As soon as she arrived at the Franciscan Mission Service office, programs associate Amanda Saunders placed two items on her new desk: a Neumann knight water bottle and a spongy Neumann knight stress ball. The Neumann University mascot is a tribute to St. Francis, who served as a knight before he heard God’s call to follow a radical and simple life.

In June, the recent Neumann graduate began her 13-month volunteer term as an office associate in the Nonprofit Servant Leadership Program.

“Throughout my college years at Neumann University, I came to deeply identify with the Franciscan spirituality,” Amanda said. “Being able to incorporate that Franciscan tradition within different setting is what attracted me to and what I love about the Franciscan Mission Service program.”

For her senior capstone project, Amanda created a leadership model incorporating Susan Komnives’ Social Change Model for Leadership Development together with the Franciscan tradition, drawing especially upon the different leadership skills of St. Francis and St. Clare.

Drawn by her love for traveling, Amanda attended several university immersion trips, which brought her to a deeper engagement with people experiencing economic hardships or societal injustice.

Through gardening with inner city students in Camden, New Jersey, she came to better understand the challenges of urban living and the direct effects of poverty. A summer immersion trip to a Native American reservation in Landon, Wyoming, gave her a unique opportunity to learn about rich Native American cultures.

Eager to share similar opportunities with others, Amanda works as a programs associate for FMS, supporting short-term trips, Discernment Days, and formation classes for Franciscan-hearted individuals preparing to travel abroad for service.

During her 13 months of service, Amanda is most excited for the chance to develop – personally, professionally, and spiritually. Determined to rediscover her skills at crocheting, Amanda can also often be found deep in a book, reading anything from The Other Boleyn Girl to the Harry Potter series.

She looks forward especially to growing through the blessings and challenges that come with communal living, as the volunteers share a house within which to eat, pray, and laugh together.

Welcome, Amanda!

Fun fact: “Within twenty-four hours after I had my gall bladder taken out, I served as an altar server at my university’s Baccalaureate Mass and then walked for my graduation.”

Favorite saint: “I love St. Christopher, because he is the patron saint of travelers. We are all journeying – even if not physically, then maybe spiritually, mentally, or emotionally – and we could all use someone to look out for us as we walk through life.”