Franciscan Mission Service welcomes two new board members: returned missioner Lee Lechtenberg and Fr. Wayne Hellmann (O.F.M. Conv.)!
Their invitation and acceptance illustrates the balance and richness of Franciscan Mission Service’s board through Lee’s experiences as a missioner in Bolivia as well as Fr. Hellmann’s professional expertise as a historical theologian and his personal commitment as a vowed religious.
Bringing together an artist like Lee and an academic such as Fr. Hellmann reflects the varied backgrounds of people called to the Franciscan movement. Hopefully, their stories will inspire other “Franciscan-hearted” people to answer the call in their lives to commit deeper to the example of St. Francis of Assisi.
New Franciscan Mission Service board member Lee Lechtenberg asks a critical question:
“With traditional missionary religious orders in the US aging and dwindling, what is the future of mission?”
Lee believes that Franciscan Mission Service has an answer and he looks forward to contributing to its faith formation training mission for lay people.
Receiving a college education in psychology and theology, Lee worked in a variety of professional environments including teaching at a boys boarding school in Prairie du chien, Wisconsin, campus ministry at University of Detroit, as well as engineering and computer-aided design of automobiles in Detroit and consumer product design and research in Boston. After seeing their sons through college, Lee and his wife, Jean, took a leap of faith, sold their house, and joined Franciscan Mission Service Class 23 (2007-09). With Jean, Lee served both the students at the college in Carmen Pampa (Universidad Academica Campesina) as well as the families of the pueblo of Carmen Pampa.
Since returning, Lee has shared his mission experience through his art, especially portraits celebrating the beauty and presence of Bolivia and its people. As an artist, Lee creates pictures and symbols that bring faith alive in today’s culture. Another of his artistic interests directly related to Franciscan Mission Service is how faith translates into changing native cultures. Grateful for the formation he received from Franciscan Mission Service, Lee is ready to give back as a new board member.
“We must develop training programs in spirituality and mission for lay Christians who find themselves called to go outside their boundaries. That is why I want to see FMS succeed – now and for the future,” Lee says.
Friar J.A. Wayne Hellmann is Professor of Historical Theology at Saint Louis University, where he has also served as director of the PhD program in Historical Theology and as chair of the Department of Theological Studies. A Conventual Franciscan of the Midwestern Province of Our Lady of Consolation, he received his theological training at the Pontifical Faculty of St. Bonaventure in Rome and his doctorate from the Ludwigs-Maximilian-Universität in Munich, Germany.
In his province. he has served as formation director, definitor, and Minister provincial. At Saint Louis University, he served as director of graduate programs and as chair of the Department of Theological Studies. His academic and pastoral interests have been in Medieval Theology, specifically in the Franciscan school. In this area, he has published academically and conducted retreats and workshops in many parts of the world, and especially in Africa.”
In addition to numerous academic publications, he has written articles and served as an editor for the Franciscan entries found in the new edition of the New Catholic Encyclopedia. For many summers over the last years, he taught early Franciscan sources at the Franciscan Institute at St. Bonaventure, New York. Additionally, he has often lectured or conducted retreats for Franciscans in Zambia, Africa and elsewhere at home and abroad.
He first learned about Franciscan Mission Service through his first cousin and conferee, Fr. Martin Day, outgoing board member.
“I assure you he was a tenacious recruiter,” Fr. Hellmann says.