Victor Artaiz Julia Pinto Mari Snyder Sr. Meg Earsley  

 

Victor Artaiz- Overseas Lay Missioner

Hometown:  North Haven, CT

Path to FMS: Life and work circumstances provided me time to pray and contemplate what God wants for me. FMS ended up being the ideal mission organization for me to grow more deeply in my faith and exercise my discernment of the Holy Spirit’s call.

Scripture passage meaningful to mission: John 15:16. “The Lord is in control and if we seek Him, He will lead the way. I have sought His direction and He has made my path clear.”

Catholic role model: Through reading and prayer, King David, Saint Augustine, Blessed Fr. Michael McGivney, Saint John Paul II, Bishop Robert Barron, and Fr. John Behr have all taken ahold of my heart as men who have persevered and strived to serve our Lord and share His love through their lives of struggle and faith. I can relate to them in my personal life struggles, experiences, and faith.

Social Justice areas of interest: The sanctity of life: to save and protect God’s design of human life. Empowerment of women’s rights around the world: to provide equality in freedom, resources, and opportunities to express their God-given beliefs and talents. Hunger, clean water, and food insecurity: economies need to ensure nutritious food and clean water are available to all people.

Favorite Saint:  Saint John Paul II exuded Jesus’s love and grace with such passion. I felt he brought the world’s people closer together somehow. I was blessed to visit his hometown, home/museum and local church in Wadowice.

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Julia Pinto – Overseas Lay Missioner

Hometown: Dallas, TX

Path to FMS: I was drawn to the FMS overseas lay mission program because of the diversity of ministry opportunities they offer, as well as the intentional community they provide during formation and overseas mission.

Scripture passage meaningful to mission: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” – Acts 1:8

This has always been one of my favorite Scripture verses – with an accompanying song that speaks to my spirit – because it reminds me of my call as a Christian to share God’s love with those around the world and that I do not go alone. The Lord can do so much through us if we will let Him. 

Catholic role model: My friend and mentor, Kathy, has been one of my role models for years. She works full-time as the director of religious education for a parish, takes care of her aging parents and in-laws, supports her five adult children, helps those in need in the community, and still manages to make time for me on top of all of that. Kathy is proof to me that you can live in the world and still serve radically and authentically. She tackles each day with new energy and love for people and God, with humility and generosity to which I aspire.

Social Justice areas of interest: Gender and racial inequality: We are all equal and have the same dignity, made in the image and likeness of God. It shocks me that in the 21st century we are still having to fight for equal rights in basic areas such as equal pay for women and lack of discrimination in hiring women or people of color. 

The achievement gap for students of different socioeconomic backgrounds: As a teacher, I have witnessed firsthand the hurdles that students of lower socioeconomic statuses face in their desire to attend high school and college and have the same opportunities as others. 

Dignified treatment of migrants: People from countries south of the US are fleeing violence, political unrest, and dire poverty to find a better life for their families. There are issues to be sorted out with finding employment and housing for these refugees, but every human being deserves to be treated as a child of God and should not be unfairly perceived/labeled as a threat or criminal.

Favorite Saint: I have a special devotion to Saint Teresa of Calcutta, as she is a modern saint who lived out a missionary life in her care for the economically poor and marginalized in the slums of Kolkata, India. Despite spiritual and physical attacks and obstacles, she persevered in her desire to serve the Christ that she saw hidden in each person.

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Mari Snyder- Overseas Lay Missioner

Hometown: Silver Spring, Maryland

Path to FMS: I’ve been imagining mission as a possibility for me for a long time. In my young adult years, I was intrigued by ways to serve my country but was more compelled to do that through my career. My purpose-filled work — leading Marriott’s corporate social responsibility globally, and then in economic empowerment with the University of Maryland SAFE Center for Human Trafficking Survivors — was educative and preparatory for what calls me now. My Catholic faith and the Franciscan tradition have been vital for me throughout my life, since my days at St. Bonaventure University and the Franciscan community at Mt. Irenaeus. FMS, which is grounded in the Franciscan charism, was the ideal fit for me.

Scripture passage meaningful to mission: “Cause me to hear your lovingkindness in the morning, for in you do I trust. Cause me to know the way in which I should walk, for I lift up my soul to you.” – Psalm 143:8. I’ve been praying this for nearly five years. It captures what I have been longing for; a clear purpose, a sacred calling in what has been a personally tumultuous time in my life with many “high highs and low lows.” I have said yes to this sacred calling to be an overseas lay missioner with FMS. While I know my prayer’s have been answered, this psalm remains with me. It guides me in all matters, big and small, and I know I will rely on it to guide me in the FMS ministry of presence.

Catholic role model: Fr. Dan Reilly, a Franciscan friar and founder of Mt. Irenaeus Franciscan Mountain Community, and Fr. Cyril Edwards, the devoted pastor of my hometown parish Mary, Mother of God at Holy Rosary Church, are role models for who they are, what they do, and how they live. They are two of the most inspiring and effective communicators I will ever know. While in mission, I hope to channel what I’ve seen and learned from them, especially their intuition for what people need to know and hear and, when there is a language barrier of any sort, what people need to feel and believe.  

Social Justice areas of interest: Human Rights, particularly human trafficking prevention, women’s equity and empowerment, climate change, and gun control: I’ve seen these injustices that plague the developing and the developed worlds in my work and on travel. The long-lasting impacts from loss, injustice, and trauma are devastating and completely counter what St. Irenaeus calls us to see: “The glory of God is the human person fully alive.” Preventing these injustices is the long, hard, collective work that will outlive us. Restoring the human spirit is an everyday opportunity.  

Favorite Saint: St. Mary Magdalene. Within the last two years, I’ve had occasion to become a devotee and see this saint with new eyes, this holy woman whom Pope Francis called “the Apostle of the new and greatest hope.” I think she provides a portal for all of us who are neither man nor mother but want to see ourselves represented from Good Friday to Resurrection Sunday. I can’t imagine what it took as a woman in that time to live and work within this traveling band of disciples. Mary Magdalene is radical, unfailing, and unflappable in her devotion to Jesus. I hope and pray she lights my way in mission. She simply fascinates me. 

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Sr. Meg Earsley – Franciscan Sister of Perpetual Adoration and Overseas Lay Missioner

Hometown: La Crosse, Wisconsin

Path to FMS: I am especially attracted to the possibility of getting to know people well in different parts of the world and to really know who they are.

Scripture passage meaningful to mission: “God looked at everything he had made, and found it very good.” – Genesis 1:31. If God sees everything as VERY good and deserving of God’s love, then how can I not also see all in that way? This passage encourages me to seek those who may not be seen as “very good” by society and remind them of God’s love through my presence. 

Catholic role model: There are many but, in reflection, St. Therese of Lisieux came to mind. She always wanted to be a missionary but because of illness was never able to. I think she still had the heart of a missionary as she loved in little ways and sought to see everyone as God does. 

Social Justice areas of interest: My two strongest areas of social justice is care of creation and the dignity of all people. I believe strongly that God, as creator, intended that all created things should be respected. We as global humanity are loved equally by God, so we should do the same.

Favorite Saint: When I was confirmed, I didn’t receive a saint’s name. It was something being explored that year. Later, people have asked me who I would choose now, and I laugh because there are so many amazing saints! Today, from my long list, Saint Peter comes to mind. He always seemed so enthusiastic to me. He jumped in and tried his best, and it often didn’t work out so well. I have a lot of compassion and, in some ways, can identify with that willing but imperfect spirit.

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