FMS Event Called ‘Spirited & Enlightening’

Wendy Healy Around the Province

WASHINGTON — Province friars and staffers were among the more than 130 attendees of the recent Fifth Annual World Care Benefit and Celebration sponsored by the Franciscan Mission Service (FMS).

The event, held Oct. 9 at the Franciscan Monastery, honored Holy Name’s Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation (JPIC) director Russell Testa and his wife, Megeen White Testa, along with the first recipient of the first Fr. Joseph Nangle, OFM Lifelong Mission Award. 

In addition to Joseph Nangle, OFM, former co-director of the FMS, friars Jud Weiksnar, OFM, of St. Anthony of Padua Church, Camden, N.J., Paul O’Keeffe, OFM, of Holy Name College, Silver Spring, Md., and Jacek Orzechowski, OFM, of St. Camillus Church, Silver Spring, attended the event. 

Ignacio Harding, OFM, in the United States on sabbatical from his ministry in Cochabamba, Bolivia, led the opening prayer. Joseph gave the keynote address: “FMS and a New Way of Being Church.”

The Testas (shown in photo) were honored with the Anselm Moons, OFM Award, as friars and sisters from other provinces and the Holy Land Commissariat looked on. The award is named for Fr. Anselm Moons, OFM, who came to the United States in 1985 from the Dutch Franciscan Province to establish the FMS at the request of the North American friars. The first class of missioners was commissioned and sent into the field in 1990.

White Testa served as co-director of the FMS from 2001 to 2008 and was a member of the first lay mission class, having served in Zimbabwe and Zambia in the early 1990s. Her husband, in addition to being HNP’s director of JPIC, is the founding executive director of the Franciscan Action Network.

The Joseph Nangle, OFM Lifelong Mission Award, presented to “a returned missioner who completed his or her contract with the FMS and has since made significant contributions in lifelong mission to North America,” according to the program, was given to Dan McNeil, executive director of Peace Maker Foundation, an anti-school-violence organization. McNeil served in the Siberian city of Novosibirsk from 1992 to 1995 with the FMS.

The evening at St. Francis Hall was described as “spirited and enlightening,” and was the first such event for executive director Kim Smolik, who said the event raised more than $10,000 for FMS.

Joseph’s address recalled his three months of travel to a congregation of Franciscan sisters with provinces in Brazil, Taiwan and Namibia, as well as to a house of studies in the Philippines. He said that this experience opened him to some of the ways God is at work in younger churches. 

The friar shared a few of the insights gained during his travels and how they connected with the FMS vision. He highlighted how FMS missioners are bridging younger churches overseas and the aging Church in North America. 

Next year’s keynote speaker will be author Fr. Richard Rohr, OFM, of Our Lady of Guadalupe Province.

 Wendy Healy, a Connecticut-based freelance writer, contributes frequently to HNP Today.