Faith of our Forces needs funding

Backed by former top army officers, General Peter Cosgrove and Major General Peter Phillips, Australia's Military Diocese has launched a major vocations and fundraising drive under the banner "Help keep Faith in the Forces".

Launching the campaign on behalf of the Armed Services Catholic Diocese Revenue Fund, Military Bishop Max Davis said it is hoped that donations and bequests to the fund will help finance the training of priests and deacons for the Diocese.

The fund will also finance the formation of lay leaders to take on the role of Catholic Representatives for deployable units of the Australian Defence Forces (ADF) which do not have chaplains.

In a letter seeking support for the Fund from former Catholic members of the ADF, Major General Phillips urges assistance in providing prayerful and practical support in attracting vocations for the Catholic Military Ordinariate.

"I am sure that, like me, you remember the great work done by our Catholic chaplains," he writes.

"After my 40 years in the ADF, I am eternally grateful for the good men who ministered to me and others in their flock, often under adverse conditions."

Major General Phillips said that with the declining numbers of priests in Australia, few are available to work in the military diocese. In fact there are now only 13 priests and deacons in full time military service.

"The Bishop and his team have a huge responsibility to minister to the more than 20,000 baptised Catholics in the ADF," he says.

The Major General says the chaplaincy work calls "for your prayers for vocations to the clergy and lay leadership in the Diocese."

Bishop Davis thanked Major General Phillips and General Cosgrove for their generous support of the Military Diocese and the Revenue Fund and said it would help ensure the Diocese survived.

"We are the only diocese in Australia where the financial resources come from the chaplains, that is, the clergy," Bishop Davis said.

"Essentially, we tax the clergy to run the diocese and with falling clergy numbers, there is a corresponding fall in our base of support."

However, the Bishop says there are "wonderful signs of hope" with a former soldier being ordained a priest and two others undergoing formation for the priesthood.

Help keep Faith in the Forces (Catholic Communications, Melbourne, 2/11/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Australian Catholic Military Ordinariate
Bishop Max Davis,

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3 Nov 2006