As a civilian, I needed a sponsor to get on the base. So, I felt blessed to have my two dear friends, a Retired Navy Commander and his lovely wife, take me as their guest. I hadn’t been on a military base since before 9/11 and was both naive and ill prepared for such tight security. There are no signs on the
Since I was not able to take photos or describe the outside of the Christ, Prince of Peace Chapel, I will do my best to describe inside. Entry is through two sets of doors, outer and inner glass doors, that help keep the temperature inside consistent. There is a vestibule and an entrance into the nave or body of the chapel. The paneling of the lower walls, pews and the altar are a light wood tone. Pews face the altar and there are two sets with a main aisle and two side aisles. Missalettes are located in the pockets of the pews and there are fold-down kneelers. Dark wood beams are along the side walls, about every sixteen feet, that reach to the ceiling and highlight the A-frame structure. There are four flat screen televisions, one on each side of the front and another set half way back. They are used as aides for other religious services that share the room. An exquisite wooden wall crucifix hangs behind the altar and can be protected and closed-off by dark brown curtains. Directly below the crucifix are three upholstered chairs for the presider and deacon. Elegant wooden carved statues of Mary and Joseph are on the sides of the crucifix in niches that can be closed for other services. Above the statues are two beautiful, very large, right triangular, stained glass, modern abstract windows, and were the first to catch my eye. Light shines through the mostly blue glass and glows onto the altar area. The American flag is directly to the left of Mary and further left is the credence table that holds the purificators, chalices, and other items needed for the celebration of Mass. There are chairs to the left of the table for the altar servers. More chairs are to the right of the statue of Joseph. A door is at each end of the altar area that leads to a separate area.
The altar table was adorned with a white linen cloth that had a detailed purple border. Small purple candles are on each side of a stunningly detailed standing crucifix. Two floor standing white candles are on each side of the altar table. The music area is to the right of the altar and this evening's music was wonderful. These talented musicians were comprised of a pianist, guitarist, violinist and vocals. Today's songs were new to me and I found them to be both uplifting and spiritual. There is a very nice balcony in the back of the chapel with another beautiful stained glass window above.
The sacrifices made by military families are great and each member of the base becomes an extended member of their own family. That closeness was clearly visible as parishioners entered the chapel and embraced each other. There is a sincere concern for their extended family's well-being. This is not to say that they don't welcome new or visiting parishioners, because they do! Before mass everyone stands up and shakes their neighbors hand to welcome them to today's liturgy.
Sadly, it was the celebrant, Fr. Joseph Idomele's last weekend at this base. The homily had the excitement and the enthusiasm similar to a Baptist evangelical approach, but with Catholic words and meaning. Fr. Idomele kept the parishioner’s attention from beginning of mass through to the end. I can honestly say that the mass was alive with the passion of Christ and the sincerity of the Word of God.
Did you know that Catholic Military Communities have a separate Archdiocese? "The Archdiocese for the Military Services was created by Pope John Paul II to provide the Catholic Church's full range of pastoral ministries and spiritual services to those in the United States Armed Forces. This includes more than 220 installations in 29 countries, patients in 153 V.A. Medical Centers, and federal employees serving outside the boundaries of the USA in 134 countries. Numerically, the AMS is responsible for more than 1.8 million men, women, and children." - http://www.milarch.org
“Lord God, Almighty Father, creator of mankind and author of peace, as we are ever mindful of the cost paid for the liberty we possess, we ask you to bless the members of our armed forces. Give them courage, hope and strength. May they ever experience your firm support, gentle love and compassionate healing. Be their power and protector, leading them from darkness to light. To you be all glory, honor and praise, now and forever. Amen.” - http://www.usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/prayers-and-devotions/prayers/prayer-for-troops.cfm
(I did receive permission to take some photos inside that are included below. I paid special attention not to include any parishioners out of respect and privacy. So, the photos are not centered and there are no panoramic photos included.)