By U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa/US Sixth Fleet Public Affairs
The Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Monterey (CG 61) hosted local Italians during a shipboard tour Nov. 12, 2017.
The tour was part of an outreach program designed to provide students studying at the Vatican with an understanding of life on a ship and get a better understanding of what it’s like to be a Navy Chaplain.
“This is a great opportunity to share with them the importance of Navy Chaplaincy and hopefully inspire them to become Chaplains where they can serve a much needed gap in Roman Catholic ministry within the Navy,” said Lt. William Butts, Monterey’s command chaplain.
The Navy Chaplain Corps is made up of more than 800 chaplains that represent more than 100 denominations to include: Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist and many others.
“Chaplains provide people with the first amendment right to have freedom of religion while in port or out on deployment,” said Butts. “We are here to help get people through the deployment and help Sailors deal with the struggles of being away from family as well as the stress of the job.”
Chaplains provide religious guidance and facilitate religious requirements according to their faith.
Butts said that they also serve as advisors to the command on any moral, ethical or morale issues that may arise.
“As Chaplains we not only hold religious services, we teach classes like suicide prevention and stress management,” said Butts. “We also train lay-leaders to lead other faith groups not represented by a Chaplain. We are also someone Sailors can talk to when they need an ear to listen.”
Butts feels that opportunities like taking a tour of a ship can give civilians a chance to see how Sailors live and what day-to-day life is like working on a war ship.
“Taking a tour of the Monterey is an opportunity to show the priests and deacons what the environment of a ship is like on deployment,” said Butts. “It gives them a chance to see how ministry work is different on the ship compared to being in a church setting.”
Navy Chaplains are important in the daily lives of service members and are there to offer guidance and insight whenever they are needed.
U.S. 6th Fleet, headquartered in Naples, Italy, conducts the full spectrum of joint and naval operations, often in concert with allied and interagency partners, in order to advance U.S. national interests, security and stability in Europe and Africa.