Tinker welcomes first Catholic active duty chaplain in nearly a decade

  • Published
  • By Clayton Cummins

For the first time in nearly a decade, an active duty Catholic priest is serving Tinker Air Force Base civilians and active duty members.

Chaplain (Capt.) Roberto Padilla joined the Tinker Chapel July 26.

Padilla, originally from Colombia, was ordained 13 years ago at the Catholic Diocese of Trenton in New Jersey.

It was during that time Father Padilla was approached by multiple chaplains who discussed life in the military. To become a chaplain himself, Padilla learned he’d have to become a United States citizen first.

“For me it was easy,” Padilla said, when asked if becoming a United States citizen was difficult. “I studied the questions and when I was ready, I applied, and I went to the embassy.”

Padilla says he is excited to get to work at Tinker AFB, as Tinker marks his first active-duty assignment.

“The first thing is to bring the blessing of God among the Airmen,” said Padilla. “They can recognize that God is in their mix, that God is part of their life. Also, we are part of a beautiful plan of God.”

Whether civilians or active duty members are curious about attending worship or need someone to talk to, Padilla emphasizes his door is always open.

“We are open here and we are waiting for them,” said Padilla. “If they need something from us, we are going to meet, we are going to open our heart to them in the way that they can open their heart to us.”

Plans are in the works for Padilla to begin interacting with various groups on base.

“There is a beautiful passage, Moses, that says with God we are good friends,” said Padilla. “That is what we need to accomplish here. When they see us, they can see a friend.”

In his free time, Padilla says he is a big soccer plan and hopes to join a team on base very soon.

Padilla’s first service at the Tinker Chapel will be held Aug. 6 beginning at 9 a.m. Additional masses are held every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 11:30a.m. Weekend masses are held every Saturday at 5 p.m. and on Sunday beginning at 9 a.m.

The Tinker Chapel also offers Protestant worship, with services scheduled for Sundays beginning at 11 a.m., with the first Sunday of every month being Communion Sunday. More service information can be found at https://www.tinker.af.mil/Resources/Chapel/.

The mission of the Tinker Chapel is to provide spiritual care and ensure all Airmen and their families have opportunities to exercise their constitutional right to the free exercise of religion. If you are interested in learning more about becoming an Air Force Chaplain, visit the United States Air Force Chaplain career website