Yokota Chapel services: Thank you for recognizing the importance of having two Catholic Chaplains to serve our community. My husband and I have been here a number of years and we are happy to know that you have finally recognized how beneficial this is to our Catholic community and as well, to the Welfare of the Catholic Priest. Our priest must provide 7 Masses per week - daily Mass Monday through Friday and two Masses on the weekends and this is not to mention the number of Holy services during Advent and Holy week. One wonders how they ever get a day off or time to reflect on their own mental and physical health. It is my understanding that there are 3 Protestant Chaplains and one incoming to provide two services per week. I also understand that Father Fonseca is pcsing and will not be replace. Please explain how this is equitable? Thank you.
Ensuring the free exercise of religion has always been the primary mission of the USAF Chaplain Corps. All of our chaplains and chaplain assistants make this their daily goal, and work long hours to make it happen. As with many agencies, unfortunately, the mission can quickly outrun the resources. It was, indeed, a desire of higher headquarters to assign two Roman Catholic chaplains to bases in PACAF to assist in meeting mission needs. However, good intentions are always subject to the broader needs of the Air Force. This prevented the assignment of an additional priest at this time. Hopefully, we will see more priests come on active duty in the future, which could alleviate the present shortage. The 374th has four active duty chaplains: two Roman Catholic, two Protestants. The Wing Chaplain is one of those Protestants, and is tasked with managing the operational level of the Chapel mission. At Yokota, the Wing Chaplain also covers many tactical duties as well, including unit ministry, counseling, and leading Protestant worship services. In addition, the Wing Chaplain is tasked as the command chaplain for 5th Air Force and United States Forces Japan. We are projecting to gain a Protestant chaplain over the summer. This has been the historical alignment of chaplains here at Yokota in recent years, keeping our strength at four chaplains.
Of course, we could always use more help in the many ministry demands we face. Manpower studies are currently underway, so we remain hopeful that help is just over the horizon. Thank you for your faithfulness to the ministries of the Yokota Chapel. Our volunteers are valued partners in the free exercise of religion for this community, and expand our ministry reach to this growing community!
ANDREW L. THORNLEY, Ch, Maj, USAF