Reflecting on the Journey to Glenmary Priesthood

Posted: 4/13/2011

Crispine AdongoBy Crispine Adongo, Glenmary Seminarian

After almost six years with Glenmary, I and two classmates will profess Final Oath May 28. It’s a perfect time to reflect on my journey.

August 31, 2005, was a big day, my first in the United States. I finally landed in Chicago after a 20-hour plane ride from my home in Kenya to my new home with Glenmary.

I had grown up Catholic in a big farming community in western Kenya. I decided early I wanted to be a missionary priest, partly because of our Comboni missionary pastor from Italy. I wanted to give back the same way he did.

After graduating from seminary high school in 1997, I worked for a while before pursuing my dream. I majored in philosophy at a Jesuit college and graduated in 2004. Then I worked as a religious education teacher and counselor.

I learned about Glenmary from another student and later from Glenmary Father Steve Pawelk. Glenmary appealed to me as a missionary group in another country that serves in rural areas. I was very happy when they accepted me.

Once I reached Chicago, I headed to Glenmary’s prenovice house in Hartford, Ky. Thank God for the warm welcome the directors and students gave me. The students were from diverse cultures, but we liked each other and learned, prayed and had fun together. We worked in outreach ministries and took some college classes. I got to know many people in my new home.

The novitiate starting the next year was wonderful. We lived in a house on the Ursuline sisters’ campus in Owensboro, Ky. Our Glenmary program directors’ classes were a blessing in my spiritual journey. So were the friendship and encouraging ministry stories of the retired sisters. Sister Rosemarita was my spiritual director and helped me tremendously in my spiritual life and adjustment to American culture.

I spent my second novitiate year at the Idabel, Okla., mission, testing the waters. It was a challenge being in this small town and being the only black mission member. I met very nice people who helped me get to know my way around. My mentor, Father Chet, did a really good job helping me learn how to be a mission pastor.

The next year, 2009, I started studying theology at St. Meinrad Seminary in Indiana. It has been a great experience. Getting to know many diocesan seminarians has been challenging and enriching. I’m also the prefect for 44 international students from 15 countries; we’ve learned a great deal from each other.

Last summer I completed my Clinical Pastoral Education at a hospital in Waco, Texas. It changed my view of life. It was challenging visiting cancer patients and families, being at deathbeds, and working in the emergency room. But my hope was always rekindled on the maternity floor; I loved seeing the newborn babies.

Every day of formation has been a learning experience. I want to thank all of Glenmary’s benefactors. And I’ll be very grateful if some Glenmary supporters “adopt” me while I finish my last year at seminary and start my mission work. I don’t know what my future holds, but I know God holds it. I envision being pastor of a diverse mission community with a common purpose: to bring God’s love to all the people.

This article first appeared in the Spring 2011 Home Mission News.