MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
Marines with the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit participated in lay leader training at the Catholic Chapel aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., Feb. 8, 2011.
Lay leaders are volunteer Marines and sailors who are active in their religion and can lead services in the absence of a Chaplin while deployed.
“I personally think it’s a better way for us to advance ourselves in the Church,” said Lance Cpl. Christopher M. Rund, a Westminster, Md., native, and a food service specialist with Headquarters and Service Company, Battalion Landing Team, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 22nd MEU. “It’s extremely important, getting involved with the Catholic community and assisting when the priest isn’t available.”
Lay leaders have been used since 1965 and are a contributing factor in the morale of Marines like Rund, a Roman Catholic, whose religion requires a priest for services. While Rund cannot perform the same services as a priest, he can still hold lay lead services for fellow Marines and sailors.
“It definitely boosts morale,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Michael A. Hawthorne, a religious program specialist and Worcester, Mass., native, with 2nd Marine Division (Forward). “Especially for those who are very devout, it enables them to stay in touch with their faith in the absence of a regular Chaplin.”
Any Marine or sailor can become a lay leader and represent their religion within a command.
The Marines and sailors of the 22nd MEU are in the early stages of their pre-deployment training program, which is a series of progressively complex exercises designed to train and test the MEU's ability to operate as a cohesive and effective Marine Air Ground Task Force.
The 22nd MEU is a multi-mission capable force comprised of Aviation Combat Element, Marine Tilt Rotor Squadron 263 (Reinforced); Logistics Combat Element, Combat Logistics Battalion 22; Ground Combat Element, Battalion Landing Team, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment; and the Command Element.
Marine Expeditionary Units are the Marine Corps' smallest permanent Marine Air-Ground Task Force, commanded by a colonel and comprised of approximately 2,200 Marines and sailors ready to provide immediate response in a hostile or crisis environment. While deployed, each MEU also incorporates two KC-130 aircraft available to support the unit's operations abroad.