Our Story

Our Story

Glenmary Home Missioners (aka The Home Missioners of America) is a Catholic church missionary and was founded in 1939 by Father William Howard Bishop, a priest of the Archdiocese of Baltimore, to serve what he termed “No Priest Land, USA.” At that time, he noted that more than one-third of the counties of the United States, mostly in Appalachia and the South, had no resident priest. Father Bishop foresaw that this area—then as populous as Canada, as large as Mexico and covering one-fourth of the United States—could be lost to the Church unless this vast priest-less “home mission” area was recognized by and designated a specific ministry of the Church.

Who We Are

  • A Catholic church missionary and society of priests and brothers who, along with coworkers, are dedicated to serving the spiritual and material needs of people living in mission counties throughout Appalachia and the South.
  • Home missioners who work exclusively within the United States and who are dedicated to bringing the Catholic Church to people who live in counties where the Church is not effectively present.
  • The Glenmary Sisters, who share a history and charism with Glenmary Home Missioners, are a separate religious community. Visit their website HERE.

Whom We Serve

  • The Catholic minority, by establishing a Church presence in areas where frequently less than 1 percent of the total population are Catholic.
  • The unchurched, by testifying to our faith in mission regions where a significant percentage of the people have no church affiliation.
  • The poor, through our outreach and work for social justice in counties where the poverty levels are almost twice the national average.

Where We Serve

Glenmary operates missions and ministries in the following dioceses:

  • Cincinnati (Ohio)
  • Indianapolis (Indiana)
  • Knoxville (Tennessee)
  • Lexington (Kentucky)
  • Nashville (Tennessee)
  • Raleigh (North Carolina)
  • Savannah (Georgia)

How We Serve

These five categories are often called the “pillars” of Glenmary ministry.

  • Nurturing Catholics
  • Evangelizing the unchurched
  • Ecumenism (Working with other Christian communities)
  • Social justice
  • Making connections to the universal Church

Priests and Brothers

As of Jan. 13, 2023, there are 28 priests and 13 brothers within Glenmary. The society has 16 students in formation.

Mission Facts

Glenmary currently staffs 12 missions and numerous ministries in the small towns and rural areas of Appalachia and the South.

  • Nearly 1.5 million people live within Glenmary’s mission territory. Of these, just under 11,000, or 0.7 percent, are Catholic.
  • A significant percent of the total population is unchurched (that is, does not attend any church on a regular basis).
  • The poverty level within Glenmary mission areas is almost twice the national average.
  • In the southern United States, 173 counties have no Catholic congregation. Another 196 have a Catholic congregation but no resident pastoral minister.


A society of Catholic church missionary priests and brothers committed to serving rural America. The name is derived from Glendale—the Cincinnati, Ohio, suburb where the group’s headquarters was located until 1971—and Mary, the society’s patroness under her title Our Lady of the Fields. Glenmary was founded in 1939 in Cincinnati, Ohio by Father William Howard Bishop. Originally a priest from the Archdiocese of Baltimore, Father Bishop acquired the sponsorship of Cincinnati Archbishop John T. McNicholas to begin his great missionary outreach to “No Priest Land, USA.”

Coworkers in Mission

Lay men and women partner in many ways with Glenmary members to carry out Glenmary’s mission to rural America. One lay pastoral coordinators currently staffs a mission in North Carolina. The Glenmary Group Volunteer Program in Grainger County, Tenn. is administered by lay staff.  Lay employees also comprise the bulk of Glenmary’s support staff in Cincinnati.

For more information, contact communications@glenmary.org.