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Nine master teachers, nine wisdom traditions, two 9-day residentials, one journey of the human spirit into the direct experience of living awake. Religion is often about who’s in and who’s out, creating a worldview steeped in “us against them.” Spirituality rejects this dualism and speaks of us and them. Religious institutions that do harm are those that insist you surrender your will to them, rather than to God.
Frightening people with sin and threatening them with eternal damnation is meant to keep people in line.
I would need to know so much more before answering your question directly, but I would offer two points: First, nothing happens to you. Spiritual practice often calls upon us to surrender the self, but people suffering from trauma or abuse need to build the self up, rather than tear it down. I have been reading your column and this magazine for several years, and I’m so blessed by what I read. I won’t presume to know your specific situation, but in general, people who can forgive others but not themselves are often people who think way too much of and about themselves. Fantinesvoice is a place where words against others will not be spoken.A  It is written by two delightful stuffed bears and a stuffed dog, who accompany Fantine on her travels. In college I was inspired by the Franciscan friars at Steubenville, Ohio; their commitment to authentic Gospel living in the spirit of Saint Francis of Assisi touched me deeply. In time, I discovered that what I had resisted for so long was actually what I wanted with all my heart; as a result, I responded fully to the sense of call to be a Franciscan Sister. I was initially invited to join the Franciscan Sisters and Volunteer community at Franciscan Welcoming House in 2012 to expand outreach to young adults in the area.
Last year, on Give to the Max Day, over $38,000 was raised to support the mission and ministries of the Franciscan Sisters.
We’re participating again this year, using the opportunity to raise funds for our ministries and outreach to youth.
The beautiful lyrics to the hymn, We Give You Thanks, by David Haas sings about many reasons to give God thanks.
At FCV we have the priviledge of having 3 beautiful sisters that live in community with the volunteers.
Pictured from left to right: Ranya Agcaoili, Rebecca Ferrera, Pat Schlauderaff (Director), Sr.
This past year with the Franciscan Community Volunteers has been one of the most rewarding years of my life.
I am Rosa Karina Duran González, I am from Nicaragua and have been volunteering for the last 5 months at Companion Animal Hospital and Casa Guadalupe Multicultural Community. My experience began when I decided to make a change from my ordinary life and committed to being a volunteer. Once I settled in I realized that everything I knew in life had changed: food, weather, language and culture.
I never thought that I would teach Nicaraguan Folklore Dance, support immigrants, assist in animal surgeries or take of care the animals after. Thank you, Franciscan Sisters for sharing who you are by making positive changes in our society. This year of service with the Franciscan Community Volunteers has been a good experience for me in my life. When I decided to join the Franciscan Community Volunteers, I had no idea  how much it would impact me. The Franciscan Community Volunteers are so Blessed to have Sister Annella Bieniekas the Program Praying Sister. On Thursday evenings we have Sharing from the heart where we reflect on Where we have seen God that day or that week and we journal and share about other things happening throughout the year. We also have 3 retreats throughout the year, and several different social justice events that we attend. Community: As in many homes, the kitchen is a frequent gathering place for the community of eight or nine Sisters and volunteers living at the Franciscan Welcoming House. Sisters Cordy and Sharon generously donated a meal for 4 at their house as a Silent Auction item for the Taste of St. Kevin Trettel is the first to arrive - His mother Diane and two brothers, Chris and Alex helped him unpack. Well, today is the day - - we have 4 new volunteers arriving and starting orientation tonight. This blog post comes from Kaitlin Depuydt, whose position as the associate director for the FCV program has come to an end. Although I spent two years in St Cloud, I had a sense of not being very connected with the St. Thank you for supporting me on the FCV staff through your prayers, donations, or time spent supporting the volunteers in our program. My prayer at the end of the day, when exhausted from decisions and excitement and hype and heartache, is to not feel dejected and overwhelmed by the day’s failures, but to be hopeful and joyous from the times love won. I was surprised by all of the parts of my work from how one takes care of an adult with a disability to the validation method that sees individuals where they are and doesn’t judge. This year-end article was written by Augie Lindmark, who served this year at Catholic Charities' Immigrant & Refugee Resource programs, specifically at the Bel Clare and La Cruz communities. I often wonder where life will take the elementary and middle school students I met while at programming this year. As much as our outward relationships take the limelight, I feel this year was a mirror of sorts that allowed me to check my posture—a reflection on my vocation, faith and future.
This article was contributed by Nneka Arinze, who served this year as an AmeriCorps Member and Franciscan Community Volunteer at the Southside Boys and Girls Club in St.
This year I have been challenged to think more personally about loving my neighbor who is an immigrant but also to think more broadly about improving our immigration policies. Addictions keep us from seeing ourselves as a manifestation of God the way a wave is an extension of an ocean. Religion is often about getting people to conform to the beliefs and mores of those who run the religion. How can I get comfortable with myself and learn to accept what’s happened to me in my life? I’m grateful for our (Franciscan Sisters of Little Falls) collective living and exploring of the mystery and invitation to live in communion with God, fostering community wherever we are. With matching funds of $20,000 already committed, we’ve set our 2015 Give to the Max Day goal at $45,000.

As with most things worthwhile, it has been at times a difficult journey: asking of me more than I would like to give, stretching me in ways I would rather not be stretched. Throughout this year I have learned their names, heard their stories, talked and joked with them. While it has been very hectic and challenging at times, I have learned much about others as well as myself.
I have been so grateful for the support from others that I have received, whether it has been a coworker, another volunteer, or one of the residents at AMA.
Some of the greatest gifts of the past year and a half as an FCV have been listening to moving stories of individuals of all walks of life and building the trust that facilitates this sharing. Serving in a multicultural context, it is undoubtedly apparent that only the creative and redeeming love of God is truly capable of bridging the many barriers between us. With the arrival of new community members we tell the tales of formative experiences that have brought us to this place. In the vulnerable practice of sharing, God’s presence becomes clearly apparent in the face of our neighbor. Surrounding mealtimes and throughout the day Sisters and volunteers find companions in the kitchen to share the day’s events, continue conversations started in more formal reflection spaces, and discuss recipe ideas for the coming days. I will be taking a short break during July to visit friends and family, be musical, and prepare to move. I wish the best for the program and the future volunteers, who begin their own journey in St. Cloud at this point in my life was one of the most awkward decisions that I never intended to make.
When I see people light up as I come near or that person who can see faults in everyone gives you a compliment, I feel that I made a difference in their lives however slight.
I had but a glimpse into their lives, yet I feel fortunate to have spent with them the months that I did.
As I transition into medical school next fall, I’m confident the lessons I learned while in St.
A particularly striking example occurred one day when a young man from Guatemala stopped by Casa Guadalupe for help understanding some bills that he had received in the mail. Moving beyond addiction leads us to the greatest freedom we can know: the freedom to be who we are — creative agents for justice and compassion. When a religion insists it speaks for God and asserts that by rejecting it, you are rejecting God, it is a danger to everyone.
We would be better served if our religions could uncover, cultivate, and support our capacity for justice and kindness, rather than harp on our failures. Why you are here is to cultivate the self in such a way as to be a more effective vehicle of the Self and in this way, make your world more just, loving, meaningful, and holy. Paul who were committed to common prayer and service among those who were poor and marginalized. It is a mutual blessing to live in an inter-generational community of men and women committed to service, to communal living and to spiritual growth! It is difficult to put into words just how much this experience has meant to me, and I never thought that being a volunteer with FCV would take me where it has. Francis, we begin to understand the Divine gifts of life and grace and we are challenged to live in a way that reflects our thanksgiving for these gifts. It has been an honor at my service site to be invited into the experience of immigrant mothers navigating unfamiliar healthcare and educational systems, teenagers finding their identities in daily life in two cultural worlds, and tight-knit communities clinging to the traditions that remind them of faraway homes.
Finding routines in a variety of work environments, we discover that we have much in common in the daily joys and trials of service. As we go forth to encounter new neighbors, may we embrace the beauty of our own story and relish every opportunity to hear the story of another. In the past year, other frequent occurrences in the kitchen have included: late night theological or political debates over cereal and milk, outbursts of song of almost every genre, on-going training in composting and recycling, energetic invitations for an evening of board games, bonding in a team effort of washing and drying, and shared laughter in creative cooking endeavors. I realized that I actually was connected during a community organizing meeting a few weeks ago.
But jumping into the immense uncomfortable has helped open me in a new way to the beauty of life.
In the sun and the moon, the plants and the weather and even death, God was at work in it all. I will always take with me a sense of community in faith and many wonderful experiences such as the bishop saying mass at the Welcoming House. We bounce off each other like Ping-Pong balls as we hurdle through the years, affecting each person we meet in one way, shape or form.
Cloud and with the Franciscan Community Volunteers will translate into my calling as a physician. It has been a privilege in my time at Casa Guadalupe to listen, support and get to know some of our neighbors who are Latino immigrants.
At one point our conversation turned to the city where he grew up near the Mexico-Guatemala border, and I learned that not only are migrants dying in the desert on the US-Mexico border, but also well before that in the river at the Mexico-Guatemala border.
If you need a church, make sure it is one that points beyond itself to a God of love, justice, and personal autonomy and freedom.
Authentic spirituality heals the traumatized self by opening it to the divine Self, and then releases the healed self to make the world more godly. Francis and simple living (including composting) has also been fun and I look forward to continuing them. As an FCV my faith has deepened through encounters with traditions that describe God’s infinite goodness in different ways and through the practice of new and familiar forms of prayer. Saying good-bye to this community, I will carry these stories with me alongside a deeper understanding of the immigrant experience in central Minnesota.
When we gather again in the future we will compare recollections of adventures we enjoyed together whether on bicycles or with snow tubes. Perhaps paradoxically community building happens organically in myriad everyday moments and yet requires the conscious decision to engage these moments and be present in the kitchen, community room, dining room, or backyard.
10:00 Put the finishing touches on youth group preparations and count out enough plates and cups, scissors and construction paper, permission slips and flyers for the afternoon. As you may know, my position as the Associate Director for the FCV program was eliminated as of June 30th, mostly due to budget restrictions.
Ambrose University in Davenport, Iowa as their Campus Minister for Service & Social Justice.
Not only did I know a significant amount of people in the room, but those people are leaders within service, faith, and social justice within this area – and most of these people were already connected with the FCV program.

Throughout the joys and struggles I remember this truth that Mary shared during an apparition. Francis saw the vital relationship that we exist in with all of creation, and he praised God for it.
I will see all of the people that I served and have served me and be grateful for all that I have been given.
This holds true with everyone in my work site at Catholic Charities and the eight people with whom I currently live in community. A future where God’s creation and plans are continually revealed through each person we meet along the way. I have listened to undocumented mothers who fear being discovered and taken from their children because they must enroll their children in health insurance programs through the state of Minnesota. If you need clergy, make sure they free you for God, rather than chain you to themselves and their view of God.
Saying that things happen to you implies that there is a you separate from the happening — a you who should be married, who should have kids, who should be successful — but this is only fantasy. There is no need to surrender or abandon the self, only the need to place it in its proper relationship with Self.
I am grateful for the supportive environment to explore a sense of call to continued service in ministry, telling the stories of God's wonderful acts in our midst.
11:00 Greet a young mother who has come to the office for help filling out the 9-page form required to apply for SNAP, or food stamps, and other county assistance. With my experiences as a long-term volunteer in the Bronx where I served in campus ministry, then this position, I am very excited for this next step. That realization was an affirmation for me: yes, I had connected with good-hearted people here, and yes, FCV is connected with leaders in these areas.
As I ready my mind and heart to go forth from here, strengthened by relationships that have been built and experiences that have been had, I have to begin the process of packing my things in preparation to depart.How do you pack so much into a few hundred words though? What wonderful examples of the love Saint Francis had for life in his sisters, Sisters Ange, Rose Mae and Michelle.
The paradox of any transition (for the FCVs, leaving community) is one of excitement for what’s next and a reverent reflection of what was.
We will keep in touch, but if connections fade, we take solace in the fact we are continually affected by, and affecting, those around us. I have supported dozens of families each week by assisting them with scheduling appointments, filling out forms and obtaining furniture when language barriers might otherwise prevent them from doing so.
I speak with her daily, and feel blessed and humbled as she mirrors back to me the madness of my life, and encourages me to move beyond it.
In the early afternoon there are more phone calls and visitors before it’s time to meet with volunteers and head over to the secondary schools building.
I’ll be working with student groups going on service trips, coordinating local service opportunities, and actively seeking ways for the college students to explore the relationship between service and social justice. It was a moment of connectedness that helped make the final steps of my journey with the Franciscan Community Volunteers a little easier. I have greatly enjoyed getting to know the Latina teenagers who participate in our youth group each week.
Second, to be comfortable with yourself, you have to know who the “me” is that needs to be comfortable.
Michelle for preparing the food and all the help to prepare for the arrival of the volunteers. The girls arrive full of energy, stories from the week, and questions about what today’s session will bring.
My time as a long-term volunteer after college was a transformative, challenging, and joyful experience, and I believe in these programs that allow young adults to serve for a year or more.
The joy of the Spirit is alive and well in these children of Christ who have so graciously shared their faith, their freedom and (much to my delight) their food.
I have learned how to do many new activities as diverse as leading a wheelchair yoga group and brushing the teeth of another. Are there two “yous,” one who is unmarried, without kids, and poor, and another who needs to be comfortable with this state of affairs? King a€?We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as foolsa€? define spirituality? We share a meal, listen to a speaker, work on a craft, and then ensure that they all arrive home safely. My gratitude extends not only to these three little sisters of Francis though, but all who call the Franciscan Motherhouse in Little Falls, Minn., home. I am now able to say that I have worked for overtime without being paid and know that it is for the good of others. As long as you are split this way you will always be uncomfortable, even if you marry, have children, and become wealthy.
Service is a way of life in FCV in both the loftiest and most mundane sense of the expression. I have learned from the Franciscan Sisters, and will take nuggets of wisdom they have shared along the way. My heart is full of the love for the volunteers I have lived with and have come to refer to as family.
I am able to use my musical abilities at one of my work sites which allowed me to show off my creativity while being helpful to others. By these kind, gentle and intelligent people, I have come to understand a little better the body I am a member of in Christ:Nneka, thank you for your discerning spirit. We must also be humble enough to receive the gifts of wisdom, vulnerability, and companionship from those who accompany us.
Augie, my sincerest gratitude for your informed and compassionate care for the marginalized. Kristen, I recognize so much wisdom in your words, thank you for your steadfast personality. Finally, I would like to give my thanks to the two who have provided guidance and assistance in a large number of ways, our directors, Pat and Kaitlin.

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