WASHINGTON – Louis Iasiello retired as the 23rd Chief of Naval Chaplains on June 23. At a “Change of Office” ceremony attended by over 600 people at the Washington Navy Yard, Lou was acknowledged for his many years of service to the U.S. Navy. John O’Connor was among the dozen friars who witnessed the ceremony.
Lou was first commissioned as a Navy Chaplain Lieutenant (Junior Grade) in the Naval Reserves in 1981. He was called to active duty in 1983. During the following years, Lou served around the world and in different conflicts. After being promoted to admiral, Lou was the first Chaplain Corps flag officer to be appointed both Deputy Chief of Navy Chaplains and Chaplain of the U.S. Marine Corps. The Senate confirmed his presidential appointment as Chief of Navy Chaplains in July 2003.
At the ceremony, Lou said, “I give praise and thanks to Almighty God for allowing me to minister side-by-side, sharing my faith and companionship with my fellow chaplains. This common ministry became for me a sign of God’s work, and prayer of our ministry together.”
The Change of Office ceremony is an adaptation of the Navy’s Change of Command ceremony, which is a formal ritual where total responsibility, authority and accountability is transferred from one commanding officer to the next before the assembled company of the command. The Change of Office ceremony represents the passing of responsibility, accountability and care of the Chaplain Corps from one chaplain to the next.
Many people in the Armed Forces tend to see the habit as the Franciscan uniform. At the reception following the ceremony, one of the guests asked Lou how he liked going back to the old uniform. Lou answered without hesitation, “The old brown uniform is the only one that counts.”
Lou will start his next assignment as president of the Washington Theological Union in July.