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News > Catholic priest answers Joint Base Andrews call
Catholic priest answers Joint Base Andrews call

Posted 6/1/2010   Updated 6/1/2010 Email story   Print story


by Chelsea Gitzen
Capital Flyer staff writer

6/1/2010 - JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md. -- When you think of a priest, especially a Catholic one, the first thing that may come to mind is the various opulent vestments that a priest may wear to a Sunday or other service. Piety also comes to mind, along with knowledge of the Catholic religion.

But what about a love of Shakespeare? Or Mozart? Or Renaissance literature?

Rev. Mike Siconolfi, a Jesuit priest, recently began his assignment here at Chapel 3 where he plans to hold services as well as try to organize events to help enhance unity.

He has taught and served as a principal for private schools and colleges and has lived in various places from the island of Maui, Hawaii, to Florence, Italy, to the Adirondack Mountains of New York.

This priest and teacher is taking on his first military assignment at one of the most well-known installations across the military, hoping to strengthen the community, its ties to faith and most importantly - its ties to one another.

Reverend Siconolfi is a member of the Society of Jesus, which is a religious order of the Roman Catholic Church comprised of members called Jesuits.

"I'm a Jesuit priest, that is, a religious order priest," Reverend Siconolfi said. "Jesuit priests are priests who band together in order to do specific work for the church. We run 57 private high schools and 28 colleges and universities in the United States. We also run private schools in other countries such as Puerto Rico. Jesuits can hold administrative as well as teaching positions."

Reverend Siconolfi has realized that his flock is now of a different crowd than strictly young students. In the time he's spent here, he said, members of Joint Team Andrews have already impacted him.

"One of the things I've noticed among high-ranking officers here is that they're very together people, not just because of their rank but because they really have a sense of who they are," Reverend Siconolfi said. "You don't get there without some regular self reflection."

Realizing he now tends to a different demographic, Reverend Siconolfi has plans to cater to what can be a transient crowd, often finding themselves at a new station or in a combat zone deployed overseas on short notice.

"People who are going to face really difficult circumstances would, I think, need all the support they can get," Reverend Siconolfi said. "I'm hoping to develop the spiritual equivalent of a MRE (meal ready to eat) or first aid kit full of things anyone could do to center themselves."

One of Reverend Siconolfi's goals is to engage young Airmen in an attempt to provide them with spiritual armor.

"In the fall, I hope to have some young adult support groups available with some kind of intellectual and engaging topics," he said. "For example, [comparing/analyzing] rock lyrics or poetry [to] prayer."

Reverend Siconolfi has experience engaging with a younger crowd.

"I got into teaching high school in Buffalo, N.Y., at a private school," he said.

Reverend Siconolfi also hopes to inspire the Joint Team Andrews congregation and bring them closer together.

"My full-time job is to serve the development and care of [servicemembers'] spiritual lives," he said. "But the mission is possible only if we are perpetual wingmen to each other, not just in times of trouble, but also in times of joy."

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