Transitions and New Beginnings
By the middle of June, Glenmary will have elected a new president and Executive Council, and my two consecutive terms (the most allowed by our Glenmary Constitution) as president of Glenmary will have come to an end.
As I've reflected on my eight years as president, I believe the following are the three most significant areas that have impacted Glenmary:
A Growing Vocation Program. In June 2003 Glenmary had four men in formation. Today we have 17. The highlight of my tenure as Glenmary president will be on May 28, 2011, when Crispine Adongo, Brother Craig Digmann and Aaron Wessman take their Final Oath to Glenmary and our home mission apostolate. Later this summer, Crispine and Aaron will be ordained to the transitional diaconate. Brother Craig will soon be assigned to a mission by the new Executive Council. And I will soon become Glenmary's new novice director!
A Renewed Vision for Mission. After a Sunday Mass last February at St. Francis of Assisi in Logan, W.Va.—a mission we will return to the care of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston in June—a parishioner approached me and said he hated to see Glenmary leave, thanked me for Father Tom Charters' ministry and then said, "But you made a good decision to leave. Glenmary needs to be starting churches!"
In one sentence this parishioner captured the essence of Glenmary's charism and its missionary vision that follows in the footsteps of the greatest missionary, St. Paul.
For the past four years Glenmary's Mission Planning Committee, made up of Glenmary members and coworkers working closely with the Executive Council, has envisioned what our mission ministry will look like over the next five to 10 years and has created a corresponding mission plan.
This summer we will implement the first phase of that plan when we open new missions and ministries in three counties in the Diocese of Knoxville, Tenn., areas where there has never been a Catholic Church presence.'
A Response to the Sexual Abuse Crisis. In June 2003 the impact and repercussions of the sexual abuse crisis within the Catholic Church were being felt. As painful and heart-wrenching as this issue has been for me-and all Catholics-I feel it was also a call to conversion for Glenmary and an opportunity for hope and healing. As a result, Glenmary has responded to the call for more accountability and transparency in how to protect children, handle allegations of sexual abuse and reach out to victims by:
Revisiting and Implementing Policies. Although Glenmary has had policies on sexual misconduct in place since 1988, the policies have been revised to reflect the current national standard for those who work with minors. Glenmary's "Policies for Maintaining Ethical Ministry with Minors and Vulnerable Adults" were finalized and put into effect on Aug. 15, 2004.
Creating a Review Board. The Glenmary Review Board examines any accusation of sexual misconduct with a minor by a Glenmary priest or brother. Its responsibilities include annually reviewing Glenmary's policies and procedures; annually reviewing the restricted living plan of any member removed from ministry; and making necessary suggestions to the Glenmary Executive Council.
Facilitating Ongoing Member Education. Over the past eight years, Glenmarians have gathered as a whole and in smaller groups for ongoing education on maintaining ethical ministry with minors.
Applying for and Receiving Accreditation. In December 2005 and again in March 2010, Glenmary received accreditation from Praesidium, a national leader in abuse risk management. Receiving accreditation means that Glenmary is in compliance with the highest national standards for protecting children.
Today, Glenmary continues its commitment to conversion, working to maintain ethical ministry with minors and ensuring that no minor shall ever be put at risk.
I want to repeat one last time as Glenmary's president: Our mission efforts could not go forward and would not exist without the generosity and prayers of our donors. On behalf of all Glenmarians, our coworkers and those we serve: thank you, thank you, thank you!
This column originally appeared in the Summer 2011 Glenmary Challenge.