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Archives Vocation within a vocation: Fort Drum chaplain talks about his unique mission


By Deacon Kevin Mastellon
Staff writer

Fort Drum - Chaplain (CPT) Daniel R. Goulet came to Fort Drum in June to serve as one of three Catholic priestsGoulet on the installation.  He is technically assigned to Headquarters of the 7th Engineer Battalion of the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry). 

One of the other Catholic priests on post is leaving soon and a second is deployed.  When that priest returns there will be two Catholic priests to serve 19,605 active Military personnel, a civilian workforce of 4,700, spouses and dependent children according to the 10th Mountain Division and Fort Drum web site.

St. Michael’s Catholic Community is the Catholic parish on Fort Drum.  It is difficult to accurately estimate the number of Catholics in the Fort Drum population since that community suffers from the same plague that befalls all parishes; namely inactive, fallen away or Christmas and Easter observers of their faith. 

Many of these “Catholics” do not register in their home parish.  St. Michael’s is no different. But the active community of St. Michael’s keeps Father Goulet busy as do the members of the unit he now serves.

Father Goulet enlisted in the Army after graduating from high school in 1992.  “I began to take my call more seriously while in Korea and had a great spiritual director to help me.  I thought about priesthood when I was young.  It skirted in and out a bit and it came back in when I was preparing for Confirmation in 1997.

'This time the call was a lot stronger and I began practicing my faith more,” he said. “Korea was the big year for my discernment.”

Father Goulet was ordained for the Archdiocese of Baltimore, Maryland, his home diocese but he, like all military chaplains, is on “loan” to the Military Archdiocese of the United States for as long as the Archbishop of Baltimore permits.

“Chaplains can be recalled to their diocese at almost any time,” Father Goulet said.

He was ordained to the priesthood in 2007, became an active duty chaplain in 2011 and  was deployed to Afghanistan in 2014.

“I was blessed to have Catholic chaplains serving wherever I was posted,” Father Goulet said. “They inspired me to look at the chaplaincy.  It is a vocation within a vocation. 

“We are expected to do all the things a Catholic priest is expected to do,” he said. “At the same time we serve a unit as a battalion chaplain where our job is to take care of all the families, military, spouses and children regardless of their faith background. 

“So we perform and provide,” he said. “We perform for our faith group always staying within the limits of our denomination.  We provide to the soldiers and their families in the unit. We make sure all soldiers are able to worship their faith freely and make sure they have the means to do so.”

Chaplain Goulet has seen his share of mission stress, especially in Afghanistan, where “a unit is a family.”  If an individual was having a problem coping or dealing with issues back home, the soldier reached out to him as chaplain.  He has seen some cases of post-traumatic stress and refers them to behavioral health practictioners.  “I am not seeing as many incidents of PTSD as we used to,” he said.

Father Goulet concluded the  interview with three principles that drive his ministry:
•Serve God first. Live the call serving the vocation within the vocation.

•Smell the sheep. As Pope Francis has suggested he travels with his units in the field and stays with them during training exercises.

•Plant seeds.  Father Goulet believes the ministry he is involved in yields results. Perhaps it will yield vocations as it did for him in South Korea.

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