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Making a Difference, Sharing the Gifts of the Church

Father Don Tranel, Development DirectorThe best way to communicate the difference Glenmary is making in Mission Land, USA—with your support—is through stories.

I could gather and share statistical information on the number of people enrolled in our missions' RCIA and faith formation programs, homes built and repaired for low-income families, ecumenical projects in progress, food distributed to the hungry, newspaper articles published, and more. But actual stories from our home missions can capture and show how our ministry is making an impact on the people and communities we serve.

A Dream Becomes Reality

As a newly ordained priest in 1988, my very first assignment was as pastor of our McRae, Ga., mission, located in Telfair County but also serving Dodge and Wheeler counties. The majority of Dodge County Catholics had grown tired of the 50- to 70-mile round trip to and from McRae to attend Mass and were staying home. The dream that soon arose was the establishment of the first-ever Catholic church in Dodge County.

The people embraced the dream and worked together for 11 months to make it a reality. They helped gather the community and clean and fix up a vacant, dilapidated Protestant church building for use as their worship space. Seventy-seven Catholics—Anglos, Latinos, African Americans, and those of Italian, Chinese, and Filipino descent—attended the dedication Mass in December 1989 celebrated by the bishop of the Savannah diocese.

Meeting Local Needs

In Booneville, Ark., in 2006, I became the first resident pastor of the local Catholic Church in three decades. During my pastorate, our mission and other local churches met a major crisis with an unprecedented ecumenical response. After a major fire destroyed the plant of the county's largest employer—who did not rebuild—our ministerial alliance became a first responder by establishing a permanent, nonprofit resource center with job counseling, a food pantry, and other assistance for all county residents in need.

Local Catholics went from non-involvement in ecumenical efforts to service on the front lines—and attitudes toward Catholics became light-years better. Today, this close-knit parish, which Glenmary returned to the pastoral care of its diocese in 2012, is preparing to build a new church for its growing congregation, carrying out the plans we put in place while I was pastor.

These are just some of the ways Glenmary missioners and coworkers are changing lives with the help of our partners in mission. If you would like to learn more about becoming a partner with Glenmary, please contact me.