FMS Plans Gala for May 5

Jocelyn Thomas Franciscan World

WASHINGTON — All are invited to Franciscan Mission Service’s 2017 World Care Benefit and Celebration on May 5 which will use the theme “Rise Up: Learning Together and Becoming Free” to recognize four women who have made an impact on education, three of whom will be honored and one – the president-emeritus of one of Holy Name Province’s sponsored schools – who will give the keynote address.

All are invited to the festive evening, which will be held at 7 p.m. at St. Francis Hall at 1340 Quincy Street, NE. Three members of the Missionary Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Conception – Sr. Damon Nolan, MFIC, Sr. Jean Morrissey, MFIC, and Sr. Chris Cullen, MFIC – are being honored for their efforts in Carmen Pampa in Bolivia, where they have dedicated years to a college founded in 1993 that provides higher education to the poor and marginalized.

“At this year’s event, we want to shine a spotlight on two themes in the life and work of FMS: missioner involvement in the field of education and support for women’s engagement in promoting a more just world,” said Meghan Meros, interim director of FMS. “Through the vital roles they played in the establishment and growth of the Unidad Académica Campesina-Carmen Pampa, Sisters Damon, Chris, and Jean have not only impacted the lives of young Bolivians from rural areas, but also the lives of our missioners, particularly those who have served at Carmen Pampa, who look to the sisters as examples of faith, strength, and vision in the spirit of Saints Francis and Clare.”

The celebration’s keynote speaker will be Sr. Margaret Carney, OSF, who served from 2004 to 2016 as president of St. Bonaventure University in Western New York.

“We selected Margaret because honoring the school and the sisters has given the gala a focus on the importance of education in the mission field and how education can be a source of liberation from poverty, hence the theme,” said Fr. Thomas Washburn, OFM, chair of the FMS Board of Directors. “Given the theme, Margaret, of course, is one of the most well-known Franciscan educators, especially as the former president of SBU – and the school’s first woman president – and so we have asked her to speak on this theme.”

“As a board member of the Franciscan Mission Service, I am delighted to see that Sr. Margaret Carney is the featured speaker at the World Care event,” said John O’Connor, OFM. “Sr. Margaret is well known as a superb theologian, expert on the Franciscan tradition and history, an accomplished university administrator, and a leader on the national scene for Catholic higher education. She has that unique talent to be able to discuss and explain complex principles of theology in a way that the average layman and laywoman can understand them, and apply them to their lives. Her rich experience in so many areas of Franciscan life and the Franciscan academic tradition makes for a presentation that will be appreciated by all who attend.”

As part of the gala, FMS will be presenting its 2017 San Damiano Student Leadership Award to Mary Grace Donohoe, a senior at Stonehill College in Easton, Mass. The San Damiano Servant Leadership Award, established in 2015, honors dedicated, faithful, service-oriented young leaders, according to the FMS website.

“Mary Grace has a diverse background in student leadership and advocacy centered on and inspired by Catholic Social Justice Teaching. With their focus on water scarcity, her experiences with Corporate Accountability International and a summer trip to Chacraseca, Nicaragua, were in line with the Franciscan values of care for creation and solidarity with the poor. Mary Grace connects her social justice experiences and her future career in peacebuilding to Jesus’ identification with suffering communities. After graduation, Mary Grace plans on using her $500 award to lead a return trip to Chacraseca. Her academic interests extend to the history of a service-centered church, a topic that she covers in an original paper due to be published later this year.”

Tickets for the World Care Benefit can be purchased through the Franciscan Mission Service website. Information about the event can be obtained by phone at 202-832-1762.

The leaders of FMS hope to welcome an executive director before the gala in May, said Fr. Thomas. “The staff has done a great job of keeping things working smoothly during the transition,” Fr. Tom said about the interim between directors.

For more than 25 years, Franciscan Mission Service has provided programs for lay people to help people around the world. Currently, the organization has missioners in Bolivia, Guatemala, and Jamaica.

Information about current missioners, including photos, can be found on the Franciscan Mission Service Facebook page.

Jocelyn Thomas is director of communications for Holy Name Province.

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