A Thanksgiving Message to Our Glenmary Partners
For so many of us, Thanksgiving is a time to reflect on our blessings, as well as a time to gather with people that we love and share a day of good food, good company, and maybe even some football.
During the years Father Vic Subb has lived in Lafayette (Macon County), Tenn., though, this Glenmary mission pastor has started Thanksgiving in his own kitchen at around 5 a.m., when he puts the first turkey in the oven. His tradition of hosting dinners for area residents and parishioners actually started much earlier—when he was a novice, assigned to Glenmary’s then-mission in Gate City, Va. With the permission of the pastor, Vic and another novice invited people of Gate City, many of whom were elderly or poor—or both—to share Thanksgiving dinner with them at a local outreach center. A lot of them were single and had no plans for the day, so it seemed to him like a natural ministry.
Since that time, in every mission where Father Vic has served, Thanksgiving has always been a day of outreach for him, changing slightly depending on the community—but always a day of service.
At Thanksgiving this year, among many blessings for which I’ll give thanks are generous donors like you. Because of your and others’ prayers and support for Glenmary, Father Vic and his fellow Glenmarians and lay coworkers are able to establish a Catholic presence in rural U.S. Appalachian and Southern communities where the poverty level is more than twice the national average, the Catholic population is very small, and many people have no church affiliation (in Macon County, Tenn., for instance, about 74 percent are unchurched). Our missioners reach out to area residents and serve both their spiritual and their material needs. With deep gratitude, I humbly ask you for a donation this Thanksgiving season.
Your gift will help ensure that all our missioners will continue to nurture local Catholic communities, evangelize, foster ecumenism and work for justice.
Father Vic previously served at missions in Virginia, Arkansas and Georgia. He’s currently pastor of the Lafayette and Celina, Tenn., missions. To some in Lafayette and Macon County, he is fondly known as the “turkey priest!"
The turkey that goes into the oven at 5 a.m. is the first of three turkeys that Father Vic cooks during the day, along with green beans, stuffing and corn. When I asked Father Vic how he knows how much food to fix, he shrugs a little and says, “I don’t. But it always works out.”
In 2014, Father Vic had his biggest group ever—77 people—and he admits that by the end of the day, “people were licking the turkey bones.” But it all worked out and people had a good time! The 2015 dinner continued the tradition.
In Lafayette, a Middle Tennessee town with a large Latino community, Thanksgiving has sometimes also been a day of baptisms for Father Vic—because many of the local folks work in restaurants that are closed on the holiday.
In those years, Father Vic has invited people to come to his home at different times during the day, so he could meet with families for church baptisms in between welcoming Thanksgiving guests. Sometimes, the two groups have overlapped!
As you can tell, easygoing Father Vic doesn’t stress much about his Thanksgiving dinners. And he says that by the end of the day, his house usually looks better than it did when he started, because people pitch in to help with the clean-up. For him, it’s not about worrying that he won’t have enough food or chairs or plates. He says that “it’s about thanks, fellowship, sharing and celebration.”
Father Vic also knows he has you and other donors to thank for his presence in Tennessee and other places. He loves being part of the mission-area communities and meeting people’s needs—sometimes through the sacraments, sometimes with hospitality. Sometimes with both! I hope you can send a donation to help make sure all Glenmary missioners keep bringing the gifts of the Catholic Church to U.S. mission areas.
You and your loved ones are in my daily prayers. I ask you to please keep Glenmary in your prayers, too.