Daniel Kettinger, a US Navy lieutenant stationed in Bahrain, is one of the newest members of the St. Dominic Legacy Society, a company of men and women who have united their legacy with that of the Dominican Order for the preaching of the Gospel.
How did you meet the Dominican Friars?
My friend became a Dominican; he’s Fr. Vincent Ferrer Bagan now. I would go see him when he was a brother at the Dominican House of Studies. We had some good conversations and camaraderie, just hanging out. I’m a bit more hot headed than him, but I would always leave feeling at peace and benefiting from his clarity.
What is life like as a practicing Catholic in the armed forces?
I think the military in general is better than the mainstream of American culture. However I would say it tends to trend with the general culture, for good or for ill. The military is not a great inculcator of virtue overall. You have to come in already holding it close to your bosom, because there are times where you’re not going to have the Sacraments, like when you’re at sea, or under the sea.
Having been raised in a Catholic home, and then experiencing the stridently secular environment of a deployed military unit, it drives home the fact that I was given something good and valuable that I shouldn’t take for granted.
Why did you choose to remember the Dominicans in your will?
If my time comes early, and my state in life remains what it is, there is nowhere I’d rather it go. I don’t think it could do any greater good. The public space for religious expression is under pressure. It’s tending towards contraction right now. That’s why I love the Dominicans: because they’re an organized counter-attack against that. They’re pushing against the tide and into the public space to bring the saving message of the Gospel to people who have not heard it, or who have heard distorted versions of it, and need it more than they know.