MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan -- Archbishop Timothy Broglio, Archbishop for the Military Services, USA, celebrated Christmas with residents of Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, at the Marine Memorial Chapel, Dec. 24-25, 2014.
Pope John Paul II created the Archdiocese for the Military Services in 1985 to provide the Catholic Church's full range of pastoral ministries and spiritual services to those in the United States Armed Forces.
Broglio became the fourth Archbishop for the Military Services in 2008 and is responsible for the spiritual welfare of more than 1.8 million men, women and children.
“It’s very rewarding to serve our military members,” said Broglio. “In military communities you deal with people very committed to serving their country but are also very dedicated to their faith and those who are overseas have to make more of an effort because the ability to congregate may not be as readily available as it is in the U.S. I think that increases the level of appreciation and it also makes me more committed to make sure they have the ability to practice their faith.”
To show his dedication, Broglio celebrated all three Catholic Christmas masses with the residents of MCAS Iwakuni.
“The birth of Christ was a moment when heaven touched earth and we continue to communicate that love by giving and showing goodwill toward one another,” said Broglio. “By coming here, I have an opportunity to share in that message and rejoice with them and to let them know that their commitment is really a manifestation of that love.”
Although Christmas is usually a time of joy, for service members stationed overseas, it’s also one of the loneliest, said Lt. David Hammond, deputy chaplain with Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron.
“During times of loneliness, it’s all that more important for people of faith to turn to God,” said Hammond. “They turn to him for support and remember that they are not the first ones to go through this and that God wants to strengthen them during this experience.”
Broglio said he hopes his visit helped show the service members that what they are doing is important, their sacrifices are appreciated and that he considers it important to be with them during this time.
“The love of Christ we celebrate at Christmas is a love of sacrifice and that’s certainly a common experience for anyone here,” said Broglio.