SILVER SPRING, Md. — Continuing a 22-year tradition of serving in solidarity with the poor abroad in the spirit of Saints Francis and Clare, the Franciscan Mission Service commissioned its 28th class of lay missioners on Dec. 2 at St. Camillus Church.
Jacek Orzechowski, OFM, celebrated the Mass during which Annemarie Barrett and Jeff Sved received Tau crosses and special blessings, as well as professed their intentions and commitment to serve as missioners in Cochabamba, Bolivia.
After the commissioning Mass, there was a celebratory reception where St. Camillus parishioners and Holy Name Province friars came by to wish the missioners well. Current and former FMS staff, returned missioners, and board members were also present with members of Annemarie and Jeff’s family who traveled in from Minnesota and Pennsylvania, respectively. Katie Sullivan of Franciscan Volunteer Ministry was there to support Jeff, who served with FVM last year in Wilmington, Del.
The commissioning marked the end of the missioners’ formation at the FMS headquarters in Washington, D.C, which began with a welcoming Mass at St. Camillus in September. For the past three months, Annemarie and Jeff studied topics such as Franciscan charism, Catholic Social Teaching, cross-cultural communication, and missionary scripture.
Their time in D.C. also included serving with homeless men and doing spiritual direction with John Ullrich, OFM,and Anthony LoGalbo, OFM. Other HNP friars helped lead classes or celebrated Mass at FMS during formation. They included Thomas Conway, OFM, Michael Johnson, OFM, Erick Lopez, OFM, Dominic Monti, OFM, Joseph Nangle, OFM, and Emerson Rodriguez, OFM. Paul O’Keeffe, OFM, (shown in photo above) serves on the FMS staff and worked closely with the missioners during their training.
With the support of Franciscan religious and laity alike, Annemarie and Jeff fly to Bolivia on Jan. 16 to begin their two years of service in one of the poorest nations in Latin America.
“I couldn’t be more happy or feel more blessed to know and send Annemarie and Jeff to Bolivia,” Kim Smolik, executive director of FMS, said. “They are humble, inspiring, loving young adults that our world is lucky to have.”
The new missioners will join in community at the Franciscan Social Center with current FMS missioner Kitzi Hendricks, who serves at the Madre de Dios shelter for girls who have been abandoned or abused. Annemarie and Jeff will study Spanish at the Maryknoll Language Institute for several weeks while they discern with the community where their gifts are needed.
People interested in supporting Annemarie and Jeff on their mission journey can read their blog posts and make a donation at www.franciscanmissionservice.org.
— Bridget Higginbotham is communications coordinator for the Franciscan Mission Service.