Fr. Voss going green

Fr. Voss stands in the sanctuary of the recently renovated St. Pius X Student Center in Pittsburg.

Chaplain of St. Pius X Student Center will soon don a green uniform of the U.S. Army

Fr. David Voss is answering the call – the bishop’s, God’s, and the U.S. Army’s.

There is a dire need for Catholic priests in the military and with the Diocese of Wichita’s history of military chaplains – especially that of Fr. Emil Kapaun – Fr. Voss is fulfilling a desire that has weighed in his conscience off and on for a long time.

“With Fr. Kapaun’s cause being open, we like to have a priest in the Army and it’s been a few years since the last priest, Fr. (Dan) Lorimer has served.,” he said last week. “I thought about for many years. It’d be a good way to serve the country, the priesthood, and our soldiers.”

Still a chaplain

Fr. Voss’ chaplaincy will soon expand from serving students at the St. Pius X Student Center at Pittsburg State University to serving soldiers – potentially at bases all over the world.

He said the military services need priests who are from the dioceses the soldiers are from because of language and cultural similarities. There is a sizable pool of chaplains in the military but there are too few Catholic priests.

The U.S. military assesses chaplain recruitment about four time a year, he added, and although there is a limit on the number of chaplains, because of the limited number of Catholic priests, it’s very likely he’ll be leaving for chaplain basic training after the military’s next assessment in August.

Looking forward to service

“I’m really looking forward to serving our soldiers who are in need of good direction. Soldiers have a hard life. They’re separated from their family and friends, oftentimes they’re separated in deployment from their own spouses. They have a very difficult life with mental health and they need a lot of direction.”

He said young soldiers attempt to make up for their difficulties through worldly means. “The priest is able to really help them understand what is more important.”

Fr. Voss said Fr. Kapaun did exactly that. “He showed soldiers that what is most important is where they are heading, what is the purpose of what they were doing, and what does it mean to love and care for the people around you.

“That’s more important than any type of hierarchy or rank or honor or anything else,” he said. “It’s really more about what you do to serve rather than who serves you.”

Thankful for the chance

Fr. Voss said he is thankful for the opportunity to serve the church in the military, as did Fr. Kapaun. “In the seminary I felt as if Fr. Kapaun was trying to tell me to be a priest, but also a priest like him – one that was willing to work hard and go where the Lord wanted him to go.”

He added that although there are several physical miracles attributed to Fr. Kapaun there are countless spiritual miracles, including his vocation. “Fr. Kapaun really helped me through hard times in the seminary. I want to try to help spread his cause and his message and be able to be a priest after his example.”

Chaplains don’t go through the same basic training as an enlisted soldier. They attend a Chaplain Basic Officer Leader Course.