Missioner Helped Turn Her Life Around; Couple Have Faith in Glenmary

Posted: 6/1/2016

Mick and Margie Duncan

Margie and Mick Duncan of Florence, Ky., have been married 31 years, and they’ve been financial and prayerful supporters of Glenmary all that time. But Margie’s connection with and love for Glenmary goes back even further—to a personally difficult period during which a Glenmary brother helped her turn her life around.  

“I met Brother Dick Walsh of Glenmary in 1967, when I was going through some challenging life issues and was unhappy,” said Margie. “He was simply present to me and listened. He was very wise, never judged me, and helped me with the guilt I felt. He was a true friend, and I needed that. He gave me a clearer understanding of how loving and all-merciful God is. That made me see with Jesus’ eyes, choose a better life, and follow Jesus.”

Margie has always considered Brother Dick an instrument the Holy Spirit brought to her. She was devastated when she learned of Brother Dick’s death in 1972. But thanks in large part to his help, she said, she got her life back on track. She gained an understanding and appreciation of Glenmary’s home mission ministry, too.

Later, when Margie went on retreats at the Catholic Reflection Center in Maggie Valley, N.C., she also became friends with two other Glenmarians visiting there, Father John Garvey and Brother Bob Hoffman.

“They’re all very dedicated and down-to-earth,” she commented. “Glenmary missioners are out in the marketplace with those in need, where Jesus would be, and they bring a Catholic presence to U.S. rural counties that otherwise wouldn’t have one.”

Margie and Mick first met at a Cursillo reunion in 1983. They are both deeply religious, attending Mass and saying the Rosary daily and living out their faith. Margie said she soon learned that Mick was a very generous supporter of foreign missionary organizations. She said she’s learned much from him about giving, while he’s learned from her about Glenmary and the home missions. In addition to their regular Glenmary donations, Mick honored Margie’s wish to make the home-missions group the number-one bequest recipient in their will “because of what they mean to me,” she said. 

Their belief in Glenmary was reinforced by a 2010 group trip to two then-Glenmary missions in Kentucky. “The two mission leaders were so devoted to the people they served that it made us want to help,” said Margie. 

Over the years, the Duncans have also given back to their family members, parishes and the larger community. Another major turning point in Margie’s life came in 1982 when, on a local retreat, “I heard a voice say, ‘Will you give up everything…and follow me?’ I said, ‘Yes, Lord, I will.’” After a discussion with the retreat master, further reflection, and the realization she could survive financially, she resigned her job as a corporate director of sales and marketing. Until 1987, she dedicated her time to volunteering at three different nursing homes and a hospital’s mental-health unit. “It was rough going, but I loved it,” she said.

Margie and Mick—now 78 and 81—still volunteer at their parish (St. Timothy, Union, Ky.) whenever possible. A few examples: They work at the festival and Lenten fish fries; Margie has been a lector at parish Masses and some major diocesan liturgies and ceremonies; and Mick sings in the choir, is active in the men’s group, and works in the large parish vegetable garden, whose harvest goes to those in need in a nearby county. They also love leading a Communion service every third Sunday for retirement-home residents. 

Their support of Glenmary is another constant, very important way of living out their faith. “Glenmarians go out into the world and spread the Good News,” Margie said. “We want them to go on and on with their ministry.”

This article first appeared in the Summer 2016 Planning Ahead newsletter.