Holy Joe’s-Capodanno Café brews up support for US troops, chaplainsBy: Judy McCloskey
Holy Joe’s Cafe and Mission Capodanno have joined forces this Fourth of July to provide a place of respite for those who are forward deployed and serving on transition force commands.
Together, these two organizations are reaching out to forward-deployed chaplains inviting them to establish a Holy Joe’s-Capodanno Café in Afghanistan or Kuwait. The newly-created “joint task force” of Holy Joe’s Café and Mission Capodanno also invite interested others to invest time and resources into this endeavor from the home front.
“Coffee has the effect of making the chaplain’s space a nice place to hang out,” chaplain Pete St. Martin said. “It is in these moments that God and I do our best work, I believe in casual conversation with no specific agenda and before the burden someone is carrying has erupted into real trouble.”
“Establishing a frontline Holy Joe’s- Capodanno Café”, says Mission Capodanno’s Executive Director Vincent Criste, “is to invite weary soldiers to come and relax, enjoy a taste of home and share wholesome conversation on a very human level with someone who can offer them what they truly seek–and that someone is the chaplain.”
Holy Joe’s and Mission Capodanno are reaching out to individuals and corporations interested in sponsoring a chaplain looking to establish a Holy Joe’s-Capodanno Café or sustain one of the 182 Holy Joe’s Cafés currently in operation. Additionally, an invitation is going out to chaplains–especially those now serving in Afghanistan and Kuwait–to consider adding such a gathering place to their ministry’s “tool box”.
Mission Capodanno founder Judy McCloskey explained that a coffee-shop setting provides a more comfortable environment for soldiers to visit.
“While some soldiers may be reluctant to visit the chaplain’s office, others may be more comfortable discussing their concerns over a cup of coffee in hand,” explained Mrs. McCloskey.
“A soldier might even surprise himself at the depth of conversation that takes place when a chaplain shares a cup of coffee. Sometimes, it’s a simple matter of generating the opportunity for these soldiers to talk to someone who knows how to listen. And practically speaking, meeting over a cup of coffee is a lot less intimidating than making an appointment at the chaplain’s office.”
Both entities recognize that a coffee house provides neutral ‘grounds’–pardon the pun. There’s much synergy exchanged between these two organizations. Both are providing requested materials–excellent coffee and solid Catholic resources such as Fr. Capodanno holy cards and Fulton Sheen Wartime Prayer Books–free to chaplains and troops.
Whether in a chapel setting, community center, or a unique frontline coffee house, Holy Joe’s provides coffee for the body and Mission Capodanno provides resources for the soul.
“Holy Joe’s Café partners with the Carmelite’s Mystic Monk Coffee to ship orders received within 72 hours to forward-deployed US military chaplains,” Tom Jastermsky said.
“We are proud to say that we have five years of working and praying with the monks. Every donation goes to the purchase of coffee which directly benefits both Chaplains and the Carmelite Monks of Wyoming.”
Chaplains serving in both Kuwait and Afghanistan currently remain the outreach’s focus, but each Chaplain’s request–even those that may be outside the immediate service area–will be considered.
Tom sums it up well: “Its a small act, but a big undertaking.”
Holy Joe’s Café is an entirely volunteer ministry of the First Congregational Church in Wallingford, CT, which has shipped over 160 tons of coffee supplies to deployed chaplains since 2006. Holy Joe’s has partnered with 800 chaplains in Kuwait, Iraq, and Afghanistan as well as Marine Expedition Units.
Mission Capodanno is a Catholic, lay-run organization that seeks to build spiritual resiliency among the 1.8 million Catholics in today’s United States armed forces. With only 250 Catholic priests in the Chaplain Corps and with 800 priests needed, Mission Capodanno provides requested Catholic materials for free to chaplains and Religious Program Specialists of all faiths who minister to the needs of Catholic soldiers. As a 501 (c) 3 non profit organization, Mission Capodanno has provided for chaplains, commands, and individuals stationed in more than 10 countries, US military academies, the Pentagon, throughout the continental US, Alaska, and Hawaii.
For more information about Holy Joe’s Cafe in Afghanistan and elsewhere, visit their blog, YouTube channel, or coffee donation page.
For more information about Mission Capodanno, visit their Web site or VincentCapodanno.org.