Christina Fadden spent 23 years working to further Glenmary's mission and ministry
By Margaret Gabriel
While the heart of Glenmary's ministry is the priests, brothers and coworkers who serve the missions, the backbone could well be folks like Christina Fadden. Chris worked at Glenmary's Cincinnati Headquarters for 23 years, retiring last year as coordinator of Glenmary's Mission Education and Ministry Office.
Although Chris' job title changed several times during her years with Glenmary, her task remained consistent: creating greater awareness of Glenmary's home mission ministry in the South and Appalachia.
When she was looking for work outside her home 23 years ago, Chris, a mother of five, had never heard of Glenmary, but her neighbor suggested she might enjoy working for the society.
When she called to inquire, Chris learned there was a position available that matched, "almost to a T," the skills she had gained in her previous work experience at a nonprofit that matched children to sponsors. Both jobs required attention to detail and a sense of compassion. "It was like the job was made for me," Chris says. "I knew I could do it. I wasn't even nervous when I interviewed."
Chris' efforts to increase awareness of and support for the missions included managing Glenmary's Adopt-A-Mission program, which pairs Glenmary missions with parishes across the country that help the missions through prayer, financial support and encouragement; applying for and then scheduling speakers for mission appeal presentations in dioceses nationwide; "and writing letters-lots and lots of letters!" Chris says.
A large part of Chris' time was spent scheduling Glenmary priests, brothers and coworkers to fill mission appeal presentations. "If someone had to cancel, I had to find people to fill in at the last minute," Chris says. "That was nerve-wracking, but it always worked out. I would pray and think and by golly, the answer always came!"
Most of Chris' letter-writing involved answering questions about Glenmary's work in the mission areas of the United States and responding to requests for prayers and special intentions.
"The thing I liked the most was getting to know the missioners," Chris says of her years with Glenmary. "The care they show the people in the missions is inspirational."
About three years ago, Chris and her husband of 45 years, Bob, bought their retirement home in Blanchester, Ohio, about an hour's drive from Cincinnati. She set aside the first six months of her retirement as a "sabbatical," with no special plans except enjoying a leisurely pace each day and the opportunity to read some good books-and spend time with her seven grandchildren.
As that period of relaxation and reflection ends, Chris plans to become involved in ministry at her parish and in the food pantry that serves Blanchester.
Three of Chris' five children live nearby, one lives in North Carolina and another in Montana, where Chris and Bob plan to visit in late June of this year. One of her daughters is involved in community-sponsored agriculture and in the spring Chris plans to help with that project as well as plant a large garden herself.
Reflecting on her years with Glenmary, Chris says she really enjoyed her work. "Spiritually and professionally, Glenmary gave me a lot of opportunity for growth."
This article originally appeared in the Spring 2011 Glenmary Challenge.