Father William Howard Bishop (1885–1953), a priest of the Archdiocese of Baltimore, had an incredible love and concern for the rural people of the United States. As a pastor for 20 years at a rural parish in Maryland, he worked relentlessly to bring mission America’s plight to the awareness of “city dwellers” and to an urban Catholic Church. Later he became a founding member and president of the National Catholic Rural Life Conference.
During his time as a rural pastor, he was consumed by the dream of finding a way to serve the neglected areas of rural America. He mapped the home mission need in the United States and brought it to the attention of the American Catholic Church. And, preferring to remain as a country pastor, he attempted to convince already established religious communities to serve in these desperate areas.
In 1939, after finding no other community to take on the mammoth task of serving what he termed Mission Land, USA, and after overcoming many obstacles, he founded the Home Missioners of America (Glenmary Home Missioners) in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, Ohio, at the invitation of Archbishop John T. McNicholas.
Father Bishop was a holy man, deeply committed to establishing this home mission society of priests and brothers and inviting others to join him. His “No Priest Land, USA” map captured the hearts and souls of the men and women who joined this new mission effort. With unbending determination, Father William Howard Bishop led this community of men and also guided the Glenmary Sisters until his death in 1953.
Glenmarians continue to be inspired by his life and dream. His holiness is readily recognized by God, the people in the home missions and Glenmarians. May his life story, his dream, inspire you as well.
“Our work is to go into the forgotten and neglected places, the no-priest land, the no-Catholic land of America to accept as bases of operation the little borderline parishes that nobody wants and from them to build up little outposts and parishes where now no hope of them exists.”Father William Howard Bishop