Glenmary Home Missioners
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Glenmary Home Missioners was founded in 1939 by Father William Howard Bishop, a Catholic priest of the Archdiocese of Baltimore, to serve what he termed "No Priest Land, USA." Father Bishop also founded the Home Mission Sisters of America (a.k.a. Glenmary Sisters) in 1941, two years after the founding of the order of priests and brothers. Glenmary's name comes from combining the name of the place where the Society was founded, Glendale, Ohio, with the name of Mary, the Mother of God. Both the men's and women's communities were founded in Glendale, which is near Cincinnati, Ohio, and both have devotion to Mary under her title 'Our Lady of the Fields.'
Glenmary priests, brothers and co-workers are Catholic missionaries who serve in over 40 Catholic missions and ministries in 13 different dioceses in the United States. Glenmary serves the spiritual and material needs of the Catholic minority, the unchurched and the poor by establishing the Catholic Church in small-town and rural America.
The charism of the Glenmary Home Missioners is to bring the Catholic Church to areas of the United States where it is not yet fully present, especially in rural areas and small towns in Appalachia, the South and Southwest. Glenmary's current[when?] criteria for establishing a Catholic mission are that the county must be less than 3% Catholic and the poverty level must be at least twice the national average. Glenmary's plan of action is to establish a mission church in a particular county, and nurture it until it reaches a level that it can be close to self-sustaining, at which time it will be turned over to the local diocese as a regular (non-mission) parish. Glenmary has established more than 100 mission churches that have been turned over to local dioceses.
In the words of Catholic Canon Law, Glenmary is an "Congregation of the Apostolic Life." This means that the group exists with a focus of helping fulfill its specific apostolic charism, and the community organization and interaction are somewhat secondary, aiming to support that charism of missionary outreach. There has been a regular tension between the spoken and felt desire to live together in small communities, for the sake of mutual friendship, prayer and support, and frequent actual decisions that help serve the people of the missions while undermining the possibility of the missioners sharing a common life, especially under a common roof. Members can sometimes be beloved by those they serve, while having infrequent communication with the co-members to whom they have committed their support and prayer.
The Glenmary Research Center (GRC) provides applied research to Glenmary leadership, individual missioners, Church leaders and the wider society. The GRC supplies maps, religious demographic, religious congregation and religious census information.
For more than 35 years, Glenmary has operated The Farm, located in rural Lewis County, Kentucky, to offer a retreat-like immersion service experience for college students. Some high school and parish groups attend as well. Each group typically works at the Farm for several days to a week, assisting local residents with projects around their property, or visiting elderly or remote residents, in an environment of simple living.
The Home Missioners' ministry is to share the Good News of Jesus Christ with the unchurched and to build up the Kingdom of God. The five main areas of their ministry include: Nurturing Catholics, fostering ecumenism, evangelizing the unchurched, engaging in social outreach, working for justice and making connections to the universal Church. The order is based in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Every four years a "Chapter" is held. The chapter is made up of all the members who wish to attend, a "chapter of the whole." During the week or more that the chapter is in session, the is the highest ruling body within the society. It will elect a new "Council," of a "President," "First Vice President" and "Second Vice President." The chapter reviews, and accepts or rejects various reports on the financial budget and audit, on common life as members and on missionary outreach. It may change the "Directory," and amend the "Glenmary Constitution." Directory changes take place at whatever date is selected during the chapter. Constitutional changes must first be approved by Rome. The Chapter may give mandates of action to the new Council.
When the chapter ends, the newly elected Council becomes the principal governing body of the society. Power is focused in the person of the President, but before making a decision, he usually must consult with his two fellow members, and sometimes get at least one of them to agree with him in matters which the Constitution describes as "deliberative." A General Assembly usually meets once a year in person, and once a year electronically, to advice the council, and to make a few deliberative decisions.
On a geographical level, members are grouped into "Districts," for mutual support and decision making. When other co-workers are included, these local groups are called "Clusters."