Courtesy photo: Airman 1st Class Randi Rickards
Capt. Eusebia Rios of Cannon Air Force Base takes aim during a dodgeball game.
By Janet Taylor-Birkey: Freedom Newspapers
Capt. Eusebia Rios can often be seen at squadron briefings, but she’s just as likely to be avoiding a fast speeding ball in a friendly game of dodgeball at the gym.
Rios, who is based at Cannon Air Force Base, serves as Chaplain at the Cannon Chapel. Rios, is one of only 30 active duty female chaplains in the Air Force.
Rios said she has not let being a woman become the hallmark of her career or ministry, but instead, a love for others and an enthusiasm for her work drive her.
“I can’t get enough of the Air Force and of the people in blue. I cannot even begin to describe the love and the passion that I have,” Rios said. “(Being a chaplain) is an awesome, awesome opportunity that if you love the armed forces, if you love the Air Force and you want to serve a higher calling, this is the best place for it.”
“Chappy” said living out passions is one of the greatest things about being a chaplain, giving the opportunity to show, live and function in the passion of the heart. For her, this may mean praying with someone in a foxhole or encouraging them while in the desert, and always remembering that she is a “visible reminder of the holy.”
While there are challenges to being a woman in the military chaplaincy, said Rios, there are also advantages, as sometimes women request a female chaplain. But whoever needs her, she is there with confidence, a drive to minister and a message of “I love you. You are important to this Air Force and you’re not alone. I want to walk with you. Not behind you, not in front of you, but with you.”
Her message is also her life’s purpose.
“I know within my being that I was born for this moment in time: I was born to be here,” said Rios. “If today was my last day on earth, I would be in the center of all my joy and happiness because of what I’m doing.”
Some of that joy comes from working with, what she calls, the greatest chaplaincy team in the Air Force. “I think the variety of personalities that are in the chaplaincy [here] encourages the variety of people in our communities to come to chapel,” Rios said.
This variety of personalities represents diversity in denominations, but it makes no difference to her. “I don’t reserves my hugs and my love. I am reaching out to all. I don’t pick and choose.”
While Rios is firmly planted in her own beliefs, she takes into account that her audience usually represents many faiths, or none at all, and she wants them to know they are loved and accepted as they are.
“As a chaplain, I am here to facilitate their constitutional right to worship and also to preserve their right not to worship,” said Rios. “Whatever spiritual tag [Airmen] have … I want them to know that my love is for all. I want people – whatever their spiritual faith – to be strong in that.”