Uniqueness of Missions Seen Through Visits

Posted: 7/10/2013

As associate vocation director, my job requires a lot of travel. I travel to visit prospective students or to attend vocation fairs or conventions where I hope to meet young men who may be interested in religious life with Glenmary.

However, sometimes my travel allows me to visit Glenmary missions and this is what I enjoy most. After all, it is good to have a sense of what the missions are like when I talk to men who are considering going to live and work in mission areas!

Recently, I had the opportunity to visit Glenmary's missions in North Carolina and my visit helped me realize that it is nearly impossible to define a "typical" Glenmary mission. Every mission I visit has it's own distinct demographics, obstacles and culture. But, if I had a checklist of things that you can find in every Glenmary mission, it would include the following three things: rural, poor and very few Catholics.

When I try to think of what all of this means for me as I try to find more men that God is sending to serve in these missions, I am convinced that there is room in Glenmary's home mission ministry for men with varying personalities and diverse gifts!

When I began work for Glenmary and got to know all the different Glenmary priests and brothers, I noticed that there really are a lot of differences in personality and talents. Some missioners are very calm and laid back. Others are more intense about the work that is at hand. Some are scholarly. Others are more pastoral. Some are introverted while others are extroverts. Some are good with technology. Some are good carpenters and builders. Some are skilled in nursing, counseling, translating or prison ministry.

Glenmary needs these different personalities and skills to serve in mission settings, which can be so incredibly varied.

In Bertie County, N.C., for example, nearly half of the county's population is made up of those living in a nearby prison. Because of this large prison population, there is a great need for prison chaplains. Some are more comfortable serving in that ministry than others.

Another large percentage of the population is made up of Filipino immigrants who serve as teachers in the Bertie County schools. These Catholic immigrants attend Mass in Windsor, home to Glenmary's Catholic Community of Bertie County mission. In nearby Washington County, a large Hispanic population fills St. Joan of Arc mission each Sunday for Mass, with many coming from several counties away.

In terms of geography, Glenmary's missions are also very diverse. They range from parts of the South (sometimes referred to as the Bible Belt) to the central Appalachian Mountain areas. And with the North Carolina missions, we almost reach out to the Atlantic Ocean. To address the cultural differences in each of our mission areas, I'd need to write another column!

So, as you can see, there are many opportunities for men with differing personalities, differing gifts and differing ideas to serve people living in geographic and culturally diverse mission areas. God made us each unique because he intends for us to thrive by using our gifts and talents to meet unique situations.

Are you being called to serve and thrive in home mission ministry? If you would like to find out more, please contact us today and schedule a visit.