FMS Celebrates 20 Years

Susan Zagar In the Headlines

WASHINGTON — The Franciscan Mission Service marked 20 years of international lay mission on Oct. 23, with an event that featured a well-known Franciscan speaker and that honored a Holy Name friar and former missioner.

The celebration began with a morning retreat led by Fr. Richard Rohr, OFM, renowned author and speaker. He discussed “Fostering a Contemplative Practice for Compassionate Servant” and gave the keynote address “How To Be in a World that Does” at the awards dinner.

During the evening celebration and benefit, held at Trinity College Center, several individuals were recognized for dedicating their lives to spreading the Franciscan charism and upholding the integrity of creation throughout the world. FMS board member George Corrigan, OFM, of Sacred Heart Church in Tampa, Fla., was honored with the Joe Nangle, OFM Lifelong Mission Award, for his service as a lay missioner in Kenya from 1996 to 1999. The award is named for Joseph Nangle, OFM, who served as FMS executive director and co-director for 12 years.

Among the friars who attended were Provincial Minister John O’Connor, OFM, who is on the FMS board, Claude Lenehan, OFM, of Butler, N.J., and Paul O’Keeffe, OFM, a former missioner. Several other Holy Name Province friars who worked with FMS over the years were mentioned in a detailed FMS historical timeline that appeared in the event program. They include Thomas Cole, OFM, and Charles Finnegan, OFM. “It was a delightful evening,” John said. “I was impressed with the size of the crowd — roughly 400 people were present. I was very proud of George, who certainly deserved the award he received.”

Kristen Nalen, a former missioner with her husband, Richard, and a staff member at St. Anthony of Padua Parish, Camden, N.J, gave the opening prayer.

Franciscan friars and sisters who have supported FMS through leadership and participation in missioner training attended the event. “It has been said to be a challenge to get Franciscan orders in one room,” said Kim Smolik, executive director of FMS, “but we are honored to have with us here tonight OFMs, OFM Conventuals, Capuchins, Secular Franciscans, and Third Order Regulars.”

About the Honorees
George, who has been at Sacred Heart Church since his ordination in 2007, was a parish youth leader and a pastoral worker while on his FMS mission, providing social and educational care to refugees. He also helped build a school and operate a small business program in Dagoretti, an area bordering Nairobi. He has taught formation courses to missioners in training and received a matching grant to facilitate and increase lay mission support. George is a regular contributor to the FMS blog through his monthly reflections on “Franciscan Mission in the Third Millennium.”

The evening was both a reunion for returned missioners and former staff and an opportunity to introduce FMS’ rich history and vision to a wider audience, according to Smolik. Summed up in the words “ministry of presence,” FMS’ mission philosophy is based on forming relationships, with an emphasis on the importance of being and not doing, she said.

fmsSr. Barbara Fried, SMIC, and the Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Conception, were also honored at the event. Sr. Barbara, who served on the FMS staff for 17 years, played a crucial role in designing the structure and core curriculum for the missionary formation program, received the Anselm Moons, OFM award.
The event featured music by Andinay, a New York-based group, and a silent auction and closing blessing. Its 44-page program booklet included congratulatory notes and sponsorships, including messages from Holy Name Province.
Historical Background
FMS established its first lay missioner formation program in 1989 and in 1990 sent its first class of lay missioners to Africa.
The FMS was originally commissioned and supported by the English-speaking Conference of the Order of Friars Minor to animate the friars for mission. In its founding years, 1985 to 1989, according to the program, Fr. Anselm Moons, OFM, envisioned mission in the Franciscan charism expanding throughout the world through the preparation of the laity for mission. His vision emphasized missioners carrying their overseas experiences back with them to influence and create social change in North America. From 1987 to 1989, Fr. Anselm and Sr. Concetta Fabo, OSF, began developing the lay mission program.
Looking Ahead
On Nov. 14, 10:30 a.m., a Commissioning Mass for the 26th class of lay missioners will be celebrated at St. Camillus Church, Silver Spring, Md. All are invited to the commissioning of Sandra and Bryce Bradford and Susan Slavin.
Guests planning to attend the post-Mass reception are asked to RSVP to or 202-832-1762.
— Susan Zagar, pictured in the FMS fall 2010 newsletter, is a staff writer with FMS. Jocelyn Thomas contributed to this article.