New command chaplain

Discussion in 'Merchant Marine Academy - USMMA' started by kpmom2011, Mar 2, 2011.

  1. kpmom2011

    kpmom2011 Member

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    Just received word that a new command chaplain took the helm as of 1 March 2011. Here is the information received:

    welcome aboard CAPT Francis D. Bonadonna, CHC, USN, who assumed duties today as our Command Chaplain. CAPT Bonadonna joins LCDR Joseph Koch on our Chapel Team.

    CAPT Bonadonna earned a Master of Divinity in 1979 from Wartburg Seminary. Ordained in 1980, he served at St. Nicodemus Lutheran Church, East Aurora, NY from 1980 to 1983, St. Mark’s Lutheran Church, Ridge, NY from 1983 to 2003 and most recently as the Assistant Pastor of St. Luke’s Lutheran, Farmingdale, NY.

    CAPT Bonadonna brings a wealth of experience as both Chaplain and Naval Officer. He has served in a number of different capacities as a U.S. Navy Reserve chaplain, and has been recalled to active duty on several occasions. After completing the Navy Chaplain School, CAPT Bonadonna served USCG Group Moriches and Air Station Brooklyn from 1986 to 1992. From October 1992 to September 1994, he served with Personnel Mobilization Team 202 and then with 2nd Battalion, 25 Marines. He was reassigned as Deputy Group Chaplain, Marine Aircraft Group 49, completing Cold Weather Training (1995), NATO exercise BATTLE GRIFFIN (1996) and CAX MCAGCC (Combined Arms Exercise - Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center) Twentynine Palms, CA (1997). In October 1997, CAPT Bonadonna was assigned as the Reserve Supervisory Chaplain for Combat Logistics Group Two, coordinating religious support of four AOEs (supply ships) based at Naval Weapons Station Earle, NJ. In May 1999, he transferred to Fleet Hospital Fort Dix, NJ and assigned additional duties at the National Naval Medical Center, Bethesda, MD. Promoted to Commander in January 2001, he earned the Supervisory Chaplain NOBC (Naval Officer Billet Code) in May 2001.

    In April 2003, CAPT Bonadonna was assigned to the Religious Support Detachment augmenting 2FSSG and in February 2004, became the Officer In Charge. In October 2004, he transferred to Marine Aircraft Group 49 as Group Chaplain. He earned the Force Chaplain and Claimant Chaplain billet codes in November 2004, and was selected for promotion to Captain in June 2005. CAPT Bonadonna was recalled to Active Duty in September 2007 as Director of Religious Affairs/Force Chaplain for Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa. He subsequently served as Deputy Regional Chaplain, Naval District Washington from April to November 2009. CAPT Bonadonna is a graduate of the Marine Corps University’s Command and Staff College, and is certified as a Joint Qualified Officer III.
     
  2. cookiecafemom

    cookiecafemom Member

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    In my opinion this is unconscionable

    The announcement put out on a school wide email and on this Service Academy Forum by the Chief of Staff was the way that the Command Chaplain and the rest of the chapel staff found out. This was the way that the Catholic Priest who was the Command Chaplain found out he was demoted.

    If the academy is working on how to improve the morale, perhaps they need to work on their practices in how they deal with people. The people working at Kings Point and students need to be treated with respect.

    In my opinion this is unconscionable what happened.
     
  3. kp2001

    kp2001 USMMA Alumnus

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    So I reread the statement that was released:

    Sorry, but being a LCDR and having a CAPT comes in does not mean a demotion, it simply means that a more senior ranking officer has come in and that senior ranking officer will take over as the senior officer of the "shop" or in this case the Chapel.

    It's not a demotion, a demotion would have been the O6 not being the command chaplain and an O4 being designated as such. That's simply the way the military works.

    I am sure LCDR Koch knew well in advance that a new chaplain was coming and would have seen the orders "pop" on any number of systems and would have known that the person coming in was a CAPT.

    Not sure why there is reason to be upset??? Maybe there's more to the story that I don't know...
     
  4. 1tallpoppy

    1tallpoppy New Member

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    kp2001 - There is much more to this story than you know, unfortunately. LCDR Koch was not given any notification of his change in status by the Super, he read about it for the first time on this forum. What a cowardly way to be ousted. I appreciate that you hoped it was a different scenario, but this is the beginning of a very new way of operations at KP. I worry that the Mids will be caught in the crossfire of a man who has only his own agenda in mind.
     
  5. kp2001

    kp2001 USMMA Alumnus

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    Just as a caveat I know neither man nor have any horse in this fight.

    A question: did LCDR Koch not know that another chaplain was coming aboard?
     
  6. jasperdog

    jasperdog Member

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    So I Guess It's "Here We Go Again..."

    Sorry folks who are alluding to or taking issue with things with this change. I read in the announcement the following:

    So here's what I see, USMMA now once again has two Chaplains assigned to it as it did in the days when I was a student. A Lutheran Minister, who happens at this time to be a well qualified Chaplain, and a native Long Islander, as well as a Navy O-6 and a Catholic Priest who is an O-5. Nobody got a demotion. I also see no issue, nor do I read in to things, the fact that if you know the current incoming Chaplain happened to serve with Admiral Greene in the Horn of Africa. In fact, there is a lot to be said to the positive about that. Of course, folks who were and are happy with the status quo, or who may be otherwise "change averse" will no doubt find things to complain about since they don't like change anyway, etc. Further, maybe they feel the notifications, etc could have or should have been done differently, but rather than vague statements or generalities that are non-specific, etc such as:

    "There is much more to this story than you know, unfortunately. LCDR Koch was not given any notification of his change in status by the Super ..." and/or "In my opinion this is unconscionable what happened."

    It might be more helpful for us all and the USMMA community if the posters shared the specifics, assuming they have them from first person sources, as well a share the details about why they are upset. That said, as I understand it, the Military supplies the Chaplains and while I'm sure the Super and the Chief of Staff have influence over the whole thing, the assigned Chaplains do not work for the Academy or receive their official notifications, etc. from them, at least they didn't when I was at the Academy. Things like orders, etc. comes to them from their DoD Higher Headquarters, as far as I understand things.

    Finally I'll make this comment as I'm pretty sure it's related and on target to the undercurrents here and that I've been seeing and hearing about such things. Whenever a new leader comes in, after he or she settles in and gets the "lay of the land", the good ones at least begin to make changes and start to drive the organization. In every case i've seen some of the changes are favored by people and some of them are not. However, even when things were in great shape when the new leader comes in/takes the reigns, sooner or later they have to start to run things like they think they should be run and they should never ask "what would the last guy have done." That doesn't work even in the best of situations. Of course most of us know and understand, this ship wasn't riding on anywhere near an even keel, and things were not even close to universally excellent when Dean Kumar took over as Acting Super or even later when Admiral Greene took over as the Super, though I will say I think Dean Kumar did a very good job and handed the keys over to Admiral Greene in better shape than what were handed to him. In any case, a lot needs to be done and a lot is being done, none of us are likely to agree with every change but from what i've seen, things are being done to drive change in the right directions. Of course some folks obviously seem to have opinions which differ with my own.
     
  7. 1tallpoppy

    1tallpoppy New Member

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    kp2011 - don't you mean you don't have a dog in this fight? :rolleyes:

    Now I remember why I get so exasperated with these forums and stay away. As a person with reliable inside information, it was my intention to alert current parents about a very negative change that is taking place. And, jasperdog, you are not getting any more details, if you think these messages are vague, then you aren't paying attention.

    It's okay that my comment has inspired some to ramble on just to hear themselves, that's what these forums generally are all about. I'm done with this issue: parents - keep your eyes and ears open, please.
     
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2011
  8. kp2001

    kp2001 USMMA Alumnus

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    I think the reason you are getting such a reaction from alumni is that one of our own has basically been called a coward.

    Since neither Jasper nor myself have a connection to the chapel (that I'm aware of at least) we are coming into the argument without much bias other than trying to figure out why someone would say the way the situation was handled was "unconscionable" and "cowardly".

    People come in and make statements like that and then won't back them up with further details?

    The reason I asked about if the current chaplain did not know about the incoming chaplain is that it plays a big role on whether he was not notified or he was and simply didn't understand (for whatever reason) that a senior ranking officer coming in would of course mean that he would no longer be the command chaplain.

    Jasper also brought up another good point, the Academy probably doesn't even say who is the Command Chaplain. It is likely tied to a billet code that is filled through PERS in Millington, TN. When that billet is not filled then the title usually goes to the senior officer who is at that particular command. It's simply the way that Navy Personnel works. As an example: when I look at jobs in the Navy the billet will have a certain title. It usually won't say simply 'flight surgeon' if I am going to be the one "in charge." It would instead say 'senior regional flight surgeon', 'senior medical officer', 'director', or similar language.

    The other issue I have is that as an officer one is well aware of personnel issues and how they work and what positions in our community are being filled. The scene being portrayed here with the information given so far is one of an officer being naive to the personnel system of the Navy or that person is being unfairly portrayed.

    My guess without further information at this time is that people are getting upset at something that 1)Is simply a matter of the way Navy personnel/billet codes work and possibly 2)is not even something the Academy controls.
     
  9. kp2001

    kp2001 USMMA Alumnus

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    And yep, I jacked that one up. It was getting late :thumb:
     
  10. cookiecafemom

    cookiecafemom Member

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    Please stop this nastiness, I will clear up my concern, and it's with no malice

    Each one of you has taken off in a different tangent and missed what I was getting at. Not one of you commented on what I was concerned about. Did I not write it clearly enough or was it that everyone wanted to avoid my point?

    I wrote that if the academy is working to improve morale, perhaps they need to work on their practices in dealing with people. People working at KP and students need to be treated with respect.

    That was the kernel of my message. I used poor choice of words in "demotion". Of course a CAPT (06) is higher than a LCDR (04) and would take over.

    Did Chaplain Koch know ahead of time? He only knew this man was a retired chaplain who was asked by the Superintendent to conduct worship services once a month.

    What is "would have seen the orders "pop" all over the place on any number of systems". Is that getting a call on a Friday from the Captain himself saying he was coming in on Tuesday full time? Is that "orders popping all over the place"? No one in the administration talked or notified the former Command Chaplain of this change. The first communication from the administration was the mass emailing and the notice on this forum on or after the Tuesday he arrived. That was done by the Chief of Staff notifying a person who writes on this forum, kpmom 2011, and asking her to put it on the Service Academy Forum. She was not aware that this was the Chaplain's notification from the administration.

    This blog is my personal initiative. Chaplain Koch is humble. If this had been about me I would not have written but when I see someone else treated in an uncaring way I feel I need to speak up. People cannot be walked all over.

    Many strings were pulled by the Superintendent to get this new man on board full time. He is a good friend of the Superintendent so I'm sure that's normally done. The new Command Chaplain will be the first to tell you, and told parents at Cookie Cafe, that the Superientendent wanted him here to be the watchdog for the Superintendent and keep an eye on everything so he can protect his boss. They do not want any scandals that will affect the position of the Superintendent. Neither do the rest of us want any scandals. So, he is in place keeping an eye on things and I am sure he will do a very thorough job of watching.

    Jasperdog, you took the avenue of people don't like change and this is what you believe the problem is. I like change. Kings Point has needed change and I hope that many things can be changed. Things can and will be done different ways as a new person comes in. That is good as long as it's done properly.

    All of these comments on the blog were missing the mark of what I was writing about. I go back to my simple message, it's not complicated, does not have to do with politics or anything. I am objecting to the way employees, and students are treated. This just happened to be an example. It may be a military situation, but I believe even in that climate things should be done decently and in order.

    BUT I care for the individual and do not think anyone should be walked over and not treated with respect or that they don't have feelings. The students need that too. Yes, there is low morale, but the reasons appear to me to be obvious.

    So, I got the thread moving, for two weeks no one responded. I do feel however, the success of this school turning around will not only be in new rules and regulations, but ALSO in developing a rapport, really listening, having respect and caring for the employees, professors, students, people working in administration, the man who empties the trash, and cleans the bathrooms. Everyone works better, studies better and feels they are a vital part of the team when they know they are recognized. listened to and appreciated. That is the kernel of my concern, and what I hoped to get across.
     
  11. kp2001

    kp2001 USMMA Alumnus

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    Wait, I am all confused. Nowhere in the original post does it say that the CAPT is retired. It says he was recalled to active duty in the past, but doesn't mention retirement. That piece of information could change quite a bit of my thoughts on how the process happened.


    As someone on active duty and in the position he is in he would have access (either directly or through the detailer) to a few systems. One being Bupers OnLine (Https://www.bol.navy.mil) and FLTMPS which shows incoming personnel to commands. "Popping" is a slang term we use meaning your orders show up for you to report to a new command.


    Sounds fairly reasonable to me. There are many times that a chaplain is the first person to get a "whiff" of things in a command. They have an open door to all members and are the only ones in the military who have true "confidentiality". Not even doctors have that in the military.

    Fair enough, but I think your characterization as "cowardly" has the connotation of much more malice than what likely happened here.


    The other issue is why parents and especially midshipmen (or anyone outside the chain of command) have become aware of the apparent feelings of those who are working in the chapel. Someone (can only speculate on who) has made it known that they don't like the way things were handled and instead of taking it up with the chain of command has gone to outside sources. That is unfortunate in my eyes: the command should always, always present a unified front. Even when you don't agree with something you keep it within your chain of command and "smile" for everyone else. If you don't you end up with stuff like what happened to General McChrystal in 'Rolling Stone'.

    Anyway, don't want to beat a dead horse too much, I agree with you that if things were handled the way it is represented here that it was poor at best.
     
  12. cookiecafemom

    cookiecafemom Member

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    time to finish this

    I wrote on the forum and got back alot of confusing interpretations about what I was saying. Then each time got the "experts" telling me what they thought I didn't know. Then things are added like someone wrote the word "coward" which was not my word. In the last thread it's a "fact" that I used that word, which I did not. It's not a good idea to write on the forum because things get turned around.

    There is no problem in the chapel team, everyone is united and working well together. My comments were not criticisms of any of them, it was that one of them was treated, in my opinion, without consideration.

    Anyway, I have said enough, I do not want anything else taken wrongly. It seems to me that it is a waste most of the time to write anything because there is a group of male attack dogs who seem to think they are the experts on everything, and must pontificate even if they really don't know what they are talking about. Sorry, guys, I'm frustrated right now by all your jumping to conclusions then giving advice on your false conclusions which are not what is happening at all. So, I say goodbye. Tomorrow we can be friends again and I will be in a better mood to put up with all your "expertise".
     
  13. cookiecafemom

    cookiecafemom Member

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    time to finish this

    I wrote on the forum and got back alot of confusing interpretations about what I was saying. Then each time got the "experts" telling me what they thought I didn't know. Then things are added like someone wrote the word "coward" which was not my word. In the last thread it's a "fact" that I used that word, which I did not. It's not a good idea to write on the forum because things get turned around.

    There is no problem in the chapel team, everyone is united and working well together. My comments were not criticisms of any of them, it was that one of them was treated, in my opinion, without consideration.

    Anyway, I have said enough, I do not want anything else taken wrongly. It seems to me that it is a waste most of the time to write anything because there is a group of male attack dogs who seem to think they are the experts on everything, and must pontificate even if they really don't know what they are talking about. Sorry, guys, I'm frustrated right now by all your jumping to conclusions then giving advice on your false conclusions which are not what is happening at all. So, I say goodbye. Tomorrow we can be friends again and I will be in a better mood to put up with all your "expertise".
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 19, 2011
  14. kp2001

    kp2001 USMMA Alumnus

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    Sorry you feel you are being attacked, definitely not my intent to make you (or anyone else feel that way).

    You are correct in that you did not call anyone a "coward", you did however say that the way it was handled was "unconscionable" and 1tallpoppy described it as "cowardly." Those are pretty harsh words and are direct reflections on the way some people feel that an Admiral handled a situation.

    I would not call myself an expert in much (or really anything for that matter); however, I do have a good idea on how military personnel issues happen since it happens to me on a regular basis.

    In the end all we have is one side of a story which portrayed the Academy in a negative light. I had my doubts about that portrayal and responded with issues that might not be realized by those who have never been in the military and simply perusing the boards.
     
  15. jasperdog

    jasperdog Member

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    I too am sorry if anyone feels I attacked them , however..

    First let me say I was not trying to attack anyone or their feelings or opinions here. Also I assure you I do not consider myself an expert, though as the saying goes I know what I know - and try to highlight where I am conveying information here that I believe to be factual and from reliable sources versus my own opinion. However, if you think my posts are arrogantly phrased because I consider myself an "expert" or that I pontificate, you may be better served if you stop reading this one now, I certainly don't want to waste anyone's time or offend them any further.

    That said, as KP2001 noted, I absolutely was, and will likely continue to be quick to defend my Alma Mater and it's administration in general, and RADM Greene in particular. I don't think either are perfect, no one can be, however, I am of the absolute belief that now, as much or more than ever, the credibility of those individuals is critical if we are to continue on a path that requires a higher level of Federal funding than we've seen up until these current budget cycles. Further, I along with many other Alumni campaigned very hard to get a Kings Pointer into the Superintendent's position. So even though there may have been better ways for LCDR Koch to hear about Capt. Bonnadonna's appointment, and additional details have been made known here relative to his past relationship with Admiral Greene, I still have no issue with his actual appointment. Also, frankly I'd guess there's some more to this than you all have shared to date, but I don't have nor do I expect even if I did have every morbid detail on this item, would have any issue with the new Superintendent wanting to have a trusted friend "in the foxhole" with him.

    Also on this topic, I just talked to a current midshipmen that I'm pretty close to and maybe a little reality check is due here. The reality is that regardless of the assignment of a new Protestant Chaplain - Capt. Bonnadonna - those midshipmen in LCDR Koch's "flock" will continue to go to him and not Capt. Bonnadonna - Catholics (like myself and the midshipmen I was talking to) go to priests and protestants go to their ministers, the cast majority of the time. As I understand it, and I don't have to say this but correct me if I'm wrong, the Protestant Chaplain had rotated out a short while ago so their was a need for one and that's the position that Capt. Bonnadonna filled.

    Finally, here's the reality as I was just told by the midshipmen in question. a) Only a small fraction of midshipmen go to services/mass weekly - Sunday being the only day they can really sleep in. I don't think that would change much if services/mass were held later in the day either - college students being college students, I'd be surprised that any Service on campus, save perhaps the Grotto at Notre Dame in South Bend, that Church attendance is all that much higher at most colleges. b) According to this particular midshipman he was one of the few midshipmen who read the notice when it was issued by the Chief of Staff. Further it wasn't until I mentioned it to him and he pulled it back up that he realized that the newly assigned Command Chaplain is a different Capt. Bonnadonna than the Capt. Bonnadonna he had ethics class with his plebe year.

    So perhaps we on this forum are reacting a little too fast and too hard about things that the midshipmen don't have especially high on their "worry lists."

    I promise this will be my last post on this thread, have a good evening/life.
     
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2011
  16. JBGILB

    JBGILB New Member

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    Perhaps cookiecafemom should stick to what she does best-baking cookies and serving milk to the midshipmen and offering them an afternoon of relaxation. Nothing more- anything else is outside the scope of what her responsibilities should be. The mids LOVE cookie cafe and all cookiecafemom does for them and probably aren't too concerned with the change in Chaplin- as a previous poster noted-they are college kids...church is not a high priority to most, not all, but most.
     
  17. bubbie

    bubbie New Member

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    an interested observer

    as an interested observer, and worker, in "cookie cafe", I think one of the very important things we have to think about is morale at Kings Point--both of the staff and students--and right now it is at a very low point, and there have to be ways that it can be improved--communication being just one of the ways.
     
  18. KP2013dramamama

    KP2013dramamama Member

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    "Watchdog" for what???

    I thought a Chaplain was supposed to be a SPIRITUAL GUIDE FOR THE MIDSHIPMEN, not a watchdog to keep an eye on everyting to protect his boss!! "They do not want any scandals that will affect the position of the Superintendent." I don't like the sounds of the statements . I am only reacting because of the choice of words used. Please correct me if I'm wrong. I'm sure I am not the only one on this forum who read it that way.
     
  19. kp2001

    kp2001 USMMA Alumnus

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    Since we don't have an actual transcript of the conversation that was mentioned it's tough to say how it was put. A chaplain has many roles in a military setting. One of the most important is the one you mention "spiritual guide"; however, it's not just for the midshipmen it's for everyone within the command - including the Supe. Some of the other roles they play in most commands include suicide prevention, mentoring, marriage counselor, mental health 'counselor', and as a staff officer in a command they act as a sounding board and confidant of the Command Leadership.

    In almost all instances the chaplains become a place where members can go to express concerns about various things and it is then the responsibility of the chaplain to scrub that of identifying information and pass it on to a CO when the issues involve things that affect the ability of the command to accomplish its mission.

    Having someone who can have a different "take" on situations and can at times be the first to get rumblings of problems a chaplain is a great person to act as a "keep my butt out of trouble" person. Just look at what happened to CAPT Honors, he likely could have used a chaplain that would have told him to knock it off.
     
  20. cookiecafemom

    cookiecafemom Member

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    My last words

    I wrote a note that I was concerned that a person had not been treated with respect in the way he was notified. That is simply it.

    Almost everything that was written later went off on tangents of things that I did not say. I have said nothing that is not open information. I did not critiicize the Superintendent, he may not even have been aware of the treatment. I did not criticize the new Command Chaplain. The Superintendent has every right to have a friend come on board to work alongside him. In fact this new Command Chaplain, with the Admiral's ear may be a great asset to the Chapel program. He probably will work out well, and we will be working closely with him, as we have had wonderful rapport working closely with the last 5 navy chaplains, both Catholic and Protestant.

    As I have so often repeated on this thread, this is only about how people are treated and respected, and how this affects the morale of the school.
     

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