Franciscan Mission Service Launches New Publication

Jocelyn Thomas Franciscan World

WASHINGTON — Franciscan Mission Service has created a new publication – Community Connections, a quarterly e-newsletter whose first issue was distributed this summer. The issue, emailed on July 7, includes a message from the new executive director Elizabeth Hughes, as well as information about a new FMS board member, book recommendations, positions with Franciscan Mission Service, and the 2017 World Care Benefit gala held in May.

“During my first two months at FMS, I’ve enjoyed listening to and getting to know the FMS family,” said Hughes. “One thing I’ve heard is a desire to continue sharing stories with one another and finding forums to remain connected. We are hopeful that this quarterly newsletter is the first step along that path, and we would welcome your ideas for the future.”

Before joining FMS, Hughes was the program’s director of the international program for the Jesuit Volunteer Corps. Previously, she dedicated more than a decade to internationally focused positions with the U.S. government, including two years in Mexico City.

“Her experience is rounded out by a mission background – first through the Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE) as a fourth-grade teacher in Birmingham, Ala., and later as a teacher in a bilingual school in Juticalpa, Honduras,” according to an announcement released by FMS this spring. “Liz’s global awareness and management experience will be an asset to the day-to-day operations of FMS headquarters.”

Hughes, a native of Colorado, replaced Kim Smolik who had served as executive director of FMS since 2009. Hughes holds a master’s degree in education from the University of Notre Dame in Indiana and a B.S. in international studies and management from Boston College. Hughes is in the process of meeting representatives of organizations with which FMS works.

FMS has been providing opportunities for lay mission service for more than 25 years.

Fifteen missioners are currently participating in the FMS program – five are in the nation’s capital and 10 are overseas. Five are in Bolivia, three are in Guatemala and two are in Jamaica, according to Hughes.

The staff encourages those interested in mission service to be in touch. Information about how to get involved can be found on the FMS website. The staff is welcoming for this year’s cohort of DC Service Corps  through mid-August and will begin accepting applications for next year’s class of overseas lay missions in the fall, said Hughes.

The organization seeks a Catholic young adult between 21 and 35 years of age committed to working for peace and justice to fill a position remaining in the Mission Service’s DC Service Corps. The volunteer will serve at the McKenna Center for men experiencing homelessness in Washington, D.C., live in intentional community with fellow volunteers, and gather weekly for spiritual and professional development. More information about the position is available online.

In late August, FMS will welcome its newest class of overseas lay missions through which they will participate in a 14-week formation program. It equips missioners with the essential tools to succeed in ministry and to impact their North American communities upon their return, Hughes said.

FMS’ five D.C. Service Corps members – who served at Don Bosco Cristo Rey High School, the McKenna Center, Catholic Charities, and FMS offices – completed their year of service in July.

“We are looking forward to welcoming five incoming volunteers in August,” said the new FMS director. “These men and women commit a year to either direct service or non-profit administrative support. They live in intentional community, pray together, and strive to be witnesses to justice and peace in the Franciscan tradition. “

Reflections by missioners can be found on the blog page of the FMS website, which also provides the organization’s mission, its history, and a list of its board of directors which includes two OFM friars – former Provincial Minister John O’Connor, OFM, who lives in Triangle, Va., and Immaculate Conception Province member Fr. Thomas Washburn, OFM, executive secretary of the English-speaking Conference.

To keep up to date with FMS news, follow the organization on Facebook or Twitter or subscribe to Community Connections.

A message in the e-newsletter encourages readers to let the FMS staff know about article ideas. This newsletter is “our way of reaching out to all of you and keeping you informed about what’s going on with the community. But it’s also an opportunity for you to ‘reach in’ and tell us what you’re doing – what the Franciscan charism means to you these days, different types of service you might be doing and, yes, what you’re reading.”

Jocelyn Thomas is director of communications for Holy Name Province.

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