Michigan Pastor Inspired Parishes to Adopt Missions, Missioner
During Father Bob DeLand's 41 years as a priest in the Diocese of Saginaw (Mich.), he has always been very mission-minded and has always admired Glenmary. Since 1985, for example, he and several parishes he has pastored have chosen to support and assist Glenmary missions, missioners and ministries. And most recently, his current parish—St. Agnes in Freeland—has "adopted" Glenmary Father Aaron Wessman through the Adopt-A-Missioner program.
The Adopt-A-Mission and Adopt-A-Missioner programs match a mission or missioner with a parish, group, couple or individual who wants to provide ongoing support. This relationship involves mutual prayer, financial assistance, regular communication, and often an exchange of visits.
"I deeply appreciate the fact that dedicated Glenmary missioners are willing to go into poor U.S. counties that have no Catholic presence, establish the Catholic Church there, and work to serve all the people in need," says Father Bob.
"God keeps nudging me to support and do missionary work, and then I nudge my parishioners. As pastor, I tell them that since God has been good to us, we need to give back to the less fortunate. Partnering with Glenmary has been an eye-opening, meaningful experience for them."
Groups from his previous three adopting parishes visited their adopted missions to do service work. Another one of his parishes sent members to a Glenmary mission area to provide assistance even though it wasn't an adopter.
St. Agnes members and Father Aaron began their adoption relationship in July 2013. "We are blessed to be adopting him," says Father Bob. "He's a down-to-earth, pastoral priest who's doing wonderful work." Father Aaron was ordained in May 2012 and now serves as associate pastor of the Maynardville and Rutledge, Tenn., missions.
In addition to providing financial support, the parish also includes Father Aaron in its Prayer of the Faithful and prayers at various meetings. Likewise, Father Aaron includes St. Agnes in his daily prayers and Mass intentions. He and the parish also exchange weekly bulletins.
"And whenever I come across situations where lives have been changed because of Glenmary's presence," he says, "I give thanks for the people who make our ministry possible."
This past November, Father Aaron traveled to St. Agnes Parish to meet his adopters. He addressed them at all three weekend Masses, as well as talking and socializing with them at parish gatherings. He gave the parishioners insights on his missions and mission counties—and the people whose lives they've touched there. "Our parish members loved him," says Father Bob.
"I felt at home with them right away," Father Aaron says. "The Adopt-A-Missioner program is powerful because of its impact on a Glenmarian's life and ministry. We'll always share this bond of working together to build up the Kingdom."
Father Bob adds that "I have a deep love for the missions and for Glenmary. We just want to be as supportive as we can."
This article first appeared in the Spring 2014 Home Mission News newsletter.