Guiding The Military’s Greatest Asset
Chaplain Neil Moquin, CAPT, USN
“Think about it…who gets to lead a prayer or offer the Eucharist on the deck of a ship? Or to do it from the back of a Humvee surrounded by tanks? Or to work closely with others who may disagree theologically?”
— Chaplain Neil Moquin, CAPT, USN
For well over two decades, Chaplain Neil Moquin’s primary responsibility has revolved around what he considers to be the military’s most valuable resource: its people.
“You’re with these folks, doing what they’re doing and, in doing that, not only do they love to share their skills, but you open doors where they begin talking about their issues,” Chaplain Moquin explains. “Then you can focus on what you’re there for…to provide counsel, hope, direction and healing.”
Born and raised in San Diego, he earned a BA in psychology from San Diego State University and a master of divinity degree from Nashotah (Wis.) House Theological Seminary. Ordained a priest in the Episcopal Church in 1980, he has served as a college chaplain and parish rector.
In 1988, he was commissioned in the Navy Reserve. During his 30-year Navy career, mostly on Active Duty, he has ministered to the needs of the Coast Guard, Marines and Navy personnel – from Hawaii to Texas to Washington, D.C., and beyond.
“From a command perspective, it’s all about making sure that this greatest asset the military has, its people, are full up, round and ready to go. That includes their spiritual and emotional resilience,” says Chaplain Moquin, who has also served as Bishop’s representative for Armed Forces Ministry and at Coast Guard Headquarters in Washington, D.C.
Besides opening ecumenical doors, he’s found the Navy’s extensive training and valuable connections to be applicable in parish ministry. Experiences in the Navy have helped him relate to parishioners better. “I was telling my people to go out and share their faith and bring people in. In the military, I was working in a secular world the same way my parishioners were. So I could relate to them much better and experience the challenges they were facing.”
He also adds, “My congregation understood fully the benefit to them. I was able to bring leadership skills…things I learned in the military that you don’t learn in seminary. Plus resources, not only from military programs, but through relationships with other Chaplains.”
Prior to retirement from active parish ministry in August 2010, Chaplain Moquin served as Deputy Pacific Fleet Chaplain and Deputy Pacific Command Chaplain in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Since December 2010, he has served as 4th Marine Division Chaplain in New Orleans.
Besides leading 30 Religious Ministry Teams, he is responsible for the Covert Operational Stress Program, which provides stress training to Marines before, during and after deployment and demobilization.
A Source Of Spiritual Stability
“I’m amazed at the degree of responsibility that some of these young men and women are given and at what they can handle.
Chaplains…I think they bring a sense of stability within that particular environment, often by simply being there and being an ear.
Once a rapport is established, you almost feel like a parent figure, a big brother or a big sister, someone who can be relied upon outside of the chain of command in order to bounce some of their issues off.”
— Chaplain Neil Moquin, CAPT, USN