The priest who celebrates Mass at Marine Corps Base Quantico will be able to say Mass this weekend because the military has allocated money for his contract, officials confirmed.
"Services at Quantico will go forward as scheduled. That was a specific case where they were able to keep that contractor on using last year's money," said Taylor Henry, a spokesman for the Archdiocese for the Military Services.
Fortunately for this particular priest, he won't have to make that choice.
"Our contractors are paid differently than federal employees. Their contracts are allocated differently and not affected by the fiscal year (which ended Sept 30) funds in the same way GS employees are," First Lt. Jeanscott Dodd, a public affairs officer at Quantico said in an email.
Still, the shutdown remains problematic for many chaplains. The military relies heavily on contractors to lead religious services, especially for Catholics, who make up approximately 25 percent of the armed services but only 8 percent of its chaplain corp.
Translated: About 275,000 men and women in uniform, and their families, are served by only 234 active-duty priests. Any religions that do not have an active-duty minister, or are able to work out alternative sources of funding (like Quantico), will not be able to have services on base.
For instance, there will be no Catholic Masses at the Washington Navy Yard this weekend, Henry said. Services have been moved to Bolling Air Force Base.