Military · Priest

The Grunt Padre

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Ever since I can remember, I have had a great love of country.  Although I never had any personal connection to the military, I was always so grateful for our American soldiers who helped liberate the Nazi death camps during World War II. Those images of selfless service stuck with me, and I had a burning desire to serve our country in some way. I had dreams of possibly serving in the Peace Corps, but had never been out of the country. My dreams of service seemed scary and way bigger than me. Although the desire was there, the fear was greater- I just wasn’t ready to leave everything behind to be shipped someplace straight across the world.

In law school, I looked into JAG. Even spoke with someone from the program. But again that fear crept in about being deployed somewhere away from my family halfway across the world and being unable to control my own life. I decided instead to serve foster kids here at home, the deep-end kids, the ones that nobody wanted to help. But the desire to serve my country still beckoned deep within me, and silently I wondered if it would ever come to fruition.

I had forgotten all about that desire until I read an article in the Word Among Us about Father Richard Capodanno, a priest from Staten Island, New York who later went on to serve as a Marine corps chaplain in Vietnam. He extended his tour of duty to stay with his men and died on the battlefields there. He is now a servant of God on his way (God willing) to becoming a saint.

His story moved me because he, like me, was just an ordinary person. But unlike me, he was not afraid and followed God’s call- first in the mission fields in Taiwan and later as a Marine Corps chaplain in the Vietnam War. He didn’t have to go, but chose to, in obedience to something that was just so much bigger than him.

In an era when the American military is taking heat from all sides and people choose to protest rather to honor those who WILLINGLY serve our country, Father Capodanno’s life was a light for me in the midst of the darkness. He left everything he knew to be part of a war that Americans were protesting. He chose God above all else, even his family.

At a time when the world seems to be caving in, selfish attitudes prevail, there is animosity and hatred in the streets, I think of those people who are far beyond all that, who are tasked with the duty of keeping our country safe. To disrespect the flag and all that it stands for is to desecrate Father Capodanno’s grave.

I hope you will take the time to learn more about him. As the hurricane is fast approaching us here in South Florida, I am reminded of  Father Capodanno’s bravery amidst a war, and I am calm.

Father Capodanno, Servant of God, pray for all of us that are in the path of Hurricane Irma. Send prayers to Jesus to calm the storm, and we ask for your prayers to help calm us.

In Christ’s name we pray,



6 thoughts on “The Grunt Padre

  1. Praying for all of you Melissa. Are you leaving????? I know what you are going through, we just went through it here in Texas. I am so thankful I do not live in Houston but we did get a lot of rain and wind. That was not fun. I prayed Rosary this morning for all of you in Florida. It is supposed to be the worst hurricane ever that has come out of the Atlantic. Take care, be safe, and get out of there if you are close to the landfall. Love you and God Bless, SR

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Melissa,

    How is it going down there? I have family in Florida also. Praying and asking God to “stop that thing.” All of you are in my heart all day. Will be checking in with you tomorrow. Love you and God Bless, SR P.S. do you have a generator? That thing has saved me twice now. I got one big enough to pull the house. It cost about 3000.00 well worth it when you have an all electric home and no power. I also have a camping stove, Coleman, with two burners and four bottles of propane. For your family you would need more propane. If you cook two pretty good size meals on them, a bottle will last about 3 days. I ate a lot of spam, potato chips, canned beans, tuna, canned chicken, etc… Before I got the generator I used an ice chest and when the ice melted it became water to flush toilets with. I live in country so due to septic system that came in handy. 🙂 The good news of it was because I live in the country I put a bathing suit on and bathed underneath a water hose! 🙂 So I always had a clean head as I could not run water in my home due to septic system not being able to pump out. flush toilet was far more important. 🙂 Love you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes we do have a generator. Problem is we just moved into this house and our hurricane windows and doors are not in yet. We don’t have shutters and so we are going to have to use plywood, but my husband is only covering the front two windows. I am not sure yet what we will do. We have water and food and we will fill up the bathtub probably Friday night so we can run the toilets. I have been a South Florida resident all my life and have been through a lot of hurricanes, but this somehow feels different. I believe our Lord can calm any storm, and have been praying my daily rosary. I am looking at the good side of it all- more time to be with my kids, to thank God for the wonderful life that I have and for the very fruitful prayer life these hurricanes have created, Love to you my friend!


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