We Glenmarians share our gifts in many different ways with those we serve in the missions. And our connections with the people we meet are what give us life.
In Danville and Waldron, Ark., Father Neil Pezzulo serves two mission parishes separated by 45 miles. On Saturdays his schedule is almost always filled with baptisms, weddings, reconciliation services and more. On Sundays much of his time is spent celebrating Masses in the two missions—two in Spanish and one in English.
Despite driving an hour each way between the missions, Father Neil finds time before, between and after Masses to visit with folks in each community. The rest of his week is devoted to following up with people who came to him during the weekend with needs, visiting families in their homes, or working with local community groups on regional economic development issues.
Brother Curt Kedley of Glenmary's Bertie County, N.C, mission has a different type of schedule. But he, too, has learned that being with the people is the key. In the mission areas where he has served, Brother Curt has worked in a variety of jobs that have put him in close contact with those living in the area and oftentimes with individuals who are not Catholic.
He is currently working at the local nursing home as a sanitary engineer. Brother Curt has found that taking on the jobs of cleaning floors, carrying out the trash or performing other maintenance tasks is really a tremendous way to evangelize in this mission area. In his job he meets all the patients, he often gets to know their families when they come for visits, and he can stop in to pray and share with them and the staff.
During the week, Brother Curt also takes the time to visit other churches in the county, pray with the communities and be a Catholic witness. Oftentimes, some of the people he meets have never known a Catholic.
This month at our Cincinnati Headquarters, we celebrated Glenmary Father Frank Schenk's 95th birthday. He is the first Glenmarian to reach this milestone. Father Frank has dedicated most of his life to serving the people of God in the missions—in North Carolina, Oklahoma, Georgia and Kentucky. Among other accomplishments, he was one of the first Glenmarians to study Spanish in Mexico in order to better serve the growing immigrant community in the missions.
Father Frank now lives at Glenmary Headquarters but continues to share his talents with the community. He still grinds his own flour to make homemade bread a couple of times a week for other Glenmarians to enjoy. Although he is no longer able to live in the missions (he has lived at Headquarters for five years), Father Frank stays connected to the people he once served through letters received by his former parishioners.
All of us have gifts we can share. Some of them you might recongize, and others you might discover during your formation and time in the missions. All of our gifts can be used to serve the people of God and to witness our Catholic faith in the rural and small-town missions of the United States. The Glenmary Constitution states: "Our specific task as ‘home missioners' is to provide missionary field ministries in rural areas and small towns of the United States where the Church is not fully and effectively present..."
If you feel called to serve and offer your gifts to the home missions like Father Neil, Brother Curt and Father Frank, contact us for more information. If you are unsure and would like to visit one of the mission areas with me or on your own, please get in touch with us and we can make the arrangements.