Blog Archives

History of Non-Christian Chaplains

It has not been until relatively recent history in our military that faith groups other than Judeo-Christian have been officially recognized. Up until 1862, a chaplain was required to be endorsed by a “Christian” denomination excluding any chaplains in other faith groups from being officially recognized by the government.

Continue reading the History of Non-Christian Chaplains here

.

.

The Church and the Chaplain (1952)

FM-21-13-50“The Army recognizes the importance of religion in the American way of life and in your training as a soldier. For that reason, a complete program of religious training is provided for soldiers of the three general faiths, Catholic, Jewish and Protestant. This program for the spiritual and moral welfare of the soldier is the responsibility of the commanding officer and is carried out through the chaplain assigned to the unit Chaplains advise commanders in religious matters and work directly with soldiers in helping them solve their problems. The chaplains have volunteered for this duty and it is their desire to be of the greatest possible service to soldiers and their dependents. Separate religious services usually are conducted for members of the three faiths, but it is sometimes impossible to conduct a separate service for each group. When this is the case, a general religious worship service is held. Attendance at these services is, of course, entirely a personal matter, but if you participate, you will find them a source of inner strength and your job as a soldier will be made easier.

“If your church requires that you attend services of your denomination, see your unit chaplain and he may be able to direct you to a chaplain of your faith in the area, or to a church of your faith in a nearby community.

“Available to you also are other religious activities such as Sunday school classes, Bible study classes, Holy Name Societies, and the Serviceman’s Christian League.

“Remember that the chaplain is always available to help you as a personal counselor. He will be happy to talk to you about any personal problem and will try to help you find a solution. Anything you tell him is confidential and privileged. This means tha the cannot be required to repeat anything you have told him. The chaplain will visit soldiers in the guardhouse or hospital, and you may call upon him to conduct religious services such as baptisms and weddings.

“It is customary to address these officers as ‘Chaplain,’ but Catholic chaplain may prefer to be called ‘Father’; Jewish chaplains may prefer to be called ‘Rabbi’; and Protestant chaplains sometimes prefer to be called ‘Reverend.”

.

.

Taken from FM 21-13, “The Soldier’s Guide,” Department of the Army, June 1952 (author’s collection).

.

.

 

The Chapel of St. Mark at Fort Marion

Castillo De San MarcosFort Marion, now a U.S. National Park site, is the oldest existing masonry fortress in the United States. It sits at the harbor entrance at St. Augustine in Florida. The Chapel of St. Mark, which was part of the original fort built by the Spanish, is an excellent representation of Spanish-Catholic commitment to providing a worship space for their garrisoned soldiers.

The Spanish arrived at the present site of Fort Marion in August if 1565 and established the colony of San Agustín in September. Having barely survived attacks from the French and British with their hastily-built forts, on 2 October 1672, the Spanish broke ground on what would become Castillo de San Marcos but it would take 84 years to complete.

In 1740, enough of the fort was completed to offer safety to the besieged garrison and citizens of San Agustín when James Edward Ogelthorpe, from the British colony of Georgia, attempted to conquer it. The fort proved to be impregnable as canon fire from Ogelthorpe’s guns did little damage. During the 27-day siege, “the garrison chapel was the scene of daily Masses, and occasionally marriages and christenings…”1

To continue reading this article click here

.

.

.

The Jesuit Chapel at Old Fort Niagara

Jesuit Chapel Old Fort Niagara

A modern picture of the Jesuit Chapel at Old Fort Niagara showing a French reenactor, from the Old Fort Niagara National Park website.

The French began building on the site of Fort Niagara in 1679. The third building project on the site was the “French Castle” built in 1726-27. As you go up the stairs to the 2nd floor, on the left is the “Jesuit Chapel,” which may be the oldest military chapel in the United States (depending on the criteria used for assessment). The inclusion of a chapel at the fort would have proceeded with little thought, since France was a Catholic country at the time and the majority of its Soldiers would have been devout Catholics, needing an appropriate place to celebrate Mass. When in control of the British, the worship space would have been used for Anglican services, before returning to Catholic use again later in its history.But throughout the life of Old and New Fort Niagara, there has been a chapel available for the worship of God.

To continue reading this article, click here

.

.

.

.

.

.

%d bloggers like this: