No, I don’t do this on a regular basis. This was a once off as a favor because of an unrepeatable, unforeseeable circumstance. Things happen. You do what you gotta do. It is what it is. Happy to help. Any citizen would have done the same. I happened to be there.
The ballistic vest says “POLICE CHAPLAIN”. It’s Level IV multi-hit ceramic-polyethylene composite that can handle such as a 30-06 of a deer hunter, or an AK 47 7.62×39, or similarly, an AR-15 5.56×45. You do what you can do to make it home, and ask the angels to do the rest in those contingencies that might well arise more than ever these days even during the “typical” traffic stop. A direct hit with a rifle, even with a plate, even with no back-of-plate deformation, can throw your heart out of rhythm, meaning you’re basically dead unless you can get the defibrillator to work, if you have one…
The picture was not my idea. An Officer jumped at the chance as I was pulling into the parking lot. What could I do? He knew it was rather out of the ordinary. Having said all that, I think it was a great idea. The police are receiving little support from anyone right around these United States, and any show of support is, I think, just what is needed.
I’m hoping to get some narrowly focused law enforcement chaplaincy training coming up soon. People ask what Police Chaplains do, sometimes with an only lightly veiled negative attitude (which reveals a lot about the one asking, right?). Those with a positive attitude already understand and could already give a job description of a chaplain better than I could, they usually having benefited from other chaplains, say, on other front lines scattered about the globe or close to home. Some of our Law Enforcement Officers in the towns and in the county were ministers of the local churches, as was our Sheriff.
For those with a negative attitude for Police Chaplains, I think the best answer is for them to do a ride along. One of the recent ride-alongs I was honored to be on – though specifically as Chaplain – involved an operation analogous to that of a special weapons and tactics team (SWAT), which we don’t yet officially have in our fledgling department. Should people see all the terrible immediacy of life and death situations all at once, it might open some eyes. Experience often kills negativity.
Take for instance, those who are entirely anti-Second-Amendment. You have them go through a concealed carry course – not because they will ever carry a gun – but to be introduced to what it’s all about. The experience very often kills the negativity. They then see the endless background checks on every and all levels, all the fingerprinting, the large stack of papers to fill out, all the release forms, etc. It’s quite the ordeal, taking very many months until all is said and done.
I found out that I only have two or three viable fingerprints. That’s interesting.
Anyway… It’s just me, just my opinion, my ♬ feelings ♬, but sometimes I think I have waaaaay toooooo much fun as a priest, such as driving a Charger Pursuit, even if only for two or three miles. Then there’s this:
The statement I’m trying to make with that picture is that I think that police chaplaincy is an integral part of my priesthood consistent with everything that priesthood is all about.
The gear on the vest itself consists of some helpful things, a couple of tourniquets, because when things go bad, they really go bad, a small but powerful flashlight (from 300 to well over a 1000 lumens), my phone (because it’s handier there when wearing a ballistic vest). No taser, no pepper spray, no handcuffs. But an IFAK came in the other day for use with anyone who needs it on the rounds. My EMT neighbor is going to prepare the contents of that for me. One of the courses I want to take at BLET is first-aid.
- I’m not a law enforcement officer. No. I’m a Catholic Priest, a Pastor of a parish.
- But I’m a priest who supports law enforcement officers. Yes.
- I’m part of the police family, if you will.
P.S. Yes, I do wear proper liturgical vestments for Holy Mass, Adoration, Confessions. And, for those concerned with rubrics and directives and such, there are two crucifixes, one on the altar and one on the wall above the tabernacle. That’s true, and it seems to be a liturgical aberration to have two. But until we can have Mass ad orientem the priest has no visible crucifix in his line of sight if he is versus populum. Have pretty much all priests forgotten that the Last Supper is all about Calvary? Yes, they have. So, what’s up with that? So, the Church wants a crucifix where the priest can see it. So there it is. Sorry liturgical purists. Salus animarum suprema lex and all that. It is what it is until better times prevail.