Reflections on the Journey to First Oath

Posted: 4/2/2012

Novice Jason Muhlenkamp with friends and fellow mission members from the Bertie County, N.C., mission on the last Sunday of his novitiate mission assignment in the county.

By Jason Muhlenkamp
Glenmary Novice

On June 8 I will profess my First Oath, becoming a Glenmary member and a brother in training. As I prepare for that day, I've been reflecting on my Glenmary journey with real gratitude and thanksgiving.

About four years ago, I was working for a company in my hometown,  but I was also hearing a different call. So I contacted the Catholic Volunteer Network and soon took a volunteer job as a Glenmary Farm manager. My goal was to serve God and other people while discerning his call in my life. Later on, I felt a call to Glenmary—and after praying, talking to the vocation director and other Glenmarians, and going on a retreat, I applied and was accepted as a Glenmary student in 2009.

I've been very blessed during my formation with great Glenmary directors, role models and mentors, especially Brother Curt Kedley. I am so thankful to all of them. Formation started with the two-year prenovitiate, which helped me grow closer to God and continue my discernment. The first year I attended classes at Brescia University in Owensboro, Ky., as well as Glenmary classes about its history and way of life. I spent my second year at Glenmary's Bertie County, N.C., mission as part of the pastoral team. During that time, I had the privilege to be present and share the Good News with many people in the county—through visiting a local prison, nursing homes and people's homes; working at a food pantry, adult day care center and pregnancy care center; helping with the YMCA youth basketball program and clean-up efforts after natural disasters; and attending services at local churches.

I entered the novitiate year on July 1, 2011. It has truly been a gift for growing in holiness. The periods of solitude have allowed me to tune in and listen to the whisper of God.

There have been three phases in my novitiate: First, I spent two months at the Cincinnati novitiate house studying about Glenmary's founder, its mission and spirituality, and related topics. Second, I returned to the Bertie County mission for six months to learn more about team ministry and living in community. I began this phase with a more reflective and contemplative approach, and my experience reinforced my desire and zeal to be a Glenmary missioner. And third, I came back to the novitiate house on March 1, 2012, where I've been examining and reflecting on the Glenmary Oath—which includes the practices of poverty, obedience, celibacy and prayer—and Glenmary's Constitution and Directory. I've also been doing ministry for the St. Vincent De Paul Society.

My First Oath is a major step on my pilgrimage. I'll dedicate myself before God, for one year, to the Glenmary missionary apostolate and way of life, and I then can renew my Oath three times before taking my Final Oath.

After my First Oath, I will continue working towards my degree in pastoral ministry, which will help me be the best possible missioner I can be.

This article appears in the Spring 2012 Home Mission News.