How Far-Reaching Is the Impact You Can Have on Others?

Posted: 7/11/2014

Pat McEntee, associate vocation directorI was scrolling through my Facebook posts recently before going to bed and came across a post from a man who was a student of mine during my days as a college campus minister. This student had gone on to be a parish youth minister after college, and his post indicated that one of his students during that time had gone on to make a positive impact in her college's Catholic community.

My first instinct was pride—partly a sense of pride that I must have done a good enough job in helping my student to become a young man who continued to develop his faith and share it with others in a way that inspired them to do the same. My second thought was that it seemed a bit arrogant to assume that it was because of me that my student and his student were making great strides in promoting the Catholic faith and impacting the lives of other people. Finally, I realized that the Holy Spirit's stirring in me had helped stir the Holy Spirit in others. That's the kind of impact I believe we are called to make on others in this life.

Glenmary's impact is much the same. This society is a group of men who have chosen to follow the path God has laid out for them in the mission areas of the United States. In doing so, each and every Glenmary priest and brother can lay claim to changing the lives of countless people. Why are they countless? It's because the direct impact Glenmarians have made on individuals (which may be difficult enough to count) carries over, in turn, to the persons that those individuals impact. Still, no missioners want to take credit for the impact they have made on others. Instead, they defer that credit to the one who sent them. The Holy Spirit leads all of us—and the impact we make, with the Holy Spirit's help, carries forward.

That is why Glenmarians are so committed to a life of prayer. Without talking to God and listening for the response, they would not know where to go and what to do in order to have the positive impact that is desperately needed.

A tremendous example of the ripple effects that Glenmary can and does have in the United States is Bishop Joseph E. Strickland of the Diocese of Tyler, Texas. He is a former member of a Glenmary mission, and the faith that was stirred in him in that Atlanta, Texas, mission helped him on his way to being a priest and now a bishop. The far-reaching effects of Glenmary can be seen in the lives that Bishop Strickland continues to impact daily.

Perhaps on a smaller scale, each year Glenmary missions grow larger through their RCIA programs. More people are introduced to Catholicism at Glenmary mission parishes and perhaps, along the way, dispel misconceptions they had about the Catholic faith. Through missioners' and mission members' outreach efforts in mission areas, interactions between Catholics and non-Catholics continue to result in greater mutual understanding. And more individuals are fed, clothed and sheltered as a direct result of the work of Glenmary priests, brothers, coworkers and parishioners. The impact is not always visible or measurable, but it is always there, and the ripple effects of that impact are the true work of the Holy Spirit.

Having reflected on the impact I've made through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, I ask you to consider the impact you've made by following the path God has set before you. Now think about the impact you could make as a Glenmary Home Missioner. Are the gifts you have been given suited for this ministry? To see for yourself, contact us to arrange a visit to Glenmary missions.