Final Presentation of
for the degree of
Doctor of Ministry
Head, Heart and Feet: An Evangelizing Catechesis for the Military
Director: Sr. Margaret Schreiber, O.P., S.T.D.
During an era of decline in Christian baptisms, the military remains one of the most fruitful realms of evangelization. The nature of military service – its duties and dangers – predisposes men and women to be more perceptive of their spiritual needs and open to the invitation to consider Jesus Christ. This reality presents an open door of opportunity for the ministry of military chaplains. However, military chaplains must take into account three factors if they are to be effective in their efforts to evangelize. First, military members reflect the postmodern culture from which they come and often possess no basic grammar of faith or biblical imagery informing their worldview. Thus, chaplains will need to consider how to invite people to consider the Christian way of life through a process of inquiry, education, and spiritual transformation. This is to think about evangelization as catechesis. Second, programs of evangelization among military members can be difficult given the constraints of time, place, and operational commitments inherent to military service. Chaplains will need to develop coherent summaries of the faith that have the flexibility and durability to communicate the faith to people managing demanding and even dangerous life-circumstances. Finally, military chaplains must take into account the challenge and opportunity of ecumenical factors.
For example, with the critical shortage of priests now serving in the Department of Defense, more Catholic service men and women are finding themselves with little or no Catholic coverage. In this case, Catholic communities may look to collaborating Protestant chaplains to offer catechetical models of evangelization that present the Christian life as a unified whole, faithful to its historic roots, and accessible to all. In fact the current shortfall may be the very kind of situation that Pope John Paul II foresaw when he said certain occasions may call for “collaboration in the field of catechesis” (CT33). While there are many evangelistic tools in the wider Christian world, there are no known models specifically designed for Protestant military chaplains that take into account the factors of postmodernism, operational constraints, and the need for collaboration across Christian communities. In short, what is needed is an evangelizing catechesis for the military.
Such a model was offered to participants from the crew of the aircraft carrier, USS JOHN C. STENNIS, during the ship’s Western Pacific Deployment, 2016. Participants came from a variety of religious/non-religious backgrounds, and all expressed an interest in either Christian baptism, reaffirmation of one’s baptismal vows, or learning more about the Christian faith. Upon completion of the course, several participants received baptism, and others were reconnected with the Christian tradition from which they had come. The effort underscored fifteen years of similarly positive outcomes when evangelization is approached catechetically, succinctly, and speaks from the historic “water-main” of the Christian faith.
More About Cash
A native of Memphis, Tennessee, Carey Cash graduated from The Citadel in 1992 with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. He attended Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and earned his Master of Divinity (M.Div.) in 1998. In August, 2001, Carey entered active duty service as a Navy chaplain and was assigned to the Fifth Marine Regiment where he provided ministry to infantry Marines during the opening chapters of Operation Iraqi Freedom. From 2004 to 2012 Carey served in various assignments throughout the Navy both overseas and in the United States. In 2008 he completed a Master of Sacred Theology (S.T.M.) in Ethics from Boston University. From 2012-2015, he served as the Deputy Command Chaplain at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD. While in Annapolis, Carey entered the Doctor of Ministry Program at The Catholic University of America. Carey is currently assigned as Command Chaplain for the aircraft carrier, USS JOHN C. STENNIS (CVN 74), stationed in Bremerton, WA. In August, 2016, the ship returned from a seven month deployment to the Western Pacific. Carey and his wife, Charity, have been married for 24 years, and are blessed with nine children: Caleb, Justice, Phoebe, Nathanael, Ella, Beatrice, Giorgia, Analuisa, and Henry.