From the beginning the followers of St. Francis of Assisi formed a family consisting of the First Order of brothers and priests, the Second Order of cloistered sisters, and the Third Order – originally all lay people – of men and women who lived in the world. Fellowship and cooperation among clergy, religious and laity come naturally for Franciscans, and is indeed essential for those who desire to renew the Church in all of her states of life, as St. Francis did and we the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal desire to do.
We first came to know the Missioners of Christ when they had some of their members serving as long-term volunteers at another nearby Catholic mission. Missioners of Christ is a fully and enthusiastically Catholic lay association based out of Virginia Beach, Virginia, that fosters discipleship among young people primarily through missionary service and experience. Almost immediately we recognized a mutual affinity and the sharing of common, fundamental values and convictions related to evangelization and authentic Catholic renewal. The Missioners of Christ and the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal worked together to organize and direct the very first Pan de Vida retreat, and every other Pan de Vida retreat that has taken place in Honduras. Our partnership has expanded to include almost all of our spiritual outreaches and works of service for the poor, including our monthly food distribution and surgical missions at the St. Benedict Joseph Medical Center.
Missioners of Christ currently live in the John Paul II Formation Center for youth and lay missionaries, which is a block away from the friary. The Center provides housing and formation for long-term committed members of Missioners of Christ, for young people who dedicate themselves to times of service ranging from three months to three years, for couples and families who desire to spend time in the mission, and even for a priest-chaplain when available.
As construction on Casa Guadalupe neighborhood and mission center and the Missioners of Christ formation center progresses, and the number of lay missionary volunteers – both short and long term – increases, we hope to develop to develop our apostolates especially in the areas of school support and Christian formation of local children, welcoming groups of mission visitors from the US, expanding surgical and specialty missions at the St. Joseph Medical Center, engaging in efforts of evangelization, and finally housing projects to assist our poor neighbors.
Other Lay Missionary Opportunities
The Lord has sent us a number of other lay missionaries who are more loosely affiliated with the Friars and Missioners of Christ, maintain their own households and collaborate in our apostolic activities. Generally they are older than the young adults who commit to service with Missioners of Christ, are spiritually mature and self-reliant, and are already established in their vocations as married couples or committed singles. They may commit to service for a period of time of several months or several years, or for the duration of a particular project. Some make more regular short-term visits to the mission, either once a year for a substantial stay of a month or two, or several shorter visits to help with specific activities such as surgical missions.
Angela Scannapieco, a consecrated laywoman in the Diocese of Brooklyn and a certified lab technician, has accompanied most surgical missions, assisting with clinical tests and preparing patients for the operating room. Rosann Mucciolo, gifted in the areas of photography and publications design, has made multiple trips to the mission and captured many moments on film to be shared in our newsletters. Several participants in Light of the World surgical teams who have made repeated trips to Honduras, and participated in the spiritual life of the Friars also fall into this category: Theresa Banks, Kathleen Ranne, Dr. Keith Ingram, and Dr. Ron Ashley, among others, have truly become committed lay medical missionaries.
Franciscan Friars of the Renewal