Father Bruce: Growing the Life of Glenmary

Glenmary News

Father Bruce: Growing the Life of Glenmary

Father Bruce proclaims the Gospel at the Mass of Dedication of the new chapel at the Glenmary House near St. Meinrad Seminary, in rural Indiana.

“Very many people ask what I do!” says Glenmary Father Bruce Brylinksi, with a chuckle. He’s the director of the Glenmary students in St. Meinrad, Indiana. “First of all, I am the caretaker of all their essential needs: their arrival, their contact with the seminary [if they’re seminarians], what food they eat….” In short, he operates a house which Glenmary students will call home during their years of formation before and after their novitiate year (a separate program). Formation ranges from academics to work in the missions, and plenty more. 

That formation not only will be training for priesthood or brotherhood; it will also be for learning about and growing in the life of Glenmary. “So Monday night is Glenmary night, during which we do missiology work.” What is a missioner? Where does the call to mission come from? How is it lived in the community? The men draw on their diverse personal backgrounds for insight. 

“We read mission statements and dialogue about them,” adds Father Bruce. A basic teaching, for example, is Saint John Paul II’s 1990 encyclical, Redemptoris Missio. “The mission of Christ the Redeemer . . . is still only beginning,” the pope wrote, then spelled out why. How’s that for a mission discussion starter!

Men generally spend four or five years at the formation house, reports Father Bruce, doing studies toward their Masters of Divinity or other degree. Along the way, they learn about Glenmary, not only through weekly discussion. “They have experience in the Glenmary missions during Christmas and Easter breaks,” explains Father Bruce (also in summer). “They come back and share their experiences, within their discussion of Glenmary mission. By the time they’re through with formation, they’re ready for ministry.”

Somewhere in that mix is what one would call the “Glenmary way of life.” “There is a difference in the way that we approach people,” says Father Bruce. “For example, we would go far out of our way to take Communion to one person—a diocesan priest might not do that. I might call a parishioner once a month—that is different. That’s not to criticize anyone, but just to say that, in Glenmary, smallness is important.

“Then, with the local community, it’s really wanting to get to know them. In a Glenmary mission, people feel recognized. That’s one of the telltale signs of a Glenmarian.”

Community service, with the actual presence of a Glenmarian, is another standout for Glenmary priests and brothers, says Father Bruce. And broad outreach: “It might be a hospital visit to a person who’s not even a parishioner,” he explains.

Academics, of course, is key to all of that formation, as is practical training, for sacramental or other ministry. “But formation happens around the dinner table,” insists Father Bruce. “We have some good conversations. And the food is good!”

This story first appeared in Glenmary’s Cultivate newsletter.