When the personal, spiritual, and congregational mission all started to come together for Brother Joseph Glebas, it felt like a divine alignment. For the past 25 years he has ministered full-time in Lithuania, a country with a personal family connection that he felt nudged toward by God, where his missional aspirations inspired the Brothers and paved the way for his presence there.
Brother Joe met the Brothers at Mount Saint Joseph High School, but it was before that, at the St. Alphonsus School in downtown Baltimore where a priest came to share with students about vocation.
“He asked us the question, what does it profit a man to gain the world but to lose his soul?” said Brother Joe. He continued, “That question really struck me at age 13, and at that time I didn’t know that it was the same question St. Ignatius asked Francis Xavier when he invited him to become a Jesuit and a missionary.”
Brother Joe didn’t want to become a priest, but he did feel a divine calling upon his life. When he met the Brothers at Mount Saint Joseph, he knew he could be a teacher and upon graduation, entered the novitiate which was at that time in Leonardtown, MD.
Coming from a Lithuanian family, Brother Joe grew up praying for peace in Eastern Europe.
He believed in his heart that one day those countries would be free from Soviet control and began saying a rosary at 12-years-old; continuing until 1990, when the USSR dissolved, and Lithuania announced its freedom.
“I’ll never forget where I was when I heard the news,” Brother Joe exclaimed. “I was in Boston at the time, and when the announcement came and I saw the fulfillment of my prayers, I just said to myself, ‘I’m going.’”
He didn’t know how or when, as he was an only child with his parents getting up in age. He had stopped speaking Lithuanian as a child but resolved each night to relearn. In 1994, Brother Joe’s father passed away, and he joined Brother Arcadius on a visit to Lithuania for tourism. Soon he found himself deeply involved in summer camps, one in which was for university students.
“It was then that I was asked when I was going to stay forever,” Brother Joe laughed. “I could feel it all coming together.”
The Xaverian Brothers congregational aspirations connected with what was going on in Brother Joe’s personal and spiritual life in what he described as nothing short of a divine alignment. He was ready to take the mission to Lithuania. Today, Brother Joe serves student retreat programs and visiting public schools throughout the country where he speaks on vocation, meditation, and prayer.
Recently, at the end of a junior retreat with a Jesuit school, a student sat down next to him and declared, “I’m an atheist. But what you were talking about really inspired me.”
Brother Joe felt God ministering to him in that moment, as he knew the student gave himself in ways of service with a heart of compassion.
“Deep down, I knew he wasn’t really an atheist,” Brother Joe said. “And I pray that he realizes that someday, too.”
Brother Joe asks you to join him in prayer for the youth of Lithuania, that they would be inspired by the Holy Spirit and find God everywhere. He also asks that we pray this same prayer for ourselves.