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Catholic Mass

Chaplains are assigned to Navy ships to attend to the spiritual needs of the crew. While an aircraft carrier may have 4 or 5 chaplains, a small ship only has one chaplain. While a chaplain may be of a specific religious faith, he or she must be able to conduct services for other religions. While I was stationed aboard the USS Guadalcanal (LPH-7), the chaplain was also responsible for operating the ship’s library for the crew. Since there is no chapel on a small ship, the chaplain held religious services in the library. Every day a call would sound over the ship’s 1MC (general speaker system) for quiet about the decks while Catholic Mass was being conducted in the library.

I was the Chief Master-at-Arms (like the police chief) on the ship. One of my duties was to run Captain’s Mast, which is an administrative hearing where the ship's captain hears cases that involve minor crimes committed by crewmembers. Mast could be held anywhere there is quiet and enough room for all the participants. On the Guadalcanal, we sometimes held mast in the library. When mast was to be held there, my men would move tables and chairs and set it up for the mast. When mast was about to start, a call would sound on the 1MC for quiet about the decks while Captain’s Mast being conducted in the library.

One afternoon, as I was walking around the ship, I heard a 1MC call for quiet about the decks while Captain's’ Mast was being conducted in the library. I did not remember a mast being scheduled, but since I was responsible for running the mast and I was the one who escorted the captain to the mast, I rushed to the library. As I rushed into the library, ready to chew out my men for not notifying me about the mast, I found it full of people worshiping Catholic Mass. I guess I was not paying enough attention to what was said over the 1MC.

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