For Immediate Release
CONTACT: Jocelyn Thomas, director of communications
WASHINGTON – April 23, 2018 – For his more than 40 years of commitment to missionary service in Bolivia, Fr. Ignatius Harding, OFM, is being honored by Franciscan Mission Service, an organization that for more than a quarter century has sent laypeople to serve in foreign countries in the spirits of Saints Francis and Clare. Fr. Harding will be given the 2018 Anselm Moons Award at the World Care Benefit and Celebration on April 27.
“We look forward to celebrating the people and mission that make FMS special,” said Elizabeth Hughes, executive director of Franciscan Mission Service. “This year, we are particularly honored to celebrate Fr. Harding and his more than four decades of mission in Bolivia, accompanying its people and generations of FMS missioners.”
The evening of fellowship will be held at St. Francis Hall on Quincy Street NE in the nation’s capital near the FMS headquarters. Information can be obtained from the FMS website, FranciscanMissionService.org.
Fr. Harding, who currently lives and works at St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Triangle, Va., served from 1972 until last summer in Bolivia – at various locations and in varied roles. He is a Franciscan friar belonging to Holy Name Province, a community that is based on the East Coast and is part of the worldwide Order of Friars Minor, or “lesser brothers.” The Order was founded by St. Francis of Assisi in 1223.
“As Franciscan friars, fundamental vocation, received from Francis of Assisi, is to be fraternities of minor brothers in mission,” said Fr. Harding. “I was privileged to have many wonderful experiences attempting to realize that vocation with my brothers. They ranged from a fraternity in a huge rural mission parish with several towns and 248 native Aymara communities, to years in a fraternity focused on prayer and mission in a simple rural setting; to an inner city fraternity experiencing, up close, the struggles of the families in our neighborhood; to ministry in the fraternity at the minor basilica of St. Francis of Assisi in La Paz, known as the Cathedral of the People, with its cultural center, school, Secular Franciscan fraternity, Franciscan youth groups, health clinic, Franciscan Family Justice and Peace and Integrity Center, and great team of volunteer ministers, and working at the Franciscan Social Center.”
“Mission means opening up to another culture, language, customs and essentially, another life,” he continued. “Even though the globalization of commerce is radically modifying the lifestyles of peoples around the world, in Bolivia, most are still more uncomplicated and more transparent in their simple, wholesome, and agricultural culture.”
A native of Hartford, Conn., Fr. Harding joined the Franciscan Order in 1965 and professed his first vows in 1966. He professed his final vows in 1970 and was ordained a priest in 1972.
Spending so much of his life outside of the United States gave Fr. Harding an intercultural experience and an appreciation of the world vision and mission of the Franciscan Order, he said.
“Intercultural living and ministering opens a person to new ideas and to different relationships and ministries,” he said in 2016 while reflecting on his 50th anniversary as a friar.
Past recipients of the Anselm Moons Award include other members of Holy Name Province – Fr. Joseph Nangle, OFM, and Fr. John O’Connor, OFM, who is presenting the FMS award to Fr. Harding. The award was launched in 2006 in honor of Fr. Anselm Moons, OFM, a friar from Holland who founded Franciscan Mission Service.
“It is somewhat overwhelming to receive the Anselm Moons OFM award, given that he was such a mission visionary for the Franciscan Order,” said Fr. Harding. “He envisioned the Franciscan family as a fruitful missionary enterprise throughout Africa and the world. He forged visions and institutions created, not without some resistance, for the integral evangelization not only of the mission, but especially of the missionary.”
The honoree said that though he has never had any formal connect to the FMS, he had the “longtime privilege of being accepted as a friend of Franciscan Mission Service and of the FMS missioners Bolivia.”
Fr. Harding holds an associate’s degree in liberal arts from St. Bonaventure University in Western New York, a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from The Catholic University of America, and a master’s degree in theology from Washington Theological Union. He graduated from Holy Trinity High School in Hartford, where he was taught by the Sisters of St. Francis.
About Holy Name Province
Holy Name Province is the largest of seven entities in the United States belonging to the Order of Friars Minor. With ministries in 12 states along the East Coast, its nearly 300 Catholic priests and brothers serve in colleges, parishes, urban ministry centers and a wide variety of social ministries, as well as in overseas missions.
The Order, founded in 1209 by St. Francis of Assisi, commemorated its 800th anniversary in 2009. Today, St. Francis, whose feast day is Oct. 4, remains one of the most widely known saints, revered for his affection for nature and care for creation.
Interview and photo requests should be directed to Jocelyn Thomas, HNP director of communications, at 646-473-0265 ext. 321 or firstname.lastname@example.org.