Peace: More Than An Abstraction

November 11, 2017

We pray on this Veterans Day for all men and women who have served in the armed forces.

One of the Paulist Fathers who served in uniform is Paulist Fr. Kevin Devine. A U.S. Army chaplain from 1962 to 1993, he received the Silver Star and the Bronze Star.

Fr. Kevin, who lives today at our motherhouse in New York City, recently had the photos in this post digitized. They show moments from his tour of duty in Vietnam in 1969 and part of 1970.

The photos were part of a slideshow presentation he delivered in late 1970 after returning to the United States. Here is an excerpt from those remarks:

“At one time, peace was a mere abstraction. It was a prayer offered at Mass, a word tossed around glibly in a sermon, a subject to be debated over a cocktail.

“But I have changed. I have seen men suffer; I have seen men die. I have felt cold fear within me as my jeep slipped behind the convoy and left me alone in enemy territory. I have found tears welling in my eyes as bodies were brought in after an all-night ‘sapper’ attack with hand-to-hand combat. I have stood beside men as they groaned in agony. I have smeared oils on their bloodstained faces and whispered a final absolution over their tattered remains. I have conducted memorial services where the upturned rifle and the battered helmet and the empty boots too well symbolized that that man was no longer with us. I have written letters of sympathy to wives and parents and lost sleep after receiving their moving replies.

“As a result, peace is now more than an abstraction. It’s a driving passion, a deeply longed-for dream. There is truth in the words of Douglas McArthur: ‘The soldier, above all others, prays for peace, for he must suffer the deepest wounds and scars of war.’ … “







To see more images from Fr. Kevin’s decades of ministry, please visit this Pinterest board.