Franciscan Volunteer Ministry Plans 25th Anniversary Celebration

Jocelyn Thomas Around the Province

NEW YORK — The Province’s volunteer ministry is commemorating a quarter-century of young adult service to the marginalized with a reunion of the extended Franciscan Volunteer Ministry family.

The Philadelphia-based Franciscan Volunteer Ministry welcomes friars to join the July 26 celebration, scheduled for 3 p.m. at St. Francis of Assisi Church on West 31st Street in New York City.

The event begins with Mass at 4 p.m. in the lower chapel, followed by dinner, dancing and a photo display from 5 to 11 p.m. at the Province’s San Damiano Hall at 129 West 31st Street.

Celebrating the Milestone
“We wanted to have a single day event bringing together people from all aspects of the FVM program — Franciscan volunteers, the families that have nurtured and supported their children who were Franciscan volunteers, the friars to whom FVM belongs, and the friends who have supported us along the way,” said Katie Sullivan, director. “July 26 will capture a taste of what FVM represents. We will celebrate Mass together, grow in relationship with our brothers and sisters through a shared meal and story-telling, and be joyful for all that has been and eagerly open for all that God has in store.”

Though RSVPs were requested by July 9, Sullivan said she welcomes last-minute interest from friars and friends. Based on the Gospel message to express love in action, FVM provides an environment that “fosters service to the marginalized, personal and interpersonal development, and spiritual growth,” according to the FVM website. Information about the event can be obtained here:

Past volunteers may submit photos and written memories of their volunteer service to be part of a slide show being created by Matt Johnson, FVM associate director. Over the years, the organization has helped many people begin careers in both ministry and service.

Appreciating Faith of Community
“My Franciscan vocation has been profoundly enriched by FVMs’ truth-seeking, connecting faith with action, wrestling with dragons, longing for union with the Almighty, selfless giving, articulating thought-provoking questions and outrage, maximizing each moment, and simply having a good time and enjoying life’s many blessings,” said Christopher Posch, OFM, the friar site supervisor in Wilmington, Del., since 2003, and director of the Hispanic Ministry Diocese of Wilmington, Del.

Former FVM Stephen Milback, M.D., who began a career as a physician after his time as a volunteer, said. “The Franciscan Volunteer Ministry is a Eucharistic-centered community of believers who seek to serve Christ by serving the poorest of our brothers and sisters.”

Since the program was established by the Province, more than 200 young men and women, usually in their 20s, have participated. They have given a year or two of service in Philadelphia, Wilmington, and Camden, N.J. Former FVM sites include Boston, Buffalo, N.Y., and Anderson, S.C.

“We have seen the positive impact that this ministry has had on young people,” said Michael Duffy, OFM, who has been with the FVM since its establishment. “It is both a service program and a faith-formation program. The volunteers themselves become transformed in ways that alter their whole life’s journey,” said Michael in a 2013 reflection.

Seeking New Volunteers
Prior to the anniversary celebration, FVM has been exceptionally busy with other events, according to Sullivan. Camden celebrated the Feast of St. Anthony, Philadelphia held its annual block party — attended by Patrick Tuttle, OFM, who traveled up from Greenville, S.C. – and teamed up with local FVMs to coordinate a party.

The organization will soon bid farewell to its 2013 to 2014 FVMs. Sullivan said that two are going to college, three are applying for a second FVM year, one will enter another service program, and others are seeking jobs.

Sullivan is preparing for the 2014 to 2015 FVM year and invites questions and referrals. Information about applying can be found online.

 Jocelyn Thomas is director of communications for Holy Name Province.