Sitting on the porch of our novitiate house on a rainy Saturday morning, preparing my sermon for Sunday, I was mesmerized by the sights and sounds of the rain as it gently fell to the ground. I was filled with a sense of peace and well-being.
The air was filled with a unique, earthy fragrance! Fun fact: Did you know that earthy scent when rain falls on dry soil is called petrichor? It is caused by the water from the rain, along with certain compounds like ozone, geosmin, and plant oils. You learn something new every day!
The Holy Spirit was leading me as I began to pray over the first reading with the gentle summer rain falling. “Thus says the Lord: Just as from the heavens the rain and snow come down and do not return there till they have watered the earth, making it fertile and fruitful, giving seed to the one who sows and bread to the one who eats, so shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth” (Is 55:10).
As my prayer continued, my thoughts of the mission ministry that was occurring during these summer months was similar to the gentle rain, sharing the word and giving life to people.
Holy Family Catholic Church in Macon County, Tennessee, came immediately to mind. They had just concluded a very successful Vacation Bible School session, in partnership with a youth group from Jesus the Good Shepherd Catholic Community in Maryland, who had driven nearly 12 hours to support mission youth in Holy Family! Over 100 young people participated in the Bible school of this small mission parish.
And then, I thought of the youth group from Glenmary’s mission in Erwin, Tennessee, St. Michael the Archangel. They had just participated in a week of service and learning called FIAT, or Faith in Action Team. The teenagers had the opportunity to learn about Catholic social teaching principles and complete service projects in the local community. Two of the service projects included helping with maintenance at a local elderly parishioner’s home and beautifying the parish’s Rosary Garden.
St. Michael’s parish has a goal to support those who are forgotten. Recently, over 80 workers on a temporary visa arrived from Mexico to work at a farm nearby in Unicoi County. St. Michael worked with the farm owners to welcome them and provide a meal and fellowship. Fathers Kenn and Tom often celebrate Mass at the farm for those who lack transportation.
Finally, I thought we as a community gathered in St. John XXIII center in Charleston, West Virginia, for our 18th General Chapter.
As I sat there that Saturday morning, I felt a deep sense of gratitude for Glenmary’s missionary effort and how it is described in the Isaiah reading. Our missioners are nourishing and serving those who are forgotten and neglected, “giving seed to the one who sows and bread to the one who eats.”
This letter from Glenmary President Father Dan Dorsey first appeared in the Autumn 2023 Glenmary Challenge magazine.