FrancisCorps is a year long Franciscan Volunteer Experience for young adults age 21 to 25 which incorporates direct service to the poor with lived intentional Christian community all built on a foundation of faith and prayer.
The mission of FrancisCorps is Gospel Service. As brothers and sisters to those “in need”, FrancisCorps volunteers share their gifts and talents in a year-long, faith based community in the spirit of Saints Francis and Clare of Assisi.
FrancisCorps volunteers will apply their experience of service, community and the values of Francis and Clare of Assisi to their careers, relationships and community, and so help build a more just, peaceful and fraternal society.
Preach the Gospel always, if necessary use words! – St. Francis of Assisi
Although St. Francis never actually spoke those words, he lived them out in an encounter with a young friar. According to an ancient story, St. Francis once said to a novice: “Brother, let us go out and preach.” Taking him along, he went up into Assisi and they walked through the streets without saying a word; then returned to the friary. “And our preaching, brother Francis?” asked the novice. “It is done,” replied the Saint; implying that a simple, joyful, caring presence and the force of example are often the most eloquent kind of preaching.
FrancisCorps is a Franciscan faith-based program in the Roman Catholic tradition. Saint Francis of Assisi was so profoundly affected by God’s desire to become one of us, as a little child in Bethlehem and so overwhelmed by Christ’s love for us on the Cross that he realized that he was called to be a brother to all people, and even to Brother Sun, Sister Moon and all creation. Together with his friend Clare of Assisi and other followers he started the Franciscan movement which forever changed the tiny town of Assisi in Italy. We hold both Francis and Clare of Assisi as models of a community life that is inclusive, simple, peaceful, down-to-earth, respectful, collegial, joyful, fun and responsive to the signs of the times. FrancisCorps is committed to respect all people regardless of gender, race, age, sexual orientation, ethnicity, nationality, religion, socio-economic status, ability or political beliefs and the protection of minors and vulnerable adults.
How do we share the dream, the passion, and the vision of St. Francis of Assisi with the next generation of Catholics? How do we empower lay young-adults to make a difference? These were the questions the Franciscan Friars prayerfully considered as they gathered in Chapter in 1997. The answer came in the creation of a young adult volunteer service experience based on the spirituality and values of St. Francis and St. Clare of Assisi. At the heart of this lay formation would be the experience of faith-based intentional community shared by the volunteers. On July 1, 1998, FrancisCorps was founded as an official ministry of the Conventual Franciscan Friars.
FrancisCorps accepted its first members the following year on August 14, 1999, welcoming the first five volunteers to our home here in Syracuse, NY. Between 2005 and 2018, FrancisCorps was blessed with the opportunity to host a second FrancisCorps community in partnership with the Franciscan Friars in Costa Rica and shared the FrancisCorps experience with the communities of San José and Alajuela. Since our founding, FrancisCorps has provided a life changing experience of Franciscan prayer, service and community to over 170 volunteers from 30 different states, Canada, and Costa Rica who spent a year of service caring for those in need at 31 different service sites in two different countries.
Today, FrancisCorps’ volunteers continue to live, work and pray in vibrant and diverse but disadvantaged communities in Syracuse, NY. They serve as mentors, teachers, coaches, counselors, companions, and community organizers with refugees, the homeless, the mentally ill, the abused, the elderly, the developmentally disabled, and the young. They support each other through a commitment to intentional community lived through daily prayer, shared meals, sharing of their faith and a common dedication to the service of others. These volunteers are offered support through extensive one-on-one staff involvement, five retreat experiences, and a pilgrimage experience. The young men and women who become FrancisCorps volunteers dedicate a year of their lives to the service of others. The FrancisCorps experience aims to turn that year into a lifetime committed to service inspired by the Franciscan charism.
FrancisCorps is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit ministry of the Order of Friars Minor Conventual (Province of Our Lady of the Angels) whose Definitory (leadership council) constitutes the Board of Directors. The ministry of FrancisCorps is made possible by the additional support of the Sisters of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities, the prayerful support of the Poor Clare Nuns of St. Clare Monastery (Chesterfield, NJ), Assumption Church (Syracuse, NY), Catholic Charities of Onondaga County (Syracuse, NY), Francis House (Syracuse, NY) and L’Arche Syracuse. We acknowledge the generous grants of Messenger of Saint Anthony (Padua, Italy), Saint Anthony of Padua Mission Aid (Toronto, ON), Father Justin Ministry Fund (Ellicott City, MD) and Lynch Family Foundation. FrancisCorps is also very grateful for the sacrifice and support of so many benefactors in Central New York and throughout the United States and Canada whose generosity of the many individual donors provides vital financial support to make this experience a reality.