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Honoring Our Veterans: Fr. Milton D. Gianulis

In honor of Veterans Day, we are proud to feature an alumnus who has honored our country. Fr. Milton D. Gianulis, Captain, CHC, USN (Ret), served as a chaplain in the US Navy for 26 years. His personal awards include a Legion of Merit, three Meritorious Service Medals, a Joint Service Commendation Medal, three Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medals, the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, the Fleet Marine Force Service Medal, and two Humanitarian Service Medals.

By Fr. Milton D. Gianulis, BA '76, MDiv '80

As a military chaplain, my Orthodox faith was strongly tied to my identity and was key to my ministry in a non-Orthodox environment. Being well-grounded in Orthodox theology and praxis helped me with those I served and those with whom I served—fellow chaplains. My Orthodox faith not only informs me, but gives me the history, traditions, and theology to be a credible witness and even lead those of other faith groups. My course work on liturgical theology and dogmatic theology at Holy Cross were of the greatest benefit in my ministry after graduation. While serving in isolated areas, you need to be self-reliant and capable of delivering the sacraments and doing so properly. The military training necessary to serve as a chaplain was given by the Navy, while the education and training needed for the priesthood was from Hellenic College Holy Cross.

I initially graduated and served in parish ministry. That is where my heart was. While serving at Annunciation Church in Memphis, I learned from a recruiter something I did not know: I could be a reservist and not a “weekend warrior.” Chaplains do their reserve drills on days other than Sunday. So, on January 6, 1989, I was commissioned as a Lieutenant in the Chaplain Corps, United States Naval Reserve. Five years later, I acceded to active duty. 

A Navy chaplain serves to provide for those of his own faith in environments such as war zones, ships at sea, isolated duty stations, and elsewhere. This work also includes facilitating worship for those of other faith backgrounds, offers spiritual counseling for those of any or no faith background, and serves as a special adviser to the command, with direct access to the Commanding Officer.

I have served at two Training Commands: Recruit Training Command and The Basic School of the Marine Corps. I deployed to the war zone three times: on Carrier Air Wing Three aboard the USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75) in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom; on the USS Iwo Jima (LHD-7) in support of Operation Enduring Freedom; and as an augment to 1st Marine Division to Afghanistan. After 26 years, I completed my Navy career as the Command Chaplain for the Marine Corps Training and Education Command, supervising the Religious Ministry Teams for all Marine Corps boot camps, secondary schools, combat training centers, and the Marine Corps University.

On April 1, 2015, His Eminence Metropolitan Evangelos of New Jersey assigned me as the presiding priest of St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church in Williamsburg, VA. In addition to serving as the current parish priest, I enjoy spending time with my wife, the former Constance M. Manuel, and our four daughters, Stephania Charalambides, Dr. Elena Bruno, Marianthi Gianulis, and Jamie Agnew; and our four grandchildren. 

I grew as a person tremendously at Hellenic College Holy Cross, in the parish priesthood, and as a Navy chaplain. I feel I am continuing to grow now as a retired chaplain serving in a brand-new mission parish. 

I am proud of my alma mater. I received a good education at HCHC because I took advantage of the high quality of professors and environment. I hope that HCHC will promote the opportunity of military chaplaincy to current students as a wonderful way to serve Christ. Through service to Christ as a chaplain, I have returned to parish ministry a stronger priest and leader. I am a proponent of diverse ministries and would be happy to share this alternative to our graduates. I encourage young men who want a challenge to consider ordination and ministry as military chaplains and would welcome the opportunity to share more with current seminarians and graduates.