Saturday, July 21, 2007
John Barkemeyer is a good friend of mine. He and I met at the Chaplain Officer Basic Course in the summer of 2004. He was in my platoon, so we were able to commiserate over life's frustrations. It helped that he hailed from Chicago, but his love for the Cubs kind of neutralizes anything gained in that regard. We have similar appreciations for the arts and seem to have a more analytical way of understanding things than the average person (read, he's smart too). Inevitably, he's a loyal supporter of the Fighting Irish. (This is his tattooed ankle pictured.)
Fr. John is the chaplain of the battalion I deployed with in 2005. (He's pictured here with his assistant, PFC Solorio.) He is also the only priest we have in our brigade of more than 5,000 Soldiers and Marines. So he is constantly on the move providing for our Catholic Soldiers, Marines and Department of Defense Civilians in ways we Protestant chaplains cannot: conducting Mass and confession. He visits us at Camp Blue Diamond once a week. His stay is never long, but we get to spend a little time each week before he's whisked off to the battalion of Marines nearby. I make it a point to attend Mass each week. Since the lectionary he follows as a Catholic is very similar to the Revised Common Lectionary I use for the non-denominational services I conduct/design each week--it's fun to hear his homily on Saturdays, and compare it to the message I have prepared to deliver to the following day.
It is a pleasant surprise that we are serving in the same brigade and get to see one another on a fairly regular basis. Seeing another chaplain once a week, if only for a few minutes, helps keep me sane. (My dear friend, Chaplain Tim Fary, is not as lucky.) Here is a link to a great article in the Chicago Tribune about Father John: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/chi-070529chaplain,0,1654667.story