New Priest brings experience, dedication
By Staff Sgt. Nathan Gallahan , 92nd Public Affairs office
/ Published April 18, 2006
FAIRCHILD AFB, Wash. -- The road of life has violent, hairpin corners even the bravest of super bike riders wouldn’t willingly take at speed.
In the real world, we have Wing Safety to tell us to be careful – but spiritually we have chaplains to help guide us over the dangerous roads of life.
This is where experience really counts and Chaplain (Capt.) George George, although only at Fairchild a month, has enough experience to help guide the most difficult of riders onto the right path.
He grew up in India and moved to the United States when he was 23 on an invite from a Catholic missionary he knew.
“I wanted to study religion in the United States,” Father George said.
Leaving his family was difficult, but, to this day, he still finds time to travel back to visit them and also help out the church.
The chaplain spent 12 years as a priest in Austin, Texas before the Air Force approached him with a question.
“They asked me if I wanted to become a chaplain in the Air Force,” he said. “I felt a need to devote a few years of my life to my county.”
The Air Force was also hurting for Catholic priests, and has been for a long time he said. Eighteen Air Force bases don’t have a Catholic priest right now.
“Fairchild hasn’t had a priest since May, but just because we don’t have a Catholic priest assigned doesn’t mean we don’t have service — it means we get creative,” said Ethan Neiser, a Catholic Parish administrative coordinator for the 92nd Chapel office.
For the past five months, they have been reaching out to outside organizations, such as the guard and reserves, and local churches to help find priests to give Mass.
“It’s been difficult at times, but we haven’t missed one service,” Mr. Neiser said.
The arrival of Father George has been a blessing on more than one front; he solved the manning hole but also brings with him the experience of a seasoned professional.
He brings a total of 20 years of experience as a Catholic priest, including eight while in the Air Force. This is his fourth duty station and he has already lived and seen the realities of war — multiple times.
Deploying to such locations as Korea, Kuwait and the Red Zone in Baghdad, he has confronted the pain and suffering of young men and women as they are separated from their families and viciously attacked – and he’s been their soft pillow to help comfort them when they need someone who loves them.
Deployment life for a chaplain is different than most career fields. As a maintainer an Airmen might deploy and work along side ten Airmen in the same career and work as a team. During his deployment to Baghdad he was the only Catholic priest for the entire war-ravaged city. To this day he falls back on these multinational and multicultural experiences.
Father George has seen pain, but he said that some of his most fulfilling experiences as a priest have been when he was able to help others through hard times.
They don’t hire Airmen with temporary rider permits to teach the experienced motorcycle course on base for a reason – experience; and with Father George available for everyone on base at a moments notice, nobody should ever crash and burn through the corners of life.