Respecting the Covid-imposed restrictive social distancing, the faithful filled the chapel at the San Diego Naval Station (32nd Street) two times on Sunday, Sept. 26, to mark the end of an era. In a cost-cutting move, the U.S. Navy decided to end the Catholic chapel-based program at the installation, and the faithful wanted to participate in one last Sunday Mass.

The sadness was evident on their grave faces. Even the masks could not hide it. However, no unkind words were spoken. Sparks of anger did not flash. Choir, musicians, cantor, lectors, and extremely well trained altar servers prayerfully fulfilled their roles with competence and enthusiasm.

They listened intently to the Timothy Broglio, Archbishop for the Military Services, as he tried to integrate this moment of suffering into a wider comprehension of the motivating factors that determined this decision. No doubt the ability to support pain exhibited so often by the Filipino people contributed to their attitudes. All of them thanked Archbishop Broglio for coming as they left the chapel.

The chief shepherd tried to make some sense of this challenging decision when he said in the homily: “This community has been forced into a painful sacrifice. I share your pain. My preference would be not to be obliged to close this Catholic community…. It is heart-rending to end the parish-like aspects of a Catholic military community. Telling them that there will be no more scheduled Sunday Masses or religious education is so diametrically opposed to what a pastor wants to do.

“Certainly, I saw almost no active-duty personnel at either Mass. However, they are people who have worshipped at that chapel for a lifetime. It was home to them….”
The above comes from a Sept. 30 email from the Archdiocese for Military Services.