A Christmas Message to Our Glenmary Partners


As Christmas draws nearer, I am reminded of the significance of gifts – many of which are intangible. This summer and fall, I had the opportunity to visit many parishes through the country and share Glenmary’s unique story. As I have said time and again, Glenmary is the best kept secret of the Catholic Church. Our precious ministry is the greatest gift we can offer the communities we serve. In return, it is a joy and a blessing to see those parishes and parishioners thriving years after our missioners have left. 

This summer, Julie McElmurry shared her story in the Glenmary Challenge. Growing up in a rural and impoverished area of North Carolina, her family would have been starved of a Catholic presence if it weren’t for the good work of Glenmary. Julie’s faith was shaped and deepened by her interactions with the Glenmarians assigned to her mission church in Cherokee, N.C. Her family grew close with the priests and brothers who served there, and Julie’s relationship with Glenmary eventually motivated her to pursue a career as a lay minister. With your help, Glenmary’s year-round presence encouraged a young woman to nourish her God-given talents for the greater glory of His Church.

Thanks to gifts like yours stories like Julie’s are possible. Your help empowers youth like Julie to discover their calling and to carry the Glenmary spirit to new locations. Your generosity allows Glenmary to foster and nurture the Catholic community in rural, and often impoverished areas where Catholics often have no spiritual home and many have no church affiliation at all. Your support enables us to form fundamental relationships with people in the counties we serve. Whether it is partnerships with local churches or programs developed with local agencies, these relationships help strengthen the struggling communities where Glenmary serves.

As a child, Julie learned that church is not simply a place to go on Sunday. It is more than just a building or a place that hosts catechism classes. Her Catholicism became a part of her identity. After college, she joined the Jesuit Volunteer Corp, where she served the needy in Hartford, Conn. She parlayed that experience into a career in ministry, working as a campus minister and offering retreats and workshops through her company, Franciscan Passages. Now, she is an author, motivational speaker and filmmaker.

For Julie, the church was a family. The priests were present at holidays and birthdays and helped her family in times of emotional and financial distress. Her fellow parishioners were her support system, understanding the struggle of being Catholic in an area where the faith was scarce and poorly received. Those people were Julie’s greatest gift as a child. They encouraged and embraced her even when she felt like an outsider.

Bringing a Catholic presence to a new community is not just about providing a physical structure for the people to worship. It is about providing current Catholics a sense of acceptance and spreading God’s love to those longing for His peace. Without your support, we could not reach small communities like Cherokee, N.C., or inspire children like Julie to follow God’s call to ministry. We flourish by virtue of our donor base, and a gift from you would ensure that our ministry’s gifts keep on giving.

I pray that you and your loved ones will have a happy and holy Christmas! As you gather together with family and friends, know that I am grateful every day for the gift of your partnership.


P.S. As you read above, Glenmary’s presence can help children grow to love the Lord, but the people we serve have immediate material needs too. Our ministries feed the hungry, give winter clothing to those without and help struggling families provide gifts for their children. We couldn’t do any of it without you. Please consider a gift to support the home mission need.