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The Special Role of the Chaplain Corps at the USCGA

(Extracurricular and Faith-Based Involvement, Class of 2021) Permanent link   All Posts
Jacob Cheeseman

Good evening, prospective cadets.

My apologies for my lack of entries up to this point; however, I am newly inspired and committed to writing blog posts, so you will be hearing from me more often this semester. I also updated my biography with the activities I am now involved in.

In this entry, I wanted to focus on something very important to me: the chaplains’ office-sponsored religious activities at the USCGA. First, I want to explain what exactly the chaplain program is. As you will learn at the Academy, the Coast Guard is very effective at working with other military branches and government agencies around the nation. The Chaplain Corps is no different. Since the Coast Guard is a small service, the Navy Chaplain Corps provides chaplains to the Coast Guard. Navy chaplains are officers who are religious professionals that focus on meeting the spiritual needs of all service members and families. The chaplains assigned to the Coast Guard wear Coast Guard uniforms and fulfill the same role that they do in the Navy. At the Coast Guard Academy, we have three Navy chaplains. One is a Catholic priest and two are Protestant chaplains. The office is also blessed to have a dedicated administrative assistant who supports all religious programs. Together, the Command Religious Program supports all cadets, no matter their religious backgrounds, facilitating access to religious activities for all faiths on the campus and in the community. The chaplains also provide mentorship and guidance to anyone who asks for it, providing support to cadets and maintaining full confidentiality.

Today, I will focus on my experience with the Catholic programs. For information on other programs or to contact the chaplains’ office, please visit the Command Religious Programs page.

At the Academy, immense personal growth occurs as you journey through the 200-week program toward commissioning. All cadets grow as leaders of character. In the sometimes-stress-filled environment of the Academy, these lessons are learned on a daily basis. In the process, cadets also learn lessons about themselves. Thanks to the chaplains, I have been able to grow closer in my Catholic faith during this 200 week journey. There are many opportunities available, such as Sunday and weekday Masses, Eucharistic Adoration, and Reconciliation by appointment. Additionally, there are numerous fellowship opportunities, such as St. Francis de Sales Society (SFDSS – a cadet-run Catholic club), Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS – with four volunteer FOCUS missionaries that support Catholic programs), weekly Friday scripture study opportunities to reflect on the Sunday Mass readings, and Catholic book study. Additionally, there are several cadet-run Bible studies that provide fellowship in small groups. Opportunities are also available to serve in more direct roles as altar servers, Eucharistic ministers, lectors, ushers, and choir members are always needed to assist at Mass. Additionally, leadership positions are available to coordinate activities with St. Francis de Sales Society, FOCUS, and Bible studies. I had the blessing of serving as a Eucharistic minister last year, and it was one of the best experiences of my life. I am very thankful to the Chaplains’ Office for their dedication to the Corps of Cadets. They are a blessing to us all.

As always, feel free to email me about anything at [email protected].