Franciscan Community Volunteers bring their talents to Central Minnesota

By Tina Snell, Staff Writer

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Six young people have traveled from various parts of the United States to both volunteer and live with the Franciscan Sisters. They will reside in St. Cloud at the Franciscan Welcoming House and will volunteer in the community through Franciscan Community Volunteers.

The Franciscan Community Volunteers is a post-graduate, long-term volunteer Franciscan program for young adults, ages 21-30, who want an authentic way to live an integrated life of faith and service in the world, modeled on the example of Saints Francis and Clare.

Six Franciscan Community Volunteers arrived in the St. Cloud area last week to work with a variety of local nonprofit agencies. Pictured in front of the Franciscan Sisters Convent in Little Falls is (seated): Corey Dossey. Back row (from left): Kristine Origone, Lisa Yanzer and Sister Clara Stang, director of the program. Not pictured are: Philip Lomneth, Maureen Reynolds and Shannon Haggerty.

Arriving last week, the six were in Little Falls Tuesday for a day of fun. They included Philip Lomneth from Omaha, Neb., Maureen Reynolds from Brooklyn Park, Shannon Haggerty from St. Francis, Corey Dossey from Houston, Texas, Kristine Origone from Lodi, Calif., and Lisa Yanzer from Holmen, Wis.

The six volunteers will be spending 11 months in St. Cloud. Dossey will be working with student services at Talahi Elementary School in St. Cloud. She has past experience as an adolescent behavioral therapist, working with children in Texas who reside in poorer districts.

Dossey said she was attracted to living in a community with the Franciscan Sisters to help solidify her faith and pick up good habits of service.

“I also enjoy working with children and love their energy,” she said. “How could I not do this for a year?”

With a degree in special education, Yanzer will be working with autistic students in several St. Cloud schools.

“During the past year I volunteered with the Jesuit Volunteer Corporation in Portland, Maine,” she said. “I enjoyed my first year so much, I wanted it to continue. I was attracted to living with the Franciscan Sisters in a convent, learning about social justice, homelessness, mental health and more. This is just another way for me to learn and grow.”

Origone has a degree in speech therapy and will be working with Catholic Charities in an after-school tutoring program with new immigrants to the area.

“I had a desire to serve, to give up my other life to find a sense of who I am,” she said. “I want to discover what is important to me and find a sense of self and service.” Origone heard about the program through the Catholic Volunteer Network.

“There are about 180 programs like ours nationally and internationally,” said Sister Clara Stang, the program’s director. “It gives young people an option to grow outside their comfort zone. They may be given jobs they are not totally familiar with.”

Each of the 180 programs operates separately from each other. Stang was given the job about four years ago to set up a program that involved young adults and the Franciscan Community Volunteers was born. This is the fourth group of volunteers to come to St. Cloud through the program.

Stang said she enjoys sharing her Franciscan spirituality with young people, and that is one of the big reasons she chose to create this program.

“The volunteers get room and board, transportation, health insurance if they don’t have their own and a stipend,” said Stang. “Volunteers are also enrolled in the AmeriCorps program and when their year is completed, they will receive approximately $5,000 to be used toward furthering their education or paying student loans.”

Stang said that a college degree is not necessary to be a part of Franciscan Community Volunteers. Everyone has talents to share and they will be put to good use.

“Volunteers may work in area schools, emergency food and dining programs, shelters, health clinics, social service or mental health agencies and many more areas,” she said.

Franciscan Community Volunteer program is based on the three pillars of service, community and Franciscan spirituality. The volunteers work full-time in local, non-profit agencies which serve the needs of the community while accepting the challenge of living simply and in accordance with Gospel values.

For more information about the program, contact Stang at (320) 229-0307 or e-mail her at [email protected]