Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Merry Christmas

First off, the Franciscan Volunteer Ministry would like to wish you and your families a Merry Christmas (belated of course), and a Happy New Year (anticipatory). These holiday times are of course crazy, but we hope they are filled with joy, happiness, and family.

Here is a link passed to me by several people featuring FVM alum Karen Pushaw in an MSN Money article about charities and the holiday season.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

A snowy weekend

This weekend marked the wedding of a couple who met at the St Francis Inn. The groom was a former FVM, and the other volunteered at the Inn during her years at Villanova University. The two met in the whirlwind that is the St. Francis Inn, and wouldn't you know it, their wedding wasn't a walk in the park either.

For some reason, Mother Nature decided to drop 20+ inches of snow on Philadelphia the day of the ceremony, and for a city WITHOUT snow plows, I'm sure you can imagine the mess it was. However, folks came from as far as Chicago, Boston, and Virginia in the worst snow storm in over a decade to see these two fantastic people devote their lives to one another.

One of our FVM site supervisors presided over the mass, and in total, 19 years of FVM were represented at the ceremony. We all had a fantastic time, and couldn't be more happy for Dan and Laura!

Congratulations Dan and Laura from all of us at FVM! We eagerly await the coming of generation #2 of volunteers!



Monday, November 23, 2009

Finally home...

The travel has stopped for the time being, and I have returned home for the first time since Oct. 30.

I was able to take part in the Catholic Network of Volunteer Service (CNVS) National conference in Durham, N.C. last week and found it extremely helpful. What a wonderful time to spend with other program directors and staffers who spend their lives dedicated to serving others.

This time of the year always reminds me of the S.O.A. protest that occurs at Fort Benning, Georgia. For those of you who are not familiar with the S.O.A., check out the link below to see what the protest is all about.


A picture from this year's protest

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Back to it

Sorry I haven't written in a while. Traveling has taken over with college volunteer fairs, retreats, and meetings around the east coast. Stay tuned for a bi-weekly commitment (at least) to our blog for the next little bit of the year.

Since my last post, I have been to St. Lawrence University, SUNY Potsdam, Sacred Heart University, Boston College, Stonehill College, Assumption College, College of the Holy Cross, St. Anselm College, and St. Bonaventure University. During my visits to these schools, we met hundreds of students interested in volunteer work after their undergraduate degrees are completed. It is a beautiful thing to see so many young people interested in service! I participated in career/volunteer fairs, personal information sessions, and had time to speak of the program during student masses.

We also just got back from retreat a few days ago. Each community headed to West Clarksville, NY to Mount Irenaeus, a Franciscan retreat community close to Buffalo. We spent four days in the mountains watching the snow fall, feeding chickadees, and enjoying the entire community. It was refreshing to see grass, trees, and all of God's other creations in nature after spending so much time surrounded by concrete and high-rises.

Coming up, I am heading to Durham, N.C. to attend the CNVS (Catholic Network of Volunteer Services) National Conference. I will be attending presentations for new employees most of the time, but also will be able to visit Duke University for a volunteer fair.

That's it for now. Updates to follow!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Olympic Flare Out

I thought I would take advantage of another beautiful day in Chicago(my last) and see something I have never seen before. Watching the news when I woke up, I saw that there was a rally going on in Daley Square, as thousands of people were watching the unveiling of the host city for the 2016 Olympic Games. I have heard over the past few months that Chicago had a pretty good chance at landing the Olympics in the U.S. again, and now with President Obama AND Oprah as liaisons for the Windy City, I figured it was in the bag. Oh, how wrong I was.

At 10:24 Chicago was officially eliminated from the possibility of having the Olympics in 2016. The disappointment and stunned attitude was something I have only witnessed when Aaron Boone launched a home run into the left field seats during the 13th inning of the 2003 ALCS. Shock was feeling being most emoted by the Chicagoans, and I had to sit back and take it in for a minute.

I watched the larger-than-life television screens give reasons for why Chicagoan should keep their heads up, and that the over four-year-long effort to bring the Games to Chicago didn't go wasted. I watched people actually cry over the announcement. WHAT??!?!?! That's right, CRY!

For a minute I thought that because of this decision and the reaction of the crowd, Chicago would no longer be heralded as one of the great cities in America. That Da Bears, Da Bulls, Da Cubs and Da Sox were leaving town. That the thin crust pizza was officially better than the deep dish. Common people. You lost, wait, not even lost. You just weren't chosen.

In my befuddlement of what I was seeing, I wondered whether the same reaction would be emoted if pictures of suffering children, women, and men of Chicago were flashed across the big screens. If people realized that over 17,000 people are homeless in the state of Illinois. My guess in probably not.

So let's be real. I am as much of a sports fan as there is, but there are so many larger issues in our country than "losing" the Olympics to a CONTINENT that has never hosted an Olympiad. Let's give some love to Rio de Janeiro and South America, and stop wallowing in our own ridiculous misery. There are better things to worry about.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


I am in the "Windy City" for a few volunteer fairs. I have been to DePaul University and Loyola University today, and tomorrow I head to the University of Notre Dame. Chicago is such a beautiful city, and I am glad to be here for an extended period of time.

We had a lot of interest at both fairs which is an encouraging sign the volunteering isn't on the back burner in these tough economic times.

That's it for now.


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A week of service...

Last week I was able to get to all three ministry sites and live the life of our volunteers. My journey took me to Francis House, St. Anthony's school, the St. Francis Inn, St. Benedict's Thrift Shop, St. Francis Urban Center, St. Paul's school, and Delaware Park. Each ministry is so different in job description, but the love and and energy put into them by the FVMs is out of this world. Here are some pictures from the trip, and of the FVMs in action.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Alum making movies

Check out FVM alum Katelyn Bagtaz narrating a video about the St. Francis Inn Ministries

Summer is over...

Labor day marks the unofficial end of summer. Don't be mad at me, I'm just the messenger. It does however mark the beginning of a new school year for students, more alone time for stay-at-home parents, but more importantly, less free time for most of us. During the summer, many people take vacation to enjoy the warm weather, the beaches, and to see family. A lot of people also take time to volunteer because their schedules aren't as busy. Most students don't have classes, deadlines aren't as frequent due to summer recesses, and many educators aren't in their classrooms everyday.

The phrase, "time is money," is significant in our culture, especially in this economic hard-time we are facing as a collective nation. It is necessary to realize how important making money and saving for our futures, but also recognizing that our time is still valuable and needed in the volunteering world as well. If everybody who reads this blog could take some time and remember what it feels like after giving some of your time for others, the craziness of life now that summer is over might not be as tough to deal with. We should feel blessed that we have lives in which we have so many things going on at all times. Too many of the poor and marginalized wish they could have the opportunities and experiences we take for granted.

I challenge you all to take some time, even if it is just to say good morning to the beggar on the street, because really, our lives aren't THAT busy.

Sites of sites

Here are a few links to the different ministry host sites.

St. Francis Inn in Philadelphia, PA
St. Anthony of Padua in Camden, NJ
St. Paul's in Wilmington, DE

Check them out and see if you can find our FVMs in some pictures.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

A little late...

Amanda Lengauer

Katelyn Bagtaz

Noé Granados

Amanda, Katelyn, Fr. Michael Duffy, ofm, and Noé

This post is late in it's publishing, but with the change of FVM Promoter, it got lost in transition. As our new volunteers begin their amazing journey (about 3 weeks into their ministries), I would like to take a step back and recognize on the blog, the FVMs who passed the torch to this year's group. The entire FVM program would like to graciously thank, and wish nothing but great things for Amanda Lengauer, Katelyn Bagtaz, and Noé Granados.

Although only three, this group ministered to countless numbers of people, and touched the heart of everyone they came in contact with. We now welcome them with open arms to the family of FVM alums.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Josh, Norma, and Chris
Norma and Anna
Martha, Anna, Norma, Josh, Chris

Friday, August 28, 2009


Our voices are one of the defining characteristics we have as individuals. Some are soft, some boisterous. With all of the voices in the world, we might think our individual voice is never heard. This may be true, but in harmony with others', our voices can make a difference.

This past week, our new FVM's in Camden shared their voice, verbally and physically, to help create awareness and community togetherness.

We are very proud that they are not afraid to jump into the fire and let their voices be heard.

Check it out!

Friday, August 21, 2009

FVM Wilmington

From l-r: (front row) Julianne Wallace, Kelly Donnelly; (back row) Brad Landry, Fr. Chris Posch, ofm, Eddie Whelan

FVM Philadelphia

From l-r: (front row) Mary Donahue, Celia Bogan; (back row) Rory Dunphy, Fr. Michael Duffy, ofm, Leo Vaccaro

FVM Camden

From l-r: (front row) Norma Dhanaraj, Anna Perkins; (back row) Fr. John Coughlin, ofm, Chris Calderone, Joshua Dupuis

Start of a new year...

Welcome to the beginning of the FVM year. The FVM's returned to their respective houses and communities on Thursday, August 20 from the opening retreat in Faulkner, Maryland. The week was filled with laughter, nervousness, and opening of hearts and minds.

The FVM's helped plan mass and community prayer, and shared their hopes and expectations for this upcoming year.

We were blessed to have FVM alum L.J. Milone visit with us and share a reflection on spiritual ministry. L.J. then led a group centering prayer session for anyone interested.

As the FVM's find out the nuances of their ministries and communities, please keep them in your prayers and hearts as they embark on their transformative journey of a lifetime.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Changing of the Seasons

As an FVM, and now the Franciscan Volunteer Ministry Promoter, the end of summer and start of fall has been marked by one event. Opening retreat. Even though the thermometers and oppressive humidity don't agree, vacation is officially over once the FVM's make their journey to a retreat house in mid-August.

As an incoming FVM, I understood that my life would be changed quickly when my calendar noted retreat was coming. The excitement and nervousness that comes with the beginning of a new volunteer year is indescribable.

During my year of college in between FVM years, once I saw the Facebook notification that retreat was underway, I knew college and soccer pre-season was right around the corner. During that period, I wished I was heading to retreat, not double-sessions on 100 degree artificial turf.

Now, as the new FVM Promoter, the coming of retreat brings a new excitement, but again, the knowledge that another summer has come and gone. This by no means is a bad thing however. It is a feeling similar to New Year's Eve. We celebrate the year that just ended with a celebration of the year to come. That is retreat.

The band Semisonic has a song called "Closing Time" with the lyrics, "every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end..." Summer's beginning has ended, now we begin the '09-10 FVM year!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Really thought-provoking article re: consumerism here.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Honest is Simple and Simple is Nice

I cut a tree down today. With an Ax. It was awesome.

Did you plant a new one?

No matter if I whispered a prayer through toothy shuddering breaths, no matter if I thought the entire time of what cutting down the tree actually "did," no matter if my sense of accomplishment was slightly offset by the empty space behind my fence where this tree grew. Sometimes I'm so massively caught up in wondering how I can spiritually atone for the smallest acts that I completely forget the simple, necessary things. Like planting a new tree.


Thursday, May 14, 2009


Courtesy of justneverended over in the land of livejournals, this is an article about dependence on (and independence from) automotives. Of course, this is coming from a guy who's about to hop in his car to pick up a pizza. But you can't really carry a pizza on a bike, can you?

What's this have to do with volunteering?

Great question, hypothetical person. I could give you a long-winded answer involving my nostalgic love for riding my bike around Camden, but suffice to say that any kind of change in thinking involving a paired-down life without these....things we take for granted (read: cars/gas/ease-of-transportation) is welcomed in the kind of lives of volunteers live.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Friars Underground

This was shown to me by multiple sources. It's the new Franciscan ad campaign for friars, as reported on CNN. Maybe we should do something similar, no?

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Community, truly

This is a fantastic example of how one small act can transform a neighborhood into a community.

Thursday, February 26, 2009 other news

You should probably check out this link. Not only does our program director make a great comment on the article, but they use a picture of one of our volunteers at the St. Francis Inn, one of the ministries of our Philadelphia site! (And they strangely don't give proper credit for the photo. I'm not complaining. ...too much.)


When I was in 6th grade, our CCD teacher (which apparently stands for "Confraternity of Christian Doctrine"...Sunday school for Catholics, not necessarily on Sundays) made us go around the room and announce what we were giving up for Lent. (Of course, when I tried to do this when I was a teacher, one of the students wisely remarked, "Shouldn't it be something private between you and God? And we shouldn't brag about what we're giving up, otherwise it won't count. Kind of like birthday wishes." Smart kid.) It quickly became a contest to see who could come up with the most extreme Lenten observance ("I'm giving up breathing!" was when our teacher drew the line, as the kid next to me proceeded to turn blue while everyone else laughed). When we settled down, one of my peers said, "I'm giving up time." Pretty profound stuff for a 13 year old (and it freaked the rest of us out how well he sold this "joke" straight-faced. We all started to giggle until we realized he was serious. Then we were just confused). It turns out that his "giving up" of time was simply time spent volunteering with his family at a local food bank.

While Lent is a time commonly associated with sacrifice, consider how "giving up time" might be the most fulfilling sacrifice you could aim for. A blessed oxymoron, if there ever was one.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

What glories catalyze your life?

"Sometimes a kind of glory lights up the mind of a man. It happens to nearly everyone. You can feel it growing or preparing like a fuse burning toward dynamite. It is a feeling in the stomach, a delight of the nerves, of the forearms. The skin tastes the air, and every deep-drawn breath is sweet. Its beginning has the pleasure of a great stretching yawn; it flashes in the brain and the whole world glows outside your eyes. A man may have lived all of his life in the gray, and the land and trees of him dark and somber. The events, even the important ones, may have trooped by faceless and pale. And then -the glory- so that a cricket song sweetens his ears, the smell of the earth rises chanting to his nose, and dappling light under a tree blesses his eyes. Then a man pours outward, a torrent of him, and yet he is not diminished. And I guess a man's importance in the world can be measured by the quality and number of his glories. It is a lonely thing but it relates us to the world. It is the mother of all creativeness, and it sets each man separate from all other men."

John Steinbeck, East of Eden

Monday, February 9, 2009

Where are you today?

Home? Work? Some liminal space between the two?

Where could you be? What could you be doing?

Potential is a wonderful thing, provided it's fulfilled.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Wordle fun

courtesy of

Just to see what happened, I pasted our entire FAQ section into the Wordle program at It gives you an idea of not only how we describe our program, but also of the main ideas people have the most questions about. Click on the picture to see it larger at the original site, and to create your own!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Well this is something.

Despite my personal preference for Dunkin' Donuts over Starbucks, the latter company is doing something pretty interesting. If you pledge five hours of volunteerism, they'll give you a free cup of coffee. If our volunteers this year tallied up their hours of volunteer work, modestly assuming they work 40 hours a week, they'd be able to drink over 1,056 cups of free coffee. That's a lot of caffeine!

On a completely unrelated note, not too long ago, if you de-friended 10 friends on facebook, Burger King gave you a free whopper. (Courtesy to Lisa for pointing this out to me. She was saved from Whopper sacrifice for her help.) Now, however:

A lesson in simple living if there ever was one.