January 30, 2015
Monsignor Chad Gion has already answered one important call to serve in his life to become a priest. However, there was another call that he felt needed his attention—that of an Army chaplain.
Chaplain Chad Gion was promoted to the rank of captain Jan. 10 in front of an audience of family members, friends and fellow North Dakota Army Guardsmen during a ceremony at the Army Aviation Support Facility in Bismarck. Gion is a member of the Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 112th Aviation Regiment.
He attends the National Guard drill weekends once a month and fulfills a two-week training requirement every summer. Gion also presides at Mass every Sunday of the drill weekend.
“We congratulate Chaplain Gion on this well-deserved promotion. Any commander can tell you just how important military chaplains are to our soldiers and families. They provide the spiritual and religious support our entire Guard family relies upon,” said Brig. Gen. Al Dohrmann, deputy adjutant general, who administered the oath of office during the ceremony. “We are happy to have Monsignor Gion with us as the only Catholic priest in the North Dakota Army National Guard, and appreciate all he has done and will do in the future.”
Bishop David Kagan also was in attendance, as well as Gion’s parents, Deacon Don and Bonnie Gion.
“I have always been a supporter of our good men and women in the Armed Forces and I was pleased when Adjutant General David Sprynczynatyk raised with me the matter of wanting a Catholic priest to serve the spiritual needs of our National Guard,” said Bishop Kagan. “Msgr. Gion did not hesitate to say yes when I asked him if he would be willing to serve. It is a serious commitment, so I am personally grateful to him. I am also very grateful to the good parishioners at Spirit of Life in Mandan for sharing Monsignor with the Guard. I am especially grateful to Father Chris Kadrmas for taking up the slack, so to speak, when Monsignor is away with the National Guard.”
A native of Regent, North Dakota, Gion joined the North Dakota Army National Guard in April 2013 when he was sworn in and commissioned as a first lieutenant and chaplain. “I had found out that there was no priest in the local units, so I felt the need to step up and do it,” Gion explained.
After joining, he attended a 12-week Chaplain Basic Officer Leadership Course (CBOLC) in Fort Jackson, SC. Rather than attending the usual basic training, CBOLC provides an introduction to the non-combatant common core skills, Army writing and chaplain-specific training.
“It’s designed to give us an idea of what enlisted soldiers go through so we can relate,” Gion said of the training. “The military has a culture all it’s own and a big part of CBOLC is to understand that culture and the soldier.”
The National Guard chaplaincy provides religious support to soldiers and their families and assists commanders in ensuring the right of free exercise of religion for all their members. While providing pastoral care and counseling to Guard members and their families, chaplains also advise the commanders and staff on matters pertaining to religion, morals and morale.
For the first time in more than 15 years, the North Dakota National Guard's chaplains corps is at full strength, with all eight chaplain positions across the state having been filled.
Gion was ordained to the priesthood in July 2002. He began as an associate pastor at Christ the King in Mandan, and taught at St. Mary's Central High School in Bismarck from 2002-2003.
Since 2003, Gion has served in a number of parishes across the state, including St. Pius V in New Salem, St. Mary’s in Almont, Holy Trinity in Hettinger, Sacred Heart in Scranton and Sacred Heart in Reeder. In addition to his chaplain duties in the North Dakota Army National Guard, he is currently pastor at Spirit of Life in Mandan, St. Anthony in St. Anthony and St. Martin in Huff.
Gion holds a bachelor's degree in philosophy from North Dakota State University and a Master of Divinity from the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul.
Editor’s note: Some information for this story was provided by the North Dakota National Guard.