The Franciscan Volunteer Ministry of Holy Name Province is actively preparing to begin its 27th year of “Love…lived in service” this August with the opening of a new ministry site in the Province. This faith-formation and volunteer program, of which we can rightly be quite proud, is truly one of the “jewels” of our Province. So many of our provincial priorities are addressed during the yearlong FVM experience: direct service to the alienated and the poor, active involvement with young adults, partnership with the laity, quality community living, prayer as an integral part of an apostolic life; and a deeper grounding in Franciscan spirituality and values.
Unlike other volunteer service groups, FVM — from the start — has been based on the balancing of three core values: community, ministry and spirituality. FVMs live in the neighborhoods where they minister. They share a home with the attendant responsibilities — including shared space, chores, cooking and maintenance. They commit weekly to at least one night of shared prayer, one shared meal and one time of shared communal recreation.
The FVMs also become an extension of the friar community where they live, gathering with the friars weekly for a shared meal and prayer time. Ministry is not only with the poor and marginalized but also, as much as possible, with the ministries of the friars in their area. A friar accompanies the FVMs, serving as a site supervisor. And dedication to individual and communal prayer — including four retreats with FVMs from all sites — allows for reflection, learning and integration of the experiences leading to a deeper and more mature faith life.
Expanding the Program
The FVM board has been working with the Provincial Council to expand the program throughout the Province. What a blessing it would be to have idealistic, committed and energetic young adults working side-by-side with the friars in all our ministry sites! Maybe your ministry could be the next site to host an FVM community. Why not?
This fall, the FVMs will begin their life and ministry at St. Camillus Parish in Silver Spring, Md., the seventh site in their long history of service. Other locations have included Anderson, S.C.; Boston; Buffalo, N.Y.; Camden, N.J.; Philadelphia; and Wilmington, Del.
At St. Camillus, the volunteers will share in the life of the largest parish in the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C. That parish is home to people of 100 different countries. Among other ministries, the FVMs will serve with the children and families of St. Francis International School, with the immigrant community of Langley Park, and with parishioners who are homebound or in health care facilities. They will teach English as a new language and assist with the food pantry and Meals On Wheels. They will become a part of this vibrant community of lived faith and justice.
Sharing the Excitement
The friar community of St. Camillus shares with us the excitement of welcoming the FVMs to their life and work. They look forward to dining and praying once a week with the FVMs, sharing fellowship and their faith journeys, and working shoulder-to-shoulder with the volunteers. The St. Camillus friars are also closely connected with the friars living at Holy Name College, so the FVMs will enjoy direct exposure the vocational process of the Franciscan friars, as well as to other ministries served by the solemnly-professed community at HNC. In addition, the Capuchin Volunteer Corps is also associated with the Camillus community. The Franciscan Volunteer Ministry is eager and honored to join this Franciscan mecca!
Watch for more news as this first year unfolds in the coming months. There will be many stories to share! And, please consider hosting the FVMs at your ministry site. The blessings are indeed many.
Information about the Franciscan Volunteer Ministry can be found on its website and on its Facebook page.
— Fr. Lawrence is Provincial Vicar of Holy Name Province and Katie Sullivan is executive director of the Franciscan Volunteer Ministry which last year commemorated its 25th anniversary.