CINCINNATI (CNS) — God’s ability to call vocations isn’t limited by geography, and so a vocation director must go wherever the Holy Spirit leads.
For Brother David Henley, a member of the Glenmary Home Missioners, it’s led all around the world.
The Columbus native professed his first oath with Cincinnati-based Glenmary in 2003. Knowing Glenmary’s mission is to bring the Catholic Church to small towns and rural counties of Appalachia and the South, he figured his days of traveling were limited.
With an increase of Hispanic immigrants in Glenmary’s missions, Brother David quickly found himself in Mexico to learn the language. Since becoming vocation director in 2010, he has visited 39 states, Mexico again, Kenya and Uganda, all in search of vocation prospects.
“When I joined Glenmary, I thought I would have to give up traveling, but God obviously had a different plan,” Brother David told Glenmary Challenge magazine. “I have realized my love to travel to new places and to meet new people has served Glenmary well. Guys are not lined up outside our door to sign up, so we have to go to where they are to meet them.”
“Glenmary has seen a surge in vocation prospects contacting us from different parts the world,” he added. “It is exciting that men from places that were once served by missionaries are feeling inspired to serve as missionaries themselves.”
The international surge is real. Glenmary has three fully professed members from Kenya, two of whom made their final oath this year. Of the 10 men in Glenmary’s formation program, one is from Ohio, the rest come from abroad. In all, six countries are represented in the group.
Despite the international flavor, Brother David’s Glenmary vocation department spends most of its time seeking vocations in the United States. Brother David and vocation counselor Wilmar Zabala spend their days hosting “Come and See” events that take potential recruits to the missions, traveling to youth conferences, speaking at schools or otherwise reaching out, helping young men to hear God’s call in their lives.
“Looking for vocation prospects has meant road trips across the USA, vocation events in different states and even traveling to other countries,” Brother David said. “By joining Glenmary, I have gotten to see rural USA, which is so different from where I grew up in Columbus.
“I think my love for the people that I met on home mission trips helped to inspire me to become a Glenmary brother,” he added. “I was responding to God’s call, but I felt confirmed in my call to Glenmary because of my love for the mountains of Appalachia. Now as vocation director, getting to meet people all over the U.S. and in other countries when I make vocation visits has been a bonus.”
Glenmary is a religious society of priests, brothers and lay co-workers dedicated to serving parts of small town and rural America that lack a formal Catholic presence.
Its founder, Father William Howard Bishop, was known for saying that people in what he termed “No Priest-Land, USA” were as entitled to missionaries as any overseas mission territory. He knew God would raise up men to answer this missionary challenge. Brother David said that’s the reason behind all his travels.
“The notion that home mission communities are entitled to a Catholic presence,” he said, “is precisely why Glenmary remains open to vocations from wherever the Spirit calls them.”
Stegeman is editor of Glenmary Challenge, quarterly magazine of the Glenmary Home Missioners.
In a time to build, CatholicPhilly.com connects people and communities
As society emerges from the loss and separation of the pandemic, CatholicPhilly.com works to strengthen the connections between people, families and communities every day by delivering the news people need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live.
By your donation in any amount, you join in our mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire the thousands of readers who visit every month.
Here is how you can help:
- A $100 gift allows us to present award-winning photos of Catholic life in our neighborhoods.
- A $50 gift enables us to cover a news event in a local parish, school or Catholic institution.
- A $20 gift lets us obtain solid faith formation resources that can deepen your spirituality and knowledge of the faith.
- A small, automated monthly donation means you can support us continually and easily.
Won't you consider making a gift today?
Please join in the church's vital mission of communications by offering a gift in whatever amount that you can ― a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more, or a monthly donation. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community.
Make your donation by credit card here:
Or make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103