Over the past 25 years, Franciscan Mission Service has placed lay missioners in 19 countries, including: Bolivia, Bosnia, Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica, Kenya, Namibia, Nicaragua, Peru, Siberia, South Africa, Tanzania, Thailand, the Philippines, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
Currently all our missioners are in Bolivia, Guatemala, and Jamaica. We are actively pursuing additional sites.
FMS has been sending missioners to Bolivia for more than 20 years. We have a number of ministry options available in two locations in Bolivia: Cochabamba (a city of over 1 million people) and the more rural location of Carmen Pampa.
Through a partnership with an OFM friar in Cochabamba, FMS missioners engage in a wide variety of ministries and live at the Franciscan Social Center in the downtown area of Cochabamba. The social center is home to a number of social services offered to the community. Here are a few examples of ministries:
- Manos Con Libertad/FreeHands a co-operative of prisoners from San Sebastián Women’s prison and those who are on probation outside. Currently there are approximately 55 members with between them roughly 125 children. The women make a large variety of hand crafted products to sell. In our restaurant and bakery we have ventured into catering, serve approximately 40 lunches a day, and specialize in high quality cakes and desserts. These 55 women and 125 children are trapped by terrible poverty and a cycle of ever increasing debt and for reasons related to this are, or were, imprisoned. The aim of FreeHands is to empower the members to enjoy a fresh start in life through earning an honest wage with which to support their families. The transition from life in prison to life in society is difficult, yet the belief is that Christian principles can help foster inner stability and outer strength. The hope is that through this work the women not only break bonds of debt but reclaim a sense of dignity and self worth.
- Centro Una Brisa de Esperanza(CUBE)/A Breeze of Hope is the first and only center in Bolivia to specialize in the provision of free psychological, legal, medical, and social services for child and adolescent victims of sexual violence. CUBE is a pioneer in its field because it uses transdisciplinary treatment protocols. Professionals from different disciplines—lawyers, psychologists, social workers, nurses, and physicians—all work together to form an integrated treatment plan and legal strategy for the child that is compassionate and comforting. CUBE has provided these comprehensive services to over 1,230 children. In order to prevent sexual assault, CUBE provides educational workshops on issues surrounding sexual violence for the general population, legislators, judges, prosecutors, police, and other government authorities. CUBE has provided education and training to over 70,000 people and has brought awareness to over 1,000,000 people through massive information campaigns.
- Our missioners have also volunteered at Franciscans International, becoming part of a the global community that provides a Franciscan voice at the United Nations. The missioners collaborate with leaders from Bolivian religious orders to raise ecological consciousness and inform local families about caring for creation, a core Franciscan value.
FMS in is partnership with the Catholic university in Carmen Pampa, known as the Unidad Academica Campesina de Carmen Pampa (UAC-CP). Founded in 1990 by a Franciscan sister, Sr. Damon Nolan, the college in rural Bolivia generates social and economic change through community-centered education. The college is dedicated to making higher education available to young Bolivians with talent and ambition but with few economic resources. Offering programs that address the most pressing concerns of rural people-health, education, agriculture, veterinary science, and the environment-it gives young Bolivians the tools to become leaders in the development of their own communities.
In the past 20 years, the college has become a vibrant catalyst for economic and social change in one of the poorest areas of Latin America. We are proud to have had Franciscan Mission Service missioners serving there in different capacities since 1998, including campus ministry, student services, and teaching.
Our missioners serve at the Valley of the Angels, an orphanage run by the OFM Franciscans of the Immaculate Conception Province (New York). Founded by Fr. Rocco Famiglietti in 1988 to serve the children who were abandoned or orphaned, it has since expanded to provide all children in poverty with an housing, meals, clothing, and schooling. There are about 200 children ages 6 through 18. Fr. Rocco left a legacy of love and had the motto “give the best to the poor.” The Valley of the Angels seeks to affirm the dignity of the children and to give them the two greatest gifts: roots and wings. All of this works together with the hope that the seeds planted by their solid education and good moral teaching will grow and blossom; allowing the children to contribute to their society and live a Christian life fully alive in Christ.
Our missioners serve at St. Joseph Parish in Savanna La Mar in partnership with the OFM Franciscans of St. John the Baptist Province. The friars have been serving the community, i which many experience deep poverty, since 2001, and our missioners arrived in 2015. Ministries include work in soup kitchens, pastoral home visits, youth outreach, and educational support.