Message From Glenmary's Volunteer Office: A Final Vanceburg View

Posted: 2/9/2015

February 2015

Joe Grosek Glenmary Director of Volunteers

We completed the last week of service at the Glenmary Farm in December 2014. I would like to use this final Vanceburg View to share with you what I learned in my past 14 years at the Glenmary Farm.

  • Lesson One: The Glenmary Farm is God's work, not mine.

I am blessed to be a caretaker of the Glenmary volunteer program's charism represented by the Glenmary Farm.

At my first Farm Manager staff meeting in January of 2001, we were tasked with finding a replacement for Wild Woman (Edith Smith) as she was getting up there in age. Obviously God had different plans as volunteers continued to visit with Wild Woman until the very last week of operation of the Glenmary Farm in December 2014. As both Farm manager and director of volunteers, I was reminded constantly that God runs the show at the Glenmary Farm and I am just a caretaker.

  • Lesson Two: The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few.

On Nov. 22, 2014, Glenmary celebrated more than 40 years of service to Lewis County through the Glenmary Farm. There were more than 120 individuals who shared the day of celebration with us at the Farm. Joining us were people from the local community, former chaperones, short-term volunteers and numerous Farm managers, including the very first Farm manager, Tom Carew, and the final Farm manager, Mark Dumond.

In my time as director of volunteers, I was always amazed at the number of schools, church youth groups and university groups that wanted to join us for a weeklong mission immersion program. These groups are what make the Glenmary Farm "the Farm." Without the more than 500 short-term volunteers per year living out the mission and ministry of the Glenmary Farm, the property would have been just a very quiet, peaceful place that always needed to be fixed up and that had a bad habit of flooding once in a while!

The true diamonds of the Glenmary Farm experience were the many quality individuals who served a year or more at the Farm as managers. The Glenmary Farm was blessed by these individuals who said "yes" to nine months to two years of service. For all of you who served as Farm managers, I cannot thank you enough for your time, talent, faith and hard work. Thank you for being a bridge between more than 22,000 short-term volunteers and those we served in Lewis County.

  • Lesson Three: For it is in giving that we receive.

The Glenmary Farm showed me that faith-based service is not a one-way street, where I am the giver and those I serve are the receivers. I have been blessed to work and serve with so many people during my time at the Farm. And it is the people I leave in Lewis County whom I will miss the most. I learned and received so much from them and I gave so little in return.

Though Farm managers—and I—put in many hours that are not seen by those who served with us, it was all worth it as we received more from the volunteers than we gave. Thanks to all of you for trusting the managers and me with your true self during a week of Catholic missionary service.

  • Lesson Four: "Love the poor, the sick and the helpless, and attend to them. They are God's influentials. They are his aristocrats. He loves them. If you are known in your mission community as the contact for all the poor and unfortunate of the place, you could not have a more honorable title on earth or one that would make you more welcome in the courts of heaven."—Father William Howard Bishop, founder of the Glenmary Home Missioners

I have been blessed to know and serve with amazing coworkers and Glenmarians including Father Jerry Dorn, Father Dave Glockner and Father Steve Pawelk. They and their fellow missioners are all dedicated to fulfilling the spiritual and material needs of the counties they serve, and they toil to bring the Catholic missionary message of Glenmary Home Missioners to the lost and forgotten rural areas of the United States.

Who doesn't have a Father Larry Goulding story from when he was serving at Holy Redeemer mission in Vanceburg? How many have been moved by the liturgical genius and poignant homilies of Father Bruce Brylinski? If you are discerning the religious life, I do not know of a better society than Glenmary to which you could give your time, talent and life.

  • Lesson Five: "We are ministering to overlooked and forgotten people. Our quest for the neglected and forgotten takes us out beyond the boundaries of where the Church is at present established and obliges us to enter new lands where the Church is unknown, to settle down in these new lands, and build up Catholicity from the ground."—Father William Howard Bishop, founder of the Glenmary Home Missioners

Glenmary Home Missioners is a missionary society that has to stay true to its identity, and even though our work at the Glenmary Farm is good, we trust that Jesus was in Lewis County before we came and will be there after we leave. It is time for Glenmary to leave the county, according to the call of Glenmary's founder and the Gospel. There is a time for everything, even a time for closing the Glenmary Farm and transferring the unique volunteer charism to two Tennessee counties without a Catholic presence.