FORT McCOY, Wis. –
F. Richard Spencer, Roman Catholic Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, celebrated Mass with U.S. Army Reserve Soldiers during Combat Support Training Exercise on Fort McCoy, Wisconsin, Aug. 14, 2021.
“It’s an honor and a joy to return to be with [Soldiers],” Spencer said as he took time after Mass to take pictures and speak with the Soldiers in attendance.
Spencer, a retired Army colonel from the Chaplain Corps, served 34 years on active duty. He began his Army career in the Military Police Corps at Fort McCoy. In 1974, he was appointed the first proval marshal since 1954 and was assigned with starting the Military Police operation on base. After eight years with the Military Police, Spencer attended seminary school and was ordained in the Spring of 1988. He now serves 97 Military bases in the Eastern United States.
Spencer held Mass in honor of the Catholic Holy Day, the Feast of the Assumption and spoke of the relationship between Faith and the Army Values.
“My friends, try to live life and live it to the fullest. Life is short, very short. Always try to be the person that lives out the Army Values, to live out the standards that have been set before us, especially as lives of a Christian,” Spencer said.
Spencer also shared a message of hope and resources that the Catholic Church and the Army provide for Soldiers.
“My friends, don’t try to travel solely alone in unpackaging the challenges of life that come to you. Yes, we all have our moments of sadness and depression, but we have resources available to us to help us navigate these difficulties,” Spencer said.
The message comes as September, which is Suicide Awareness Month, approaches and was a reminder of the tragedy that many Soldiers face -- and an average of 22 Soldiers succumb to every day.
Spencer ended Mass on a high note and showed his gratitude to the Soldiers in his audience.
“Thank you for wearing the uniform. Thank you for being a Christian. A witness in today’s culture to stand for the values that the Army teaches us and calls us to live each and every day of our lives,” Spencer said.