Join Franciscan Mission Service in extending a warm welcome to the newest member of our Nonprofit Leadership Program, Development Associate Melissa Montrowl!

Melissa graduated in 2013 from Franciscan University of Steubenville (FUS), where she double majored in Theology and Catechetics. Asked how the Franciscan character of the school colored her education, she laughs and says that it’s really all she’s ever known. Attending St. Francis High School in her hometown of Gainesville, Florida, Franciscan spirituality “kept popping up everywhere.”

The chapel at Franciscan University of Steubenville

The chapel at Franciscan University of Steubenville

“I like the simplicity of Francis,” she says. “Everything with him was simple. But not in a watered-down way; he saw things simply because he simply loved Christ. I tend to overthink and overanalyze everything, and I really appreciate this whole branch of spirituality that says ‘Hey, it doesn’t have to be this hard!’”

In addition to deepening her appreciation for Franciscan spirituality, Melissa’s college experience also gave her the opportunity to develop her love of service and mission work. While studying abroad her sophomore year in Austria, she spent a week in Lourdes, France, volunteering in the baths with the sick pilgrims. She also spent spring break of her junior and senior years at Kay Mari orphanage in Haiti, and most recently, taught at Our Lady of Mount Carmel High School in Belize for 10 months after her graduation from FUS.

Inside the Kay Mari orphanage in Haiti (image courtesy of Regnum Christi)

Inside the Kay Mari orphanage in Haiti (image courtesy of Regnum Christi)

“That behind-the-scenes work, the stuff that makes it possible for the people in the field to do their jobs—I’m looking forward to learning all about that,” she says.Melissa found Franciscan Mission Service through the Catholic Volunteer Network website, and was intrigued by the opportunity to see the “other side of missions.”

In her free time, Melissa enjoys reading, and currently finds herself on a big Victorian lit kick, including Elizabeth Gaskell, the Count of Monte Cristo, and the complete stories of Sherlock Holmes.

Favorite saint: St. Maximilian Kolbe. “I read a biography of him entitled ‘A Man for Others’ and was blown away not only by his martyrdom in Auschwitz, but his whole life in general—his sense of humor, his intellectual mind. He’s amazing!”

Fun fact: She and her sister were once kicked out of a Las Vegas casino. “My mom was at one of the machines, dropped her coins, and when we went to help her pick them up, a tiny security lady came up and told us we had to leave for being too young. She only came up to my shoulder but she was frightening!”