If you are looking for sermon illustrations, teaching scenarios, or enjoy life stories of chaplains in combat environments, Our Padre is a must read. The first reason it is a must read is from a deployment perspective. Father Kilian Dreiling served primarily with the 92nd Evacuation Hospital during WWII in the Pacific theater. He experienced the war and all its hardships, to include the landing in New Guinea and the liberation of the Philippine Islands. However, even after the Japanese surrender, Father Dreiling would deploy yet again, but this time to Europe. Though the hostilities of combad had ceased, Father Dreiling answered again the call of his country. Being fluent in English and German, Fr. Dreiling was hand chosen by the War Department to hear the confessions of the German prison guards at Dachau. His experiences are many, but one such congregant known as the Beast of Dachau, needed a great deal of ministry and an entire chapter of the book. The Beast of Dachau, was the wife of the prison camp commander, and what made ministry to her so difficult proved also to challenge Fr. Dreiling’s call and generated a great deal of prayer as the good chaplain had to grant her forgiveness even though her sins were so many and so heinous. Like so many chaplains, Fr. Dreiling performed ministry in a variety of ways. Battle fatigue, unit reunions, redeployment briefs are all covered in this book. A noteworthy experience for Fr. Dreiling was the counseling performed. Long before we knew the signs, symptoms and medical jargon, Fr. Dreiling dealt with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PSTD). His personal nightmares and those of the soldiers he counseled make this an excellent read for how our chaplains dealt with PSTD long before we had the training to deal with such issues. Other noteworthy experiences of Fr. Dreiling include his assistance in acting as the mediator for the settling of the Von Trapp Family Estate (made famous from the movie, Sound of Music. As the WWII generation continues to fade away, books like Fr. Dreiling will continue to flood our market. However, this one is well worth the time spent reading it.
Chaplain (LTC) David Hann, US Army Chaplain Center & School
I finished your book on Fr. Dreiling and it was excellent. You did a great job integrating his words and reflections with your own. You did a lot of super research. Rare is a book that combines history and faith in such a powerful way. It definitely left me wanting more and gave me renewed respect for what American soldiers have done to safeguard our freedoms!
Our Padre is both a biographical portrait of a courageous and inspirational U.S. Army Chaplain during WW II, and a compilation of his most inspiring and heartwarming short stories. While most Americans have never heard of Fr. Kilian Dreiling, he was a true 20th century hero to thousands of American GI’s who fought during General MacArthur’s Pacific Campaigns, and to thousands more whose lives he touched during his 90 year lifespan. One of Fr. Kilian’s many gifts was his ability to capture the most significant events of his amazing life in concise, moving, yet entertaining stories. Fr. Kilian’s humor, wisdom and his keen understanding of human nature make these fascinating stories come to life, as he allows the reader to experience emotions triggered both by the horrors of war and the selfless acts of courage and compassion that he witnessed. These stories include fascinating accounts of the confession of a notorious Nazi war criminal, the liberation of over 500 American POW’s from the infamous Japanese Camp Cabanatuan and many more. Our Padre is an engaging and compelling story of the life of one of America’s greatest warriors, who never fired a shot in anger. Fr. Kilian Dreiling instead, utilized more powerful weapons like love, compassion, courage and a deep conviction to the cause of freedom and to his faith. His true enemies were not Japanese or German soldiers. Rather, Fr. Kilian’s foe was the darker side of human nature, which manifests itself through many different forms including ignorance, intolerance, selfishness and greed. Both uplifting and engaging, Our Padre is a great read for students of history or anyone seeking relief from the barrage of negative news stories that litter our modern world.
This is really a great story about life in World War II for a Catholic priest, but it is more than that it is a truly interesting story about life. I heard about the book because my uncle served in the 92nd Evac Hospital Unit so I was interested in this, but I really enjoyed the story. I was so happy that a search on Amazon allowed me to access the book at a great price. I was very satisfied
Fr. Dreiling was an amazing Catholic Priest and long time friend of our family. Joe does a excellent job of capturing the essence of the man. From humble beginnings to a man loved by many.
(Joe’s youngest Brother)