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Since 1732, the Redemptorists — a congregation of missionary priests and brothers — have followed in Jesus’ footsteps, preaching the Word and serving the poor and most abandoned.
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Features
Tuesday

Fr. Peter Sousa retires from Army chaplain corps


Fr. Peter Sousa (center) with family members
at his retirement from the U.S. Army.

Redemptorist Father Peter Sousa retired recently as a colonel chaplain in the U.S. Army Reserves 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 ceremony which was attended by family members, parishioners and Father Jerome Chavarria, superior of the Redemptorists’ Vice Province of Richmond, VA.
 

Fr. Sousa (right) prior to accompanying a convoy in Iraq.
“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 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. He went on to serve the spiritual needs of many military units and their families at several posts in the United States including:
 
·         4/92nd Field Artillery Battalion in Erie, PA
·         4th Brigade, 78th Division in Edison, NJ
·         3rd Brigade, 108th Division in Winston-Salem, NC
·         4th Brigade, 80th Division at Ft. Story, VA
·         77th Regional Support Command, 695th Corps Support Battalion, and 344th Combat Support Hospital at Ft. Totten, NY
·         2nd Brigade, 87th Division at Patrick AFB, FL
·         143rd Sustainment Command in Orlando, FL
·         TRADOC at Ft. Monroe and Ft. Eustis, both 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.
 

Celebrating Mass at Ft. Bliss, TX in 2000.
“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.”
 
Father Sousa is currently parochial vicar of the Catholic Community of Sumter, SC, which includes the parishes of St. Jude and St. Anne. Prior to coming to South Carolina, Father Sousa served as pastor of two parishes in Virginia — St. Mary, Star of the Sea at Ft. Monroe and St. Joseph’s in Hampton.
 
Other assignments have included two years as pastor of St. Michael’s in Wauchula, FL (2002-04) and ministry at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Retreat Center in Venice, FL from 2006-08.