Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Thoughts from Jen

Here is a story written by FVM Jen Midura who is living and serving in Camden.

We were finally on our way to the bookstore.

For a few months, Vianca (a cute-as-a-button, whip-smart 7th grader at St. Anthony’s school) and I had planned a trip to Barnes & Noble. She had a few gift cards saved up, but her Mom worked so much she couldn’t take her daughter there, and didn’t even know where the store was located. There aren’t any bookstores in Camden, after all.

That Sunday, our schedules finally lined-up. Vianca and I chatted away as I drove her to the Barnes & Noble in the neighboring town. We talked about her friends, school, what college was like. Conversation flowed as she peppered me with questions about the people she saw in pictures on my phone.

When we arrived at the bookstore, Vianca didn’t know where to go. She stood stunned at all the shelves, and when I steered her into the children’s section, she gasped in awe at the sheer number of books. We made a beeline for the shelves. Suddenly, she paused, turned to me and asked, “Jen, are these the kind of books we have to return in two weeks?” It was her first time in a bookstore!

Watching her pick out books both melted and broke my heart. Being a voracious reader, I know the excitement and potential of a good book -- or a good bookstore -- holds. To open Vianca’s eyes to this was fulfilling, but hard to swallow, since she has limited opportunities to read or own books.

When we went to pay, Vianca found that a book she wanted pushed the total over the limit of her gift cards and allowance. I bought her a sugar cookie from the cafĂ© and gave it to her along with the book she had put back on the shelf. Who knew when she’d ever make it back if it had taken so long to get there? Besides, I hate to see a good book left behind. Her smile was worth a million bucks as we left the store. “I went to a library one time during summer camp and it was kind of boring,” she confided in me. “But who knew book places could be so much fun?”

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

A Message from and FVM

Hey all!

Here is a link to a blog post from one of our FVMs, Kelly, who is currently serving the Philadelphia community at the St. Francis Inn. I hope you enjoy it!



Monday, April 4, 2011

Springing forward...

With the season slowly changing from winter to spring, transitions are on the mind of many. This holds true for FVM as well. With the influx of sunny days, comes the inevitable question about "next year". How many volunteers will we have? How many sites will be open? What sites will be open? Great questions, and we will try to alleviate some of your curiosity.

As of today, April, 4 2011, we have accepted, and have been accepted by (the most important aspect of this) three prospective, now future FVMs. We are thrilled to share this news with our FVM family and community. The future FVMs come from three separate schools (Washington State College, Le Moyne College, and Siena College) and will begin their year on August 22. Please keep them in your prayers as they finish their college degrees, and prepare themselves for an amazing experience. We know that three confirmed FVMs for 2011 doesn't seem like many so far, but we are confident that all three houses (Camden, Wilmington, and Philadelphia) will be filled with FVMs, as we have many applications pouring into the office, and plenty of visits/interviews on the horizon.

Keep your eyes open on the Facebook page for a new project we are working on. We understand that not all prospective FVMs can visit each site in person, so we are trying to bring that experience to them. We are undertaking a project that will give potential FVMs and insight into each community and their corresponding ministries in a series we are calling "A Day in the Life". We have been, and will continue to follow our current FVMs during their days to encapsulate what it is to live, pray, and work as an FVM. We are excited about this project, and it will be ready for consumption soon.

Finally, we are proud to announce that Fr. John Coughlin, ofm, will be moving on from FVM to take on new ministries and community life at Mt. Irenaeus, our Franciscan Retreat community near St. Bonaventure University. Fr. John was the pioneer site supervisor for the Camden FVMs since its inception in 2006-07 and has seen the role of FVM become an integral asset to the Camden community. Fr. John has touched many hearts and minds over his nine year stay in Camden, and will be missed by his community and ours dearly, as will his compassion, infectious personality, and fondue expertise, but we wish him nothing but the best in his future endeavors.


Thursday, January 6, 2011

Start of a new year...

To start off, everybody involved with FVM would like to wish you and your families a very Merry (belated) Christmas and New Year. This time of year is always crazy and hectic, and it is no different here at FVM.

Since we have descended from Mt. Irenaeus, the FVMs have been doing some amazing work. In Philadelphia, the FVMs ran the Christmas present effort for more than 50 children of the Inn. I can personally attest to the enormity of the undertaking, and must give them credit for getting it all finished and delivered in one piece. And if they didn't have enough on their plates already, they organized and threw the annual Inn Christmas Party. Some FVMs from Wilmington and Camden came to help serve pizza, cookies, and most importantly, presents from Santa himself to the almost 50 kids. It was a great event as always, and the FVMs should be credited for putting on such a great event for the kids.

In Camden and Wilmington, the FVMs took part in all of the Christmas festivities of their respective parishes of St. Anthony's of Padua and St. Paul's. Some of the FVMs also took part in what is now an annual event, heading to Georgia for the School of Americas protest just before Thanksgiving. The FVMs braved the 30 hour drive (round trip) to Ft. Benning to show their solidarity for the people of Latin America. Here is a link to the event: School of Americas Protest.

The FVMs in Camden and Wilmington both took part in Posadas as well during Advent. Posadas are the reenactment of Mary and Joseph asking if there is room at the inn, and the willingness of strangers to let them in. I was able to witness the Posada in the FVM home, and it was beautiful. There was singing, in Spanish and English, storytelling and a ridiculous amount of food.

So that is the abridged version of FVM for the past month. Hope you are all well, and we will be talking to you soon.


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

St. Bonaventure

I have landed in Olean, NY, and on the campus of St. Bonaventure University. There is a great chill in the air, and the reminder that winter is just a few short months away. I am braving the frost to promote FVM to the students, faculty, and friars of St. Bonaventure.

In the short time since I have arrived, I have spoken at two masses, four classes, three RA meetings, set up information tables, have been interviewed on the radio, the newspaper, and have handed out hundreds of brochures.

There is something comforting about seeing friars walking around in their habits, knowing that there is a real sense of love and community on this campus.

Here's hoping for a great relationship with, and presence on, this beautiful campus.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Day 2 continued...

Our afternoon was free time for the first time. Almost everybody took advantage of our location and headed to the Potomac River for a dip. The water was a bit warmer than most were used to, but it still refreshed us and kept us cool from the 95 degree temperatures. It is always nice to see everybody meshing with each other, and to watch the greater FVM community form before your eyes.

After dinner we had a bit more free time, but many of the FVMs were together planning for Mass or prayer. The backgammon and cards came out, and the competitive spirit followed.

At around 8, we gathered for our first Mass as an entire community. Fr. Michael presided and had help preparing from Kelly (Philadelphia), Dorothy (Wilmington), Tom (Camden), and Jen (Camden). Jen put one of her many talents to work as she lead our hymns and responsorial psalms.

During Mass on retreat, we open the format up a bit and let the FVMs work their creativity into the Mass. Tonight, the planners decided that we would write our name on a rock, and then randomly select a different one. Then, the name we ended up with, would be our "prayer partner" for the year, and that would be the person one would pray with more intention for. It was a beautiful Mass, and a great way to end our first full day together.

Goodnight from Maryland.

Day 2

We woke this morning to the sun beating down on the Potomac. An "early" breakfast (okay it was at 8) saw about half the crew make an appearance. It is always interesting to see how many will show up the first day.

After breakfast, we had a brief orientation to the retreat house by one of the staff members here. Once that finished we jumped right into a morning prayer. Prayer focused on praise of God, as well as asking God for confidence in the things we all were lacking, or hoping to achieve this year.

Once prayer finished, we continued our jam-packed morning with a history lesson of FVM presented by Fr. Michael. He took us through the program from the very beginning at Siena college, up to today. Michael has an ability to make even the seemingly boring things interesting by intermingling stories and reflections into his talks, and everyone was engaged into the history lesson.

After about 20 minutes, we had another history lesson, but this time on St. Francis and St. Clare. Fr. John led this talk and gave us a very detailed, and very entertaining view of their lives. To finish his presentation, John told the story of The Wolf of Gubbio. John's story telling is amazing, and even though many of us had heard that story countless times, it wasn't like listening to a song on replay.

Lunch brought some nourishment for our bodies, and also brought the arrival of and FVM alum. Colleen McCarthy, a former Philadelphia volunteer, came to speak to us about one of the three pillars of the program: community. Colleen shared with us how she came to be an FVM and some of her experiences at the Inn. The individual communities then broke into groups to come up with examples of what they expect of their year in community. Each house came up with artistic ways to display their ideas of what community means to them.

We would like to thank Colleen so much for taking time out of her schedule to be with us during this important time for our FVMs. Colleen brought so much energy and enthusiasm to the group, and we are very thankful for the gift that she shared.

More to come later...