Friday, January 2, 2015

Brothers in the New Year

As we already in the Year of Consecrated Life I thought I would use this space today to write about Glenmary brothers. If our two brothers nearing final oath do take their final oath in the spring, Glenmary will have seen the number of brothers increase twice as much as the number of priests in the last ten years. Numbers like that seem to indicate exciting growth in the vocation to religious life but there are still about 10 times as many priests  as brothers in the USA. And the Church needs both priests and brothers.

The first time I traveled to Appalachia as a high school student on a mission trip, I did not know the vocation "Religious Brother" existed in the Church. I had never met a brother before and growing up in a diocesan parish and school, our pastor never talked about brothers.

Glenmary brothers, starting with Br. Vince Wilmes, our first brother, are the first on a job and the last to leave at the end of the day. We brothers find ways to use our particular gifts to serve the people who are living in Mission Land USA. We are building houses & churches, mopping floors, teaching religious education classes, visiting the incarcerated, caring for the sick, counseling, coaching, making home-visits, restocking the food pantry, advocating for the rights of the poor, interpreting for immigrants, and doing whatever else is needed.

Glenmary brothers are known for BEING and DOING. We are being present to the people who have nobody else to turn and we are doing the jobs that typically nobody else wants to do. Oftentimes when we arrive in a mission the people don’t know what a brother vocation is but they learn, because we walk with them as we build up the Kingdom of God.

But Glenmary brothers are not just "doing" something but they are first and foremost men of God. Glenmary brothers are dedicated to the apostolic ministry but the also realize that the ministry flows from and to our spiritual life. We are and we must be grounded as men of prayer.

Faith, Service and Community are the best words to describe the Glenmary’s brother vocation.

Father William Howard Bishop never drew a “NO BROTHER LAND USA” map. But Father Bishop did state the need for Brothers, even in the early talks and writings about founding a new religious society. In Glenmary’s 75 years of mission ministry, brothers have had an essential role in bringing a Catholic presence to areas where there has never been a presence.
Br. Vince Wilmes
Glenmary Brother Vince Wilmes reading to the children.

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