This interview is part of a continuing series on the spirituality of Glenmary Home Missioners.
Father Dave Glockner, from Portsmouth, Ohio, took his First Oath with Glenmary in 1962. He has served missions in West Virginia, Virginia, Georgia, North Carolina, Oklahoma and Ohio. In senior membership, he serves the people in Lewis County, Ky., and visits incarcerated men nearby. He recently sat down with Glenmary Challenge to discuss the spirituality that he lives in the missions.
Q: Father, how do you find God?
A: Part of my spirituality, although I’m not always conscious of it, is contemplating the vastness of God, finding God in creation. Then I think the spirit of God works within me and works within all of us.
Q: Does living in rural Glenmary areas affect that?
A: I’ve lived with some priests, like the late Glenmarian Father John Garvey, who were really excited by being in nature. I don’t focus there; I see that the slower pace of small towns allows me to be a little more reflective.
Q: Is your approach to God different than the way it was years ago?
A: Back in the 1980s, over four summers, I studied for a Masters degree in spirituality that really changed my outlook. We studied a lot of different disciplines and people. I came out with a little bit more of a contemplative spirit, and concrete things, like the idea of working with victims of spouse abuse. It also was a joyful experience. It rejuvenated me.
Q: Are you any wiser now?
A: I think age has helped my preaching a lot. I’d say that I’m wiser in some ways, and not in others.
Q: What do you mean by that? What is wise, anyway?
A: Wise might mean being able to accept the hard knocks of life better. Maybe it’s not getting carried away so much with the immediate problems. Hopefully it’s trusting more in God, and certainly in the awareness of Divine Mercy. St. John Paul’s influence touched me personally. I’m grateful to God for his mercy.
Q: What does mercy mean in your life? Did you used to be a harder on yourself?
A: My mother died young and I was a person who took on a lot of responsibility. I felt responsible for too many things. So I had to kind of work through some of that. That type of wisdom comes very gradually. It comes from experience. It has to be like a light turned on in your life.
Q: If you could turn back the clock, would you do anything differently?
A: Oh, yeah, I’d do some things differently (laughing)! But, really, you have to think of the grace you had at that time. Did I have the knowledge, the insight, the wisdom at that time? Sometimes I did, sometimes I didn’t. I think with our regret of the past we need to seek healing and trust God.
Q: What one piece of advice would you give today to a young person?
A: Live a good life. Have faith in God. But, also, be yourself, your good self. Accept yourself. That’s what I’d say: Believe in God and believe in yourself.
This article first appeared in the Spring 2019 edition of Glenmary Challenge magazine