Lifelong Friend of Glenmary Continues Support

Posted: 11/11/2010

Don LucasWhen Don Lucas of Cincinnati thinks back on his 77 years, he says one of his most valued friendships has been with Glenmary Home Missioners. As Don sees it, Glenmary has made a major difference in his life and has been a wonderful example of service to others.

That's why he's been such a faithful supporter. "As you get older, you tend to narrow down your contributions," he says. "Glenmary has always been my favorite. They incorporate everything I respect and admire, and they represent everything I like about the Catholic Church. They have a special vitality in fulfilling their call to serve the poor, unchurched and socially disadvantaged."

In the 1980s, he began supporting Glenmary through the Boost-A-Month Club and included Glenmary in his will. He recently increased his bequest.

Don's first encounter with Glenmary came in 1946, when Father Raphael Sourd talked to the boys in Don's seventh-grade class at Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic School in Reading, Ohio, about Glenmary and vocations.

Don grew up in Reading—a small community near Cincinnati—wanting to be a priest. And he knew about the foreign missions. "But when Father Sourd painted a picture of Glenmary missioners bringing Catholicism to rural America, it really hit me."

The priest also invited the boys to visit the nearby Glenmary residence and seminary. So one Saturday that spring, Don and his buddy rode their bikes there. It was the first of many trips.

"My friend and I would play ball and we'd eat lunch with the priests and brothers. They were all so energetic and full of life. I'll never forget how kind they were."

Serving in the Navy after high school, he discerned a call to the priesthood again while working as a chaplain's assistant near the end of his enlistment. He joined the Franciscans, but as a seminarian he contacted Glenmary to ask about doing summer volunteer work.

That call resulted in his spending the summers of 1958 and 1959 in Dungannon, Va., along with another seminarian, working with Glenmary Father Pat Breheny at St. Patrick mission. "Father Pat was one in a million, a very saintly priest," says Don. "He was always busy working with the poor people in the mountains. He helped anyone who needed it, not just Catholics. And he was loved by those he served. It was extremely uplifting for us to work with him." (Father Pat died in 1984.)

The seminarians handled a wide range of other jobs for Father Pat, too. Don says the most meaningful one might have been taking a local religion census and trying to locate Catholics. Another was helping set up Glenmary's "preaching trailer" in the nearby hills, where Glenmarians could talk and preach to the people.

When Don had a chance to make a stop in Dungannon this past summer, a half-century later, he quickly took the opportunity. By coincidence or divine providence, he says, an older parishioner named Darius arrived and let Don into St. Patrick Church, where memories came flooding back. Darius also told Don that Father Pat was the person responsible for his conversion to Catholicism. "It was wonderful to be there again," Don says.

Don eventually left the seminary, attended college, and began a junior-high teaching career that spanned 25 years. After retiring, he entered the travel/tourism business and now co-owns a travel agency. He has always kept up with Glenmary, reading "every word" of Glenmary Challenge magazine.

At his stage of life, he says, "Glenmary means more to me than ever. On my journey to—I hope—a heavenly reward, Glenmary offers me an avenue to do good while I'm here on earth. Besides my other gifts, I contribute to Glenmary to have Masses said for my deceased family members.

"Thank you, Glenmary, for being my friend for the last 64 years. It is truly comforting to have you around."

This article originally appeared in the Winter 2010 issue of Planning Ahead.