FMS’s New Missioners Prepare for Commissioning, January Travel

Bridget Higginbotham Franciscan World


From left to right: Patrick Montine, Tom Little, Amanda Ceraldi, Maeve Gallagher and Brandon Newland say a prayer together during the welcoming ceremony on Sept. 9 at Casa San Salvador. (Photo courtesy of Franciscan Mission Service.)

As Catholics around the world marked World Mission Sunday on Oct. 19, a staff member of the Franciscan Mission Service provides an update about the 24-year-old organization’s people and initiatives.

WASHINGTON — The Franciscan Mission Service’s 30th class of lay missioners is roughly halfway through its formation for overseas service. Come January, the five — all under the age of 40 — will serve in Bolivia, Guatemala and Jamaica.

“We are excited to be continuing or reestablishing a lay Franciscan presence in these countries,” said Kim Smolik, executive director. “And we are thrilled to have a class of missioners driven by their past experiences to dedicate themselves more fully and deeply to following St. Francis’ example of love and service to the poor.”

Mission Class 30
This year’s missioners will be formally commissioned next month. They come from a variety of regions of the United States.

Amanda Ceraldi, a native of Maryland, graduated from The Catholic University of America with a degree in theology, and peace and justice studies. Working with kids on a service trip to Potmore, Jamaica, helped her realize that joy, laughter and love transcended cultures.

Originally from the Chicago area, Maeve Gallagher studied English language and literature at Christendom College in Virginia. Befriending a girl named Wendy on a mission trip to Honduras helped Maeve learn the universality of friendship and love.

Tom Little, who grew up in Claremont, Calif., has a degree in crop science from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. His time volunteering at a homelessness advocacy group in California helped him appreciate how to share in the lives of those on the margins, as St. Francis did.

Patrick Montine, who grew up in Seattle, graduated from Western Washington University, where he studied anthropology and teaching English as a second language. He began to appreciate the ministry of presence, a hallmark of Franciscan mission, while on a service trip to Casa Immigrante in Tijauana.

Originally from Wisconsin, Brandon Newland holds a master’s degree in international studies with a focus on community development from Oklahoma State University. In addition to spending several years teaching English in South Korea, he spent a summer in a village in Mexico gaining a deeper understanding of global poverty.

Support and Celebration
If you would like to spiritually support these passionate young people, it is not too late to sign up as a Formation Prayer Partner. The names of those who pledge to pray for these missioners throughout their time in formation will be added to the book in the chapel of Casa San Salvador, the FMS formation house. Prayer Partners will receive exclusive email updates each Friday throughout the rest of formation about what the missioners did that week.

Everyone is invited to the commissioning of Class 30, which will be held at 3:30 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 23 in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel of the Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in America in Washington, D.C. This Mass and reception will culminate the group’s 14 weeks of training.

The FMS staff members are busy preparing for a variety of trips and special events.

  • The World Care Benefit and Celebration marking the Franciscan Mission Service’s 25th anniversary is set for May 1, 2015 in Washington, D.C. During the event, former HNP Provincial Minister John O’Connor, OFM, will be given the 10th Annual Anselm Moons Award.
  • Travel to Bolivia: The Short-Term Mission and Global Awareness Trip to Bolivia is scheduled for June 25 to July 5, 2015. This is a unique opportunity to see FMS missioners in the field, meet their ministry partners, and learn about poverty and other social justice issues.
  • San Damiano Servant Leadership Award: Campus ministers and students may want to take note of this opportunity for college juniors and seniors. FMS will honor an outstanding young adult leader with a commitment to faith and service with $500 and a trip to Washington. The application deadline is Nov. 7.

Information about the above initiatives can be found on the FMS’ newly-designed website,

 — Bridget Higginbotham is the communications manager for the Franciscan Mission Service.