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April 16, 2012 | Volume 87, Number 12
 

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photo: Father (Col.) Peter Sousa, left, with Father Jerome Chavarria, Redemptorist superior of the order’s Richmond Vice Province at the retirement ceremony.Father Peter Sousa retires as Army chaplain

Father Peter Sousa, a Redemptorist priest who until last summer served as pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Hampton and St. Mary Star of the Sea at Fort Monroe, has retired from the Army chaplain corps with the rank of colonel after 26 years of service.

The retirement ceremony was presided over by Lt. Gen. John Sterling, deputy commander of the Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC). Father Sousa was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal during the April 3 ceremony.

“I was inspired to enter the Redemptorists by a Redemptorist Army Chaplain, Father Thomas W. Lacey,” Father Sousa said.

“I grew up in an Army family, and when we moved to the Panama Canal Zone in 1964, I met Father Lacey,” he continued. “He helped me discern my vocation and I entered the order’s high school seminary in 1967.”

Father Sousa professed vows as a Redemptorist in 1971 and was ordained to the priesthood in 1978.

He was commissioned as a first lieutenant in the Army chaplain corps in May 1986 while teaching at the Redemptorists’ high school seminary in North East, PA.

Among his assignments were the 4th Brigade, 80th Division at Fort Story, Virginia Beach, and Training and Doctrine Command at Fort Monroe and Fort Eustice in Virginia.

In 2004, Father Sousa’s Redemptorist superiors allowed him to serve two years on active duty, which included a one-year deployment as a hospital chaplain with the 344th Combat Support Hospital at Abu Ghraib Prison and Camp Bucca in Iraq. He also provided Mass and Catholic ministry to forward operating bases in Baghdad and Umm Qasr.

“The numbers of Catholic chaplains in the military, both active and reserve, continue to decline, so I’ve continued this ministry because of the Redemptorists’ special call to serve the spiritually abandoned,” Father Sousa said.

“I wanted to assist the Archdiocese of Military Services with this very challenging responsibility of providing for the spiritual care of thousands of our men and women in the armed forces and their families,” he added.

Father Sousa is currently parochial vicar of the Catholic Community of Sumter, S.C., which includes the parishes of St. Jude and St. Anne.

The Redemptorists were founded by St. Alphonsus Liguori in 1732 in Naples, Italy. The priests and brothers minister to the spiritual and material needs of the faithful, especially the poor and most spiritually abandoned. Their primary ministry is preaching. There are approximately 300 Redemptorists serving in the United States, and approximately 5,300 worldwide.

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