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Catholic U.S. Air Force Chaplain Candidate Celebrates Priestly Ordination in Indiana

GARY, IN — Father Zachary Glick, 2d Lt, USAFR, a candidate for United States Military chaplaincy, was ordained a Catholic priest on Saturday, June 1, 2024, in his home Diocese of Gary, IN. The new priest hopes eventually to serve on active duty as a Catholic chaplain in the U.S. Air Force, providing pastoral care to Catholic airmen and their families with endorsement and faculties from the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA (AMS).

Father Glick’s priestly ordination was celebrated at the Cathedral of the Holy Angels through the laying on of hands and the prayer of consecration invoking the Holy Spirit by Bishop Robert J. McClory. AMS Auxiliary Bishop F. Richard Spencer concelebrated the 10:30 a.m. ordination Mass. Among those participating in the pews were the new priest’s parents, Marcus A. and Joann Glick; his brother, Marcus B. Glick and wife Catherine, and extended family including two uncles who are Air Force veterans.

Father Glick, 29, is a 2013 graduate of Highland High School in Highland, IN. In 2017, he earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Mechanical Engineering from Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in Terre Haute, IN, where in 2019 he earned a Master of Science (M.S.) Degree, also in Mechanical Engineering. In 2020 he earned a Master of Arts Degree in Philosophy and Religion from the University of Saint Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary in Mundelein, IL. This year he earned a Master of Divinity (M.Div.), a Baccalaureate in Sacred Theology (S.T.B.), and a Master of Arts (M.A.) in Theology from Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit, MI.

The new priest says he discerned his vocation his senior year in college while enrolled in the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC). He says, “I began going to daily Mass and Eucharistic Adoration, and my realization of the Real Presence of Jesus Christ, Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity, in the Eucharist made me appreciate the gift of the Eucharist and of the priesthood. Getting involved with campus ministry, getting to know a joyful young priest, and beginning to read and study the Bible all greatly contributed to my discernment of my calling to the priesthood.” Father Glick looks forward to priestly ministry, “offering the Mass and giving the faithful the Body and Blood of Christ, helping people receive forgiveness and healing through confession, and helping people give their lives to Jesus and come close to Him.”

The eventual service of Father Glick and other Catholic chaplain candidates is greatly anticipated by the Air Force, which, like other branches of the U.S. Armed Forces, continues to suffer a chronic shortage of Catholic chaplains due to attrition: priests are reaching mandatory military retirement faster than they can be replaced. Since 9/11, the number of active-duty U.S. Military chaplains in all branches of service has fallen from more than 400 to about 200 today. While Catholics make up about 25% of the U.S. Armed Forces, Catholic priests currently account for only about seven percent of military chaplains. In the Air Force, 63 priests currently on active duty serve some 80,000 Catholic airmen spread worldwide, not counting their families, whom the priests also serve.

At the same time, according to the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA), the military itself continues to be a rich source of U.S. vocations. CARA’s annual Survey of Ordinands to the Priesthood found at least 4% of the Class of 2024 has prior military experience, and at least 5% grew up in families where at least one parent served in the military, making the AMS arguably the nation’s largest source of new priests. The actual numbers are certain to be higher, because only 83% of this year’s ordinands (392 out of 475) responded to the survey.

The AMS is now busy tapping this resource for prospective chaplains. The Vocations Office is focusing attention on active-duty servicemen expressing an interest in the priesthood, inviting more qualified candidates to consider joining the Co-Sponsored Seminarian Program, a vocations partnership between the AMS and cooperating dioceses and religious communities around the country. In the case of Father Glick, the partner diocese is the Diocese of Gary. Under the co-sponsorship agreement, Father Glick will hone his pastoral skills for three years in the Gary Diocese before acceding to active duty as a chaplain in the Air Force. Upon completion of his Air Force service, he will return to Gary to serve out his vocation.

Thanks in large part to the support of U.S. bishops and religious superiors, along with increased awareness and discernment opportunities, the number of co-sponsored seminarians such as Father Glick has risen from seven in 2008 to 34 today, with another half dozen set to enter the program in the fall.

The AMS, which receives no funding from the government and depends entirely on private giving, is now looking for ways to fund a fast-rising seminary bill, now projected at more than $5 million over the next five years. To support the Co-Sponsored Seminarian Program, visit https://www.milarch.org/donate.

Young men interested in discerning a priestly vocation, and the vocation within a vocation to serve those who serve in the U.S. military, can find more information at milarch.org/vocations, or may contact Father Marcel Taillon, AMS Director of Vocations, at milarch.org/vocations/ or (202) 719-3600.

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