Glenmary Group Volunteer Program Offers Mission Trips for Catholic Parish Groups
For any parish thinking of organizing a parish mission trip—or for a diocesan office that wants to recommend a good parish mission trip opportunity—the Glenmary Group Volunteer Program may be the answer.
In addition to hosting high school-age, college-age, and adult volunteer groups, the Glenmary program also hosts multigenerational volunteer groups at its two Appalachian sites—Lewis County, Ky., and the new second location in Grainger County, Tenn.
Joe Grosek, director of Glenmary's Volunteer Office, says all parishes are welcome, most especially those parishes that help support Glenmary's home mission ministry. "Our parish partners have made a special commitment to helping support Glenmary, and their generosity makes it possible for Glenmary to continue its work," he says. "So we want to welcome and encourage them to come and actively participate in Glenmary's missionary outreach."
The mission immersion experiences at Glenmary's sites provide opportunities for parishioners to do service work, strengthen their faith, and bond as a parish community.
As one example, members of a Rhode Island multigenerational group, ages 15-65, spent a week at the Kentucky site in February and continue to talk enthusiastically about their "life-changing" trip. Organized by then-high school student Eliza DeCubellis with help from her parents and trip mentor Father Matt Glover, the group included them, friends and relatives. The majority were Catholic and a large number were from Christ the King Parish in Kingston.
After their return, Eliza was invited to speak about the experience at a large Christ the King gathering, and fellow participants added testimonials. Now the parish is eagerly making plans to organize its own future parish mission trips, with the Glenmary site as a prime option.
"As a Catholic priest I put the emphasis on faith," says Father Glover, Catholic Center director at the University of Rhode Island who assists at Christ the King. "The starting point on our trip was service, which is what bonded our diverse group together. Glenmary's ministry is the heart of the Gospel—in Jesus' words, ‘Whatever you do for the least of my brothers, you do for me.'
"The trip expanded our horizons through serving others and sharing our reflections with each other. It helped us recognize how blessed we are and how we are called to service at home. Seeing and hearing how people's lives were changed was the most rewarding aspect for me. I also saw Glenmary's missionary spirit alive in the Farm managers and Father Dave Glockner."
Eliza adds that "we became a family. Our service had an impact on those we helped, and the trip had a powerful impact on each of us."
Her father, John DeCubellis, says "our group of 20 was so diverse in age and stations of life, but we came together as equals. And the people in Lewis County gave back so much more to us than we could ever give to them."
For additional information on volunteering with Glenmary, contact Joe Grosek.
This article first appeared in the Summer 2013 Home Mission News.