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The Little Things: The Power of Shared Experience

Editor’s Note: In the conclusion of “The Little Things” series, communications associate Maria Beben reflects on the communal nature of the human person and the power behind this shared experience of humanity. Recently, the phrase “Make me a channel of your peace” has been stuck in my head (Franciscan problems…) Without fully realizing it though, I’ve started to adopt…

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Anticipation as a Blessing

Editor’s Note: Missioner Patrick Montine reflects on the great joy he experienced when his family came to Jamaica to visit him during Christmas. Through this joy and the anticipation that preceded it, Patrick came to deeper realizations about the nature of anticipation and its connection to our relationship with God. Happy New Year everybody. I…

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What Missioners Can Do For Their Loved Ones

Editor’s Note: As the members of Class 31 begin to leave for mission, we thought it would be helpful to write a post geared towards the missioners who are leaving, as well as the missioners who are already overseas. What can you do for your friends and family before and after you leave to make this transition…

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What You Can Do For Your Missioner

Editor’s Note: As the members of Class 31 begin to leave for mission, we thought it would be helpful to write a post geared towards friends and family members who have or will experience sending loved ones overseas for an extended period of time. What can you do for your missioners before and after they…

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Comfort and Joy: Bringing the Body of Christ to Others

Editor’s Note: As part of our “Comfort and Joy” Advent/Christmas blog series, FMS board member and returned missioner Doug Garofalo shares some of his experiences from his time on mission in Brazil.  At my home Parish of St. Peter’s in River Edge, NJ, there is a ritual at the end of each Mass whenever there is a…

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Comfort and Joy: Even in the Darkness

Editor’s Note: As part of our “Comfort and Joy” Advent/Christmas blog series, newly commissioned missioner Catherine Sullivan shares her thoughts on preparing to leave for mission and how discomfort and sadness are made new through God. I would have to say that personally, joy is my normal state of being. I am the one who sings in the kitchen…

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Comfort and Joy: The Cyclical Process

Editor’s note: As part of our “Comfort and Joy” Advent/Christmas blog series, missioner Jeff Sved shares how his experiences of prison ministry in Bolivia have shown him how comfort and joy are often fruits of initial discomfort. Francis – brother, not pope – is quite a remarkable example when it comes to the relationship between comfort and joy. What…

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A Unique Approach to Mission

Editor’s Note: Missioner-in-training Erin McHugh looks back on the past three months of formation in Washington, DC and looks ahead to how she will apply her experiences to her time on mission. Wow, it is hard to believe our formation in DC is coming to an end, but I will never be completely formed. While…

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Called by God

Editor’s Note: Missioner-in-training Erin McHugh shares how she finds comfort in the face of fear and doubt.  One of my favorite sessions during our time here at Formation has been Scripture and Mission. During this session, we look at the Bible in a historical context, but especially at the passages and books related to social…

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The Many Pieces of Support

Editor’s Note: Franciscan Mission Service overseas missioners are asked to fundraise in support of their training and service. Missioner-in-training Janice Smullen reflects on a recent support-raising class and shares her experiences inviting others to join in her mission journey through financial contributions. “Some give by going. Some go by giving.”  -Fr. Anselm Moons (Franciscan Mission Service founder.) There are…

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I Caught Papal Fever – All the Way from Bolivia!

The Pope was just here in Bolivia, and although I was excited to have him be here, I had no desire to go see him. “I already saw him in Rome,” I told my friends. “I don’t like crowds,” I told other people. In the end, I don’t know why I wasn’t excited to see…

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Creating New Lives

When I came to Bolivia, I had the idea that I was coming to fight poverty. I thought that that poverty would take the face of a lack of material possessions. The other great ambition I had was to support the fight against violence. Although I have seen poverty, and I am supporting those who…

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Throwback Thursday: “Rekindling the Mission”

Editor’s Note: In celebration of our 25th year of preparing and supporting lay missioners, we look back to our archives at a World Care newsletter from 2009 with an article from returned missioner Katie Mulembe from Class 19 serving in Zambia from 2004-2006. This article was written after she visited Zambia for the first time since…

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Would you Choose Hard or Soft?

The other day I found myself in a situation. I needed to buy toilet paper but all of the regular places to buy were closed. I was left with the option of buying really soft, really expensive toilet paper. I did what I had to do, but it was painful. Although what I had was…

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Throwback Thursday: “A Letter from Vietnam”

Editor’s Note: In celebration of our 25th year of preparing and supporting lay missioners, we look back to our archives at a World Care newsletter from 2004 with an article from returned missioner Hao Nguyen from Class 19 serving in Vietnam in 2004. This article was written during his time serving in Vietnam.   Hy Vong means…

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2015 World Care Benefit and Celebration Recap

When 190 people gathered in St. Francis Hall on May 1 for the 2015 World Care Benefit and Celebration, they expected to celebrate Franciscan Mission Service’s 25 years of sending lay Catholics on mission. No one, however, expected to be given drawing from a school in Guatemala or to be part of an impromptu sing-along…

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Live with Purpose

We recently finished the Easter Season with Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit descends from heaven on to the disciples. The disciples start speaking in many languages and are told to go out and preach the Gospel to all people, and they do—they go to the edge of the known world to spread the message to…

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Throwback Thursday: “A Sewing Machine Gives New Life”

Editor’s Note: In celebration of our 25th year of preparing and supporting lay missioners, we look back to our archives at a World Care newsletter from 1993 with an article from returned missioner Brigite Taylor from Class Two serving in Peru and Honduras from 1992-1994. This article was written during her time serving in Honduras.…

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I Get by with a Little Help from My Friends

Lately my emotions have been all over the place.   I get stressed out when I think of all the stuff I have to bring to and from the US.   I’m stressed out about the missioners who will be leaving Bolivia (for good) while I’m away and won’t be here when I get back. Last but…

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One more year

My third year serving as a Franciscan lay missioner with FMS invited me to become rooted in my community here in Cochabamba, Bolivia. And being rooted in this community has opened my eyes to more of the complexities of the marginalization experienced by our sisters and brothers here. I desire to continue to grow in…

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“I thirst…”

As Jesus hung on the cross, he proclaimed the words “I thirst.” Jesus called out in need of something to drink, but these two words encompassed more than the desire for a drink of water. Jesus was thirsting for a world filled with peace, joy, hope, and most of all a world filled with love.…

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Millennial Lenten Reflections: Which role will you play?

Editor’s Note: The following is part of Millennial Lenten Reflections, a blog series in collaboration with Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good. Short reflections on the day’s readings, written by young adults from FMS and other organizations, will be posted everyday throughout Lent.  Jesus’ hour has almost come: the actors are ready to play their roles…

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Embracing God’s Plan

I have been a planner my whole life. I rely on my color-coded calendar, countless to-do lists, and multiple email tabs everyday to keep myself organized and structured. I generally don’t enjoy being spontaneous or going with the flow. When I committed to FMS I liked knowing that I had a plan and a goal…

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What Does it Mean to be Sent?

After 13 weeks of formation filled with classes, early mornings at service sites, and plenty of community time, the 30th mission class of Franciscan Mission Service walked into the Blessed Sacrament Chapel at the Franciscan Monastery filled with our family and friends for our Commissioning Mass to celebrate our being sent out on mission. During…

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Discipleship in Bolivia

In today’s post, Stephen F. Scott, Associate Director of United States Catholic Mission Association, reflects on the spiritual gifts he received last month during our Short Term Mission and Global Awareness Trip to Bolivia with FMS Associate Director Mariam Kaldas and Program Coordinator Natalie Helfrick. The following is an excerpt from an article previously published…

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OFM Congress: Discussing Mission and Evangelization in the Franciscan Tradition

Communications Manager Bridget Higginbotham kicks-off a special blog series live from Rome, Italy.  It’s a historic week for the Orders of Friars Minor. Their first-ever international congress on mission and evangelization has drawn to Sassone (Rome), Italy, about 200 brothers from around the world – Madagascar, the Philippines, South Africa, Australia, Colombia, Pakistan, Brazil, Canada,…

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Mission Monday: “How Life Prepared Me for Mission”

In today’s post, current missioner Hady Mendez reflects on how the relationships she developed and enjoyed before mission prepared her for her ministry of presence as a Franciscan lay missioner. When I was living in New York, I used to often go to a salon in Jersey City. Mary owned the salon. Lucy did my…

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Poor and Free: Saying “Yes” to Love

Franciscan Mission Service presents:  “Poor and Free: A Spiritual Yes to Less” every Friday in Lent Series contributions:  Shane Claiborne: Part I, Part II, and Part III Gigi Gruenke: “Invest in God’s Dream” Jack Jezreel: “The Simple Math of Voluntary Simplicity” Amy Echeverria: “Saying ‘Yes’ to Love” Sr. Marie Lucey (OSF): “Faith Keeps Hope Alive” Marie Dennis: “Beyond Detachment” Fr. Martin…

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New Board Members: Welcome, Lee Lechtenberg and Fr. Wayne Hellmann (O.F.M. Conv.)!

Franciscan Mission Service welcomes two new board members: returned missioner Lee Lechtenberg and Fr. Wayne Hellmann (O.F.M. Conv.)! Their invitation and acceptance illustrates the balance and richness of Franciscan Mission Service’s board through Lee’s experiences as a missioner in Bolivia as well as Fr. Hellmann’s professional expertise as a historical theologian and his personal commitment…

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Report from Guatemala: Potential New Service Site!

Thirty minutes east of Guatemala City, a Franciscan boarding school called Valley of the Angels lives its motto: “Give the best to the poor.” Their emphasis on restoring dignity through service resonates with Franciscan Mission Service Executive Director Kim Smolik. Executive Director Kim Smolik with girls from Livingstone, Guatemala.  The girls are friends of board member,…

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Franciscan Friday: On Mission with Fr. Tom Washburn, OFM

Continuing our series Sacraments and Social Mission: Living the Gospel, Being Disciples, our blog today features a conversation with Fr. Tom Washburn, OFM, on the Sacrament of Holy Orders and Mission. Fr. Tom Washburn, OFM, has been a Franciscan since 1991 and was ordained a priest in 2000. He holds degrees in theology and liturgy…

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“Blackberry Picking”: St. Francis would love it

Continuing our series Sacraments and Social Mission: Living the Gospel, Being Disciples, full-time volunteer Michael Carlson writes about his experience reading Seamus Heaney’s poetry with St. Francis in mind. Reading Annemarie’s writings this week about the Eucharist and creation (another post is coming tomorrow!) reminded me of one of my favorite poets, Seamus Heaney. Every…

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Francis and the Foolishness of God: Podcast Series, Episode 1

Our FMS podcasts bring the missioner formation classroom right into your home.  Our presenters speak on a number of topics including church history, Franciscan spirituality, simplicity, and social justice issues. Our latest podcasts focus on Fr. Joe Nangle’s book, “St. Francis and the Foolishness of God.”  Fr. Nangle takes listeners through the thought process behind…

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Trip Partcipants Learn About Catholic Church’s Fight Against Apartheid

Fr. Dominic Hession is an Irish Franciscan Friar who has been in South Africa for more than 40 years. By the time our recent Short-Term Missions and Global Awareness group met him, he had already seen the rise and fall of the brutal Apartheid as a priest blacklisted for speaking out against the government’s practices.…

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Mission Monday: Navigating the Market

Missioner Jeff Sved shares an update from Cochabamba, Bolivia where he’s learning that a busy outdoor market can look very different from the vendor’s point of view… As part of my normal Saturday routine (or as much of a “normal” routine as is possible), I spend the afternoon in the Cancha buying our week’s worth…

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Recommiting to a Life-Long Mission

Mission does not end with a flight back to the U.S. It does not end with the completion of a term of service or a year of volunteering.  Every three years, our returned missioners from across the country gather in Colorado for three days to reflect on this fact. This weekend, our retreat centers around…

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Natural Beauty Using Natural Ingredients

Recently Mary House, an organization where some of our Domestic Volunteers help out on Wednesdays, hosted a workshop on natural hair and skin care.  Try some of these tips we learned and go natural with things you can easily find in your kitchen! Photo taken by Sarah Cady via Flickr Hair Care Tips Apple Cider…

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Franciscan Friday: Visiting an AIDS Hospice

Today, travelers on our Short-Term Missions and Global Awareness Trip to South Africa visit an HIV/AIDS Hospice center.   A few months ago Domestic Volunteer Anna Robinson also went on this trip and visited patients affected by AIDS.  For this Franciscan Friday post, she shares with us a reflection on the experience and finding common ground…

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Budget Travel Tidbits for a Volunteer

Just because you have decided to dedicate your time and energy to service work, doesn’t mean you have to let go of that desire to explore the world.  In fact, volunteering can often open new doors to travel opportunities.  Here are a few tips we gathered from seasoned travelers in our office to keep your…

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What’s In a Name?

 Pope Francis! Papa Francis! Holy Father Francis! For a few months now people have excitedly called out the name of our new Pope and in many different ways.  But no matter how you say it, it refers to the same person and the same mission they are to carry out for the rest of their…

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Mission Monday: Mother and Community Love

For this Mission Monday post, Missioner Annemarie shares a story of the pain of a mother’s love and the healing power of a supportive community. Missioner Annemarie with her mom before she leaves for Bolivia. In the CEB that I have come to know in the northern zone of the city, there is a woman…

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FMS Podcasts: Liberation Theology

If you haven’t noticed yet, we have a few podcasts available on our SoundCloud profile covering a wide range of topics. From Franciscan spirituality and history to Catholicism and social justice, you can listen and learn right along with our missioner candidates in formation. The last two podcasts came from a talk Fr. Joe Nangle…

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Time for some fun!

Last week we made some suggestions on how to get to know your community members.  This week we add some other games to liven up your community nights! Our current community Domestic Volunteer community is settling in, sharing meals and laundry facilities.  It can take a lot of work to keep a community well and…

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Community Nights and Icebreakers

This week we’ve welcomed a new volunteer into Casa San Salvador, which means it’s time for a community night! Domestic Volunteers tend to have one community night per a week following a community meal. Community nights can be spiritual exercises/discussions, social justice awareness activities, a special event in D.C., or just watching a movie. But…

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Meet Our Newest Volunteer, Chanda!

This National Volunteer Week is a special one as we welcome our newest full-time domestic volunteer to the Franciscan Mission Service team. Our volunteers serve in our headquarters doing administrative work for 35 hours a week and then spend five hours doing direct service in the community. From the far lands of Zambia, where she…

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Alternative Spring Break with FMS: Advocating for a New Kind of Service Trip

University of Georgia students in an advocacy workshop with Russell Testa.  Five days into their alternative spring break trip to D.C., college students from the University of Georgia ditched the work gloves for a clipboard and a stack of talking points. Franciscan Mission Service’s newly developed Short-Term Mission and Global Awareness Trips includes a spring…

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Discernment Days – Is Mission for Me?

Perhaps you have just recently graduated from a college that’s cost you your life savings, countless sleepless nights, and many antisocial weekends. Or perhaps you just celebrated your 20th anniversary at a job you’ve kept through thick and thin. Whether you are 22 or 62, discerning a call to mission can be a journey. For…

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Take the First Step and Don’t Leave a Footprint!

Earth Day is in a couple of weeks and as a Franciscan organization we are looking forward to celebrating! With a new Pope expressing the urgent need of our attention to protecting the earth, a renewed push for environmental sustainability has rattled the religious world.  Search “catholic earth day” on Google and you will receive…

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Solidarity, Conversion and Advocacy

We are nearing the end of our Lenten series “Walking in Solidarity.” For our theme this week, Russell Testa shares with us a process to identify and act on social justice issues we see in our communities. Francis began his conversion in the Church of San Damiano, when he heard the crucifix challenge him, “Francis,…

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Outreach and Charity: Reflections and Answers to Why

For our week of Outreach and Charity, Domestic Volunteer Anna Robinson shares the lessons she has learned through multiple years and ways of volunteering, encouraging everyone to look at service in a new light. Volunteering was a requirement of me and my siblings growing up. Trips to the food pantry, the history museum, group highway…

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