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Chaplain Candidates Learn about Naval Service

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MARCOA Media
From Naval Chaplaincy School and Center Public Affairs

NEWPORT, R.I. Twenty-four Navy Chaplain Candidate Program Officers (CCPOs) graduated from the new Chaplain Candidate Orientation Course (CCOC) at the Naval Chaplaincy School and Center (NCSC) onboard Naval Station Newport Aug. 9.

The course graduates are Navy chaplain candidates in the process of completing their theological training or serving two years of full-time ministry within their faith group, which is required before they can become Navy chaplains.

The course was last offered 10 years ago and with an updated curriculum and approach, the two-week pilot course gave students an introduction to the unique nature of naval chaplaincy. Topics included balancing life as a naval officer and as clergy; practical training on ministry in the Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard; as well as physical training and leadership instruction by Navy chaplains and a U.S. Marine instructor.

Lt. Cmdr. Chris West, the Chaplain Candidate Program manager, was enthusiastic about the course.

"The Chaplain Candidate Orientation Course has been in development for over three years, and I am very excited to see it finally become a reality," said West. "I believe this course will result in better-prepared CCPOs entering the fleet as new chaplains."

CCOC students also visited the U.S. Coast Guard Academy and explored naval history and heritage with visits to the Submarine Force Museum with the historic naval submarine USS Nautilus and Boston's Charlestown Navy Yard with the World War II-era destroyer USS Cassin Young and USS Constitution, the world's oldest commissioned warship afloat.

While in the CCPO program, candidates are commissioned as naval officers and receive on-the-job training under the supervision of a Navy chaplain. The program offers the unique opportunity for seminary students to receive military training and experience while discerning a call to naval chaplaincy. Upon graduation and completion of two years of fulltime ministry, candidates may apply to become fully-fledged chaplains.

"We are thrilled with the quality of these chaplain candidates," said Capt. Steve Moses, NCSC commanding officer. "I'm convinced that these men and women will be among the best and brightest of our future Chaplain Corps leaders. They have already demonstrated professional skills that will enable us to meet the needs of our Sea Service personnel well into the future."

A CCPO applicant must be a citizen of the United States, at least 21 years old and less than 38 years old at the time of CCPO commissioning; have an undergraduate degree and be currently enrolled in a graduate-level degree granting religious studies program; and receive approval from a qualified religious organization. Interested applicants should contact a Navy recruiter to discuss the program.

The next CCOC course is scheduled for January 2020 with future plans to offer the course twice a year.

In 2009, the NCSC moved from Naval Station Newport, Rhode Island to Fort Jackson in Columbia, South Carolina to join with the U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force chaplain schools. In March 2019, NCSC returned to its original location in Brett Hall at Naval Station Newport.

Almost 200 chaplains and 200 religious program specialists (RP) graduate from NCSC residence courses each year to prepare them to deliver professional religious ministry to the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Coast Guard, and U.S. Merchant Marine. Another 600 chaplains and 300 RPs receive professional development training annually through mobile training teams.

Chaplains and RPs play a critical role in helping the Department of the Navy achieve and maintain a ready force. Religious ministry and compassionate pastoral care are characterized by cooperation, tolerance, mutual respect, and respect for diversity, as well as an emphasis on understanding the pluralistic military environment. Chaplains and RPs are embedded within commands operating at sea and ashore to ensure 24/7 availability for service members and their families.

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