It was with great sadness that I learned today Chaplain Tim Vakoc died on Saturday, June 20, 2009. Chaplain Vakoc was a Catholic priest severely wounded by an IED in May 2004. He was returning from conducting mass for Soldiers at a remote location when he was wounded. Due to the relative scarcity of Catholic chaplains, they spend many hours traveling from location to location to minister to Catholic Soldiers. Chaplain Vakoc’s convoy was attacked during one of these trips and he suffered a devastating brain injury and the loss of an eye. During the next few years, Father Vakoc underwent many surgeries and fought multiple life-threatening infections. It was not until the fall of 2006 that he was able to speak his first words after the injury. His mobility and speech continued to be significantly impaired, and he resided in a nursing home in his home state of Minnesota.
Father Vakoc ultimately gave his life serving God’s people in the some of the most difficult circumstances imaginable. His example of courage and selfless service is a shining light for all of us in the military chaplaincy. May he rest in God’s peace, and may our Lord bring comfort and hope to all those who loved him.
Thousands have followed Father Vakoc’s struggles on the Caring Bridge site established for him. The site is still open to receive condolences.
More on Tim Vakoc’s life and death at: