Longtime Staffer Also Ambassador, Donor and Planned Giver
From 1965 to 2013, Mary Vonderhaar Weitzel was a stalwart of the Glenmary Headquarters staff in Cincinnati, building relationships with donors and helping support the home mission work of Glenmarians and coworkers in many ways.
Throughout those nearly 48 years, Mary's love for Glenmary grew, an affection that started when she was just a sixth-grade student at Sts. Peter and Paul School in Reading, Ohio. As an adult, Mary ultimately became a Glenmary donor and a planned giver through her will.
"In grade school we always collected money for the missions," she says, "but nothing really clicked with me until a Glenmary priest talked to our class and gave us copies of Glenmary Challenge magazine." She recalls that she was drawn to mission work and adds, "Right away, I found a place in my heart for Glenmary."
After graduating from Mount Notre Dame High School in Reading, Mary worked at a couple of office jobs that she did not find fulfilling. But then, providentially, she was invited to interview for a position with Glenmary. The offer that followed led Mary to an alignment of her professional, personal and spiritual lives that lasted for the rest of her career. "I always felt really blessed," she says.
She worked in the donor services department until her retirement in 2013. The interaction and connection with donors was her favorite part of the job. She often included small notes in her correspondence with Glenmary's Boost-A-Month (BAM) Club members, telling them about the work of the missioners they were supporting through their monthly contributions.
Mary's knowledge and deep appreciation of Glenmary's ministry came from firsthand observation. She had the opportunity to travel with other supporters to a number of states and counties where missioners were serving—including a Mississippi county where she saw poverty that she could hardly believe was present. "It made an indelible mark on my heart for the poor," she says.
"It also helped me really understand mission life, the need for Glenmary's work, and the challenges of that work. It requires time, talent and patience, but the missioners never give up! When I got back to the office, my work had so much more meaning. It was a pleasure to help Glenmary raise funds because I had seen how badly they were needed in 'my own backyard.'"
Mary herself became both a donor to Glenmary's annual fund and a BAM member (or "BAM-er"). In 2005, she and her husband, Jim, took their financial commitment a step further when they named Glenmary as a beneficiary in their will. After Jim died in 2012, Mary included this bequest in her own will to assure that her support for Glenmary would continue after her own death.
She also recruited many friends and family members to join the BAM club, some of whom have belonged for 40 years. She still belongs, too.
At Glenmary Headquarters, she became the go-to person for people who had inquiries about the priests and brothers. "I would get those calls because I knew the Glenmarians," she says.
When donors visited there, Mary was often the staff member who conducted tours and talked to them about the missionary society's ongoing work.
"Mary has been a real ambassador for Glenmary. She also has a big heart," says former planned giving officer Susan Lambert. "She took a personal interest in donors and showed care and compassion for them. And she always sent birthday, oath-anniversary, and ordination-anniversary cards to missioners as ways of supporting them and their ministry."
Even in retirement, Mary continues to support Glenmary through gifts and prayers. "I want to give back what I can, but I have received so much more from them," she says. "Their continued promise of prayer means so much."