Glenmary 2017 in review

Posted: 12/28/2017

When historians look back on 2017, there will be much to somberly discuss. In the archives of Glenmary, though, 2017 was a year with much to celebrate.

This year, supporters contributed more than $2 million, allowing Glenmary to continue ministering to the spiritually and materially poor in rural Appalachia and the South. Those gifts allowed missioners and volunteers to repair homes, distribute food, and sometimes, just be present for those in need. Moreover, they allowed the continued operation of missions that provide Mass and the sacraments to people in areas that otherwise wouldn’t have access.

"My greatest and most important lesson I learned in the missions was that everything and everyone is holy," Glenmary first vice president Father Neil Pezzulo said. "The people of the missions we've served have taught me that our presence matters. Even now, the mission work continues. The need renews itself every year in the faces and places we affectionately call the missions." 

A list of all the good Glenmary accomplished through donor support and God's grace would be too long, even for cyberspace. With that in mind, here's a look back at some key moments for Glenmary in 2017.

Two missions break ground on new churches

On Sept. 2, St. Teresa of Kolkata Catholic Church in Union County, Tenn., broke ground on a new church building.

When Glenmary founded that parish in 2011, the first Mass was a "bring-your-own-chair" affair attended by 26 people and held in a carport. In the years since, the mission moved into a storefront. Now, with more than 135 families registered, St. Teresa is expanding.

Knoxville Bishop Richard F. Stika, the mayor of Union County and Glenmary first vice president Father Neil Pezzulo were among the dignitaries in attendance at the groundbreaking, as well as a large crowd from the mission. The groundbreaking preceded St. Teresa's annual summer festival, held on the grounds where the new church will be built.

St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Church in Unicoi County, Tenn., just made the cut for inclusion on the 2017 list with a late-year groundbreaking on Dec. 15. Two local mayors and other dignitaries, as well as several members of the parish, attended. While a typical groundbreaking allows just a few VIPs to turn dirt with a shovel, St. Michael the Archangel parishioners were encouraged to bring their own shovels, and more than a dozen took a stab at the cold ground.

Expect a story on the growth of these and other Glenmary missions in the Spring edition of Glenmary Challenge magazine.

Three make first oath, two renew

Three men made their First Oath in a June 8 Mass at Glenmary's annual Assembly in Charleston, W.Va. Jose Carlos Miguel Lopez, Samuel Mungai and Kenneth Wandera dedicated themselves to "the missionary apostolate in the rural areas and small towns of the United States and to the Glenmary way of life." All three are preparing for missionary priesthood.

In May, Charles Aketch from Kisumu, Kenya, and Richard Toboso from Kakamega, Kenya, professed their Third temporary Oaths in separate ceremonies. Both are studying for the priesthood and will be eligible to profess their Final Oath in 2018.

Vocations update

The Glenmary Vocations Department hosted 10 Come and See events in 2017, with 24 young men attending. Three new students entered into the Glenmary Formation program, and three students were accepted into the novitiate.

In Remembrance

Three Glenmarians went on to their eternal reward in 2017.

Brother Terry O'Rourke, Brother Bob Hoffman, and Father Richard Kreimer all passed away.

Brother Terry was 82 when he died on March 10. He was a Glenmary missioner for 58 years. Brother Bob passed away at 89 on March 17. He served with Glenmary for more than 60 years. Both men are remembered for their tireless service to the Brother's Building Crew, among other ministries.

Father Richard died Dec. 15, just a week after his 80th birthday, clocking 60 years of service to Glenmary. Father Richard spent his early years as Brother Roger, and he was ordained a priest in 1979.

Awards Abound

Glenmary Challenge magazine won honorable mention for Magazine of the Year - Mission Magazine (Overseas and Home) at the 2017 Catholic Press Association awards in June.

Glenmary's Director of Catholic-Evangelical relations Frank Lesko won first place for Best Personality Profile on a Religious Leader for his piece on Brother Curt Kedley. Father John S. Rausch (A vision for the future of Appalachia) and Brother David Henley (Waiting for the church to come) earned second place and honorable mention respectively for Best Essay Originating with A Magazine or Newsletter, Mission Magazine.

Glenmary Challenge Editor John Stegeman earned two awards in the newspaper category from his time at The Catholic Telegraph, the Archdiocese of Cincinnati's monthly newspaper.

Home Mission Stories blog launched, grows

Launched in April, the Home Mission Stories blog became a place to share unique stories about Glenmary that didn't fit into traditional publications.

Starting with just 99 readers in April, the blog's peak month of July saw nearly 1,000 views. The blog's most popular post was "Pilgrimage to a church I never knew," posted on July 10.

Glenmary welcomed new employees in 2017

Several long-time employees said goodbye to Glenmary in 2017, but new co-workers have come on board.

Jamie Rickett - Assistant to the Treasurer/Chief Administrator
Rachel Thome - Office Projects Coordinator
Joe Richter - Building and Grounds Worker
Samantha Graham - Accounting Clerk - Part-Time
Cassie Magnotta - Graphic Designer-Print & Electronic Media
Donna Turchi - Assistant to Volunteer Director

Want more? Check out 2016 in Review too!