The Vocation of Glenmary Brotherhood

Posted: 1/13/2014

Brother Jack Henn, Second Vice PresidentGlenmary brothers serve a vital role in responding to the needs of those in Mission Land, USA. There are so many needs in Glenmary mission areas that can be met through their wholehearted dedication. Glenmary is blessed to have two brother candidates in its formation program, but more are needed.

I recently visited two of our Glenmary brothers serving at the Windsor, N.C., mission. Windsor is a poor, rural community in the eastern part of the state. The area around Windsor, located in Bertie County, is noted for growing peanuts. A successful family-owned business ships peanuts across the country to meet the needs of hungry consumers.

But peanuts don't feed the people of Bertie County. Hunger is an ongoing problem, and the people need food. Brother Curt Kedley and Brother Virgil Siefker minister at a local food pantry serving several hundred families each month. Their presence is essential for the food distribution and stocking, maintenance and upkeep at the ecumenical Good Shepherd Food Pantry.

Brother Curt and Brother Virg are known in the county as "the brothers." They receive phone calls throughout each day from county officials, parishioners, the poor, ministers, social workers and others looking for help. The brothers respond quickly and, if needed, enlist others to assist in meeting the needs.

Where do these two men's energy and motivation come from? It is based on a grounded, communal and personal prayer life. The brothers pray together each morning and evening and attend liturgy when available. Time is also set aside each day for quiet contemplative prayer. Their spirit of joy, unconditional love and service make them visible signs of God's presence.

Brother Curt is nearing retirement. Brother Virgil is in his mid-60s. Where are the brothers who will come to take their place? Where are the brothers who will come to give of themselves to others? Where are the brothers who will come with understanding and compassion to lend a hand to those in need? Where are the brothers who will come to begin other creative ventures to meet the material and spiritual needs of the people in Bertie County? Glenmary is blessed to have two brother candidates in its formation program, but more are needed.

Do you have an interest in social work, immigration issues, the prison system, the health care field, community development, spiritual enrichment, the frail and elderly, recreation and health education, youth ministry, evangelization, social justice, ecumenical dialogue, the poor and marginalized? The list of ways in which brothers can contribute is endless! Watch a video describing some of a brother's mission ministry.

Glenmary Home Missioners is a religious community of priests and brothers serving in poor, rural, unchurched, largely non-Catholic areas of the United States. The poverty level in Glenmary missions is almost double the national average. Approximately 40 percent of the people are not affiliated with an organized church. Catholics comprise fewer than 3 percent of the total population. The needs are abundant. The ministry is fulfilling. The challenges are many.

What better way to serve in America's mission field than to serve as a Glenmary missioner! By our presence, we bring a perspective of the Church and of brotherhood to people who may never have met a Catholic, let alone a religious brother.

Brother Jack is currently serving as Glenmary's second vice president. He is also the president of the national Religious Brothers Conference.