Allies Come Together for Religious Services during AnaKonda 16

By Sgt. Daniel Lybeck | 364th Expeditionary Sustainment Command | June 9, 2016

June 8, 2016 — SZCZECIN, Poland --U.S. Army National Guard Maj. Patrick Paul Brownell, the Chaplain for the 230th Sustainment Brigade, out of Chattanooga, Tenn., teamed up with local Polish Army Chaplain, Capt. Thomasz Szeflinski, to provide Sunday religious services to Allied military service members, and Polish locals June 5, in Szczecin, Poland in support of exercise Anakonda 16.

Anakonda 16, is a Polish national exercise that seeks to train, exercise and integrate Polish national command and force structures into an Allied, joint, multinational environment.

This exercise further supports assurance and deterrence measures by demonstrating Allied defense capabilities to deploy, mass and sustain combat power.

Brownell and Szeflinski demonstrated that Allied forces can also combine to meet the spiritual needs of their service members.

When Brownell was asked by Szeflinski to co-officiate his Mass, Brownell jumped at the chance to preach and reach across international borders to, in his words, “Bring God to the Soldiers and the Soldiers to God.” 

The service was held at St. Stanislav Kostka chapel that was converted from a garage to provide religious services for Polish Soldiers and local residents. This particular Sunday in addition to the regular practitioners, 15 U.S. service members attended the ceremony.  An interpreter provided translation for both of the Chaplains. Brownell would be the first to tell you that the language of God is universal, often not requiring a translator.  

Brownell says any time he steps into any church, he feels at home as though it automatically bridges cultural gaps. He explains that even though he does not speak Polish, the order of the service is the same; the movements, the kneeling, the sitting, the standing, the sign of peace, all of those things are the same.  Brownell noted “So, all of a sudden, even though you can’t speak the language, there is a familiarity there that transcends any language.”

Speaking about the joint Catholic service, Sgt. 1st Class William Ward, the acting 1st Sgt., with the 230th, said, “We as brothers are created equally and we combined our faith internationally today.”  The pride was evident in his eyes as he spoke about creating partnerships and bridging language barriers. 

No matter the language barriers, Brownell does not feel hindered by his job. He sees opportunities to minister and connect with our Allies in ways that build valuable friendships and demonstrate the U.S. Army Reserve/National Guard’s readiness to conduct training that focuses on a wide variety of wartime needs.