ECC chaplain enjoys serving both God, country
September 8, 2011
REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. -- Moved by the beauty of the Mass and wanting to play a leading role in it, Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Jose Herrera decided to become a Catholic priest almost 22 years ago.
Today, he is responsible for all Catholic programs and services in his dual-hatted role as chaplain of the Expeditionary Contracting Command and senior chaplain for the Redstone Arsenal Catholic community.
Herrera, who calls Santa Fe, N.M. home, has a Master of Divinity degree from St. Thomas School of Theology and is a graduate of the Army Command and General Staff College. He assumed his current position in June.
"I think it was God's will. I really had never thought about becoming an Army chaplain," he said. "But I found I loved working with the military and found it very fulfilling to be able to serve both God and country simultaneously."
Herrera joined the military in 1992 upon the urging of his bishop to apply for the chaplain position for the Virgin Islands National Guard. The position was vacant and the Catholic leadership was concerned that the Soldiers were not getting the ministry they deserved and needed.
He realized that his key work in the ministry came in wide and varied forms, op-portunities, people and circumstances. Eventually for him, the variety of ways to support the ministry focused on military service.
During his Army career, Herrera has served as chaplain in both battalion and installation support capacities. Having served in both capacities, he adds, has been one of his favorite aspects of the job.
"This is one of the reasons it is nice to be a Catholic chaplain," he said. "Because regardless of the rank, your ministry as a priest is always directly with Soldiers, their families and DoD (Department of Defense) civilians."
While his dual role here can be taxing at times, Herrera believes that chaplains in this position have a dedication to each role that keeps their positions enjoyable and their leadership understanding.
"Though I am sure most commanders would like to have their chaplain 100 percent of the time in the unit," he said. "I think we make up for it by giving 100 percent of our effort to each task."
Herrera conducts Mass at noon daily at the Bicentennial Chapel located on Goss Road on Redstone. Individuals seeking his assistance can reach him at (256) 842-2178.