Mission Land, USA—this is the name Glenmary uses to capture the high degree of mission need in Appalachia, the rural South and the Southwest. This is the same area revealed in blue on the map at right. There is mission need elsewhere in the United States, but not in the same concentration as this area that has become the focus of Glenmary’s work.
The blue area in the southern portion of the Catholic church map at right roughly corresponds to Glenmary’s definition of Mission Land, USA. In the counties marked in shades of blue and gray, Catholics are less than 5 percent of the population.
This same area also stood out on the very first map of “No Priest Land, USA” created by Glenmary’s founder, Father William Howard Bishop. In 1938, of the 3,000 U.S. counties, only 1,000 had a resident priest.
What is Glenmary?
Glenmary is a Catholic society of priests, brothers and lay missioners who serve primarily in Appalachia and the deep South. Glenmary was founded in 1939 by Father William Howard Bishop, who had a dream that the Catholic Church would be present everywhere in the United States.
Glenmary has served mission churches in 14 states with the goal to return developed parishes to the care of the local diocese. We can then move on to new mission territory.
Glenmary is proud that more than 120 parishes are former Glenmary missions. Our missions are in counties where less than 1% of the population is Catholic, as high as 75% claim no faith affiliation at all. Poverty averages 20%, almost two times the national average.