SACRAMENTO — There’s no rest for the weary amongst the California National Guard’s religious leaders, not while their flock of Soldiers and Airmen are dispersed throughout the state tending to COVID-19 humanitarian efforts.
Yes, they’re the good shepherds, striving to maintain religious values of all Cal Guardsmen. Be it a personal session, a video message on social media, or a special service for the multitudes, Maj. Saul Castillo, chaplain, and Sgt. Maj. Desmond D. Knight, noncommissioned officer chief of religious affairs, are around-the-clock servants vying to get their messages of hope and positive faith out to the masses. Their positive religious voices run deep, deeper than any virus can penetrate.
“Now, more than, ever, because of the times that we’re living in,” said Castillo, after hosting a special Easter Sunday dedication April 13. “A day like today when we can commemorate the resurrection of Christ, it is a message of hope. There is hope for us even in our most dire moments. When things seem most bleak, our concerns are most elevated. It is a message of hope and that’s what I hope people take from this day.”
The religious pair actively is engaged in keeping faith intact as everyone goes through the COVID-19 crisis. This day, they converted an often-used conference room into a place of worship and invited a building full of people to their gathering. Few came, but even the few bring numbers.
“Here we are, we are celebrating the day,” Castillo told his flock. “Let’s not make light of this (small) gathering here. God makes it clear when two or three are gathered in His name, there His glory is also. The Lord is just as prevalent and powerfully present here as He would be in a cathedral full of people praising His name.”
“Today is Easter Sunday when we come together and celebrate the resurrection of Christ,” said Knight. “We do this to never forget.”
No one expected the circumstances we’re all engulfed in, Castillo explained. And that’s why he sees himself actively responsive to the troops’ needs.
“We have a lord and savior in Jesus Christ, who cares about what happens to us on a personal and individual level,” said Castillo. “We’re going to continue passing out our message of hope.”
More than 600 Cal Army Guardsmen unite with 300-plus Air Guardsmen and 120-plus from the California State Guard to assist the entire state of California. Cal Guardsmen continue assisting food banks and medical facilities. To date, the Guardsmen have assisted with more than 4 million meals packed and delivered to the community.