Chaplaincy at Air Force base a rewarding experience

After 14 months as a chaplain at Langley U.S. Air Force Base in Richmond, Va., serving military personnel and their families, Father Brian O’Neill is back at the Diocese of Camden, serving its parishioners.

Father O’Neill called his time in Virginia a “rewarding experience” but is also happy to be at St. Simon Stock Parish in Berlin, where he is a senior priest. “Great people here at St. Simon,” he said.

In May 2008, Father O’Neill, then pastor at St. Gregory Parish in Magnolia, learned that he was assigned as a chaplain to the U.S. base, working in the Queen of Peace chapel. No stranger to the military, he spent his pre-priesthood years serving in the Marines from 1956-60, stationed at Parris Island, S.C., and Willow Grove, Pa., Naval Air Station.

In Virginia over the past year, he was able to help those currently in the Air Force, and their families. Father O’Neill comforted the men and women coming from overseas who “were hurting emotionally and physically” from their experiences. He would take the wife and children of an overseas soldier out to lunch. He presided over funerals, baptisms, military promotions and military retirements.

Praising the brave men and women overseas, Father O’Neill called them “wonderful, dedicated people” who perform “tremendous sacrifices for the good of this country. I’m thankful for Bishop Galante, for allowing me to serve.”

Now, back in the Diocese of Camden at St. Simon Stock, he will also continue his work with the Ministry of the Deaf, which holds special masses at St. Gregory Parish.

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