Fr. Tim Vakoc – Military Chaplain – RIP

In your charity please pray for the repose of the soul of Fr Tim Vakoc, a military chaplain severely wounded in Iraq years ago. He was finally overcome by his wounds.

We were in seminary together in St. Paul.

The funeral is at the St. Paul Cathedral in St Paul on Friday.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Rancher says:

    God rest his soul…a servant of man and God. He is a hero for his service to Our Lord and to his country.

  2. Luis says:

    I had been thinking of this good priest last week as the year of the priest began. I had come across his story about one year ago. His words to his sister are a daily inspiration to me. “The safest place for me is in the Center of God’s will. If that is in the line of fire, that is where I will be.”

    Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him, May he rest in peace.

  3. Anthony says:

    Requiem aeternam dona ei, Domine et lux perpetua luceat ei.

  4. Sharon says:

    God bless him and all the other military chaplains. They are heroes.

  5. irishgirl says:

    Sharon-hear hear! I’m with you on that!

    May he rest in peace and rise in glory-and may all military chaplains who have proceeded him ‘up there’ now welcome him into their ranks!

  6. Ann says:

    May he rest in God’s peace.

    He has been a good example to us!

  7. FrGregACCA says:

    O GOD of spirits and of all flesh, Who by Thy death didst trample down upon death and give life to those in the tomb; do Thou, that selfsame Lord, grant rest to the soul of Thy servant, the priest Timothy, in a place of light, of refreshment, of rest, where pain and grief and sighing are no more. Grant to Thy servant pardon and remission of sins, for no one lives and sins not except Thee alone. For Thou are the resurrection and the life of Thy servant, the priest Timothy, and to Thee do we ascribe glory, + to the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit: One God, in both worlds unto the Aeon of aeons. Amen.

  8. RJSciurus says:

    A true gift to us. RIP

  9. Therese Z says:

    What a small world we live in! I just read the story and saw the slide show of his life over the last few years. His family was blessed by his priesthood no matter how damaged his body and brain became. And here you went to seminary with him.

    Praying for all priests, every day, especially today for Fr. Tim.

  10. Maureen says:

    A short life, but a priestly one.


  11. jarhead462 says:

    My prayers for his soul.

    Semper Fi!

  12. Peggy says:

    Prayers for his soul. I read his story when the injury occurred, a great man of God, risking his life to save the souls of other men. I am sorry for the personal loss you may feel.

    Fr Z: Would he qualify as a martyr, since he was in the service of the Church tending to souls and killed in an act of war?

  13. Jenny Z says:

    God bless him. His story is an inspiration.

  14. Blessed repose and eternal memory!

  15. CH Al says:

    I had the privilege of serving with Tim as a chaplain and served in Iraq at the same time. I miss the infectious joy and good humor that he brought to a horrible time and place.

  16. John P. says:

    I’m honestly at a loss for words. It seemed that he was going to make it through alright. I’ve been following him for a long time, watching his condition. I am extremely saddened to hear that the Lord has finally called him home. May he rest in peace, and may God grant him eternal happiness.

    +R.I.P Father Tim, you will be missed.


  17. JS says:

    I never knew him before his accident, but cared for him after. I left every shift feeling as though I’d been ministered to. During his practice talking time we said the Lord’s Prayer together.
    I am feeling both joyful for his homegoing, a loss for his family and grateful for what all soldiers put on the line for the safety and freedom of my family.

  18. Sandy says:

    Hearing about this yesterday brought tears to my eyes – sadness for his family, but also sensing God’s love for Father. I already asked him to intercede for my family. A message can be left on the website;

    We are a military family, so I had followed with heartfelt interest, the news about Father over the years. Seems to me, that yes, he could be called a martyr, Peggy.

  19. spmseminarian says:

    Several of us seminarians have had the privilege of visiting Fr. Vakoc these last few years. What a tremendous example of priestly service for us to imitate, especially in this Year for Priests. I think of him often when I must do things I’d rather not do. Knowing him has strengthened my vocation. God Love You, Fr. Tim. Thank You. Pro Deo et Patria!

  20. EDG says:

    I didn’t know him and had only read about his situation once before, probably shortly after he was injured, but I remembered it. In a just and decent world, his devotion and suffering would have merited at least a few words from, if not the press, at least the bishops. He was a dedicated and humble priest, and isn’t this what we want?

    Prayers for him and I know he will pray for us when the time – which no longer exists for him – is right.

  21. Requiescat in pace!

  22. Terry says:

    And perhaps we might also say a prayer for the those killed and injured in the D.C. Metro crash on Monday?

    Not to hijack prayers…

  23. MAJ Tony says:

    Fr. Z,

    I don’t know how I missed this post. Must’ve been asleep that day (not LOL). I almost sent you an email about it until I relooked at my google search, and this blogpost was No. 2 on the list. Having been in the service 15 years and having served two tours in Iraq, I know how blessed we are to even HAVE a Catholic chaplain, given how few there are in the United States Armed Forces. These brave Soldiers for Christ are the modern day version of the circuit rider priests who went from village to village here in the U.S., except they have been at much greater risk today in places like Iraq and Afghanistan. For all priests, but especially today, for military chaplains, we thank the Almighty.

    My condolences to the Vakoc family, and of course to you, Fr. Z. who has lost a brother priest, and prayers as well. Anyway, the funeral is in a couple of hours. Wish I were there.

  24. MAJ Tony says:


    Regarding Fr. Vakoc being a martyr, I found this on


    in odium fidei from hatred of the faith

    in defensum castitatis in defense of chastity

    ex aerumnis carceris from the hardships of incarceration

    per testimonium caritatis fortis by witness of heroic charity

    ex acertatibus et vexationibusque pro fidei quibus pertulit by reason of the force and violence which were endured for the faith

    It is my duty to preface this next statement by saying that I hardly qualify to pass judgement in this matter, but on the surface, it doesn’t appear to me, at this point, that Fr. Tim qualifies as a martyr in the technical sense. To put things in perspective, Fr. Emil Kapaun is possibly a martyr ex aerumnis carceris (for rather obvious reasons, if you’re familiar with his story) and possibly per testimonium caritatis fortis as he risked his life to keep his sheep fed while a POW. Fr. Vince Capodanno would most likely qualify as a martyr per testimonium caritatis fortis for his heroic actions in administering last rites under fire that he was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, posthumously.

    I’m not saying Fr. Vakoc is not a martyr–again, I’m hardly qualified to pass judgement there, Rome will say in the end–but we don’t need to water down what a martyr is to give testimony to the heroism of a man who risked and lost his life on earth that others might have it eternally. I’ve seen enough of that with awards in the Army. Knowing Priests and especially chaplains, I’m guessing Fr. Vakoc would agree. Then again, it’s a different kind of war. Fr. Cap was gunned down in midst of a rather sizable force-on-force conventional battle. Fr. Vakoc was the victim of a guerilla “mechanical ambush.” Except perhaps for the initial ground invasion and Fallujah, OIF has been mostly hit-and-run attacks by terrorists and guerillas, or friendlies doing cordon and search operations which may or may not involve casualties. In either case, the Army especially has been risk averse with regard to putting chaplains in the line of fire. OEF in Afghanistan is a more “kinetic” environment, owing to terrain and population density.

  25. CH Al says:

    If you check the date of Fr Vakoc’s wounds, he was wounded during and as a part of the Battle for Fallujah in 2004. I was another chaplain in the AO. I like you am wholly unqualified to pass judgment, MAJ Tony, but it appears to me that “ex acertatibus et vexationibusque pro fidei quibus pertulit” applies. Oh, and God bless Tony – I only wish that I could haul this old body out of retirment to do it one more time… SIGH!

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