Glenmary Visits The Fest in Cleveland
Gathering together thousands of people to celebrate the Catholic faith seems like a large undertaking. Finding ways to engage and inspire that many different people of all ages, races, cultures and backgrounds seems downright impossible.
The Fest in Cleveland (August 3) tries to do just that year after year. The primary attraction is a main stage that features some of the best-known Christian music acts in the country. This year's lineup was headlined by Third Day as well as American Idol alums Mandisa and Colton Dixon.
While the music was a big draw to teens and young adults, others were more interested in taking part in some of the other activities available, including Benediction. It was an odd sensation to be praying before the presence of Christ in the Eucharist while hearing the faint rumblings of music coming from the main stage. Adoration and reconciliation were made available throughout the event, which culminated with Mass and a fireworks display.
Given the wide array of people, it was great for Glenmary to be part of the vocation tent at The Fest. Along with roughly 35 other religious orders, I set up a table to promote Glenmary vocations to our particular ministries. During this time, I met lots of people who wanted to learn what Glenmary does, Glenmary Farm alums, a former Farm manager, parents and grandparents who were hopeful that offspring might pursue religious vocations, a few young men who were open to the idea that God is calling them, and some who probably hoped the answer was "No!"
It was great to meet so many people and share the Glenmary story with them. I am always amazed at the number of people who are already familiar with the work that Glenmary does, but I also look forward to talking with those who have never heard of Glenmary. Most people (especially in Northern cities) seem very surprised when I let them know that there are still over 150 counties in the southeastern United States which do not have a Catholic presence.
A few of my conversations with people at The Fest were with people who were planning to do missionary work in other countries. They were hoping to find a way to gain mission experience in the United States as a sort of warm-up for their next journeys. That got me wondering whether—if people were exposed to the mission need in the United States—it might lead them to want to pursue mission efforts here rather than in foreign countries. Perhaps some of those who aspire to be foreign missioners might discover that their gifts are better suited for the U.S. home missions.
If you're considering becoming a missionary of any kind, why not take a look at Glenmary by participating in one of our Come & See trips scheduled this fall? The experience might open your eyes to another missionary path. And you may even find that God is calling you to serve in the U.S. home missions.