The new Father William Howard Bishop Memorial Museum is the latest addition at Glenmary’s headquarters. Of course, the word museum can mean a lot of things. This museum is only one room, but walk inside and you’ll know you’re in a museum. Artifacts are in display cases, photos printed onto the wall covering are connected by a short, but engaging, story of the Glenmary founder’s life.
“The founder is the key to understanding the charism of any group,” says Glenmary Father Steven Pawelk. Father Steve has led development of this room, which has long been a dream of those who personally knew Father Bishop (1885-1953). ”The museum hopefully, will be a room of inspiration for students, for members, for donors, for employees to recognize the courageous, incredible spirit it takes to start a new community,” says Father Steve. (Glenmary was founded in 1939.)
With a small space, Father Steve says, “we had to be practical. When you look at everything, we felt the most important aspect is to understand the man, Father William Howard Bishop, the spiritual guide and the one whom the Lord gave this charism to. So we’ve kept it really focused on his life and his story, trying to weave in how the spirit worked from his childhood to his final years.” He wants visitors to have a sense of the man, and to get a sense of the dream that compelled him to leave rural Maryland and start a religious community.
Father Steve was especially concerned that men joining Glenmary today could have a real sense of the founder. Where was Father Bishop from? Who was his family? How tall was he? What were some of the things that he used in his ministry so many years ago? The facts, of course, are easy enough to look up, but to glean his original writings and see actual items that Father Bishop used, Father Steve and his team turned to Glenmary’s archives, small but chocked with artifacts and original writings of many Glenmarians.
“The chalice he used helps us to visualize our founder,” says Father Steve. The same, Father Steve says, is true of his liturgical vestments, of pages from his diary, of his rosary and other devotional objects. There’s also his wooden rocking chair and a stand-up desk that the Brothers made for this man with a chronic back condition. You can see a black circle where his inkwell sat—this was before ballpoint pens, let alone computers!
“The key for this museum is, Can you be inspired? We hope that when you leave the museum, you have a sense of his spirituality, a sense of his work ethic and inspiration to share the gospel with others, the drive that’s so much a part of missionary life.”
This story first appeared in Glenmary’s Cultivate newsletter.