A new location has been chosen for Holy Name Province’s Franciscan Volunteer Ministers to live and work. Beginning this summer, FVMs will be stationed at Immaculate Conception Parish in Durham, N.C., a multicultural community where HNP friars have ministered since 1996.
“The parish and community of Immaculate Conception Catholic Church will join St. Francis Inn in Philadelphia and St. Camillus in Silver Spring, Md., as our sites beginning this August,” said an email announcement issued by the Franciscan Volunteer Ministry last month. “Immaculate Conception is a vibrant community. Among its ministries are hospital ministry, religious education (through the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd), Hispanic and immigrant ministries, and youth ministry. There will be opportunities to serve in the parish school and do community outreach, organization, and advocacy through Durham CAN (Congregations, Associations, and Neighborhoods).”
“We believe that our parish will offer the FVMs an experience of a diverse community committed to worshiping God by serving his people in a variety of ways,” said Christopher VanHaight, OFM, pastor. “Hugh Macsherry, OFM, has offered to be the site supervisor. We are excited to have the FVMs here, and I am sure it will be a fruitful relationship for all.”
The Franciscan Volunteer Ministry provides a setting for volunteers to grow in faith, love, and hope by serving the poor and working for social justice. Since its establishment in 1989, it has operated sites in a variety of cities, including Anderson, S.C., Buffalo, N.Y., Camden, N.J., Wilmington, Del., and Boston.
The friars at these places work with the FVMs, teaching them about Franciscan ideals and guiding them in their service to the marginalized. In the spirit of St. Francis of Assisi, the Franciscans Volunteer Ministers live simply and embrace three core values – direct service, intentional community, and prayer.
The Immaculate Conception community was selected as an FVM site based on meetings with friars and staff there as well as on a review of proposals from HNP ministries. “After FVM associate director Lizzy Heurich and I experienced a small sampling of Durham’s ministries and witnessed the vibrant community and faith of the parish and school, we recommended to the FVM Board of Directors that Durham be the new site for 2018-19, which our directors approved,” said Katie Sullivan, FVM executive director.
“We are excited about opening a new site for the FVMs,” said Michael Duffy, OFM, site supervisor in Philadelphia and a founding member of the FVM team. “It is another step toward fulfilling the original intent of the program of helping friars in their ministries all over the Province. There is tremendous opportunity in Durham because of the possibility to be involved in a multicultural community. Also, it will expand our presence in the South, which has been a goal of the Province.”
“One of the integral aspects of the Franciscan Volunteer Ministry that is distinctive is our close relationship with the Franciscan friars,” said Sullivan. “Our FVMs pray and eat dinner with the friars in addition to serving in the local ministries with them. Wherever FVMs live, serve, and pray, there is a friar community that is invested in their being and growing in intentional community life, direct ministries, and expressed prayer.”
Next Class of Franciscan Volunteers
The FVM staff is accepting applications for the 2018-19 service year. The selection process includes a review of an application, an essay, medical history, and references as well as interviews done by methods that suit the situation – in person or by phone or Skype.
After a core group of applicants is confirmed, their placements will be determined, said Sullivan, adding. “Each friar site supervisor calls his FVMs to welcome them to their site and FVM home.”
“We are eagerly anticipating our next year,” said Sullivan, who encourages readers to invite individuals who might be interested in a year of service to consider the Franciscan Volunteer Ministry. A flyer about the ministry, which is available here, can be displayed and shared.
“Based on the number of people who have submitted pieces of their application so far, we encourage those who wish to apply to begin the process by April,” said Sullivan. “FVM offers rolling acceptance until our program is filled, which is 14 Franciscan Volunteer Ministers.”
The FVM application can be found on Franciscan Volunteer Ministry’s website, and photos and news about the FVM program can be found on its Facebook Page.
— Jocelyn Thomas is director of communications for Holy Name Province.
Editor’s note: Several FVM alumni have written essays about their FVM experiences. They include Sheila Herlihy and Andrew Stati.
- “Franciscan Volunteers End Service Year with Retreat” – Aug. 1, 2017, HNP Today
- “Living Witnesses to Gospel Values’: Meet the New FVMs” – Dec 21, 2016, HNP Today
- “Franciscan Volunteer Ministry to Launch Site in Maryland” – May 27, 2015, HNP Today
- “Friars Celebrate Contributions of Durham’s Emily K Center” – Nov. 16, 2014, HNP Today
- “Friars Celebrate Silver Anniversary of Franciscan Volunteer Ministry” – Aug. 8, 2014, HNP Today
- “Durham Parish Concludes 100th Anniversary Celebration” – Dec. 20, 2006, HNP Today