STONEVILLE, N.C. – The St. Francis Springs Prayer Center here recently awarded the St. Francis Medal to four people who exemplify the spirit of volunteerism and have worked tirelessly to advance the ministry.
The testimonial dinner held Sept. 29 was described as “better than expected” by Louis Canino, OFM, who gave the awards to Joe Bauer, Frank Massey, Don Ries and Ruth Victor.
The Francis Medal was established by the Province in 1998 to “recognize and express its deep appreciation to women and men who have advanced the values and ideals of St. Francis and/or who have generously assisted the friars in living and proclaiming the Gospel after the example of St. Francis of Assisi.”
Joe Bauer: A Handy Volunteer
When Joe Bauer asked if he could do some construction work to help expedite the opening of the Franciscan Center in nearby Greensboro N.C., 17 years ago, little did he know he’d be installing doors, frames and walls for various Franciscan ministries for almost two decades.
His volunteer construction skills are not just reserved for the Franciscans, according to Louis. “Quietly, he and his recruits have done so much volunteer work for so many organizations and so many people, that it’s beyond belief.”
Today, Bauer is co-chairman of the St. Francis Springs Prayer Center Building Committee, and is active with the Center’s El Salvador outreach ministry. “You have been invaluable in helping to build this magnificent, sacred space. We thank you for your hard work, commitment, expertise and fidelity that you have shown in all your endeavors,” said Louis.
Frank Massey: An Easy-Going Volunteer
While Massey often helped Joe Bauer in his construction endeavors, it is for his work as a lay Franciscan and as the Greensboro Franciscan Family’s first fraternity minister that earned him the St. Francis Medal.
Massey’s interest in the Center began more than a decade ago when he visited it in search of literature that would speak to his heart about the Franciscan spirit. Not long after, he professed to become a lay Franciscan.
“Those of you who know and have worked with Frank find him to be extremely easy to work with,” said Louis. Known for his gift of listening, Massey is a blessing to those who need leadership. He also co-chairs the Building Committee with Bauer.
Don Ries: Volunteer Extraordinaire
Volunteer extraordinaire is the best way to describe Ries. When he shows up to volunteer, no job is too big or small – from cleaning toilets to changing light bulbs. “I’ll do whatever you need me to do,” is his motto.
Also known to keep people company when they’re working alone, his is often a ministry of presence.
“Don deserves this not just for what he has done on behalf of the Franciscan Center but for his caring and concern of so many people in and outside of the Triad,” said Louis. “Don, you are a kind, and sensitive person who has reached out to those who needed affirmation, a listening ear, a meal at a nice restaurant, a ride to church, and more besides.”
Ruth Victor: A Humble Helper
Victor has been humbly volunteering for more than 15 years, never looking for thanks, comments or praise. In fact, she had to be convinced to accept this award.
“In her own quiet way, she has been an invaluable volunteer for our ministry at our downtown center,” said Louis. “Whatever the task was – clerical, promo work, or bookstore-related – it was an absolute delight to work with Ruth. She was thorough, conscientious, and even laughed at my stories or jokes beyond what they deserved.”
Louis also lauded her for the support and encouragement she offered to the new ministry at the St. Francis Springs Prayer Center. “There is no doubt in my mind that if the Franciscan Center didn’t have a vibrant ministry with a lot of volunteer help and encouragement, there would be no St. Francis Springs Prayer Center today. You helped to bring this about more than you can ever realize.”
— Wendy Healy, a writer based in Danbury, Conn., is a frequent contributor to this newsletter.