Celebrating the First Oath of a New Brother

Brother David Henley, Glenmary vocation directorJune 2012

"‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.'"—1 Samuel 3:9

During Glenmary Home Missioners' annual General Assembly in June, we celebrated the First Oath Mass of Jason Muhlenkamp. Although Jason has been in formation with Glenmary for three years, he actually started to get to know the community earlier, when he served as a Glenmary Farm manager in Lewis County, Ky.

After he entered Glenmary's formation program, his first year consisted of living at Glenmary's House of Studies in St. Meinrad, Ind., and doing local outreach ministry, as well as taking religious studies classes at Brescia University in Owensboro, Ky. His second year of formation was spent serving as part of the pastoral team at Glenmary's Bertie County, N.C., mission.

His third year, which he just completed, was his novitiate. He spent half the year living at Glenmary Headquarters under the guidance of his novice directors, Father Dan Dorsey and Father Tom Kirkendoll. During this time, Jason was able to slow down and take the time to pray about his call to brotherhood and to Glenmary. He also spent a great deal of time in classes with his directors and many other Glenmarians, who helped him learn more about Glenmary history. The remaining part of his novitiate year was devoted to a second assignment at the Bertie County mission, where he gained a deeper understanding of team ministry and community living while staying involved in outreach ministry. Jason has approximately three more years of formation before his Final Oath.

A question that I'm asked very frequently by men who are discerning with us is, "How long is the formation process?" The answer varies, depending upon the individual and how much education he has prior to joining Glenmary. For a future brother, the process is usually between five and six years. The candidate generally spends one year getting to know us, a novitiate year and then three to four years of advanced studies. I entered into the formation program in 2001 and took my Final Oath in 2006.

Brother Jason is now residing in St. Meinrad, where the majority of our students live. And he has returned to Brescia University to take theology classes. A brother is required to take some theology and pastoral ministry courses while in formation. After First Oath, he may also begin to pursue studies in an area of specialization. Brother Levis Kuwa, for instance, is in his second year of nursing school. Towards the end of formation, a brother can also expect to take a Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) program and to learn Spanish. Glenmary brothers are prepared in all ways during formation so that they are able to serve the people of God living in Mission Land, USA.

Glenmary has a rich tradition of brothers who have served in many ways in the missions, beginning with Brother Vince Wilmes. For all of our 73 years of existence, Glenmary priests have outnumbered brothers. But, recently, the numbers have been about equally divided. Since 2003, current brothers who have taken Oaths include Brothers Craig Digmann, Levis Kuwa and Jason Muhlenkamp. Current priests and seminarians who have taken Oaths include Father Crispine Adongo, Father Aaron Wessman and Clive Otieno.

I don't believe Glenmary brothers will outnumber priests any time soon, but it is a great joy to celebrate the fact that more young men are pursuing the call to religious life and to be brothers to all by saying, "Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening."

If you would like to learn more about Glenmary brothers, view a short video on YouTube that highlights their life and ministry.