For many Glenmarians, the road to the home missions was not a straight path. Many worked different jobs for several years before answering their calling. Others started their discernment in a diocese or with a different order. Some had families before realizing their vocation.
Regardless of their origins, Glenmary’s priests and brothers can all identify a time when they felt at peace with their decision to join Glenmary. Over the next few months, we will bring you stories from Glenmarians about the moment they knew they belonged at Glenmary. For some, it was an event, others had an overall sense of satisfaction and peace with their work in the missions.
We’re starting with Father Bruce Brylinksi, who was honored at the recent Glenmary Assembly for celebrating 25 years as a Home Missioner.
A series of events throughout Father Bruce Brylinski’s life led him to Glenmary. He knew that he wanted to be a priest, and he knew he wanted to pursue art. When he found a place that encouraged him to do both and allowed him to help those in need, he knew he was home.
His story begins in the 1960s and 70s, when Father Bruce was intrigued by the pageantry of the Catholic Church. He spent hours as a 7-year-old playing church and mimicking the priest.
But as he grew older, he discovered his talent for artistic expression. Guided by his art and theater teacher, Jerry Marranca – a woman Father Bruce said changed his life – he honed his artistic skill as well as learned to dance. Marranca taught Father Bruce all forms of dance.
“It was heavenly,” Father Bruce said. “Now, I could dance the crazies of the 70s, and I learned the wonderment of ballroom dancing. Whoever I dated had to dance!”
Those two skills eventually led him to connect with the priesthood. In college, studying art at Buffalo State College, Father Bruce felt a yearning to become a priest.
“I talked to the Diocese of Buffalo, and they did nothing,” Father Bruce said. “They wanted me to change schools. That was out of the question. I was not going to stop studying art.”
After graduating from Buffalo State, Father Bruce began working for a Pittsburgh costume company. During that time, he met a priest named Father Paul.
“He had a polish folk dance group, and they need male dancers,” Father Bruce said. “Wow! Here was a priest who did all the priestly things and danced! I thought, ‘If this is possible, I need to become a priest.’”
He entered formation and was ordained June 25, 1983 in the diocese of Pittsburgh. His first assignment was St. Joseph Church of Coraopolis, Penn., where he enjoyed his parishioners and spent time making artwork for the worship space.
But he still felt unfulfilled.
In 1985, Father Bruce read Glenmary Challenge and contacted Glenmary’s vocation office. He was interested in mission life and liked the idea of serving as a missioner in the United States.
“I worked with my spiritual director and did several retreats always asking the question, ‘Where do you want me, Lord?’ I met Father Francois Pellissier, who was a tall, good-natured guy and a missioner, and in the winter, I made a mission trip to Vanceburg, Ky., and met Father George Mathis, who was a priest and an artist,” Father Bruce said. “I was impressed by all the outreach. This was all key in my decision making process. Priesting, art making and reaching out to people in need. That was life. I was going to be a Glenmarian!”
Is God calling you to a vocation as a priest or brother? Talk to our vocations team to help discern God’s will in your life.