By Sister alies terese
HOUSTON – It’s hard to believe that Father Bob Dalton, the last of the Glenmary Fathers, will be leaving the Diocese of Jackson near the end of August. The rest of his order left the state in 2012.
The Glenmary Home Missioners were founded in 1939 with a purpose to establish a Catholic presence in rural areas and small towns of the United States.
The Glenmary Missioners have served in Mississippi since 1965, beginning with Aberdeen and New Albany and then over the years in Fulton, Ripley, Amory, Ackerman, Eupora, Bruce and Houston, where Father Dalton is currently serving.
According to Father Dalton, the Glenmary Missioners are leaving the diocese due to “our community retrenchment, so as to centralize Glenmary personnel.” That has now taken the form of missions in Tennessee, Kentucky, North Carolina, and Georgia.
“I’m a great fan of Church history and I see what will rebuild the Church: We must let go, so something new can be built. There have been five big ‘deaths and new beginnings’, I think. Benedict, Francis, Ignatius, the Missionaries and now…what? We might be too close to see. But, in each of these cases something needed to die before a new and living thing could be born. I’m not sure what it will look like, but…we need discernment to discover new life…not a false hope,” says Father Dalton.
Maybe more than Church history, though, is how he feels about going. “I am sad, sad…I love the people and I’m gonna miss ‘um!”
(Sister alies terese is a vowed Catholic solitary who lives an eremitical life. Her days are formed around prayer, art and writing. She lives and writes in Mississippi.)