Father Yakkel Begins his Ministry in Germany












Following his ordination to the priesthood this Spring, and the celebration of his First Mass of Thanksgiving at Saint Joseph Cathedral, Father Chris Yakkel has begun fulfilling his Chaplaincy duties with the U.S. Air Force in Germany. Father Yakkel sent an e-mail to Father Mike Lumpe to give everyone an update on how he is doing in Germany as a priest serving America's service men and women and their families. Here is what he wrote:

Father Mike:

When I arrived in Germany I jumped right into ministry. Here is a general description of what I’ve been up to in my time in Germany thus far:

My assignment to Ramstein Air Base is considered a chaplain candidate Active Duty Training tour. It’s essentially an internship where I spend time each day shadowing the different chaplains on base learning about the day to day duties of a chaplain. This has involved unit visitations throughout the base where I’ve had the opportunity to interact with Airmen from all career fields, learning about their mission and giving some encouragement along the way. It has also involved briefings on resiliency in times of trial and building up spiritually fit airmen.

Two unique opportunities: One special memory I have from my time here was when I got to take part in a repatriation ceremony on the flight line. Standing side-by-side with a Jewish Rabbi chaplain and another Protestant chaplain, the three of us rendered honors (saluted) as the remains of 28 WWII veterans were transferred to an aircraft set to bring them home to the U.S. for their final resting. It was a very powerful moment. In the days to come I will soon be joining a flight crew on one of their day missions to observe one of our chaplains and provide pastoral care to the air crew.

Being a priest has of course been the best part of all. I have been able to provide sacramental/spiritual support for the Catholic community here which the priests here have especially appreciated since one of their current priests is deployed. Because Ramstein is such a large base and because of multiple military installations nearby, this is one of the few bases they try to have more than one priest. However, this is a challenge given that the Air Force needs 120 active duty priests and currently has only 57. As a priest, I have been able to celebrate Mass for the large Catholic population at the Ramstein Air Base as well as at the Vogelweh Military Complex. I’ve also been able to hear confessions and have even done a baptism in my short time here. I’ve also made a couple of visits to the Landstuhl Army Medical Center.

This is only a glimpse of what has been an action packed month, but I have learned a lot and am grateful for the ways God has been able to use me in my short assignment here.

I look forward to beginning my assignment as the parochial vicar at the Perry County Consortium of Catholic Parishes in just a few short weeks. God bless!

In Christ,
Fr. Chris Yakkel