Franciscan Mission Service Welcomes Applicants

Emily Norton Franciscan World

The Overseas Lay Mission Program is one of two FMS programs seeking applicants. (Photo courtesy of Alessia Catena)

WASHINGTON — Do you seek to accompany individuals who live on the margins of our communities? Do you have a desire to grow in your Catholic faith? You’re invited to serve with Franciscan Mission Service in the United States or abroad.

As Franciscan followers of Christ, Franciscan Mission Service builds partnerships with Catholic women and men who are inspired to live and serve in solidarity with economically poor communities across the globe – and to bring the transformative experience of mission to North American societies and churches as advocates for peace, justice, reconciliation and care of creation.

FMS is an independent nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C., and is rooted in the Franciscan values established by St. Francis and St. Clare of Assisi. Since 1990, FMS has supported approximately 230 lay missioners in 20 countries and currently supports missioners in Bolivia, Guatemala, Jamaica and the United States.

Through the Overseas Lay Mission Program, FMS trains and prepares missioners,(ages 21 to 65 and older, to serve for at least two years – with a six -year maximum – in another country, to be mindful that they are guests in the local Church, and to respect cultural, religious, and socio-economic differences. Missioners take a posture of humility as they form relationships and learn from those with whom they serve. They work in supporting roles in education, community health, prison ministry, youth ministry, sustainable agriculture, pastoral ministry, and other ministries that are run by the local community and will continue after missioners return home. The FMS staff facilitates a three-month in-depth training for missioners, individualized missioner support throughout the years of service, monthly stipends, retreat funds, international health insurance and a two-week re-entry retreat upon their return.

The DC Service Corps Program offers young-adult Catholics, ages 21 to 35, opportunities to learn about nonprofits, deepen their commitment to service, grow in faith, and live Franciscan scan s daily. Volunteers serve for a year at local community partner organizations in various ministries, sharing Christ’s love and cultivating relationships of peace and justice. FMS staff provides its volunteers monthly stipends, servant-leadership training, professional development, mentoring, faith formation, and educational seminars rooted in Catholic Social Teaching.

At the heart of FMS’ mission is a ministry of presence, service and companionship. As Franciscan-hearted people, we are called to a relationship-centered approach that views each person as an individual who is created and loved by God. Both programs include living in an intentional Christian community, in which missioners focus on simple living, prayer, reflection, and cultivating Gospel values in their daily life and at their ministry placements.

Current missioner SarahJane Cauzillo works in Cochabamba, Bolivia, with young girls who are survivors of physical and sexual abuse. Below, she shares the impact the FMS approach to mission has had on her daily life:

One of the main reasons I chose Franciscan Mission Service was its emphasis on a ministry of presence and accompaniment. I am not a Bolivian, and so to assume that I have an inherent right to march in after three months and begin “fixing” or “saving” people is not a ministry that I believe in or want to engage in. To me, my “purpose,” or my charism of service here, is one in which I am present and accompany those on the margins – a challenging, yet incredibly rewarding experience.

By my conscious and intentional choices to stand in solidarity, to humble myself, and to simply be present to those who suffer, I hope to build bridges of reconciliation, understanding, and respect; to share life in a profound way, learning from their diversity; and to build relationships of equal exchange and mutuality. In this way, I am hoping to model the ministry that Christ demonstrated for us in the Gospels – compassionate, empathetic, humble, and simple accompaniment.

Individuals interested in joining SarahJane and standing in solidarity with their brothers and sisters are invited to apply to join Franciscan Mission Service. To read weekly blogs from missioners, learn more about FMS or apply to our programs, visit, call 202-832-1762 or email

Emily Norton is programs manager for Franciscan Mission Service.

Editor’s note: Several past missioners have written reflections for HNP Today’s Franciscan Influences series. They include Kristen Zielinski-Nalen and Amanada Ceraldi.

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