Navy chaplain’s assistant wins Super Bowl tickets

Religious Programs Specialist Seaman Apprentice Ashlei Chwalek, was awarded two tickets to the Super Bowl for winning the blackout round of a Morale Welfare and Recreation sponsored Bingo game aboard USS John C. Stennis, Jan. 25. Stennis, a Tucson native, is currently undergoing an operational training period in preparation for future deployments. (U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Ignacio D. Perez)
Religious Programs Specialist Seaman Apprentice Ashlei Chwalek, was awarded two tickets to the Super Bowl for winning the blackout round of a Morale Welfare and Recreation sponsored Bingo game aboard USS John C. Stennis, Jan. 25. Stennis, a Tucson native, is currently undergoing an operational training period in preparation for future deployments. (U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Ignacio D. Perez)

A Tucson native and Navy seaman who doubles as a chaplain’s assistant/religious programs specialist, won tickets to Super Bowl XLIX in Glendale.

Ashlei Chwalek is a seaman apprentice after joining the Navy nearly two years ago. She earned a trip to the Super Bowl by winning the blackout round of a Morale Welfare and Recreation sponsored Bingo game on ship Jan. 25.

“To be able to represent my family, younger females and Stennis at the Super Bowl — at such a young age — is a nerve wracking and incredible experience,” Chwalek said in a press release. “This is a wonderful blessing to be able to take my dad to the Super Bowl, see my supportive family, and cheer on the Seahawks.”

From the faith perspective, the seaman apprentice made a good choice. Those members of the Seattle Seahawks team and staff who happen to be Catholic are rather faithful ones. They request a priest offer a pre-game Mass for them, even mid-week.

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Spiritan Father Phil Evanstock, a Scottsdale-based priest who often answers the call to say Mass for visiting NFL teams, was curious about their motivation. Daily Mass isn’t a requirement for Catholics.

“We feel that recognizing our faith is just a very natural part of our life, just like football,” team members told him.

Tending to a seaman’s emotional needs is a vital part of Chwalek’s work with Naval religious programs. They provide chaplains of all faith groups with the necessary support to conduct their ministry.

The seaman apprentice joined the Navy in an effort to do something more meaningful after high school. A family friend from the church where her dad worked at the time took her to the recruiting office.

“My dad was so involved in ministry and changing people’s lives, I had wanted to do something as meaningful as he has done,” Chwalek said.

A small percentage of the force is a religious program specialist and fewer still are female. Chwalek said she felt it was all part of God’s plan. She is the oldest of four girls and always wanted to lead and love the younger generation.

Chwalek hopes that through her career and personal life, that she can share a deeper and more meaningful story with other young females who need love, support and a good role model.