When everyone gathered in St. Francis Hall on May 13 for the 2016 World Care Benefit and Celebration, the spirits of generosity and gratitude were almost tangible. This annual celebration at Franciscan Mission Service is more than a fancy catered event; it’s a call to action. It’s a reminder of how important it is to serve from the heart and to practice and promote accompaniment in the world. 

We were blessed to host John Carr, founder and director of the Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life at Georgetown University, as our keynote speaker on “The Mission and Message of a Jesuit Pope Named Francis.” John spoke to Pope Francis’ place in today’s Church, a pope who walks the streets of the people and preaches against the dangers of indifference towards one another.

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Another highlight of the night was honoring Fr. Larry Snyder, the former president of Catholic Charities USA and current Vice President for Mission at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota, with the 2016 Anselm Moons, OFM Award for his commitment to mission and the laity. Fr. Larry sees service as a link between all of humanity, and it is through this link that societal transformation can really take effect.

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We were also proud to award Brandon Turner of St. John’s University in New York with our second annual San Damiano Servant Leadership Award for his outstanding devotion to volunteering in his community. During his acceptance speech, Brandon emphasized the importance of caring for others and taking time to really listen. 

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The evening was a celebration of FMS’ many ministries – of gratitude for the expansions in our programs and of hope for continued growth in the future. In particular, the night featured the premiere of a new video highlighting FMS’ newest domestic program, DC Service Corps. The video followed the journeys of inaugural members Lizzy Balboa and Josh Maxey: what led them to FMS and how they have been changed by their respective ministries during this year.

For Lizzy, this year has brought on a strong shift in leadership perspective, and for Josh, this year has really opened his eyes to the deeper issues of poverty.

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Thanks to the continued prayers and generosity of our supporters, DC Service Corps will be expanding next year to include three new service sites.

The speeches of the night left a strong impact on the attendees. “I’ve been to a lot of events like this and this one really stands out because of the authenticity of the speakers. Everyone is speaking from the heart and from experience,” shared Kathy Brown, senior director at Catholic Charities USA.

The evening included the bittersweet announcement of Communications Manager Bridget Higginbotham’s upcoming departure from FMS to attend grad school at the University of Maryland.

To commemorate her time at FMS, Bridget delivered a reflection on how working for FMS for five years has changed her. In particular, the Franciscan charism of a ministry of presence and person-first language have left an impact on Bridget that she will carry with her into the future. At the same time, she will carry the stories of all the missioners, office associates, board members, and others with whom she has worked over the years.

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“It was obvious from Bridget’s speech how much the time spent at FMS changes its staff and volunteers. FMS promotes service with instead of service for,” shared Fr. Jason Welle, OFM, of the Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land.

“It gives me a lot of strength and hope to see so many people turn out tonight, to see that so many people care,” shared DC Service Corps member Josh Maxey. “With such continued initiatives I think we really can directly affect poverty and educate people to put an end to it.”

Thank you to all of our guests, silent auction donors, event volunteers, and sponsors.

Click here to see photos from the event.