Brother Jason Muhlenkamp
On May 23, 2015, Brother Jason Muhlenkamp of Maria Stein, Ohio, and Brother Levis Kuwa professed their Final Oaths to Glenmary Home Missioners at a special Mass. In doing so, each made a lifelong commitment—after several years in formation—to serve the neglected people in Glenmary's home mission areas.
Brother Jason, 41, had spent the last year completing coursework for his second bachelor’s degree (in social work) at Brescia University, Owensboro, Ky., as well as an internship with Catholic Charities in the Diocese of Evansville, Ind. In addition, he completed a clinical pastoral education program at a hospital in Huntington, W.Va. “The CPE program helped me learn how to provide hope and healing in crisis situations in people’s lives,” he says.
He has gained invaluable experience in a range of mission ministries during his formation. His first full-time mission assignment was made by Glenmary’s newly elected Executive Council in June 2015: beginning in late July, he will be serving as missionary brother to the region served by the Blakely and Cuthbert, Ga., missions and residing at Holy Family mission in Blakely. A Spanish immersion program is also in Jason’s future, to help prepare him for ministry to Latino communities.
Jason is the oldest of four children in his family and is originally from Maria Stein, Ohio. He attended the University of Toledo for three years and was later employed as a warehouse worker and account representative. "But I felt a desire to serve God and other people, and I had to decide on the best way," he says.
So he signed up with the Catholic Volunteer Network. And his search eventually led him to Glenmary Farm in Kentucky, the original site of Glenmary's Group Volunteer Program. Farm director Joe Grosek offered Jason a job as a Farm manager, a volunteer who gives up a year of his or her life to do God's work in Lewis County, Ky.—one of the most impoverished counties in the state—by coordinating student volunteers in community service and acting as a liaison between the community and Farm volunteers.
It was there that that he discerned God was calling him to join Glenmary.
An article about Glenmary brotherhood in the Glenmary Challenge magazine opened his eyes to what his call could be. As he discerned this call, he realized the rural and home mission aspects of Glenmary's work strongly appealed to him. And when he had a chance to meet and talk with Glenmary priests and brothers—especially Brother Dennis Craig and Father Larry Goulding—"their witness, missioners' hearts, and desire-to-serve attitude were great inspirations to me," says Jason.
What he liked most about Glenmary was its openness in allowing members to develop their gifts, the opportunity for creativity in ministry, and the support of coworkers and the Glenmary community.
After completing his Glenmary orientation in 2009, he began studies at Brescia two days a week, taking courses in Faith and Justice and the Old Testament. "School is going well but it's a big adjustment," he said then. In his remaining time, he also did prison ministry, volunteered at a nursing home, and taught seventh-grade religious education. Once his academic year was over in the spring of 2010, he began a one-year assignment working at Glenmary's Windsor, N.C., mission (Holy Spirit mission) and getting involved in a variety of social outreach ministries. Because of floods that struck the area, one ministry was working with parishioners to assist affected mission members and their neighbors in need.
His novitiate year began on July 1, 2011. He spent two months at the Cincinnati novitiate house studying about Glenmary's founder, its mission and spirituality, and related topics. Then he returned to Bertie County to gain a deeper understanding of team ministry and community living while staying active in outreach work. According to Brother Curt Kedley, then a member of the pastoral team there, "Jason is fearless in what he says yes to, faithful to his commitments, and very generous. He has radar for finding and helping people in need."
Finally, Jason moved back to the novitiate house on March 1, 2012, where he studied and reflected on the Glenmary Oath and its Constitution and Directory in preparation for his First Oath in June.
On June 8, 2012, he professed his First Oath and became Brother Jason, a Glenmary brother in training—the first step in a three-year period of temporary profession culminating in his Final Oath.
That summer, he lived at the House of Studies and took classes at a community college while doing prison ministry and working at a local soup kitchen. Then he continued as a student at Brescia University during the 2012-13 school year, tentatively working toward his bachelor's in theology with emphasis on pastoral ministry—as well as ministering to prisoners and working in faith formation at a local parish.
On June 5, 2013, Brother Jason renewed his Glenmary Oath for the first time at Glenmary's General Assembly. Afterwards, he spent the summer ministering at Glenmary's mission in Lafayette, Tenn. He returned to Glenmary's House of Studies in fall 2013 to continue his academic work toward a bachelor's degree in theology with emphasis on pastoral ministry at Brescia University in Owensboro, Ky.—while again performing prison ministry and volunteering at Habitat for Humanity Restore. He received that bachelor's degree in May 2014.
On May 22, 2014, he renewed his Glenmary Oath a second time at Our Lady of the Fields Chapel at Glenmary's Cincinnati Headquarters. "It was very meaningful to me because it represented my recommitment to Glenmary," he says. The ensuing year led up to his Final Oath in May 2015.
For the future, Jason looks forward to using the skills he has learned in formation, bringing the Gospel message to people in home mission areas, being present for them, and walking with them on their faith journeys. "I would very much like to continue doing social outreach ministry as a brother," he adds. "I've been very blessed with great Glenmary role models and mentors."
Read more about Jason:
- Man Takes First Oath and Becomes Glenmary Brother
- Reflections on the Journey to First Oath
- Building Community in Bertie County, N.C.
- Thankful Convert Inspired to Give Back to Glenmary and Community
- After Disasters, Glenmary Missions' Care for Neighbors Is a Constant
- Tornadoes Hit Bertie County, N.C.: Glenmary Mission Joins in Recovery Effort
- On-the-Job Training
- North Carolina Mission Responds With Help After Flood Hits Bertie County Home