Funeral Mass celebrated for Fr. Bertin Glennon

Religious-order priest served much of his priesthood in the Diocese of Knoxville

By Dan McWilliams

Father Bertin Glennon, a longtime priest in the Diocese of Knoxville who was a member of the Missionary Servants of the Most Holy Trinity religious order, passed away on May 21 at the age of 80.

Father Glennon ministered in Chattanooga during much of his priesthood and resided at the Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul rectory for many years, first arriving there in 1990.

Among his roles in the diocese were as parochial vicar of the Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul, a religion teacher at Notre Dame High School, and clinical director and founder of the Center for Individual and Family Effectiveness in Chattanooga.

A funeral Mass for Father Glennon was celebrated on May 28 at St. Joseph Church in Fort Mitchell, Ala.

Father Glennon was born on Jan. 6, 1944, in Milwaukee. He had two siblings, a brother, Michael, and a sister, Eibhlin.

Father Glennon, who celebrated 50 years in the priesthood on May 15, 2021, at Holy Spirit Church in Soddy-Daisy, was ordained on May 15, 1971, in Silver Spring, Md., just outside of Washington, D.C. The superior general of the Missionary Servants, Father Mike Barth, ST, delivered the homily and concelebrated the golden-anniversary Mass.

Also present at that Mass were Bishop Emeritus Richard F. Stika and area priests Father Jim Vick, Father Alex Waraksa, Father Charlie Burton, Father Mike Creson, Father David Carter, and host pastor Monsignor Al Humbrecht. Father Glennon frequently joined Monsignor Humbrecht and the Holy Spirit community for Sunday Mass.

Father Glennon also was a counselor with a doctorate in psychology.

Many friends and family, including his sister, Eibhlin Glennon, attended the anniversary Mass.

Father Barth in his homily remarked that “Father Bertin Glennon, in the footsteps of a Peter and a Paul and powered by faith,” was a missionary priest for 50 years.

“It’s a long time. He is a Missionary Servant priest, a congregation that has as its heart, powered by the charism given us by our founder, Father Thomas Augustine Judge, over 100 years ago. It is that charism that is a missionary call to develop and empower and energize laity. And to go out in service to those most in need: the poor, the abandoned, the marginalized, the often-aimless youth, the used and abused of our society, the neglected and rejected; these we consider our treasures,” Father Barth said.

“Our founder charged us to go to what he referred to as the tangled portion of the vineyard and there to be a light to those in darkness,” Father Barth continued. “Father Bertin, throughout his 50 years, has faithfully followed this path. From a ministry in the hills of coal-mining Appalachia in Manchester, Ky., to the rural south in Kiln, Miss., later in Hohenwald, Tenn., and now the past 35 years in Chattanooga, founding and working at the Center for Individual and Family Effectiveness, ministering to and with some of the most marginalized and abandoned of our society.”

Father Glennon also served as an associate pastor at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish in Chattanooga when he first arrived in Chattanooga in 1986, as pastor of St. Bridget Parish in Dayton in 1987, and as founding pastor of Holy Trinity Parish in Hohenwald in 1983.

After being ordained to the priesthood, Father Glennon also served as director of the Kentucky State Health Planning Commission, as a regional forensic psychological examiner in Tullahoma, Tenn., as chief psychologist at the Baker Correctional Institution in Olustee, Fla., and as a marital and family therapist.

Father Barth, saying that he did not want to speak for Father Glennon, nevertheless said, “I feel that it’s safe to say that he probably doesn’t like the focus on him. I suspect that in his heart he really wants to celebrate each of you. Why? Because each of you, without exception, has touched his life and enriched it. Because of you, he is different, more priestly, more Christian, more human. You have touched him in so many ways, beyond counting. You have let him share in your laughter and your tears, your head and your heart, your strength and your weakness. Together, you have played and prayed, thought and fought, have shared much of life and I’m sure no small amount of death.”

Father Glennon “has served humbly now for 50 years,” Father Barth continued.

“We gather today to thank God for those years, to pray for Father Bertin, to pray that God will preserve him and allow him to continue to be the missionary that he is for many years to come,” he said.

Bishop Stika thanked Father Glennon for his care for Monsignor George Schmidt, the longtime rector of the basilica, especially as the monsignor’s health declined in his later years. Monsignor Schmidt passed away in 2016.

“Father Bertin for so long was so good to Monsignor George Schmidt,” the third bishop of Knoxville said.

Bishop Stika also thanked Father Glennon “in the name of all of the priests in this diocese, for all of the lives that you’ve touched in your very, very special work. It is very difficult because you see the fragile nature of human life, or somebody who just needs somebody to talk to. …”

Mike Dunne and wife Amy Katcher-Dunne of St. Jude Parish in Chattanooga were among the good friends of Father Glennon attending his golden jubilee.

“He married us 14 years ago,” they said at the time.

“There’s a story behind it because we got married in Cleveland, Ohio,” Mr. Dunne said.

“Which is where I’m from,” Mrs. Katcher-Dunne said, “so he drove up to Cleveland, Ohio.”

“Because we couldn’t get a priest in Cleveland,” Mr. Dunne said. “He was visiting his family in Wisconsin. He drove five hours to do the ceremony.”

Father Glennon is “very special to us,” Mr. Dunne said. “His counsel has helped us in our marriage. We couldn’t be happier. We have a very successful marriage. I think he gives great counsel. His words of advice to us have been so important whenever we have issues. We work them out.”

“He’s a psychologist. He’s a doctor,” Mrs. Katcher-Dunne said. “As part of our pre-Cana [marriage-preparation course], believe it or not, he gave us the Myers-Briggs personality test. We still reference that. He’s like, ‘You know, just think about it. You process things differently, you come to the same conclusion, but you have to process it differently,’ and 14 years later we still reference that.”

At a special Mass to mark Father Glennon’s 25th anniversary in the priesthood, the Diocese of Knoxville’s first shepherd, Bishop Anthony J. O’Connell, remarked about the many ways Father Glennon was able to serve the Church and the greater community.

The silver-anniversary Mass was celebrated in June 1996 at Sts. Peter and Paul. Bishop O’Connell said of Father Glennon that “his middle name could be service.”

Taking part in the silver-anniversary Mass for Father Glennon was Monsignor Schmidt, who was a close friend to Father Glennon.

Monsignor Schmidt, who died in December 2016, said he treasured the conversations he and Father Glennon would have almost daily at the kitchen table they shared.

Father Glennon retired from active ministry a decade ago and recently had been living at the Cenacle House at St. Joseph Parish in Fort Mitchell. The Missionary Servants of the Most Blessed Trinity also have the Blessed Trinity Shrine Retreat, a spirituality center in Fort Mitchell.

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