Franciscan Mission Service to Honor John O’Connor

Jocelyn Thomas Franciscan World

WASHINGTON — Former Provincial Minister John O’Connor, OFM, will be recognized May 1 by the Franciscan Mission Service at its 2015 World Care Benefit and Celebration. He will be given the 10th Annual Anselm Moons, OFM award for his commitment to the FMS, his nine years as leader of HNP, and his promotion of the shared values of mission, peace, justice and integrity of creation. It is the first of two honors that John will receive in May.

The gala’s keynote speaker will be Honduran Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, who serves as coordinator of the Council of Cardinals advising Pope Francis on Church governance and Vatican reform. Currently Archbishop of Tegucigalpa, he is a staunch defender of human rights and a powerful voice in the global fight against poverty. He was the Vatican’s spokesperson to the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank and is currently in his second term as president of Caritas Internationalis.

The event, to be held at St. Francis Hall in the nation’s capital, will also honor a college student as the inaugural recipient of the San Damiano Servant Leadership Award. Emma Laut, of Marian University in Indianapolis, has logged more than 400 hours of registered service in her community, including work with the homeless, mission trips to Native American reservations, and urban agricultural initiatives.

John, guardian of St. Francis Parish friary in Triangle, Va., said he has always believed in the importance of the lay missionary movement in the Church.

“I see it as a vital part of the international ministry of the Church and the Order,” John said. “I knew Anselm Moons, a Dutch friar who was instrumental in the establishment of the FMS. And, of course, our own Joe Nangle, OFM, was, for many years, the driving force behind the FMS. The missionaries I have seen are highly dedicated individuals who make enormous sacrifices to serve the poor in developing nations.

“I am honored and humbled that the FMS as chosen to bestow on me their highest award,” he added.

John, who served as provincial minister from 2005 to 2014, served as a liaison to the Franciscan Mission Service’s board for several years and joined the board last summer. Since September, he has been serving as the Order’s executive assistant for development.

On May 17, John will be presented with an honorary degree by St. Bonaventure University in Allegany, N.Y., where he served on the board of trustees for many years.

Kim Smolik, director of the FMS, said, “It is a privilege to be able to honor Fr. John O’Connor with the 10th Annual Anselm Moons, OFM award. Because of his deep commitment to mission and lay partnerships, he has been a consistent champion of FMS for the past 10 years. We are so pleased he is now serving in a leadership capacity on our board of directors.”

Previous recipients of the Anselm Moons, OFM award include Jack JezreelSr. Pat Farrell, OSF, Thomas and Margaret Melady,  Megeen and Russell Testa, and Joseph Nangle.

The gala, set for 7 p.m., will celebrate 25 years of “lay mission in the Franciscan tradition,” according to a recent mailing. Information about tickets and advertising opportunities can be obtained by phone at 202-832-1762 and on the website of the Franciscan Mission Service, which is currently highlighting Lenten reflections written by millennials.

The FMS currently has missioners serving at four locations – Guatemala, Jamaica and two in Bolivia.

Jocelyn Thomas is director of communications for Holy Name Province.