A Commitment to the Glenmary Way of Life

Brother David Henley, vocation director

June 2015

Over the course of three days in May, five Glenmary students professed their Glenmary Oaths before God, Glenmary members and the Church. Patrick Muriithi renewed his Oath for the first time, Charles Aketch and Richard Toboso made their First Oaths, and Brothers Levis Kuwa and Jason Muhlenkamp professed their Perpetual (Final) Oaths. All three ceremonies were powerful testaments to Glenmary’s future, as three of these men committed themselves for one year and two for the rest of their lives.

Glenmary president Father Chet Artysiewicz, who presided over the three ceremonies, reminded each of the men taking his Oath that his profession was “one step on the journey as Glenmary missioners.” For Patrick, it was a recommitment to his journey for another year. For Charles and Richard, it was a big step in discernment after two years of preparation. And for Brothers Levis and Jason, it marked the end of their formation, since they are now fully professed members. But the journey continues for a lifetime.

The complete text of the Glenmary Oath can be read on our Web site. As one might expect, this Oath commits us to the practice of the evangelical counsels: poverty, chastity and obedience. In addition, this Oath commits us to be men of prayer and “expresses our dedication to the work of the Society, our commitment to one another, our acceptance of the Glenmary way of life.”

The Glenmary Constitution states that the Glenmary Oath “is a covenant we make with our Society, and with each of our fellow members.” We say that it is a covenant because “the Society commits itself to help its members attain the fullest possible development of their human and Christian lives, and the individual member commits himself to the Society’s apostolate and way of life.”

My recommendation for someone who is discerning religious life is to attend an Oath ceremony. If he is not able to do that, then he should consider contacting three or four of the religious communities with whom he is discerning and ask each to share a copy of the oath or vows that its members take. I think reading these statements can give a young man insights into the charism and values of the communities. The good news is that upon entering a community, one is not expected to take the promise on his first day. Instead, the oath or vows are something for which the individual prepares and toward which he grows.

The Glenmary Oath is unique because it includes a dedication to the missionary apostolate in the rural areas and small towns of the United States, as well as a pledge to support fellow members.

As you read Glenmary’s Oath and compare it to the oath or vows of other communities, you can ask yourself: Which words in these statements resonate with me or touch on the values I have? Which words challenge me to move beyond myself and may help me to reach my full potential?

Glenmary priests and brothers present for the Oath ceremonies did not repeat their Oaths, because our Perpetual Oaths commit us for life. But the members who witnessed the new members profess their Oaths were able to renew the commitment they made five or 50 years ago.

And as each renews his own commitment to that covenant, he deepens his commitment to try to live out that promise more faithfully until the day he dies. A special tradition in Glenmary is that, when a member dies, we honor that member’s commitment by reading at the graveside service the Oath he took— and to which he remained dedicated—during his life.

Do you feel called to take the next step toward a deeper commitment?

Read previous columns by Brother David.