Hidden among academics, athletics, military skills, community service, and other facets of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, the religious aspect is easily overshadowed. However, for many cadets, religion is just as important as all of those. The Coast Guard Academy does a great job of supporting those cadets who choose to practice religion at the Academy, as well as supporting those who choose not to.
Twice a week, the Academy has scheduled command religious time. On Wednesday evenings and Sunday mornings, command religious time ensures that all cadets have the opportunity to practice their religions. The center of religion is Coast Guard Memorial Chapel. The highest point in New London, the steeple of the Chapel flashes Morse Alfa, the nautical signal for safe water. During the academic year, and especially during Swab Summer, the Chapel serves as a refuge from the stress of the Academy lifestyle.
On Sundays, the Chapel hosts both a Catholic mass and a Protestant service. Cadets are not limited to the Chapel offerings, however. Many choose to go off base and attend services at local houses of worship. On Wednesday evenings, the Catholic and Protestant chaplains hold vespers. The Catholic chaplain even offers daily mass at 1130.
In addition to Cadet Memorial Chapel, there is a small chapel inside of Chase Hall, which includes a reading room with religious materials from all major faiths. When not being used for vespers, it is a great place to go for some quiet meditation.
There are also a wide variety of faith-based extracurriculars available to cadets. There are clubs for Catholics, Protestants, Jews, and members of the Church of Latter Day Saints. There is even a club for atheists. In addition, groups such as Officer’s Christian Fellowship offer extra opportunities for religious involvement, such as worship bands and Bible study. For music lovers, there are Catholic and Protestant choirs, and a non-denominational bell choir.
The great thing about religious programs at the Coast Guard Academy is that they are totally voluntary. You will never be forced to attend a religious event. The religious controversies that plague the Air Force Academy are unheard of at Coast Guard.
The Academy has three chaplains on staff, made up of two Protestants and a Catholic. These chaplains are not only leaders of their religious programs at the Academy, but also counselors to cadets of all faiths. With offices in Leamy Hall, the chaplains are always available to listen to problems and provide friendly advice not related to religion.
If you are a religious person, you will have no problem continuing the practice of your religion once you arrive at the Academy. On the other hand, if you are not, you will certainly not be forced to.
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