“FMS Missioners are the most prepared lay missioners I have ever worked with. They truly understand and engage in the ‘ministry of presence,’ a hallmark of Franciscan mission.”
Fr. Ignacio Harding, OFM, who served as a missioner in Bolivia for over 30 years
Franciscan Mission Service prepares and supports lay Catholics for two-year international, one-year domestic and 1-2 week short-term mission service opportunities in solidarity with impoverished and marginalized communities across the globe.
Who We Are
We prepare and support lay Catholics for two-year international, one-year domestic and 1-2 week short-term mission service opportunities in solidarity with impoverished and marginalized communities across the globe.
- We are Catholic lay people, single men and women and married couples, called through our baptism to mission.
- We seek to walk with the poor of other countries, sharing our gifts, living our faith, and learning from one another.
- We are teachers, nurses, social workers, computer technicians, administrators, tradesman, and others who work together and strive to live a simple life in solidarity with the poor.
- We are young people, eager to become compassionate servant leaders for the Church. We are older people, willing to offer a lifetime of experience to communities that could use them.
For over 30 years, we have prepared lay men and women to serve for two to six years in various Franciscan placements around the world. Upon returning to the U.S., missioners continue to live out their calling in lifelong mission to transform North American people and society.
Because of our commitment to service opportunities in the Franciscan spirit and transforming North America, we have additional programs to invite more lay people into the mission journey. Our year-long programs in Washington, D.C. help young adults become nonprofit leaders. Our Short-Term Mission and Global Awareness Trips help students, parishioners, Secular Franciscans, and others learn about poverty and deepen their own commitment to service. Our social media ministry connects English-speakers around the world with Franciscan mission reflections and resources.
As Franciscan followers of Christ, we build partnerships with Catholic women and men who are inspired to live and serve in solidarity with economically poor communities across the globe – and to bring the transformative experience of mission to North American societies and churches as advocates for peace, justice, reconciliation and care of creation.
These seven statements identify the core belief system from which we operate. They define the “soul” of FMS and inspire the work that we do.
- We have faith in the transforming power of Christ’s love in the world.
- We believe the world is a graced place.
- We believe in the absolute and fundamental dignity of each individual and creation.
- We embrace Catholic Social Teaching as central to our faith and service.
- We have confidence in the wisdom of poor communities.
- We engage in a mission of presence, accompaniment, and advocacy.
- We believe strong theological and cross-cultural training leads to respectful and effective mission service.
Franciscan Mission Service came into existence in 1985 at the request of a group of North American Franciscan friars (OFM) who felt called to offer lay people the opportunity to experience international mission in the spirit of Saints Francis and Clare.
Brother Anselm Moons, our founder, believed deeply in the role of laity in the church. He said, “Our Church today is 99% laity, but with all the power in the hands of the 1% who are clergy. In my opinion, that says it all. Francis of Assisi brought to the Church of the 13th century a smile and a bright outlook. He wanted his brotherhood to be lay, even though in his day a few friars were ordained ministers serving laity and the Church’s mission. Thanks be to God today that the Franciscan family counts in its ranks many gifted and professional lay brothers and sisters”.
We sent our first lay missioners overseas in 1990 and since that time have trained, commissioned, and supported more than 250 men and women for service in Bolivia, Bosnia, Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica, Kenya, Mexico, Namibia, Nicaragua, Peru, Siberia, South Africa, Tanzania, Thailand, the Philippines, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
In 2009 we started offering service opportunities in Washington, D.C. through DC Service Corps (originally named the “Domestic Volunteer Program” and later the “Nonprofit Leadership Program”). We have since had nearly 40 young adult Catholics serve, live in intentional community, incorporate the Franciscan charism into their life and faith, and deepen their understanding and commitment to mission.
What Makes Us Unique
- We are one of only a few Catholic lay mission organizations in North America with a focus on international mission. Our focus has allowed us to develop an in-depth three-month formation and training program that prepares missioners for a cross-cultural mission experience, as well as a 3-week re-entry program. Our programs have been repeatedly praised for the preparation they provide missioners.
- We are one of the only lay Franciscan mission programs in North America. One of our central goals is to spread the Franciscan charism among lay people through our formation program and by the support of Franciscan religious in the mission field.
- The third phase of our overseas program asks our lay missioners to make a commitment to lifelong mission in North America. Because of their experiences, our missioners bring back a heightened understanding of “global solidarity” and our unity as one people on this earth. They are transformed by their time in mission, deepened in their faith; for many of them, the service experience brings out leadership skills that are then used in North America. They also bring “new eyes and ears” that help our U.S. church respond in creative ways to the dramatic social changes in our world today. Returned missioners commit themselves to working to transform our churches and society. In the spirit of Saints Francis and Clare, they work towards worldwide brother/sisterhood by building bridges between people of the “first” and “two/thirds” world. We are continually open to ways to support our returned missioners in their work for social change in North America.
Board and Staff
Franciscan Mission Service has been blessed with many dedicated men and women, both lay and religious, who have given generously of their time and talents to grow this new branch on the tree of the Franciscan Family.
FMS aspires to follow in the footsteps of Saint Clare and Saint Francis. Missioners and volunteers practice this ministry of presence in their service.