Guests of honor:  Cardinal McCarrick, Cardinal Wuerl, Dr. Margaret Melady, Ambassador Thomas Melady

Friday night, guests mingled and discussed their common interests of service, peace, justice and care for creation at St. Francis Hall in Washington, DC, for the World Care Benefit and Celebration, which raised more than $25,000 in support of FMS.

Guests of honor included Archbishop of Washington Cardinal Donald Wuerl, who gave the invocation, and Archbishop Emeritus of Washington Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, who gave the keynote, “The Mission of St. Francis is Still the Road to Peace.” As an affiliated member of the Holy Name Province friars since 2006, McCarrick attended in his Franciscan habit.

The branches of the Franciscan family tree were represented by the Conventuals, Capuchins and Order of Friars Minors; at least five different orders of Franciscan sisters; the Friars of the Atonement, a Third Order Regular organization; secular Franciscans from various fraternities; and members of other organizations such as Franciscan Action Network.

Cardinal McCarrick, Fr. John O’Connor and Fr. Jeremy Harrington. Photos by Anthony De Cristofaro

Members of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, executive director of the Conference of Major Superiors of Men and executive director of Religious Formation Conference represented the wider church family.

“It’s wonderful to see so many friars here, the Cardinals and all the guests – it shows that the larger church has taken note of FMS,” said Sr. Barbara Freid, SMIC, a founding member of FMS. “And that’s very important, because we are part of the larger church.”

The benefit also drew together those with a deep commitment to service including representatives from Catholic Volunteer Network and United States Catholic Mission Association.

In honor of their lifelong service, Ambassador Thomas P. Melady and his wife Dr. Margaret Badum Melady received the seventh annual Anselm Moons, OFM Award. The Meladys were recognized for their work for peace and justice in the North American church and society, as well as for building bridges of peace and reconciliation between cultures, races and governments, particularly through their ambassadorial service to Burundi, Uganda and the Holy See.

Kristen Zielinski-Nalen, who served in Cochabamba, Bolivia from 2006-2009 talks about how mission has shaped her life.

Returned missioner Kristen Zielinski-Nalen (Class XXIV, Bolivia 2006-2009) was invited to share with the guests how her training and mission experience continue to impact her life and work today as justice, peace and integrity of creation (JPIC) director of St. Anthony of Padua parish in Camden, New Jersey. She is able to connect with the large population Spanish-speaking and immigrant parishioners, as well as build bridges of understanding between them and the rest of the community.

Other returned FMS missioners who had served in Bolivia, Brazil, Tanzania and Jamaica attended the event, mingling with FMS donors and friends, the Meladys’ friends and coworkers, and the Franciscans. Guests dined on vegetarian appetizers and mini-desserts and bid on craftsmanship from around the world at the silent auction.

Executive director Kim Smolik commented that the energy in the room was palpable.

“We believe that service to the marginalized in the world is an important place to be gathered around,” Smolik said. “FMS will remain an organization providing opportunities of service as well as reminding and inspiring others of the call we have to serve the poor. We are thankful to all who made this event possible.”

For the complete collection of event photos, please see our online album