Glenmary Farm to Close
The site of mission trips since the 1960s, Glenmary Farm will close at the end of this year as the parish can now stand on its own, and the Glenmary Home Missioners (headquartered in Cincinnati) refocus on new mission territory. Here’s the offiicial statement from the Glenmary Home Missioners, released on May 23:
CINCINNATI—-After more than 40 years as the site for Glenmary’s Group Volunteer Program, the Glenmary Farm in Lewis County, Ky., will close in December 2014.
The closing of the Kentucky volunteer site, though, in no way means the end of the Glenmary Group Volunteer Program. Last year, Glenmary opened a new volunteer site in Grainger County, Tenn., near two of the home mission society’s newest missions: St. John Paul II in Rutledge (Grainger County) and Blessed Teresa of Calcutta in Maynardville (Union County). The Catholic Church wasn’t present in either of these counties—-where the poverty rates average 20 percent—-until Glenmary missioners arrived in 2011.
The Glenmary Volunteers at Joppa Mountain, Tenn. (fondly called Toppa Joppa), can accommodate high school and college-age groups as well as intergenerational parish groups.
Glenmary Home Missioners, a missionary society of Catholic priests and brothers dedicated to establishing an effective Catholic Church presence in counties where it didn’t exist before, started the volunteer program at the Glenmary Farm as a ministry to men discerning missionary priesthood and brotherhood. Eventually the program expanded, offering mission immersion opportunities to high school and college-age volunteers from across the country.
In the past four decades, the Farm has hosted more than 22,000 short-term volunteers and many Farm managers. Volunteers have helped build more than 300 units of low-income housing with People’s Self-Help Housing (PSHH) and have taken part in numerous home renovation projects. (PSHH was launched in 1982 by Glenmary missioners to help provide affordable housing opportunities in Lewis County. As the organization grew it was eventually turned over to the community. Today it is run by a board of directors composed of county residents and continues to serve residents as a fully sustainable nonprofit organization.)
Group volunteer program participants have also distribute countless pounds of food to the hungry while assisting at the Lending a Helping Hand Food Pantry, Licking Valley Community Action Program and annual Project Merry Christmas programs. And, they have provided a ministry of presence to many individuals at a local nursing home and at a behavior health center. But most of all, they have shared in the joy and beauty of Appalachia, which they learned about from its people.
About every 10 years, Glenmary takes time to evaluate its current missions and ministries, measure effectiveness and identify ongoing needs in mission areas. A mission plan for the next decade is then created based on these findings.
Covington parish can stand on its own
Included in the most recent mission plan was last year’s return of Holy Redeemer mission in Lewis County to the pastoral care of the Diocese of Covington. This mission community has grown to the point that it is now able to stand on its own, which is the goal for every Glenmary mission.
With no mission nearby, the decision was made that the Glenmary Group Volunteer Program site at the Glenmary Farm would close. This year’s Project Merry Christmas in December will be the last outreach effort in which volunteers at the Glenmary Farm will take part.
“It’s important that our volunteer program be integrated with a Glenmary mission community and be part of the missionary outreach in a county,” said Father Chet Artysiewicz, president of Glenmary.
“Missioners have served in Lewis County since 1964 and, with lay coworkers, have helped build up a strong mission community at Holy Redeemer, a successful volunteer site at the Farm and many other outreach programs that continue to serve residents of Lewis County today. Being true to our missionary charism it’s now time for our missioners, coworkers and volunteers to move on to another area where the Church is not yet present.”
Many have said following their volunteer week at the Farm that they received more from the people of Lewis County than they gave. Volunteers at Toppa Joppa, who are doing similar outreach in Grainger and nearby Union counties, are now making similar comments about their Tennessee mission immersion.
Joe Grosek, director of Glenmary’s volunteer program, is heading up the new program site in Tennessee, which opened in the summer of 2013.
According to Father Artysiewicz, the hope for the new group volunteer site is the same as it has been for the Glenmary Farm. “We sincerely hope that those who serve with the Glenmary Group Volunteer Program are able to put their faith into practice and leave the program as better Christian people because of their experience.”
A celebration of the Glenmary Farm and its volunteers is being planned for Saturday, Nov. 22, at the Farm. Former volunteers and Farm managers are also encouraged to share their memories of serving in Lewis County on the Glenmary Farm Facebook page.
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