine

Vatican Finds Evidence of POW Servant of God's Miracle

Wednesday, July 1, AD 2009


Hattip to Creative Minority Report and to Father Zimmerman.  As I detailed here,  a miracle attributed to the intercession of Father Emil Kapaun, the heroic Army Catholic Chaplain who died in a Chinese POW camp during the Korean War, has been under investigation by the Vatican.  As reported here, the Vatican investigator Andrea Ambrosi has apparently found indications of the miraculous having taken place.  Perhaps one day I will be able to refer to Father Kapaun not as the POW Servant of God but as the POW Saint!

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4 Responses to Vatican Finds Evidence of POW Servant of God's Miracle

A Miracle For Father Kapaun, the POW Servant of God?

Wednesday, June 24, AD 2009


In April of this year I wrote a post about the remarkable POW Servant of God, Father Emil Kapaun, a heroic Catholic Chaplain who died in a Chinese POW camp during the Korean War.  Now, and a grateful hattip to reader Rick Lugari, the Vatican is investigating a miracle attributed to the intercession of  Father Kapaun.

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32 Responses to A Miracle For Father Kapaun, the POW Servant of God?

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  • Hello, I am asking prayer for the Gas station attendent who was shot tonith in Detroit, I am also praying for all in Detroit

  • Prayers on the way Barbara.

  • Hi, I am requesting a prayer for my husband, Marc, father of 3 who at age 52 had a major stroke, was in the hospital for 3 months and they didnt think he would make it. He did make it, but he lost his left periperal vision . and is still kinda numb on his left side. It has stopped him from being able to do much of anything. Our life has changed a lot! We just ask for your prayers that he will continue to get better!

  • Hello, I am asking for a prayer and miracle for my little dog who means the world to me and I love him more than words can express. He has been diagnosed with a middle ear tumor that they suspect is cancer. He also has a cyst on the same side of his face that would make the surgery very complicated due to a lot of nevers being damaged among other complications. I have elected not to have the sugery. I pray that he will live many more years by side.

  • Prayers are on the way Rebecca and Ann.

  • Please pray for my 12 year old grand daughter. Last year she was a happy and healthy young girl. Straight A student. Always the first to help. Last Easter started to walk funny. After tests they determined she had a AVM type 2 on her spine. Now a year later and 5 surg later she is in a wheel chair unbale to walk or go to the bathroom with out cathing herself. She is handeling it much better than us adults. I pray every day for a miracle. Please help me pray for Delilah Patsy Palmer. Thank you

  • Please ask Father Kapaun to please ask Our Lord to make my 11 yr old daughter talk. She has mental delays and her brain does not allow her to sound out words. I ask everyday to Our Lord to keep her safe and to watch over her while at school. My mother who also lives with us is 91 years old and was in the hospital 2 yrs ago and the x-ray showed a tumor in her lung. I did not let them investigate further because of her age and that she would decline in health if was brought to her attendtion her. She has been coughing for the past 3 years of really unknown origin. I pray each day also for her that whatever the Dr.s saw on the x-ray that it was benign. My husband also had Prostate Cancer and is doing well. I pray that he remains well to continue being a great father to our daughter who needs him so and so do I.

  • My dearest Father Kapaun, I would like to ask our Lord for a prayer for me. I have an important final tomorrow I ask that your presence will guide me through this tough test. Thank you.

  • Please pray for me that I can take care of myself financially. I have had problems with this most of my life, love what I do, but need to have more confidence. Thank you for your prayers.

  • Father Kapaun, in life your love of Christ and your love of your fellow Man shone forth from you. In the POW camp in which you died you constantly risked your life to aid your fellow prisoners. We humbly beseech you to pray to God for those who have asked your intercession.

  • We ask your intercession,prayers and blessings on our 2 month old grandson who has not yet come home from the hospital. He is facing a possible heart transplant and we ask that you intercede and ask God to cure him so he may grow up to be a good man with the family who loves him and be an example of Gods power and love of His children.

  • Dear Father Kapaun, my life has always been ups and downs. But lately downs I have been taking care of my mother in the last 2years and my financialies has put me in a burden she is very ill with a disease and has alzheimers’. I dont receive any help. I want the best care for her and I pray each day for help. I know Gods power is mighty and miracles. Please pray that I can financially take care of mother Shirley and help me through my problems. Thank you for your prayers.

  • Dear Father Kapaun

    I have been trying to stay strong with my faith to help my son shaun 29yrs old through his stressful time.He is at his lowest time now.
    Accusations in the court i’ve appealed.He lost his son 2yrs ago after 4days with us Logan past away.He feels like he’s never been able to mourn his death.
    He tried to please his girlfriend and her daughters they have split up .He lost his job because they judged him over accusations in court.He had a terrible accident which showed him he blacked out then and 6yrs ago he blacked out rolling his vehicle.Now he’s going through medical test to see why he does this.
    He feels so guilty about my financial and emotional help.I told him ask me to take him anytime and pick him up anytime.He needs your help and prayers to lift him up.Please pray to God to help him through his troubled times.

  • Father Kapaun

    My Fiance Stephen 51yrs old is an alcoholic and laiden with debt because of bad decisions.If it be Gods will to give him strength to stop all his addictions and find a buyer for his property to start over please prayer to God for his strength and healing

  • Dear Father Kapaun,
    Please pray for my 12 year old daughter who suffers greatly from autism. She also has severe neurological issues other than autism. I pray for a miracle every day so that she can have a happy, healthy life and be out of physical pain.

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  • Father Abel Kapaun, please help my brother Mark who is going through a horrible divorce. Give him the strenght and courage to get through this without losing faith or hope. I pray to you that he is not ruined. Laura

  • Dear Father Kapaun, PLEASE PLEASE pray for a miracle for my little boy, John Dobb, who is only 8 years old. My darling boy has had many obstacles to overcome, starting with being born 2 months premature, a stroke in-utero, mild cerebral palsy, and appraxia of speech. He has worked hard since day one on this earth, taking so much extra effort to do things most kids can do without a thought. He is very bright, mainstreamed in school, and aside from his speech impairmaent you would never know he’s had any difficulties. We found a brain tumor last May, but it has recently started growing faster than he is. It’s a very difficult tumor as it is very vascular, and is also right at the brain stem which makes removal extremely difficult. My son has a heart of gold, always helping others, collecting items for the troops overseas last Christmas season, collecting donations for the Last Chance Animal Rescue, helping Daddy shovel the snow (and the neighbors, too). Just a great kid who doesn’t deserve more obstacles in his little life. PLEASE PLEASE pray for a miracle that if his biopsy turns out to be cancerous (or not) that his surgeon’s hands will be guided by God Himself and will make this thing go away forever. My little guy has so much to offer to the world. I feel very selfish to ask, but I am feeling very helpless right now. If you could please pray for strength for me … I sure could use it right now. Thank you for your consideration. Jennifer

  • I pray Father Kapaun that you may intercede with God for Jennifer’s son John and for all those who are asking your aid.


  • Dear Father Kapaun
    I pray that you Father Kapaun may intercede with God,the Father and grant me a miracle.For 4 years I’ve been praying and hoping and it only gets worse.By his choice,my only son is estranged from me,his Mother,his sister,his entire family.I pray to have my son and his two children back in our lives.My heart is broken,I cry every day.I pray my son would contact his Mother and realize he loves and wants to see me and will let me see his children.I want my son back,right now its as if he is dead,Please I beg of you help me,I will say any prayers,novina’s,fast,anything.Thank you,

  • Dear Father Kapaun,
    Please pray for my sister in law Marianne. She is 43 yrs old and has been wheelchair bound from Mutiple Scerosis. She has suffered from her early 20’s. She is going for experimental treatment this week and this is her last hope. Her prognosis has been poor to date. She has zero quality of life. I hope she gets to have a least one day to do things that so many of us take for granted. She can not do a thing on her own. I believe a miracle can happen. I hope everyone will say a prayer for her. Thank you.

  • Dear Fr. Kapaun,
    I am writing to you for a special hope and prayer that my brother’s good friend Dylan survives a massive brain trauma. He is only in his early 30’s and full of life. The doctors have told the family that he is verging on brain death…with no hopes for recovery into a normal life. He has a beautiful wife and a child. Please Father Kapuan, we are asking for a miracle of life. Some sign that tells his family he is going to be okay. I am merely an observer, but am praying with all my heart for his recovery.

  • Please pray for my family. We have been through alot the last few months. Please give my home a miracle and let Joe, my husband, get over all his health issues and my daughter, be accepted to law school. Please provide peace and health in our home so we can smile again. I ask this in the name of Jesus. Amen.

    I AM ASKING YOU TO PRAY FOR MY MOTHER WHO IS ILL. I AM ASKING FOR A MIRACLE. THE DOCTORS ARE SAYING SHE DOESN’T HAVE LONG TO LIVE. I BELIEVE MIRACLES HAPPEN. I HOPE EVEYONE WILL SAY A PRAYER FOR HER. I pray Father Kapaun that you may intercede with God for Mary’s recovery and for all those who are asking your aid. i ask this IN THE NAME OF JESUS. AMEN.

  • dear father kapaun, iam asking you to pray for my son who has an addiction problem. also for the health of a good friend who is pregnant and on bedrest that she might be healthy and delivery her baby without complications . also for the complete recovery for peter and kathy who have had cancer. and for all my family and friends who r grieving and need help and anyone else who is suffering. i thank you in advance .
    god bless ua everyone. amen.

  • Dear Father, A dear friend of mine has just been diagnosed with stage IV cancer. She is in her 50’s and has had much pain in her life. She needs some help. I would gladly accept her pain if you could pray for her. She is such a kind and caring person and I know would like to stay with her family for a while longer. She is so scared and her youngest is so sad. While I know we will all have to go someday, it would be so nice for her if she were allowed a little more happiness in this life. Bless You Father

  • Pls pray for my cleaning and trading company i need a might mirical in jobs and finances also pray for protection for the 2 ladies running the company

  • Dear Father: My daughter, Karen, was operated on Monday August 16th for a Thyroid Cancerous tumor. She was discharged today so am asking for everyone’s prayers for a positive outcome. In addition to her medical problem, she has been out of work and has had little success in obtaining employment despite the fact she has had a very impressive background. Despite all the obstacles, she has never lost faith and constantly places other’s needs before her own. I’m hoping for Father Kapaun’s intercession.
    Bless you Father.

  • Dear Father Kapaun,
    Please intercede for Patsy w/ colon ca. She is a widow in her 40’s with a 16 yr old daughter to raise. The doctors gave her no hope today. Please pray for Jesus to heal her. She is a faithful Catholic & loves God. AMEN

Father Ranger

Saturday, June 6, AD 2009

Monsignor Joseph R. Lacy

The men of the 5th Ranger Battalion could barely keep from laughing when they first saw their chaplain, Lieutenant Joe Lacy, a week before D-Day.  These were young men, in peak physical condition.  Father Joe Lacy was old by Ranger standards, knocking on 40, overweight by at least 30 pounds, wearing thick glasses and short, 5 foot, six inches.  He was described by one Ranger as “a small, fat old Irishman.”  No way would he be able to keep up when they  invaded France.

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6 Responses to Father Ranger

  • Later Monsignor Joe Lacy was a priest of the Archdiocese of Hartford CT. I believe he is mentioned in “The Longest Day.” Until this article, I did not know that he had received the Distinguished Service Cross. I do not doubt that few in our diocese did.

  • I am President of 5th Rangers Reenacted, a historical reenactment group that portrays 5th Rangers at various public events. I am privileged to portray Fr. Lacy.

    When Fr. Lacy reported to the Rangers a few days before D-Day, the commander of the Rangers looked at him and said, “Padre, you’re old and you’re fat. You’ll never keep up with us.”

    Fr. Lacy looked at him and replied, “You don’t worry about about that, I’ll do my job. You tell me where you’ll be at the end of the day and I’ll be there.”

    I have been fortunate to visit Omaha Beach twice and walk the area these brave men contested on June 6, 1944. Every man who landed there was a hero, some of their deeds were recognized, many are only marked by a simple marble Roman cross.

    The following is the citation for his Distinguished Service Cross.

    First United States Army
    APO 230

    General orders No. 28
    20 June 1944

    Section I–Award of Distinguished Service Cross–Under the provisions of AR 600-45, 22 September 1943, and pursuant to authority contained in paragraph 30, Section I, Circular No. 32, Hq ETOUSA, 20 March 1944, as amended, the Distinguished Service Cross is awarded to the following officers and enlisted men:

    E * X * T * R * A * C * T

    First Lieutenant Joseph R. LACY, 0525094, Chaplain Corps, United States Army, for extraordinary heroism in action on 6 June 1944 at *******, France. In the invasion of France, Chaplain LACY landed on the beach with one of the leading assault units. Numerous casualties had been inflicted by the heavy rifle, mortar, artillery and rocket fire of the enemy. With complete disregard for his own safety, he moved about the beach, continually exposed to enemy fire, and assisted wounded men from the water’s edge to the comparative safety of a nearby seawall, and at the same time inspired the men to a similar disregard for the enemy fire. Chaplain LACY’s heroic and dauntless action is in keeping wit the highest traditions of the service. Entered military service from Connecticut.

  • Thank you for the info Ed! Men like Chaplain Lacy and the other Rangers who landed on the beach that day are torches who light the way for the rest of us.

  • I have read this article with great interest as like Ed Lane I belong to a Rangers Reenactment group- this time based in the UK. I am just beginning to resarch Fr Lacy with a view to portryaing him this side of the Pond. I find his story inspiring as I spent several years studying for the priesthood.

    I would like to ensure that the bravery of Fr Lacy and all the chaplains in WW2 is also remebered along with all those young men who gave their lives for our generation

    Fr Ranger- Lead the Way!

  • Indeed Rich! You might like this post on the original Ranger.


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The Mass on Mount Suribachi

Monday, March 30, AD 2009


Iwo Jima probably has the sad distinction of being the most expensive piece of worthless real estate in the history of the globe.  Expensive not in something as minor as money, but costly in something as all important as human lives.  In 1943 the island had a civilian population of 1018 who scratched a precarious living from sulfur mining, some sugar cane farming and fishing.  All rice and consumer goods had to be imported from the Home Islands of Japan.  Economic prospects for the island were dismal.  Eight square miles, almost all flat and sandy, the dominant feature is Mount Suribachi on the southern tip of the island, 546 feet high, the caldera of the dormant volcano that created the island.  Iwo Jima prior to World War II truly was “of the world forgetting, and by the world forgot”.

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19 Responses to The Mass on Mount Suribachi

  • What a moving story, thank you for sharing it.

  • Yeah, I’ve always appreciated this story. You certainly have knack for writing good history, Don. No doubt it comes in large part from having read so much history, but maybe you missed your calling. 😉

  • “but maybe you missed your calling.”

    No doubt some of my legal clients have felt the same way in some of my less successful cases!

  • Perhaps someone should do a piece on the mass depicted in “Joyeux Noel” during the Christmas “truces” of WWI? The striking thing was that, while they had trouble communicating (Scottish, French and German Catholics)… when it was time for Mass, the priest began:

    “in nomine, patri, et filio, et spiritu sancto”… and all were in unison. Latin unites us… or at least it COULD, if we would only subscribe to Vatican II and all the Holy Fathers for 1000 years.

  • Don,
    Written like a true Marine. I have a calendar from Angelus Press with a strikingly similar picture – must be a frame ahead or behind. I am glad to know the name and story of this remarkable priest of God, the Church, and our fellow marines.
    David Penn
    LtCol, US Marines (Ret)

  • Thank you Colonel. Everyone who cherishes our country has a large debt to the Marines and the members of the other armed services.

  • LtCol,

    thank you for your service!

  • I think he was from Ellensburg, Washington. There is no Ellensburg in Oregon.

  • Thank you Jason. Error corrected.

  • Thank you for sharing, Don. It brought a mix of emotions. The valor and courage are truly unfathomable! LtCol Penn, God bless you, Sir!

    Did you notice it was a Traditional Latin Mass? How incredibly beautiful to see the Traditional Latin Mass (Tridentine Mass) celebrated under these adverse conditions. Thanks to our Holy Father Benedict XVI this treasure of the Church is once again spreading like wildfire and will no doubt bring many blessings to the Church. Many will flock back and find their way back Home.

    Our Military are the brave soldiers of our County and our Priests are the Military, brave soldiers of our Lord! “Milites Domini!” GOD BLESS THEM BOTH!

  • It also is worth noting that the soldiers who had spent days fighting for their lives in deplorable conditions with little or no sleep, manage to assist more reverently than what typically occurs at youth retreats….

  • Great story Don.

    You certainly dig up some excellent stuff.

    I’m the last one to approve of war, but doesn’t fear, and the realisation of our mortality in war bring out the best in men (generally) – honour, valour,bravery and self-sacrifice.

    My Almer Mater motto: “Confortare, esto vir.” – Take courage, be a man.

  • I hope there is a time Don when humanity can relegate the ghastly chronicles of war to the pages of history, although I doubt if it will come this side of the grave. It is important though not to allow hatred of war to ever diminish our respect for those who conduct themselves with honor and courage in the midst of trials that most of us, fortunately, will never experience. I am sure you will be familiar with this quote, although it is less familiar to most Americans, from the memorial to the dead of the 2nd British Division at Kohima: “When You Go Home, Tell Them Of Us And Say, For Their Tomorrow, We Gave Our Today.” When I write about war, I always keep that quote in mind.

  • As the daughter and niece of Navy men who served in the Pacific theater (another uncle was, as he always put it, “touring Europe with Gen. Patton”), I love these stories and am filled with admiration and gratitude for the incredible bravery and valor of our troops in WWII.

    Col. Penn, your service is appreciated.

  • Father Suver also had a nephew on the same Island. This was a great article to read. Especially for me, as Father Suver was a great Uncle of mine

  • Jordan he was certainly a great man and a great priest. I hope the nephew made it through Iwo alive and in one piece.

  • I never had the chance to meet Father Suver. But yes the nephew made it, he’s my grandfather; he also made it through Tinian, and Okinawa.

  • Thank goodness. Your grandfather had the ill luck to fight in three of the toughest battles of the Pacific. I had an uncle who fought in the Pacific as a Marine. He told me that the most surprising thing that happened to him during his life was that he managed to survive that war.