What is Glenmary’s Charismatic Family?

Mission Life

What is Glenmary’s Charismatic Family?

The Glenmary Charismatic Family includes priests, brothers, students, coworkers and donors.

What in the world is the Glenmary Charismatic Family? It’s the whole Glenmary family. Let me explain.

The founder of Glenmary, Father William Howard Bishop, did not possess a “big personality.” As a priest he would not have caught your eye among his peers. At times he lacked self-confidence. What was extraordinary about this ordinary man? He was given a gift by the Holy Spirit to see what others could not see: that there are mission areas and needs here in the United States.

In Catholic theology Father Bishop was given what is known as a charism. Often we hear charismatic and think of Spirit-oriented prayer gatherings, or magnetic personalities, but I mean a broader sense. A charism is a gift, given by the Holy Spirit specifically for the building up and renewal of the Body of Christ, and the flourishing of the Kingdom of God.

Over the decades Glenmary brothers, sisters and priests have strived to embrace Father Bishop’s charism, to adapt it to an ever-changing landscape. We recognize that this charism is not our singular possession to be jealously guarded but, rather, it is a movement of the Holy Spirit. It is the Spirit, the breath of God, that opens the doors of mission.

One of the true blessings and joys of the Holy Spirit in our lives is it leads us down roads we never expected to navigate. The Spirit surprises us! This can be challenging, often exciting, and yes, a bit frightening.

Imagine being in the sandals of St. Paul and then recall the early Church’s struggle with accepting Gentiles into the Church! The Spirit impels us to change and grow. And to pray, as in this prayer, from a classic hymn: “Breathe on me, Breath of God/fill me with life anew/that I may love the way you love/and do what you would do.”

I have a vivid example of the Spirit’s guidance from within Glenmary. You may have noticed over the past few years different faces in this magazine as we began to accept vocations of men from other nations. What a gift these men from Kenya, Mexico, Vietnam and Uganda have been in furthering the mission of Glenmary! 

We’ve been praying about this, deepening our understanding of the Spirit’s work. That’s what brought us to seeing Glenmary through the lens of charismatic family. (That in itself is the work of the Holy Spirit!) 

Our charismatic family extends far beyond the vocation of sister, brother and priest. Our Glenmary coworkers are an indispensable component of our charismatic family. They bring a unique perspective that both complements and enriches our understanding of Glenmary’s mission and charism. 

The Glenmary’s Charismatic Family includes coworkers working on a national level, those ministering on a local level and those who work behind the scenes (e.g. the editor of this magazine) here in Cincinnati, at our national headquarters. These are younger and older, men and women, wives and husbands, fathers and mothers. Some are a part of our family for a brief time and others for an extended time. 

Our coworkers are partners in our mission charism, implementing and dreaming the future of mission here in the rural areas of the United States. You, too, are partners in mission, part of our charismatic family. Without your continued prayers and financial support our missionary effort would cease to exist.

With a deep sense of gratitude we say, “Thanks very much. It is a blessing to have you in our family!”

This letter by Glenmary President Father Dan Dorsey first appeared in the Winter 2023 Glenmary Challenge.