WIESBADEN, Germany – Volunteers play an important role in meeting the spiritual needs of the U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden community.
“Volunteers are the hands and feet of our ministry and quite often the creative heads and hearts, too,” said Chap. (Lt. Col.) Jeffrey Dillard, garrison chaplain and Religious Support Office director.
The biggest thing volunteers do is to support their community in ways the chaplains sometimes cannot, Dillard said. On average chaplains serve about 1 to every 1,000 Soldiers, civilians and others, he added.
“Of course our primary focus is on the unit and the mission, but there are a lot of needs that we can’t meet because we are counseling with an individual or we are in an important meeting to strategize and to address major themes,” Dillard said. “Volunteers can bring a greater frequency of connections with their neighbors, and they can bring a greater depth of connection with their neighbors.”
Several volunteer ministry groups serve the Wiesbaden community. Protestant Women of the Chapel, Catholic Youth of the Chapel, Cadence International Hospitality House, Club Beyond Youth Ministries, Mom’s Café, Thrive!, Latter Day Saints Seminary, Catholic Religious Education, LifeTeen and Wednesday Night Alive! serve as educational and auxiliary ministries. One such group is Catholic Women of the Chapel, a group of women who meet to learn religious teachings and provide social support to one another.
“We need that time away from our distractions of life just to be able to refocus ourselves on God, and that gives us the strength to continue in our daily tasks,” said Blanca Cook, Wiesbaden CWOC president.
“The USAG Wiesbaden chapel community is blessed with a tremendous pool of committed volunteers,” said Clinton Lowin, director of religious education for the RSO. Approximately 100 people volunteer in some capacity for one of the educational auxiliary organizations or mass and worship services, he added.
Stephanie Tanner, a volunteer coordinator for Catholic Youth of the Chapel, a group that works with teens “to bring them closer to Christ,” said not being able to meet in person due to COVID-19 has been a challenge, but she leans on fellow CWOC members, a group she is also a member of.
She said she enjoys being a part of a group of women who share the same values and help each other when needed.
“It’s like a support group. Not just spiritually, but emotionally, too,” Tanner said. “It gets us out of our routine, and you have people to talk to and share your experiences with, and you always have somebody to help you if you need help, and it’s a great place to make friends. We learn and we pray together.”
The group helps with the annual priest breakfast, Stations of the Cross and meatless meals during lent, retreats (although not this year due to COVID-19), and social and learning support, Cook said. They also help others in the group and the chapel as needed for baby showers, meal support for individuals who are sick, beautifying the chapel grounds and even cleaning up. “We help wherever we’re needed,” Cook said.
“I think this, honestly, is the best religious community I’ve ever been in,” Tanner said. “And not just the Catholics, but the Protestants, too—everybody supports everybody else. It’s just a really good, positive environment.”
For more information on services and ministry groups, go to home.army.mil/wiesbaden and search “religious services.”