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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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Midshipmen dedicate their service to OLPH

By Father Eric Hoog, C.Ss.R. LCDR, CHC, USN (Ret.)

If you visit the Eucharistic Adoration Chapel in Bancroft Hall at the United States Naval Academy, you’ll see the icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Help and hundreds of collar devices placed there by Midshipmen who have dedicated their military service to God through the Blessed Mother.

Bancroft Hall is the largest single dormitory in the world. It has 1,700 rooms and houses more than 4,000 Midshipmen. It also has shops, a cafeteria, and administrative offices.

As you walk up the steps and go into the main entrance, you are in the rotunda area of Bancroft Hall. A narrow corridor on the right leads to the Eucharistic Adoration Chapel.

Walking into the alcove to enter the chapel, you’ll see the OLPH icon and on either side of the icon, arched wooden panels with small name-plate tags affixed to them: the collar devices of the graduating Midshipmen who have chosen to put their names there.

The first graduating class to do so seems to have been the graduating class of 1974. There does not seem to be a formal record of who may have placed the icon of OLPH in that spot.

But if the first graduating class to put their names there was the class of ’74, there’s a good chance the OLPH icon was installed by John Cardinal O’Connor, then the Navy Command Chaplain at the U.S. Naval Academy.

Since 1974 some members of each graduating Midshipmen class have chosen to place their collar devices in that alcove. This is not a mandatory practice. They freely choose to do this. Above the OLPH icon are the words O Mother of Perpetual Help, inspire my Service to God and Country.

Below the icon is a small plaque. There is also a small table. On the table is an open book inscribed with the names of those graduates who have chosen to formally pledge their military service to God through Our Blessed Mother. The words on the plaque above the book read as follows:

Commissioned as a Navy or Marine Corps officer, I hereby inscribe my name and place my collar device on Our Lady of Perpetual Help Shrine in Bancroft Hall Rotunda Chapel at the United States Naval Academy. In doing so, I dedicate my years of military service to the honor and glory of God. I pledge to serve with Christian loyalty, integrity, and nobility, consistent with the highest ideals of my Catholic faith. To  this end I ask God’s blessings and strength through the intercession of Christ’s Blessed Mother.

As we close out our jubilee year honoring Our Lady of Perpetual Help, it is good to know that her name has touched and is still touching the lives and careers of some of our nation’s past and present military leaders. May Our Lady of Perpetual Help continue to be an inspiration for us all.