Peace & All Good: A Letter to the Incoming FVMs

Dear FVMs,  You're headed to what I can only describe as a singular experience, and not just because Michael Duffy will take you on mystery rides.  It's a unique time because the shape of FVM both supports you and challenges you to grow.  And, while I hope that your whole life has that shape, your time in FVM is a profound gift, one that you simultaneously receive and give.   Nothing much that I could say would prepare you for the adventure that you're about to go on.  So I will just say this:  Talk to each other.  Over-communicate.  Risk repetition for the sake of love and clarity.  Your community - and you - will be better for it.  Tend to your prayer life, whatever that looks like for you.  [...]

September 24th, 2021|

The Rumble of the El

 I can still hear the whistle and the rumble of the El on the tracks. The echoing voices of the friars singing 'Salve Regina' in the chapel. I smell the urine and sweat in the yard bathroom and of the dirty dusty sad streets. And the sweet cookies that my mentee, from the Latin American Community Center, and I baked and shared. I remember feeling the layers of dirt on the clothes of poor old men as we, no longer afraid, embraced. And seeing the frailty, in all of our guests, no matter the age, physically, but mostly their innermost vulnerability. I can easily bring back memories from my FVM years which were almost 20 years ago. But the part that remains constant, natural, automatic is the Joy...Through FVM, I grew [...]

August 30th, 2021|

If Only Briefly

. “Man, I’m glad to see you,” said a guy outside the gate, who was shaking, panicking, having an episode or on a substance, clearly in the midst of a nightmarish experience. “It’s ok,” I said, after a moment. He wandered over to the side of the gate, still very much panicking. I couldn’t do much for him but I was able to be there for him, if only briefly. Liam O'Toole, FVM Philly 2020-2021

August 16th, 2021|

Strive for Spirit

“Don’t strive for perfection;  you will always be disappointed.  Strive for the Spirit;  She’s always present.” ~ Michael Duffy, OFM My first few days of being the new FVM Program Director were a whirlwind. I began two weeks before the incoming Class of FVMs was to arrive. Two people decided they would not be joining us as expected. One person applied (my first ever interview!) and was accepted. Needless to say, I was feeling quite a bit stressed and flustered with all that was happening. So much was in flux! Thankfully, Orientation Retreat had already been planned by our wonderful Program Director who preceded me.  Into that storm of emotions and activity, Michael Duffy, OFM offered the wisdom above: “Don’t strive for perfection; you will always be disappointed. Strive [...]

July 30th, 2021|

Loving and Living Outside our Comfort Zone

“What has your volunteer year taught you about love?” That was the question I asked a panel of former volunteers during my final semester at St. Bonaventure University in Spring 2015. Among the panelists was an alumnus of FVM. Everyone gave thoughtful answers, and I was encouraged that I would not be alone in my experience of growing as a person in love and faith. Since that time, I lived for a year as an FVM in Camden, NJ, then a few years with the Franciscan Friars, and am currently in an interfaith community of graduates. Each year has been a different experience of learning and growth, even the growing pains along the way that have continued to help me better love others. I was raised in a small [...]

July 15th, 2021|
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