Called to Be a Missioner

Brother David Henley, vocation director

April 2016

"I have made you a light to the Gentiles, that you may be an instrument of salvation to the ends of the earth."—Acts 13:47

Throughout the Easter season, Mass readings come from Acts of the Apostles. These readings give us many insights into the early Christian community and the life of some of the missioners like St. Paul. If we reflect on these readings, we might be able to use them to help us discern whether we too are called to be missioners.

The Church in Mission Land, USA, where Glenmary priests and brothers are serving, is like the early Church—still in its infancy. Even today there are places in the United States where there are no Catholic Church communities, where there are people who have not been baptized, where there are people who have not heard the Word of God, where there are people who are sick and waiting to be anointed. Like the disciples and early missioners, you might be called to travel to a new land, to a place where there has never been a Catholic presence—called to bring the Good News and to share your faith with the people of God.

We may not feel like we are worthy to be called. Or maybe we feel that we are not prepared enough to be missioners. Certainly we are not like Saul, who before his conversion was persecuting and imprisoning Christians. Yet despite these sins, he was called by God to be a missioner. If Saul can convert from such a past and be called to be a disciple, why can't you too convert from your sinful past and be called? What is holding you back?

If you do feel that you have converted but still don't feel you are ready to serve, why keep waiting? Now is the time to start preparing. There are many ways you can prepare to be a missioner even if you are still in school or working full-time at this stage in your life. Find time to serve in your local parish. Take one evening a week to help at a local soup kitchen or homeless shelter. Join a parish committee such as the prison ministry program or the social justice committee. Become a eucharistic minister and take communion to the sick. As a first step, reflect on your interests and find a way to get involved.

The second step will be to join Glenmary. No Glenmary student is sent out to do missionary work alone on his first day. Instead, Glenmary students have many years of training to help prepare them to become missioners. During their training, they take classes and have opportunities to participate in mission experiences with Glenmary priests and brothers. Nobody joins Glenmary or any religious community prepared to go out to serve, but that is why we have training.

The Spring 2016 Glenmary Challenge magazine features an outstanding cover story about Glenmary students and the ways they have been preparing to be missioners. Classroom work has prepared them to begin to go out, and their mission experiences have affirmed what they learned in the classroom. If you did not receive a copy of that issue, contact us and we can send you copy.

St. Paul is not the only one we hear about in the Scripture readings at Mass during this Easter season. The Scriptures include many other early disciples and missioners. Glenmary vocation counselor Wilmar Zabala has provided reflections about some of them in his Vocation Office e-newsletter article this month. Reading his brief reflections on these early followers will help you to discern how your own call might be inspired by their faith and examples.

Are you being called to be a light to others, to be an instrument of God, and to be a missioner in Mission Land, USA?

Read previous columns by Brother David.