Fellow Missioner Helps Glenmary via Volunteering, Gifts, Bequest
Ruth Holtel, 85, of Cincinnati knows the importance of supporting missionaries and their work as well as most people. That's because she herself has ministered in foreign and home missions, and has worked in partnership with missionaries, for almost six decades. Along the way, she has partnered with, grown to admire, and assisted Glenmary in many ways.
Now retired from full-time work but active in part-time jobs and ministries, she says that "every day we need to reach out to others, because we are all missionary by our baptism."
She has given generous volunteer, financial and prayerful support to Glenmary since the mid-1970s because "I believe in their ministry and would do anything to help them." In 2010, she named Glenmary the sole beneficiary in her will.
Ruth grew up in Oldenburg, Ind., and began discerning a Church vocation as a high school senior. She joined the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary in 1948 and served 17 years in Pakistan. After leaving religious life in 1972, she returned to Cincinnati, where she earned certification as a licensed practical nurse and worked at a hospital.
Then in 1975, she embarked on another missionary opportunity as a volunteer social outreach worker in a four-county Glenmary mission area in rural Georgia. To make ends meet for three years, she carried out her ministry during the day and worked as a nurse at night.
"I loved serving the people there," says Ruth. "I didn't know much about Glenmary beforehand, but I saw how the missioners worked with the poorest of the poor—how people-oriented they were. I was very drawn to their humanity. I also saw their small missions as an ideal because of their spirit of love and togetherness. That job was one of the greatest experiences of my life. I've been a Glenmary person ever since."
When Ruth once again returned to Cincinnati in 1978, she was hired by Catholic Social Services (Archdiocese of Cincinnati) to establish a homemaker service program—a team ministry to struggling families that she calls "another great missionary job."
In 1986, she became program coordinator for the archdiocesan Mission Office. "One of my major responsibilities was helping parishes develop mission groups, which raise mission awareness and coordinate mission outreach," Ruth says. "Because of Glenmary, I always reminded people that both U.S. home missions and foreign missions need our help."
She began her next chapter with Glenmary in 1987 as volunteer organist for Sunday Mass at its small Cincinnati chapel; it's now been 28 years and counting! She also served as vice president in charge of mission education experiences for the now-dissolved Glenmary Guild, a women's group dedicated to supporting the society's work.
Since retiring from the Cincinnati archdiocese in 2000, she has cleaned and cooked at the Glenmary residence several days each month. Until 2009, she donated her salary to a drug rehabilitation program in Pakistan. But she now gives a significant percentage of her pay back to Glenmary. She has also formed friendships with many missioners over the years while getting more educated about their ministry.
Ruth is still active in the larger Cincinnati community, too. She prays, sings and participates in activities with Alzheimer's patients at a retirement community and adult day care center; volunteers with Little Brothers-Friends of the Elderly; and visits every Sunday with Glenmarians residing at a local assisted living/skilled nursing facility.
"I believe the most important thing is to live the beatitudes and do whatever we can to build up the kingdom of God," Ruth says. "I support Glenmary because I truly believe in them and their work."
This article first appeared in the Autumn 2014 Planning Ahead newsletter.