From Ohio to Kenya, Glenmary brother trots globe in search of vocations

IMAGE: CNS photo/courtesy Glenmary Home Missioners

By John Stegeman

(CNS) — God’s ability to call vocations isn’t limited by geography, and so a
vocation director must go wherever the Holy Spirit leads.

Brother David Henley, a member of the Glenmary Home Missioners, it’s led all around the world.

Columbus native professed his first oath with Cincinnati-based Glenmary in
2003. Knowing Glenmary’s mission is to bring the Catholic Church to small towns
and rural counties of Appalachia and the South, he figured his days of
traveling were limited.

an increase of Hispanic immigrants in Glenmary’s missions, Brother David
quickly found himself in Mexico to learn the language. Since becoming vocation
director in 2010, he has visited 39 states, Mexico again, Kenya and Uganda, all
in search of vocation prospects.

I joined Glenmary, I thought I would have to give up traveling, but God
obviously had a different plan,” Brother David told Glenmary Challenge magazine.
“I have realized my love to travel to new places and to meet new people has
served Glenmary well. Guys are not lined up outside our door to sign up, so we
have to go to where they are to meet them.”

has seen a surge in vocation prospects contacting us from different parts the
world,” he added. “It is exciting that men from places that were once served by
missionaries are feeling inspired to serve as missionaries themselves.”

international surge is real. Glenmary has three fully professed members from
Kenya, two of whom made their final oath this year. Of the 10 men in Glenmary’s
formation program, one is from Ohio, the rest come from abroad. In all, six
countries are represented in the group.

the international flavor, Brother David’s Glenmary vocation department spends
most of its time seeking vocations in the United States. Brother David and
vocation counselor Wilmar Zabala spend their days hosting “Come and See” events
that take potential recruits to the missions, traveling to youth conferences,
speaking at schools or otherwise reaching out, helping young men to hear God’s
call in their lives.

for vocation prospects has meant road trips across the USA, vocation events in
different states and even traveling to other countries,” Brother David said.
“By joining Glenmary, I have gotten to see rural USA, which is so different from
where I grew up in Columbus.

think my love for the people that I met on home mission trips helped to inspire
me to become a Glenmary brother,” he added. “I was responding to God’s call,
but I felt confirmed in my call to Glenmary because of my love for the
mountains of Appalachia. Now as vocation director, getting to meet people all
over the U.S. and in other countries when I make vocation visits has been a

is a religious society of priests, brothers and lay co-workers dedicated to
serving parts of small town and rural America that lack a formal Catholic

Its founder, Father William Howard Bishop, was known for saying that
people in what he termed “No Priest-Land, USA” were as entitled to
missionaries as any overseas mission territory. He knew God would raise up men
to answer this missionary challenge. Brother David said that’s the reason
behind all his travels.

notion that home mission communities are entitled to a Catholic presence,” he said, “is
precisely why Glenmary remains open to vocations from wherever the Spirit calls

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is editor of Glenmary Challenge, quarterly magazine of the Glenmary Home

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