Arkansas Mission Member 'Adopts' Glenmary Brother

Posted: 7/19/2011

Brother Craig DigmannBrother Craig Digmann was one of three men who professed Final Oath to Glenmary on May 28, 2011. He also received a special surprise to top off his day: his friend Irene Haan of Waldron, Ark., traveled to Cincinnati with fellow Glenmary mission members to witness the Oath ceremony—and to tell him she was adopting him through Glenmary's Adopt-a-Missioner Program.

"It was totally unexpected," Brother Craig says. "It's a great blessing for Glenmary and me and an example of Irene putting her faith into action. I'm just really thankful to her." The two got to know each other in 2007-08 during his one-year mission placement in Waldron.

The Spring 2011 issue of this newsletter highlighted the adoption program and featured four Glenmary men—and potential adoptees—talking about its value. One was Brother Craig.

Irene read the story on the Glenmary Web site. "The Spirit must have led me [to the Web site]. The first thing that came up was the Adopt-a-Missioner article, and Brother Craig was quoted. It was like a light went on. ‘I can do this,' I thought. I can't go and be a missioner, but this is a way I can help. So I contacted Glenmary."

As Allison Barrett, coordinator of the Mission Education and Ministry Office, pointed out in that article, the program matches a missioner with an individual, couple, group or parish who want to support his work.

"It invites people to answer their baptismal missionary calls by pledging mutual prayer, financial support and regular communication," she said. "The program is a personal relationship that benefits the missioner and the adopters."

Irene, 70, was a "cradle Catholic" who had fallen away from the Church for many years before she talked to the Waldron mission's then-pastor Father Neil Pezzulo. He then heard her confession and welcomed her back. "Father Neil is my hero," she says. "I don't know where I'd be in my spiritual life without him. I'm forever indebted to Glenmary and especially to him."

Irene says that "the Adopt-a-Missioner Program is the best way for me to give back for all I've gotten from Glenmary and the Church. It's a privilege to be part of Glenmary and the missionary effort." She is also active as a volunteer catechist and lead cantor at Sunday Mass.

Both Irene and her husband, Dennis, became good friends with Brother Craig while he was in Waldron. "We began talking because we both attended weekday Masses," Irene says. "I think he's really good with people and good at what he does. He's also a very kind, humble person. It will be nice to keep in touch with him through the adoption and get updates about his work."

Brother Craig, whose first full-time assignment will be in a new mission area (see story, this page), sees the adoption relationship as an opportunity for growth on both sides. "It's a chance for us to support one another. Personally, knowing there's someone praying for, supporting and believing in Glenmary and me this much gives me even more inspiration to do my mission work."

For details on the Adopt-a-Missioner Program, contact Allison at or 800-935-0975.

This article originally appeared in the Summer 2011 Home Mission News.