Navy Chaplain posthumously received the Navy Cross

Here is something that I had readied for posting and then, given recent events, the draft scrolled away from my view.

Take a moment to check out this piece at the Navy Times about the posthumous awarding of the Navy Cross (the Navy’s 2nd highest decoration for valor) to a Catholic chaplain of WWII,  Lt. Thomas Conway, the last chaplain to die that war.

The Navy Times piece will put it better than my own summary.  Suffice to say that his courage as he and hundreds of others were stranded in literally “shark infested waters” should serve as an example to me and to me brother priests in every sort of activity.

We are in our own kind of “shark infested waters” right now but we have to, all of us, persevere for the sake of those who depend on us.    Our Eternal Father, who is strong to save, will give us all the graces we need if we stay true.

As I’ve been repeating to a lot of frustrated, down-hearted people who write to me these days, of all the universes God could have created, He created this one, into which He called us into existence at exactly the right point in time and with exactly the right set of tools to carry out our little piece of His overarching, divine Plan.

If we dedicate ourselves to our state in life, as it is hic et nunc, here and now, God will give us all the actual graces we need to fulfill our part in His economy of salvation.

A war-fighter in dire harm’s way is in the safest place spiritually he can be if he acts out of duty and love of God, family and country. So too the priest. Even if the priest is trodden on by his more powerful clerical brethren and unfairly attacked by world-mired laity, he is in the safest spiritual place he can be if he acts out of love of God, Church and patria.

Perhaps this is why old soldiers and old priests tend to be great friends.

It is an honor to have been called by God to live in these difficult times.  Fidelity and the pursuit of His will bring greater graces than if our paths were smooth.

Fr. Conway, thank you for your example and rest in peace.



About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Just Too Cool, Priests and Priesthood, The future and our choices and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. All the post-Civil War American chaplains who have been awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor have been Catholic priests. Every single one. One from World War II; one from Korea; three from Vietnam. Two have causes for sainthood: Fr. Emil Kapaun (Korea) and Fr. Vincent Cappodano (Vietnam).

    And of course there is Fr. Emmeran Bliemel, OSB, who served with a Confederate Tennessee regiment during the Civil War, was killed at Jonesborough while giving the last Sacraments to a dying officer, and was awarded the Confederate Medal of Honor in 1983.

  2. Padre Pio Devotee says:

    Read this story from Niagara University FB page. Fr. Conway was a graduate of Our Lady of Angels Seminary/Niagara University, which is located in Niagara Falls, NY. And where Fr. McGivney also studied for 2 years. It is stories like Fr. Conway’s which really inspire and amaze me. To think he was giving the sacraments out to everyone up to his last breath in shark infested waters. And now so many are afraid to give Last Rites to COVID patients. Congrats Fr. Conway, a fellow alumni of NU, and may you Rest In Peace along with all of your deceased brethren of your lost ship.

  3. catholictrad says:

    The Church seldom blossoms in peace. Her flowers are most abundant when she is buffeted by rough storms.

Comments are closed.