Jubilarian Profile: Glenn Humphrey Marks 50 Years as a Friar

Wendy Healy Friar News

This is the fourth in a series of profiles of Holy Name Province friars who in 2015 are marking major anniversaries as Franciscans. The previous article featured Thomas Ennis, OFM. Glenn and the other jubilarians commemorating 50 and 25 years of profession will be honored by the Province on June 24. 

ST. MICHAELS, Ariz. — As discussions continue about the future of Franciscan life in the United States, at least one friar isn’t worried about the potential restructuring of the American OFM provinces.

Glenn Humphrey, OFM, has lived all over the United States as a member of three different provinces. He joined the Order as a member of St. John the Baptist and, for a short time, lived with Our Lady of Guadalupe friars before he transferred to Holy Name Province. While his work today is at a school in Arizona and he lives with OLG Province friars, he remains a member of Holy Name and says he wouldn’t have it any other way.

“I’m happy to be part of Holy Name, where I’ve been supported and encouraged in my diverse ministries and education,” said the friar, who is commemorating his golden jubilee this year. A licensed psychologist, Glenn has devoted 50 years of religious life to teaching and counseling at hospitals and schools. “The reason I joined HNP is that, at that time, the Province was more diverse and amenable to education.”

A Franciscan Psychologist
Many of his assignments, he said, required both special permission from provincials and advanced education, something that was not always readily available to a lay brother. His assignments as a psychologist, counselor and teacher have taken him to remote Native American reservations in the West, as well as to poor neighborhoods in Harlem, New York City.

Glenn spoke with HNP Today by phone one morning while greeting Navajo students arriving at St. Michael Indian School in St. Michaels in northern Arizona, where he has been a counselor and photography instructor since 2012. Glenn, who said he feels at home there, has had a lifelong interest in working with Native Americans.

“Mom and Dad took us on a vacation one year to the Southwest, and I was intrigued by their culture,” said Glenn, a native of Kansas City, MO.

Glenn was inspired to consider religious life after attending a retreat given by a friar from the Ohio-based St. John the Baptist Province while he was attending a Catholic high school. He joined the Order immediately after graduation and professed his first vows as a Franciscan in 1965 in Cincinnati.

After completing two years at St. Leonard College, the SJB Province theology house in Dayton, Ohio, Glenn recognized that he wanted to remain a brother. He attended Duns Scotus College in Southfield, Mich., where he earned a bachelor of arts in philosophy with a minor in English. Glenn made his solemn profession in 1968 in Cincinnati.

In those days, most brothers were expected to do manual labor, such as carpentry, sandal making or cooking. When he told his superiors that he wanted to be a psychologist, Glenn said, “they weren’t happy” and sent him to minister in Peña Blanca, a small New Mexican town between Albuquerque and Santa Fe. To Glenn’s delight, however, when he arrived, he was introduced to the Pueblos. “I wasn’t happy about going, but once I got there it rekindled my interest in working with Native Americans.”

While assigned to a small mission on the Hopi Reservation in Keams Canyon, Ariz., his interest in counseling blossomed. The principals of the local boarding and public schools where Glenn was working encouraged him to pursue a degree and certification in counseling. Glenn attended the University of New Mexico, earning a master’s degree in guidance and counseling in 1977.

New York to Arizona
In the 1980s, he began studying for his doctorate at the California School of Professional Psychology in San Diego, where he met HNP’s Daniel Nelson, OFM, a fellow student there.

Later, while studying for his doctorate in clinical psychology, Glenn took an internship at the New York University/Bellevue Hospital Center in Manhattan. He lived with Holy Name Province friars at St. Francis Friary on West 31st Street while he was in New York City. “They told me, ‘Stay here, you don’t want to go back to the desert,’ so I did,” he said. He transferred to Holy Name Province in 1988.

After completing his doctorate in 1989, Glenn spent more than two decades working with troubled adolescents at programs in the South Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and Harlem. He was a presence at several schools — including St. Stephen of Hungary and Holy Name — as well as several hospitals and treatment centers. Glenn also worked with the New York City Family Court and the Board of Education.

From 2005 to 2011, he was a counselor at Rice High School, operated by the Irish Christian Brothers. When the school closed in June 2011, he searched for work in New York City, but was having trouble finding a ministry for which he was well suited. He also yearned for the Southwest and received permission to take a sabbatical from 2011 to 2012.

He returned to New Mexico to enroll in courses at the Santa Fe Photographic Workshops and lived in Albuquerque with the friars of the OLG Province. He went on to the University of Mexico’s Continuing Education Program for a certificate in digital photography. During this time of recession in the United States, job opportunities were not coming easily and Glenn recalls feeling distressed.

“Then the provincial of Guadalupe Province asked me if I would be interested in working at St. Michael Indian School for a stipend,” Glenn noted. “And I said, ‘Yes.’”

Glenn began at the school in fall 2012, teaching photography, doing counseling, and working with students and parents. The school has 325 students, mostly Native Americans.

Glenn has served as a member of the American Psychological Association, the National Association of School Psychologists, the New York State Psychological Association, the Arizona Psychological Association, and the New York State Psychological Association Disaster Response Network. He has written and spoken extensively on psychological issues, including coping with disaster, cross-dressing, suicide, alcohol abuse, and parenting.

“I’ve always been a maverick,” he said, reminiscing. “I had to spend a lot of time convincing my superiors over the years when new ideas arose. For example, during my formation years, we didn’t go out very much. I remember one Thanksgiving, a few of us wanted to go out into the community to help less fortunate people. So we identified a poor family to work with, painted their house and brought them food. Ministry like this is a lot easier — even required — today.”

— Wendy Healy, a Connecticut-based freelance writer, is a long-time contributor to HNP Today.