National Chaplains Page

At the 140th National Encampment in St. Louis, Missouri, Brother Jerome W. Kowalski, National Chaplain Emeritus, from the Department of Illinois, was again appointed to be the Order’s National Chaplain by Commander-in-Chief Michael A. Paquette.

Chaplain Kowalski’s Bio was written by his wife, Sr JoEllen Kowalski, Chaplain of the Mary Ann Bickerdyke Auxiliary #2 in Aurora, Illinois


Jerome, my husband for 54 years, was born and raised on the Northside of Chicago, IL.  He became a Christian at his Baptism and has remained one ever since.   He attended Divine Word Seminary in Wisconsin,  Massachusetts and New York, and graduated with degrees in Philosophy and English, with minors in Theology and Speech from De Paul University.   He taught Humanities in a parochial high school, asked me to marry him, and became an Insurance staff man for a large multi-line Company.  He has been involved in the Insurance business ever since.  We had two children and moved from Chicago to Elmhurst, Il, and are still living in the same home for 52 years.  Our daughter, Maryellen lovingly still lives with us – making life much more enjoyable.  Jerome delights in gardening and cooking.


We were members of the Lyric Opera until we stumbled across a Living History event at Woodhaven Lakes in Sublett, IL.  Jerome had always been interested in the Civil War, and was reading about it from the first grade to the present time.  He was given a book about Major General George Henry Thomas by Boy Scout Troop 74, where he had been Committee Chairman for 30 years, during which time our son William Derek became an Eagle Scout.  The two of them attended many Camp Outs, Jamborees, Scout Projects and Meetings.  My husband also joined the Kiwanis Club of Elmhurst – and became their President as well as the Lt. Governor of Division 9 of Illinois.   He is a Past President of the very first Civil War Round Table – The Chicago CWRT.   He joined the Chamber of Commerce in Elmhurst and went through the ranks and became Vice President.  He joined the Elmhurst Historical Society and was on the Board of Directors for 15 years.  He was also on the Board of Directors for his Alumni Society.  Some 25 years ago he began re-creating the persona of Major General George Henry Thomas, volunteering to narrate skirmishes and battles between Union and Confederate living historians.  Prior to the Pandemic he spoke to about 25,000 people at Libraries, Civil War Round Tables, Senior Citizen Homes, Scout Troops and Reenactments.  He also served on the Board of Directors for numerous events, and was chairman of a number of them.


He was asked to join the SUVCW by Rev. Richard Hausman and after saying “no” for many years – finally said “YES.”  He was initiated at a January Banquet, and attended his first meeting at the GAR Hall in Aurora, IL.  The late Dan Hans asked what he would like to do in the Camp – my husband replied that the only position he was qualified for was that of Chaplain, but the Camp already had a wonderful Chaplain in Richard Hausman.  Commander Hans informed Jerome that Brother Hausman was in Hospice and would have to be replaced.  That evening my husband called Chaplain Hausman, and asked for permission to come and visit him the next day.  Richard said “yes”.   When Jerome arrived – the hospice room was painted white, the sheets were white, and Richard’s hair was white. The Chaplain for Camps One, Two and the Dept. of Illinois laid his hands on my husband’s head and prayed that he would bring people to Christ, and have fun doing it.  He fell back onto the bed and passed away later that evening.  Jerome picked up where Reverend Hausman left off.


PCinC Steven Michaels asked him to be National Chaplain and sixteen other PCinCs  followed suit, the most recent being CinC Michael Paquette.

Jerome initiated the Sunday Morning Church service at the National Encampment, Gettysburg and Springfield.  He began the Chaplain’s Handbook at the request of PCinC Pahl, and also the Chaplain’s Corner and the Final Muster.  He missed one Encampment because he volunteered to be the 24/7 caregiver for a Chicago Police Sgt – Steven Stewart – who was a Past Camp Commander, and continued living for another year with his wife and 2year old daughter.  At the funeral, the little girl kept running up to the coffin, jumping on the kneeler and saying, “Daddy, get up. There are people here to see you.”   My husband is also the National Chaplain for the Sons of Veterans Reserve with the rank of Major, and the Chaplain for the 4th Military District, for Chicago Light Artillery Battery L – SVR,


 He has attended and participated in numerous funerals and memorial services, and spends a great deal of time preparing for them. He has conducted the Sunday Morning Church Service as a Circuit Rider at Galena Methodist Church – General U.S. Grant’s place of worship for 15 years annually.  He has conducted funeral services in Episcopal, Lutheran, Methodist and Jewish places of worship. Both of us pray daily for the women and men of the Allied Orders and their families.  We sang for 20 years in a Church Choir in Hinsdale, Il – but the Pandemic has put a halt on that.    He considers the position of National Chaplain of the SUVCW as one of the greatest blessings that the Almighty has bestowed upon him after serving 14 of the previous 15 years as National Chaplain, he was granted the title “National Chaplain Emeritus” by a unanimous vote of the National Encampment.


In Fraternity, Charity and Loyalty

Chaplain Jo Ellen Kowalski


Important Ceremonies
Dedication of a Headstone
Dedication of a Memorial
Dignified Flag Disposal Ceremony

Chaplain Handbook
Grand Army of the Republic and Masonic Ritual