Glenmary Needs Vocations Like Mars Needs Moms

Brother David HenleyApril 2011

Mars Needs Moms is the title of a popular movie in theaters right now. The basic plot is that creatures on Mars do not feel they are capable or worthy enough to raise their own children, and therefore they have to steal moms from Earth so that they can learn to raise their children the correct way.

If we were to adapt the title for a new Glenmary movie, I think it would be The United States Needs Missioners.

But with so many needs in the world today, it is hard to know where to begin. Japan needs nuclear scientists. Libya needs democratic leaders. Afghanistan needs peacemakers. Appalachia needs less mountaintop removal. Mexico needs less drug violence. The Ivory Coast needs food to combat hunger. The European Catholic Church needs new evangelization. The world needs renewable energy. And the list could go on and on. So where to begin?

Glenmary's founder, Father William Howard Bishop, saw many great needs in his time, particularly in the United States. Drawing a map of "No Priest Land USA," he showed that there were over 1,000 counties in the United States that had no resident priest and therefore no Catholic Church or access to the sacraments. Using his map, he attempted to enlighten the Church about the enormous needs in the home missions and to encourage the sending of missioners to serve in the vast area and work for the conversion of America.

Because the need was so large, Father Bishop realized that a new religious community dedicated to this task was needed, although he did not necessarily intend to found a new religious community himself. In his plan on how to serve mission needs in the United States, published in 1936, he stated, "This writer hopes with the greatest eagerness that hands abler and more worthier than his own may be found to put it into execution." But as with many great men dedicated to the service of God and the Church, God called him to found Glenmary Home Missioners, and he faithfully followed through in 1939.

More than 70 years later, the mission needs in the United States are still overwhelming. There are over 300 counties in just the southern region of the United Stattes where the Catholic Church is not effectively present. In the coming years, Glenmary plans to open new missions in some of these areas. Yet there are still more missions than there are missioners. The United States Needs Missioners.

This is Holy Week, which means Glenmary priests and brothers will be working overtime throughout our missions. Most Glenmarians serve in two or three mission parishes. And with the extra Holy Week and Easter services, Glenmarians like Father Don Tranel and Brother Jack Henn will have to travel over 100 miles round trip between mission parishes on a daily basis.

Glenmary Needs More Men to serve in the great mission field here in the United States—men willing to sacrifice and dedicated to the conversion of America to the Church. Sometimes we may feel, like Father Bishop, that we are unworthy of the call or that others may be more able. But God calls us all, even with our weaknesses, and with God we can accomplish many great things in Mission Land, USA.