Portable Sacraments Developed for Soldiers in the Field

( [email protected] ) Jul 31, 2004 03:50 PM EDT

The U.S. Army Chaplain Corps has developed portable sacraments: communion wafers and wine or juice in a waterproof, peel-and-serve package as the latest effort to bring spiritual aid to U.S. troops in the field.

The pack is a divided plastic container, sealed with a peel-back plastic sheet.One section holds about eight Communion wafers, and the other, either a few tablespoons of white wine, or the same amount of juice — just enough holy liquid to provide a tiny sip for eight communicants.

A single pack is small and flexible enough to easily fit into the cargo pocket of a uniform pants or blouse. When it’s time for a service, all a chaplain needs to do is to carefully peel off the top of the package, and the sacraments are ready to serve, Wheatley said.

“No matter where a chaplain and his troops may be, under any conditions,” they can observe a Communion Mass, said Chaplain John Wheatly, an Army major who with the Research Development and Engineering Command in the U.S. Army Soldier System Center

Based on comments they have received from showing the military religious community the prototype communion packet, the ChaplainCorps is now preparing to settle on a version that will then go into field trials “as soon as possible,” Wheatley said.

Once enough samples have been manufactured, they will be distributed to chaplains working in “both training environments and in real-world deployment settings,” so the testers can see whether the “technology and packing concepts support the chaplains’ requirements,” Wheatley said.

The Chaplain Corps has yet to set a schedule to begin handing out the packages, but when they become available, the items will be distributed at the request of the soldier, and by chaplains in both training and deployment settings, Wheatley said.