Coast Guard Chief Warrant Officer Sara Muir wrote and published this feature entitled, “Embracing the Spirit: Father Mode's Vision for Unity and Fellowship in the Pacific” on December 10, 2023. Click here for the full story and photo essay. The following excerpt has been edited for length.
In a significant stride for international collaboration and spiritual guidance, Father Daniel Mode, the Chaplain of the Coast Guard, recently visited the U.S. Coast Guard Team Guam from Dec. 2 - 6, 2023. This visit follows the historic first International Coast Guard chaplain exchange, during which Father Mode spent time with the Philippine Coast Guard.
Spiritual Guidance and Leadership
Acknowledged as the service's spiritual leader, Father Mode has been instrumental in the upliftment of the U.S. Coast Guard's spiritual and moral framework. His global life experience and understanding of military life have been pivotal in catering to the diverse needs of service members. Father Mode's recent involvement in giving the Catholic Mass on Naval Base Guam for the first Sunday of Advent draws a poignant analogy to his role - much like standing the watch in military service, Advent symbolizes a period of vigilant waiting and preparation, reflective of the dedication and readiness inherent in military life.
Empowering the Chaplain Corps
Under Father Mode's leadership, the Coast Guard Chaplains have substantially increased by more than 25 percent since June 2022. This enhancement includes the integration of reserve and auxiliary chaplains, who deployed for extended periods. Emphasizing the importance of this expansion, Father Mode remarked, "Increasing the number of chaplains' 'at the point of care' ensures our presence from our waterfronts to ships conducting Operation Vigilant Sentry and Arctic deployments, and notably, the appointment of Chaplain Richard Min, our first Chaplain in Guam."
A Notable Reduction in Suicides
2023 has seen a heartening decrease of more than 50 percent in suicides within the Coast Guard from 2022. This improvement is a testament to the expanded services and programs, particularly the enhanced resiliency programs supported by the Coast Guard Foundation. Father Mode reflects on this topic, "While we're trending in the right direction, we must remember that one death is too many. We must look out for our shipmates, always."
Father Mode envisions a future where this spiritual connection is recognized, celebrated, and integrated into the fabric of the Coast Guard's operations. The presence of chaplains in these remote areas is more than a mere extension of spiritual services; it's an opportunity to build bridges of understanding, participate in the rich tapestry of local beliefs, and provide support that resonates deeply with the spiritual nature of these communities.