After an intensive three-month period of formation with Franciscan Mission Service (FMS), Becky Kreidler, Hannah Hagarty, and Sabrina Portner were commissioned as lay missioners who will accompany members of economically poor communities abroad.
The November day of the ceremony included a Mass, presided over by Br. Ignatius (Iggy) Harding, OFM, at the Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land and a reception at the FMS volunteer house, Casa San Salvador. At both the monastery and the Casa, FMS Board members, Formation presenters, returned FMS missioners, DC Service Corps members, and friends of FMS joined together to offer up their best wishes for the newest FMS lay mission class.
In turn, Commissioning guests were blessed to hear each missioner’s personal mission statement, shared publicly for the first time as a prelude to Mass. During the next two years of mission service, these statements will serve to ground missioners in their vocation. Said Sabrina, a 21-year-old who was born and raised in Sleepy Eye, MN and who will serve in Bolivia, “I strive to live loving God with all my heart, understanding, and strength and to love my neighbors, especially of Bolivia, as God loves them, so that one day our gaze will match God’s gaze of boundless love.”
Becky Kreidler, a 22-year-old from Chicago, IL who will serve in Guatemala, also spoke of love and said, “I depart from a life of individualism and embrace living in intentional community in all its challenges, lessons, and grace. I relinquish the idea of success and money and allow love to be the only measure. I examine and hold my privilege and choose to listen, learn, and live in solidarity with those on the margins.”
Hannah Hagarty, a 23-year-old from Colfax, IA who will serve in Jamaica, said, “I strive to live each day with authenticity, compassion, and peace…by committing to being present and genuinely listening, by living in solidarity, and by seeking to console those who are troubled, understand those who are oppressed, and love my neighbor as myself.”
The moving personal mission statements prompted many in the congregation to reflect on the meaning of mission and its role in the global Church. Sister Marie Lucey, OSF, Associate Director of the Franciscan Action Network (FAN) said, “Each year when I attend [Commissioning], I am inspired by the commitment of women and men who desire to…be in mission with vulnerable people outside the United States,” she said. “This year I was moved and inspired by the testimonies of [these] three beautiful young women who give me hope for the future of our troubled Church, country and world.”
For some guests, Commissioning was a time to reflect on their own mission journeys. Jeff Sved, a returned missioner, Formation presenter, and member of the FMS Board, said “Commissioning Mass is an important milestone on [the] FMS journey, and this was my first opportunity to celebrate with the mission class since my own commissioning with class 28. It has been a joy to walk with [the missioners] during their time in DC and it was a privilege to celebrate this milestone with them, officially welcoming them to the FMS family as Franciscan lay missioners!”
While Commissioning may be an outward sign of membership in the FMS lay mission family, the ties that bind the missioners to this family had been forged months before the ceremony through relationships built in the Casa community—and beyond. Scott Robinson, a young adult serving with Franciscan Volunteer Ministry, said, “Although I just recently met [the missioners], the Franciscan family that I am a part of has a real closeness, and I felt that sense of unity when we came together in a heartfelt sending Mass to celebrate their new beginnings. Thanks be to God for this spiritual family!”
Now, as the new missioners make their final preparations to leave their home communities, this spiritual family takes on a new role as a source of support that crosses time zones and borders. Perhaps not so coincidentally, these weeks between Commissioning and departure for mission sites reflect the tone of the current liturgical season of Advent. This is a period of waiting and anticipation, but it is also a period of spiritual promise. Recognizing this, Patrick Martin, a Secular Franciscan and FMS Board member, said, “As we send our newly commissioned missioners on their way, I could not help but imagine the many grace-filled moments they will have in their service to those on the margins.”
Indeed, whether present at Commissioning or offering prayers from afar, many people whose lives have already been touched by the new missioners imagine these moments, too, and many people feel the significance of ceremony. Said Amy Brandt, a DC Service Corps volunteer who lived with the missioners during Formation, “These three women are truly incredible and it was an honor to witness them in front of the blessed sacrament, with all their fears and excitements, confidently commit to a life of mission.”
In early 2019, the new missioners will begin their ministries overseas. They can be accompanied through prayers and financial support, and by keeping up with their blog posts on the FMS website (https://franciscanmissionservice.org//blog). Feel called to mission? Visit the programs section of our website or Programs Manager Emily Norton at firstname.lastname@example.org.