PHILADELPHIA — As they often are, the Franciscan Volunteer Ministers in Camden, N.J., Wilmington, Del., and Philadelphia have been keeping busy — traveling to Washington, D.C., recruiting for the 2010 school year, blogging and always finding ways to meet the needs of the three communities in which they live.
It was the last of those that landed the quartet of volunteers in Wilmington — Julianne Wallace, Kelly Donnelly, Brad Landry and Eddie Whelan — a front-page article in the April 15 issue of The Dialog, a publication from the Wilmington Diocese.
Also meeting a need will be Camden FVM Anna Perkins, as she will launch a summer session of English as a second language in the community by herself. “Usually, the program ends after the spring semester,” said Matt Johnson, FVM promoter, “but Anna has taken this project on for the summer.”
Perkins posts regularly on her blog, “Anna in light of…” which Johnson described as having “great insights into everyday life in Camden as an FVM.”
The Camden volunteers, along with Wallace, attended the Ecumenical Advocacy Days in Washington last month. “Julianne had a huge part in the musical portion of the entire program,” said Johnson, “The Camden group met with Representative Robert Andrews (D-NJ) to discuss issues the Camden community is facing.” Johnson said it was a “fruitful day” for the volunteers and the communities they were representing.
Preparing for 2010-2011
This weekend, Johnson visited St. Anselm College in Manchester, N.H. He took with him four current FVMs, all 2009 graduates of the college. While at St. Anselm, the group participated in a variety of events including Theology on Tap, information tables and meeting with the campus minister.
Johnson added that, in the coming weeks, the volunteers will be hosting applicants for the 2010-2011 volunteer year as they travel to the East Coast for interviews and site visits.
Last month, the FVMs from all three sites traveled to Western New York for their spring retreat at Mt. Irenaeus. With them were their friar leaders Michael Duffy, OFM, and Christopher Posch, OFM. Camden leader John Coughlin, OFM, was with them in spirit, as he was mourning the loss of housemate Gerald Hudson, OFM.
FVM program director Katie Sullivan said traditionally, this third retreat focuses on Catholic social teaching and simple living. However, she said, “That week was a time of mourning — of preparations for Br. Jerry’s wake and Mass and of celebrating Br. Jerry’s life. Also, the grandmother of one of our FVMs died the weekend before retreat, and she traveled to be with her family to mourn and celebrate her grandmother’s life.”
Rather than the planned talk on Catholic social teaching in the Holy Land, Kevin Kriso, OFM, of Mt. Irenaeus, spoke on grieving and transition. “We were able to share stories, to recognize the process of grieving, to hear how each other were doing. As always, our time at the mountain was blessed and renewing,” Sullivan said.
“And when we learned two days later that Dan Hurley, OFM, had died, we recognized that time as an even greater treasure. We had been the last group to pray with him at Mass and at morning and evening prayers, to laugh with him, to hear his stories, and to enjoy his delicious and celebrated pies!”
Photos of the retreat are available on the FVM Facebook page.
In June, current and alumni Franciscan Volunteer Ministers will gather in Baltimore, Md., to attend a Boston Red Sox vs. Baltimore Orioles game as a community event, Johnson said.
Information about the FVM application process can be found on the website of the Franciscan Volunteer Ministry.
— Rebecca Doel is Holy Name Province’s communications coordinator.