Colorado Springs Military Newspaper Group

Peterson Space Observer

Retired chaplain dishes up traditional Italian cooking to Team Pete Airmen, families

By Staff Sgt. J. Aaron Breeden

21st Space Wing Public Affairs

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo.    Growing up in St. Louis, Father David Voelker was raised in a family where his mother dished out delicious home-cooking, instilling in him a love of food.

This culinary adoration has remained with Voelker, now retired, and is a passion he shares with Peterson families in the form of a free monthly spaghetti dinner at the base chapel.

Prior to joining the Air Force in 1990, Voelker taught high school theology and later became a priest in Bellville, Ill. Voelker served on active duty for 20 years before retiring to Colorado Springs in 2010.

Voelker said he was first introduced to the spaghetti dinner concept while stationed in the Azores during the Gulf War from 1992-’93. The base chapel there provided spaghetti dinners to Airmen stopping over for fuel as it was the one meal they couldn’t get at the dining facility.

After retiring, Voelker was asked by then 21st Space Wing Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Timothy Porter, to bring the spaghetti dinner tradition to Peterson, which is now in its third year.

Voelker said learning to cook was a necessity considering his priesthood obligation of celibacy.

“I like to cook and I like to eat,” he said. “As kids we acquired a taste for good food.”

Fortunately for Voelker, and the families of Team Pete, he has perfected his recipes over the years, including his homemade pasta sauce.

“There’s no real secret,” said Voelker. “It’s a traditional Bolognese sauce with fresh herbs and spices, much like you’d find in any Italian home kitchen.”

In addition to the spaghetti, homemade desserts such as cookies, cakes and pies are also provided.

“The spaghetti is good and it’s really nice especially when your husband’s working all the time and you do not have to worry about cooking dinner,” said Renee Brucke. “You don’t have to worry about doing dishes, and can just enjoy the conversation and company.”

Although most patrons are families, the spaghetti dinners are open to anyone with base access who would like to attend. The dinners are scheduled for 5 p.m. the second Thursday of each month. For more information about the spaghetti dinners, contact the base chapel at 556-4442.

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