By Lindsay Steele
The Catholic Messenger
In his early adulthood, Father Jake Greiner found himself answering two callings. “I always had a desire to help and serve the military and, God-willing, as a priest,” he said.
He believed the two callings could be complimentary, and in August, his dual vision came into focus. The diocesan priest was sworn in and promoted to Iowa Army National Guard captain on Aug. 29, assuming duties as chaplain. He will serve in this capacity while continuing to serve as administrator of St. Anthony Parish in Knoxville and Sacred Heart Parish in Melcher.
“I’m excited,” said Fr. Greiner, 32. “I saw military as an opportunity to do some amazing work as a priest.”
As a chaplain for the 1st Battalion, 133rd Infantry, based in Waterloo, Fr. Greiner will provide religious services, counsel soldiers, be an advisor to the commander and offer some educational programming. Although his duties are ecumenical in nature, he can be called upon to help Catholics in any Iowa Army National Guard battalion with Masses, funerals, and death notifications.
Fr. Greiner considers his position as a chaplain a unique opportunity. “I’m meeting people in some of the most difficult situations in their lives — soldiers going into combat or coming back from combat, soldiers who have lost a battle buddy … It’s a unique ministry and a privileged opportunity to bring Christ to others in those difficult moments.“
Additionally, since Iowa Army National Guard soldiers are not full-time members of the military, Fr. Greiner said he has more of an opportunity to minister to the soldiers’ families and community concerns.
His assignment comes about 15 months after his 2013 ordination to priesthood for the Diocese of Davenport. Fr. Greiner, a native of Keota, joined the Iowa Army National Guard in 2008 and received his direct commission as a second lieutenant in 2009. The same year, he began his studies at St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity in St. Paul, Minn.
“When I first began this journey five or six years ago, I never anticipated I’d have this much responsibility placed upon me, especially in my young priesthood, but I also know that I have amazing people supporting me in the military and in the diocese.”
He credited Bishop Martin Amos for accommodating the dual calling, and noted that his diocesan responsibilities will remain his first priority. “Bishop Amos has been incredibly supportive of the journey and he sees this as being important.”
Bishop Amos said the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) encourages bishops to support priests who wish to minister to service men and women. “The diocese has had a long record of priests serving their spiritual needs. Fr. Greiner is just another example of one.”