Appeals Give Glenmary Opportunity to Share Its Story
Once again in 2013, U.S. diocesan Propagation of the Faith offices sponsored the annual Missionary Cooperation Plan (MCP), which includes parish appeals by Glenmary and other missionary organizations. Father Don Tranel says that "Glenmary is very grateful for the opportunity to increase people's awareness of our ministry and ask for help."
This year, 17 Glenmarians and lay coworkers made appeals during weekend Masses at 67 parishes and four associated missions in 23 dioceses. In their presentations, missioners like Father Don, a member of the Development Office staff, and Father Neil Pezzulo, first vice president, shared insights based on their home mission experiences.
The primary reasons for these appeals are to educate Catholics about U.S. mission needs and to request prayers and financial support. "It's very beneficial for us to tell Glenmary's story to parishioners around the country," says Father Neil. "Without our supporters' generosity, Glenmary's work just wouldn't be possible. And their prayers and support for vocations are just as critical."
Father Don adds that "we're also giving parishioners the chance to respond to their baptismal call to be missionaries."
For his first 24 years of missionary priesthood (1988-2012), Father Don pastored missions in five states. In his appeals, using a map as his visual, he gives brief, vivid snapshots of his and other missioners' experiences.
He focuses on missioners entering a poor U.S. rural county with no Catholic church, building up a Catholic community, and reaching out to the larger community. He talks about the many churches Glenmary has established—and the approximately 350 counties that still have no Catholic church or resident pastoral minister.
"Who is going to keep sharing our Catholic faith," he asks, "in poor, neglected regions of our country where fewer than 3 percent are Catholic? That's Glenmary's ministry."
He then promises parishioners two things: "I tell them that Glenmary will be a good steward with their donations and that Glenmarians will always embrace sweat equity. Missioners' hands are made for both chalices and calluses."
Father Neil served as an associate pastor and pastor in Arkansas missions for 12 years (1999-2011) before his term on Glenmary's leadership team. One key component of his appeals is "telling a good, brief story that puts a human face on the people we serve."
His story is usually focused on a non-Catholic to help illustrate that a Glenmary priest is pastor of the whole county, sharing the faith with all the people and reaching out to everyone in need. For example, the majority of urgent requests he received for hospital visits were from non-Catholics.
Like Father Don, Father Neil also explains to parishioners the bigger picture of Glenmary's home mission ministry. And he emphasizes the importance of vocations for the future.
Both priests express their gratitude to the people and receive many thanks in return. As Father Neil says, "Appeals are a wonderful vehicle to involve Catholic parishes in supporting and spreading the news about our work."
Parishes wishing to host Glenmary for future appeals can contact their diocesan mission offices.
This article first appeared in the Autumn 2013 Home Mission News newsletter.