Today, on Veterans Day, our nation’s 19.6 million veterans will be honored with numerous concerts, including one in Washington this evening, as well as many parades and picnics. Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio of the U.S. Archdiocese for the Military Services suggests one more way to honor these men and women for their service: With prayer.
“Veterans Day invites us to pause for a moment and reflect on the lives of men and women who respond and responded to the needs of our nation,” he said in a statement. “As it is November, a month dedicated to prayers for the dead, we remember many members of the Armed Forces who made the ultimate sacrifice or who died of natural causes later in life.
“However, we cannot forget those who continue to suffer the effects of their wounds either in mind or in body. They carry the reminders of their commitment and their past with them always. We pray for them, too, and we ask the Lord to give them consolation and healing,” he said.
“The occasion is also propitious to remember the families who mourn the loss of a loved one or who support a disabled Veteran. We pray and offer them our support.”
Last Wednesday, the headquarters of the U.S. military archdiocese in Washington was officially named the “Edwin Cardinal O’Brien Pastoral Center.”
Cardinal Edwin F. O’Brien, a former archbishop of Baltimore who is grand master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, was the U.S. military archbishop from 1997 to 2007. Archbishop Broglio, his successor, and the cardinal led a brief service and the unveiling of a sign bearing his name over the front door of the pastoral center. The brief service was attended by dozens of archdiocesan clergy, staff and supporters.
Then-Archbishop O’Brien headed the military archdiocese in 2005 when it acquired what was a seminary owned and operated by the Society of the Divine Word. He oversaw a major, two-year renovation of the five-story building — with a loan from the Knights of Columbus. In 2007, with completely refurbished office space, the archdiocese moved in and for the first time could consolidate all of its operations in one location. The chapel has been outfitted with pews, an altar, tabernacle and other elements re-purposed from closed churches in Cleveland. A special room has been set aside to honor Father Vincent Capodanno, known as the “Grunt Padre.” He died in Vietnam Sept. 4, 1967.
Father Capodanno, a Maryknoll priest and Navy chaplain, died in Operation Swift in the Thang Binh district of the Que Son Valley. He went among the wounded and dying, giving last rites. Wounded in the face and hand, he went to help a wounded corpsman only yards from an enemy machine gun and was killed. He is considered “one of the great military chaplains.”
His canonization cause was officially opened in 2002. In 2004, the initial documentation for the cause was submitted to the Vatican’s Congregation for Saints’ Causes. In 2006, Father Capodanno, a native of Staten Island, N.Y., was declared a “servant of God.”
Cardinal O’Brien, in remarks Nov. 5, said the headquarters of the military archdiocese “gives us a solid and permanent identity as a church of Christ in the Catholic tradition. It’s an announcement to all who would pass by — the message that I always tried, and I think all our chaplains do — is to convey, especially to our young people: there’s no contrast between a person of faith and a member of the military. There’s no opposition.
“I always use the brief story of the good Samaritan going down the road and came upon a man who was half-dead, and he took care of him, put him on his donkey, brought him to a hotel, and so forth,” the cardinal continued. “But two others had passed by before that. And they did nothing. My thought was ‘what if this good Samaritan was coming by and the man was being pelted half to death?’ Did he have a right to step back and say, ‘I’ll become a good Samaritan in about 10 minutes when the fight is over?’ Or did he have a right and an obligation to step in and do what had to be done, and only what had to be done, to put an end to that aggression? ”
He concluded: “To be a member of the military is to have the potential of a wonderful vocation. One enters a service. Christ defined himself as one who came to serve, and not to be served.”