One Size Fits All? Not With Glenmary

Brother David Henley, Glenmary vocation directorJanuary 2013

"There was never a time when missionary activity was more needed in our beloved land than it is today."—Father William Howard Bishop

Father William Howard Bishop, the founder of Glenmary Home Missioners, wrote those words in a Glenmary vocation pamphlet more than 60 years ago. And it was that same idea which led him to start a new missionary society in 1939, dedicated to serving exclusively in mission areas of the United States. Since that time, Glenmary has established over 100 missions in rural U.S. counties, and currently, missioners serve in eight different dioceses.

If Glenmary priests and brothers had not established and/or nurtured the only Catholic church in each of those counties, most of them would probably not have Catholic churches today. But the work is not finished. Mission Land, USA—encompassing areas in the South and Appalachia with high mission need—still exists, and Glenmary needs more men to serve with us in order to help us bring the Good News to counties that still do not have Catholic churches.

Recently Glenmary opened new mission territory in Tennessee. We now have five priests, three brothers and two students serving in five Tennessee mission counties. In January, a Glenmary priest will become pastor in two new mission counties in southwest Georgia—the first Glenmary priest to serve in that area of the state.

Glenmary priests and brothers are excited that we are continuing the dream of Father Bishop. Our priests and brothers enjoy being true missioners, in the sense that Glenmarians are most often the first Catholic ministers to reach out to the people in their counties, are the only Catholic ministers serving in those counties, and are often the first whom many local folks have met in person.

The joy a Glenmarian finds in being a mission brother or the excitement he experiences in being the first Catholic priest to establish a permanent Catholic presence in a mission county is what makes Glenmary different from other religious communities. It is a unique call.

How do you know if you are called to be a missioner? Prayer, reflection, asking questions, and visiting missions are good ways to start your search for answers. Glenmarians are not a "one size fits all" group. Missioners come in all shapes and sizes and from a variety of backgrounds! If you are feeling like you might be called to share in the dream of being a missioner in this country, then you need to take the next step.

The discernment begins by contacting our office, and may include participating in one of our many Come & See retreats, experiencing life in a mission for an extended trip. The time is now. "Jesus said, ‘No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the kingdom of God.'" (Luke 9:62)

Glenmary's vocation office offers Come & See retreats throughout the year. Our next one will take place in late January. If you are discerning whether or not to enter this coming year and would like to schedule an additional trip, please contact our office with the times that you are available. Most men apply in the spring to enter the formation program, and then they are ready to begin formation in August. If you contact us now at 513-881-7410, we can schedule an interview and begin walking with you as you discern your vocation as a Glenmary missioner.