Franciscan Volunteer Ministry Welcomes Twelve

Katie Sullivan In the Headlines

The program director of the Franciscan Volunteer Ministry shares her excitement about working with 12 FVM members, the largest group in several years, allowing ministry to serve all three of its communities. FVM also welcomes a new promoter, replacing Michael Smith, who has accepted a fellowship and graduate assistantship at Boston College. 

NEW YORK — It is that time of year again when we bid farewell to one class of Franciscan Volunteer Ministers and welcome the next. While we were sad to say goodbye to our 2008 to 2009 interns, we are excited for the coming year after spending some time on retreat with our 2009 to 2010 FVMs.

It is a bittersweet season of goodbyes and blessings, as well as joy and expectation, as we wish the three 2008 to 2009 FVMs the best on the next stage of their journeys.

Amanda Lengauer has begun graduate school for her masters degree in recreation and education at the State University of New York in Cortland, N.Y., where she works as a graduate assistant. 

Noé Granados has returned to St. Camillus Parish in Silver Spring, Md., and is working as an electrician with his former employer.

Katelyn Bagtaz, who finished her second year as an FVM, is now working full-time with John Gill, OFM, at the St. Francis Urban Center, part of the ministry at St. Francis Inn in Philadelphia. Bagtaz has also begun a masters program in social work at Temple University in Pennsylvania.

Welcoming Matthew Johnson
Michael Smith, FVM promoter for the past year and a 2007 FVM participant, is also moving on, returning to school this month as a fellow and graduate assistant at Boston College. Smith will teach while he finishes a master’s degree in English. We are very grateful for his dedication, hard work, creativity and enthusiasm in promoting FVM. 

Matthew Johnson, who served as a FVM from 2004 to 2005 and 2006 to 2007, replaces Smith. A recent graduate of Westfield, Mass., State College, Johnson brings vision, talents and passion to this ministry.

The New Year
We began our new year on Aug. 15, thrilled to have 12 FVMs. This number of ministers allows us to work, once again, at all three of our sites — at St. Anthony of Padua Church in Camden, N.J., St. Francis Inn in Philadelphia, and St. Paul Church in Wilmington, Del.

The 12 FVMs come from eight states, representing nine educational institutions. Their gifts and interests include music, language, teaching, faith and social justice.

I attribute the large number of participants this year, not to one reason, but to several. First and foremost, it is a culmination of hard work over the years, and specifically during 2008 to 2009. In addition, all those connected or associated with FVM actively invited people to consider becoming an FVM. Eleven of the 12 applied to FVM because they were encouraged to do so by an FVM or alum, a staff member or friar.

Historically, more than 90 percent of our FVMs come from a personal invitation. Nationally, for other volunteer programs, that number is closer to 30 to 40 percent. 

Maintaining strong relationships with colleges has also helped our recruiting efforts. Our University of Georgia FVM was not only encouraged by both Thomas Vigliotta, OFM, and David Hyman, OFM, but also the visits to the school by staff and FVMs over the last three years. Additionally, we have one alum from Siena College near Albany, N.Y., and St. Bonaventure University in Western New York, where we have been nurturing relationships since the Franciscan Volunteer Ministry was launched 20 years ago. 

Broadening our publicity and using online social media such as Facebook, Twitter and our blog have helped give FVM greater name recognition.

There is a natural/cyclical ebb and flow to volunteerism. Some years are lean (like this past one for many programs, including FVM) and some years are abundant.

Other factors have also influenced our increase in recruitment, but nothing has helped more than prayer. Staff, FVMs, alums, friars at our sites, our families and other supporters have all been praying that God will send workers for the harvest. And God said a big “Yes!” 

FVMMeet the New FVMs
Working at St. Anthony of Padua, with John Coughlin, OFM, supervisor, will be: Chris Calderone (State University of New York, Potsdam), Norma Dhanaraj (of St. Anselm College, New Hampshire), Josh Dupuis (St. Anselm) and Anna Perkins (Taylor University, Indiana).

Michael Duffy, OFM, at St. Francis Inn, will supervise Celia Bogan (of St. Bonaventure University), Mary Donahue (St. Anselm College), Rory Dunphy (Plymouth State College, New Hampshire) and Leo Vaccaro (Gettysburg College, Pennsylvania).

The FVMs at St. Paul Church working with Christopher Posch, OFM, site supervisor, are Kelly Donnelly (Siena College), Brad Landry (St. Anselm), Julianne Wallace (Washington Theological Union) and Eddie Whelan (University of Georgia).

More news about the FVMs, who have dived whole-heartedly into this new commitment, embracing each other and the greater communities of which they are a part, will be provided as this year gets underway. 

Thank you to everyone who helps our ministry thrive. We ask for your prayers for this new year.

In the team group photos behind the above are: Camden — (back row) John, Calderone and Dupuis; (front row) Dhanaraj and Perkins. Philadelphia — (back row) Dunphy, Michael and Vaccaro; (front row) Bogan and Donahue. Wilmington — (back row) Landry, Christopher and Whelan; (front row) Wallace and Donnelly.

— Katie Sullivan, program director of the Franciscan Volunteer Ministry for 11 years, is based in Philadelphia. She and several members and leaders of the FVM traveled to New York last weekend for the Aug. 22 solemn profession of three HNP friars. Katie is in the front row, far left, in the above group photo.