Real.  Gospel.  Service.


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.


FrancisCorps is an experience of Gospel life 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. 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. Since 1999, FrancisCorps has provided an experience of Gospel life to over 180 volunteers from 31 different states, Canada, and Costa Rica who spent a year of service caring for those in need at 32 different service sites in two countries.  Today, FrancisCorps continues to invite young men and women to this experience of Gospel life in vibrant and diverse but disadvantaged communities in Syracuse, NY and through this experience, pursue the goal of inspiring volunteers to transform a year of service into a lifetime commitment to “preach the Gospel at all time, and if necessary, use words!”

Current Volunteers

Antonia Ambrose Volunteer

Antonia Ambrose

Hometown: Utica, NY
Alma Mater: University of Notre Dame
Studies: Program of Liberal Studies, Italian Literature and Culture, Constitutional Studies
Service Site: Downtown Cathedral Emergency and Hospitality Services
Antonia’s Latest Volunteer Story

Phoebe Lay Volunteer

Phoebe Lay

Hometown: Beaumont, TX
Alma Mater: The University of Texas at Austin
Studies: Human Development and Family Sciences, and Business
Service Site: Northside CYO Refugee Resettlement
Stories: Phoebe’s Latest Volunteer Story

Elena Northuis Volunteer

Elena Northuis

Home Town: Kalamazoo, MI 
Alma Mater: Hope College
Studies: Global French Studies, Religion: Christian Theology and Church History
Service Site: Northside CYO Youth Program
Stories: Elena’s Latest Volunteer Story

Katie Rauch Volunteer

Katie Rauch

Home Town: Lowell, OH
Alma Mater: Miami University (OH)
Studies: Kinesiology, Art Therapy
Service Site: Assumption Church / Food Pantry and Soup Kitchen
Stories: Katie’s Latest Volunteer Story

Natalie Smith Volunteer

Natalie Smith

Home Town: Bellingham, WA
Alma Mater: University of Portland
Studies: Nursing, and Social Justice
Service Site: Men’s Shelter
Natalie’s Latest Volunteer Story

Laura Youngblood Volunteer

Laura Youngblood

Home Town: Metairie, LA
Alma Mater: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Studies: Biology, Dramatic Arts, and Chemistry
Service Site: Francis House
Stories: Laura’s Latest Volunteer Story


Alexander (A.J.) LaPoint – Director

AJ LaPoint

A.J. was born and raised in Plattsburgh, New York.  He holds a Masters of the Arts degree in Higher Education Administration with a concentration in Catholic University Leadership from Boston College and a Bachelor’s of the Arts in Creative Arts and a Bachelor’s of the Arts in Mathematics from Siena College.  A.J. is a former FrancisCorps volunteer, having served with FrancisCorps 10 (2008-2009) in Syracuse at the Assumption Food Pantry and Franciscan Northside Ministries. After spending time working with young adults and their personal, professional and spiritual development, A.J. joined the FrancisCorps staff in 2014, becoming the Director in 2015.  He also currently serves as a member of the Board of Directors of the Catholic Volunteer Network.  A.J. is thrilled and excited to be lending his experience and skills to help FrancisCorps continue to be the fantastic and life changing experience it is!

Areas of Responsibility
The FrancisCorps Director is responsible for the FrancisCorps program in its entirety.  The Director oversees the volunteers, the day-to-day operations of the program, as well as future planning.

Want to contact AJ? Email him at alexander@franciscorps.org or call him at 315-299-2427.

Johanna Cajina – Associate Director

Johanna Cajina

Johanna was born in Managua, Nicaragua, but considers Silver Spring, Maryland, her hometown. She received a Bachelor of Arts in Politics and Spanish for International Service from Catholic University, where she also participated in service trips. These experiences led Johanna to become part of FrancisCorps 17 (2015-2016). She served at Al Niño con Cariño, a home for young girls with limited economic opportunities, located in Alajuela, Costa Rica. After spending an additional year in Costa Rica as a research analyst and translator, Johanna joined FrancisCorps as the Associate Director in 2017. She enjoys journeying with prospective and current volunteers as well as exploring beautiful upstate New York!

Areas of Responsibility
The FrancisCorps Associate Director is primarily responsible for walking with potential volunteers who apply to FrancisCorps, but also assists in all facets of the FrancisCorps program.

Want to contact Johanna? Email her at johanna@franciscorps.org or call/text her at 315-299-3343.

Friar Richard Riccioli, OFM Conv. – Chaplain

Friar Rick

Friar Rick was born in Montréal, Québec and raised in the city’s south shore suburb of Brossard.  He professed his vows as a Franciscan Friar in 1983 and was ordained a priest in 1990.  The ministries in which he served include: vocation director, formation director, magazine editor and parish priest. He has also been part of the Friar’s leadership council in Canada.  Friar Rick’s education includes a Master of Divinity degree from the Washington Theological Union in Washington, DC and a Master of Science degree in Pastoral Counseling from Loyola University in Maryland. Friar Rick has been on the board of directors of various not-for-profit organizations in Toronto, Ontario serving homeless women, creating opportunities for independent living for people with disabilities and providing specialized addiction services for people with HIV. He has also taught Pastoral Counseling at the Toronto School of Theology in the University of Toronto.

Areas of Responsibility
The FrancisCorps Chaplain supports the spiritual and formative development of the volunteers, particularly with retreats. The Chaplain may also help out the Director in other capacities from time to time.

Want to contact Friar Rick? Email him at friarrick@franciscorps.org

Become a Volunteer!