Michael and Kitzi Weclomed to Cochabamba, Bolivia
In this issue:
Following the path of about 30 missioners over FMS history, Michael Redell and Kitzi Hendricks arrived in Cochabamba, Bolivia on Jan. 13 to begin their two years of service.
At the airport, they were first greeted by FMS missioner Catherine Giller, who eagerly introdced them tothe other three missioners already serving in South America's poorest country.
FMS has been sending lay missioners to Cochabamba since 1994. As missioners finish their service and return home, they sometimes pass on their ministries to new missioners which makes a lasting impact on the region (see inside story, "Childcare Center in Rural Bolivia Celebrates 10 Years").
Michael and Kitzi join the long tradition of FMS service in Bolivia, welcomed by a supportive lay mission community. FMS missioners serve in different local ministries and join together weekly for prayer, reflection and fellowship at the Franciscan Social Center. Current and returned missioners have said that this community experience is vital in sustaining them during service.
In the coming weeks, Michael and Kitzi will discern potential matches between their skills and the local community’s needs. Thankfully, they have the guidance of their lay mission community to help them to do so. Seasoned FMS missioners s Nora, Joel, Lynn and Catherine know that the first weeks in mission are a time for acculturation and language study and have offered their support.
The new missioners have already started to share their mission experience with a wider community through their blogs. Kitzi enjoys sharing her impressions of everything via writing, music and photography. She has written about her host family’s warm hospitality and gatherings including an evening with traditional Bolivian music.
Michael's 4-year-old host cousin Valedia is amused that she gets to teach Michael Spanish and correct his mistakes.
Both missioners are attending language courses at the Maryknoll Center, where they have four classes each day in which they work one-on-one with different professors. "I have six weeks of language training before I hit the ground running, walking, or stumbling," Michael said. Kitzi enjoys practicing conversation and grammar by discussing with her professors poverty in the United State and Bolivia and the countries' educational systems.
Michael and Kitzi are grateful for your prayers and support!
Childcare Center in Rural Bolivia Celebrates 10 Years: Seeds Planted by FMS Missioners Bloom and Flourish
What used to be a vacant dirt yard behind a church in Sacaba, Bolivia a decade ago has blossomed into a childcare center and program for 300 children and young adults with special needs. Through hard work and collaboration, the vision of FMS missioners Lorraine Kelley and Diego Morales has grown into the Centro de Desarollo Integral del Niño San Pedro.
One of the children Lorraine and Diego accompanied in 2002 was a six-year-old girl named Delia who looked like she was only one or two. Delia did not talk or walk and was always swaddled in a blanket. She had to be fed and have her diapers changed, but she always had a sparkle in her eye and a smile on her face.
In August 2011, when Lorraine and Diego visited Bolivia and toured the center, they saw that Delia was walking with the help of a physical therapist. When Lorraine asked Delia if she remembered her, a smile spread across the girl’s face and she nodded. She then told Lorraine she was almost 17. Lorraine was surprised and delighted to hear her speak.
“I could do nothing but cry and give her a big hug,” Lorraine said.
On mission in Bolivia from 2000 to 2002, Diego and Lorraine were devastated by their encounters with malnourished children. At Mass one Sunday, they met a tiny one-year-old with protruding ribs and a dab of blood under her nose, who died several days later in intensive care.
“Our daughter, Annamaria, was only a toddler at the time,” Lorraine said. “We couldn’t imagine anyone her age having to suffer so much and meet that kind of fate.”
They jumped at the chance to work with the community to secure a grant from the Seton Institute, for nutritional services. With the $5,000 award, they were able to help set up a daycare and to provide healthy breakfasts and lunches to children for three years.
Lorraine and Diego had been working with Vincentian missionaries in a group for physically and mentally challenged children called SIGAMOS (“We go forward”). They had learned that the social ostracism of people with handicaps in Bolivia was such that some never left their homes. With the help of the Christian Foundation for Children and the Aging, they found “godparents,” or “padrinos"
Community collaboration was vital to keeping the Center going. The local pastor, the mayor’s office, and volunteers with strong backs and bags of cement contributed to funding, construction and repairs. Mothers rotated helping out in the kitchen. When Diego and Lorraine returned to the U.S., FMS missioner Catherine Giller stepped in to train locals; volunteer Doña Hilda eventually became the Center's director. Today, the Center is staffed entirely by local people, from the administration to the therapists to the educators.
Catherine is now on her second mission term in Bolivia and was invited to a kindergarten graduation at the Center, which was recently rebuilt. Some of the children graduating were younger siblings of those who attended the Center during Catherine's first mission term.
“As a missioner, I know I may not see the seeds I sow in Bolivia bloom into flowers,” Catherine said. “It is good to see the seedlings Lorraine and Diego sowed, and that I and many others watered and fertilized, flourish and even be transplanted.”
2012 World Care Benefit and Celebration
Join us for the annual World Care Benefit and Celebration at 7 p.m. on March 16 at St. Francis Hall (1340 Quincy Street NE). The evening will include live music, wine, small plates, desserts and a silent auction.
Archbishop Donald Wuerl will give the invocation and Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, Archbishop
Emeritus of Washington,will give our keynote presentation, "The Mission of St. Francis is still the Road to Peace." During the night we
will also honor the Ambassador and Dr. Melady with the seventh annual
Anselm Moons, OFM, Award for their contributions to foreign policy and
Tickets: $75 each or $1,000 for a reserved
tables (10 Tickets). Space is limited. All reservations held at the
door. Contact FMS to reserve your tickets today! See our event page for details about sponsorships, advertisements and congratulatory messages in our commemorative journal.
Susan Slavin arrived in Kenya this January to begin her two years of service. She was greeted by Fr. Joe Erhardt, OFM, her new colleague in the Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation (JPIC) office in Nairobi. Only two weeks after she arrived, they traveled to Uganda to host a seminar with the Young Franciscans of Uganda. Susan was struck at how committed the youth were to learning about non-violence and Franciscan traditions.
In Zambia, Bryce and Sandra Bradford experienced their first holidays on mission, celebrating Christmas with friars and friends from the community. Sandra has begun working in a library at St. Francis Secondary School, as well as teaching a college Intro to Psychology class at the local university. Bryce continues to work at the retreat center.
In South Africa, Tim and Cecilia Marcy have begun their last year as FMS missioners. The couple continues to serve hundreds of HIV/AIDS patients in the St. Francis Care Center and hospice outside Johannesburg.
In Cochabamba, Bolivia, Lynn Myrick and Joel Vaughn continue to teach English classes at El Abra Prison. Once a month, they show the prisoners a film and lead a discussion. Their ministries also include a “Filmania” series at the public university, San Simon. Lynn has agreed to teach high school English classes and a catechesis class at San Francisco and Santa Clara Colegio.
Congratulations to Nora Pfeiffer and her Onda Verde (Green Wave) radio cohorts for broadcasting more than 40 shows! Nora continues to assist with another radio show, Pulso (operated in conjunction with Maryknoll), focusing on social and ecological issues.
Catherine Giller now lives at the Franciscan Social Center with Nora, and has begun new ministries in Cochabamba. She accompanies “children with situations of the street” in a therapeutic center, and works at the Office of Health in the Archbishop’s office (on studies of malnutrition). She continues her ministry in Tiqti Sud two days a week ,assisting with the neighborhood after-school and lunch programs.
First Sunday Souposium: An Evening of Franciscan Fellowship
Franciscan. Fellowship. Food. These three words sum up FMS’ inaugural Sunday Souposium on the evening of January 29. Almost 40 religious and lay people gathered in the comfortable setting of Casa San Salvador for FMS’s newest celebration of Franciscan community and ministry.
The evening centered around a presentation by Sr. Margaret Mary Kimmins, OSF on “Francis in His Time, Franciscan in Our Time.” Sr. Margaret Mary, who serves as a boardmember of Franciscan Action Network and the Washington Theological Union, and directs Catholic Church relations at Bread for the World, talked about what it means to live today as St. Francis did. Highlights of her talk included stories from her 48 years as a Franciscan Sister of Allegany. Excerpts can be found on our YouTube channel, youtube.com/franciscanmission.
After the talk, participants broke into small groups to discuss the topic, “What is ours to be, what is ours to do?” Participants shared that the small group conversations were enriching and a good way to meet new people.
All Franciscans and Franciscan-hearted people are invited to this regular Franciscan social event, which we plan to hold regularly at Casa San Salvador. We hope to create an inclusive atmosphere in which guests can share their ideas on and hopes for Franciscan life, ministry and spirituality.
The Souposium is part of FMS’ natural evolution as an organization. For more than 20 years, FMS’ ministries have drawn members from all branches of the Franciscan family. Our lay missioners live and serve alongside vowed Franciscans from all three orders, and Franciscans of all types have been instructors in our formation program.
The inaugural gathering featured donated breads and desserts, and three kinds of soup made by our own Development Director/trained chef, Br. Paul O’Keeffe, OFM. Check out our Souposium page for speaker videos, soup recipes and details about upcoming Souposium gatherings
The next Souposiums will be held from 5 to 7 pm on Feb. 26, April 29, May 20, Sept. 23, Oct. 28 and Nov. 18. For more information or to RSVP, please contact Br. Paul, email@example.com, 202-832-1762, ext. 7.
New Development Director: Br. Paul O'Keeffe, OFM brings his mission experience and Franciscan wisdom to FMS
This January, we were blessed to welcome an FMS veteran, Br. Paul O’Keeffe, OFM, to our staff as Development Director.
Br. Paul’s long history with FMS has made for a natural integration with the staff. He was a lay missioner with us in Kenya and Jamaica in the mid-1990s. Several years later, he chose to return to Africa with the Society of African Missions, serving in Ghana from 1998 to 2002.
Fifteen years have passed since Br. Paul first left for mission service. What started as a short-term collaboration with Franciscans friars in Western Kenya, working with street children, refugees, and the physically disabled, is now a lifelong Franciscan journey. After his second mission term with the SMA, Br. Paul joined the friars of Holy Name Province in the state of New York, professing solemn vows in 2010.
For the past three years, Br. Paul has worked at a community mental health center in New Jersey, close enough to be able to lead retreats at FMS and help us evaluate new missioner candidates. He has spent several summers working in our office, and is, he said, “enthusiastic about being here full-time because of the vibrant staff.” He is also looking forward to getting to know our donors and initiating our short-term mission programs.
Br. Paul will be instrumental in expanding FMS' lay mission opportunities to include short-term international and domestic mission. High school students, college students, SFO Fraternities and church groups will join our missioners in Africa or Latin America for one week to one month for prayer, service, exposure to the reality of the country, and some fun. The domestic mission opportunities will be hosted in Washington D.C.
In addition to his many professional talents, Br. Paul is a gourmet chef and has been known to bring homemade gelato to the office.
Become a missioner! Now accepting applications for Fall 2012 Formation/28th Lay Mission Class
Hola. Me llamo…
This could be you next January. You could be learning Spanish and Quechua (in Bolivia), Bemba (in Zambia), or Swahili (in Kenya). You could be welcomed into a community where, as new missioner Kitzi Hendricks said when she arrived in Cochabamba, “The people I have met are extremely gracious and happy. They smile and laugh a lot, despite their difficult circumstances.”
We are now accepting applications for Fall 2012 lay missioner formation at FMS.
Our formation program, held in Washington, D.C., starts in late August – a great time for new college graduates. Don’t forget that we consider applications from people aged 22 to 62, single or married, from all walks of life.
Do you find yourself praying often for people in need overseas? Do you feel called to do your part to build global community? Do you want to serve with fellow Christians, respecting religious and cultural diversity? If you have an open heart and are ready for an experience you will treasure for the rest of your life, talk with us about lay mission. And send your friends our way.
Don’t worry if you speak only English. In two of the countries in which our missioners now serve – Zambia and Kenya – English is an official language, and that’s also true in Jamaica, where we have a site ready to welcome new missioners. If you choose to go to Bolivia, we’ll enroll you in a Spanish language immersion program.
We have planned two sets of discernment days at our Washington, DC headquarters: April 19-20, and June 21-22. If you would like to spend some time with us discerning whether overseas mission is right for you, and if you meet our basic qualifications, you are welcome to join us.
Why wait? For more information, visit franciscanmissionservice.org.
New Faces on the FMS Board of Directors
We are pleased to introduce the four new members who joined the Board of Directors at its biannual meeting on January 27 in Washington, D.C.
Sam Ferlita is a member of Sacred Heart Parish in Tampa, FL. By joining the Board, he solidifies his long-term commitment to FMS. He was introduced to FMS by Fr. George Corrigan, OFM in 2010 and has since offered us in-kind consulting services and support. Sam is a founding partner of Ferlita, Walsh, & Gonzalez, P.A. and brings to FMS his expertise in accounting, as well as his commitment to serving others.
Bob Batson, a member of Sacred Heart Parish in Tampa, FL, enjoys serving in a variety of parish organizations. In his active involvement in prison and homeless ministries, he exemplifies the Franciscan values of compassion, humility, and service to others. Bob is President of Mindshare Technology in Tampa and has spent his entire career in business development and sales.
Morna Murray, an attorney and member of Our Lady Queen of Peace Parish in Arlington, VA, is Vice President and Counsel for Children’s Policy and Strategy at the advocacy organization First Focus in Washington, D.C. She has served in nongovernmental and governmental capacities, advocating for policies that make children and their families a priority in federal policy and budget decisions. She was introduced to FMS by Fr. Joe Nangle, OFM, and has followed our work for many years.
Terry Hurey is Vice President of Administration and CFO of Community Residences, Inc., an agency that serves people with mental illness and intellectual disabilities in Maryland and Virginia. He came to know FMS through his friendship with fellow board member Sr. Cathy Cahill, OSF. He is a long-term member of St. John the Beloved Parish of McLean, VA, where he has participated in summer work camps with his wife Maureen and children Kevin and Katie.
Also, we congratulate our new board officers: Rebecca Lynes was recently elected Vice President, and Evelyn Mercantini was elected Secretary/Treasurer.