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Searching for, and Finding, Community


Editor’s note: Stephanie Ashley Caban, a new FMS missioner, traces the path that led her to overseas mission and her hopes for ministry.

God and I sat down and talked one day a few months ago, and we’ve decided that serving abroad for two years seemed like a pretty good plan for my life. I am thrilled that I found FMS! I loved learning more about St. Francis of Assisi, giving me the opportunity to delve deeper into the foundations of some important values in my life. I was so drawn to the organization’s goals of working for peace and justice, believing in the fundamental dignity of every human being. 

In preparation for my formation period beginning this month, I’ve been reading about all that I will be learning during the three-month training in Washington, DC. How amazing is it that FMS takes so much thought and care into the wellbeing of their missioners, preparing them through language studies, cross-cultural and spirituality trainings, and embracing the use of dialogue to explore both myself and those I will serve?

I applied for some other overseas service programs, but more than anything, I felt a stronger sense of community during my Discernment/Interview days at FMS back in March. I’ve looked for that sense of belonging during my life search because I learned how to grow in community settings. I’ve always been drawn to groups of smiling people and I found that in my peers at college and my colleagues at work. I’ve been able to morph who I am today because I knew of how much they cared about me and my best interests. With a sense of community comes that sense of trust and care, so much so that I knew that I’d be in pretty good hands within the FMS program. 

I was able to read online about what past missioners had done in Bolivia, Guatemala, and Jamaica. I am extremely interested in certain ministries, like teaching acting classes at the women’s prison in Cochabamba, Bolivia, and working for Franciscans International, a human rights organization in the United Nations. My passion is performing and I would love to do anything I can to keep my creative juices flowing, as well as help others find their own. I also dabbled a bit in UN work during an internship I had there and it would be great to be more involved in creating and finding solutions, as well as to continue peaceful dialogue and action through the office that Franciscans International maintains in Cochabamba.

Because of my experiences, I’ve been given the joy of being able to help others in any way I can. St. Francis always said that all good works come from God. I am grateful that I have found that through my conversations with God and the friends I’ve made, I am prepared to start my service wherever I am called to go. 

Reflection question: Life is full of beginnings—where are you prepared to (re)dedicate your gifts today? 

Stephanie Ashley Caban considers faith, acting, service, and Spanish to be fundamental aspects of her identity. A lifelong New Yorker, she was active in service during high school and then college at SUNY New Paltz. She then commited to a year of service as an AmeriCorps VISTA position at Reading Partners, a nonprofit literacy organization where her main job was community engagement. Stephanie's hobbies include acting, yoga, archery, hiking, reading, and going on adventures. Serving as an overseas missioner falls in line with her drive to embrace people of different backgrounds with an open mind and heart.