Friday, October 21, 2011

Pilgrimage to Appalachia - recap

I recently made a road-trip through a small part of Appalachia with men interested in joining Glenmary Home Missioners. Fr. John Rausch served as our tour guide and he brought along a few other people who are also concerned about the spiritual, social, economic and environmental issues in this part of the country. 

Along the journey we stopped in the mission of Sts. John and Elizabeth Catholic Church in Grayson, KY. Fr. Bruce Brylinski, a Glenmary priest shared about history of the mission, and how it has changed in recent years. Because of the growing Hispanic Community Fr Bruce has had to learn Spanish and faced the challenges of entering into a different culture in order to serve the needs of the growing community.

Br. David and Fr. John on Kayford Mtn.

One of the highlights of the trip included meeting Larry Gibson on Kayford Mountain in West Virginia. He has been called a "True American Hero" because he has held onto his land instead of selling out to the large companies that have been engaging in Mountain Top Removal all around his property. His family land is now an island among the huge swathe of destruction that has occurred on all sides. 

The group tour also made a stop at the offices of The Christian Appalachian Project (CAP) in Eastern Kentucky. There we were able to see part of the warehouse and the distribution system at that location. Sr. Robbie Pentecost gave the group a presentation about the economic conditions in the area as well as explained many of the vast services that CAP tries to provide to the community. 

Group photo outside the CAP offices
The tour made lots of other stops and met with many phenomenal people! People who are dedicated to the struggle of workers rights, social justice and the dignity of all peoples. Glenmary has been serving in and around this area for nearly 75 years, but the needs are still very present today. Maybe God is calling you to serve wit us as a missioner in these precious lands of ours?

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