Franciscan volunteers and Latina leader serve others

Categories: Around the Diocese

World Mission Sunday, a great chance to connect with, pray for and support the many mission efforts of the Catholic Church world-wide, is coming up Oct. 20. Please pray and give generously.

Sept. 27, 2013, edition
By Kaitlin Depuydt

The Franciscan Community Volunteer program is now in its fifth program year in St. Cloud.

As a sponsored ministry of the Franciscan Sisters of Little Falls, this faith-based AmeriCorps program has empowered young adults to experience meaningful service and spiritual growth while living as an intentional community with other young adult volunteers and Franciscan Sisters.


Five Franciscan Community Volunteers are (left to right) Nneka Arinze, Augie Lindmark, Kelli Wilbert, Nick Anderson and Ian Peoples. They are involved in ministries such as refugee resettlement, after-school programming and mentoring for at-risk youth.

This group of five volunteers brings a balance of experience and interests to their long-term volunteer year.

From refugee resettlement to after-school programming to mentoring for at-risk youth, our Franciscan Community Volunteers give their all for the service year at local non-profit agencies.

This form of missionary experience makes a difference in the St. Cloud area. These five volunteers, along with the 19 volunteers who have served in the past four years, have come from all around the country, listening and responding to the call to serve.

We are grateful for their service, commitment to community and dedication to their faith that creates the Franciscan Community Volunteer experience.

For information on the Franciscan Community Volunteers, please visit the website

Kaitlin Depuydt is associate director of Franciscan Community Voluneteers.



Meet Maria Elena Gutierrez


Maria Elena Gutierrez, a parishioner of St. Joseph in Waite Park, is active in a variety of social justice efforts and is president of Asamblea de Derechos Civiles, a faith based organization that develops Latino leaders.

Maria Elena Gutierrez is a devoted mother, a passionate community leader and the president of Asamblea de Derechos Civiles, a faith-based organization working to develop leaders to act collectively to create a better society.

At St Joseph Parish in Waite Park, Maria Elena is a pillar in the church where she has participated for many years.

Her contributions include building relationships with the Mexican consulate to have them come to the St Cloud area to serve the community through mobile consulate services and being a leading voice in Washington D.C. to advocate for immigration reform with a Path to Citizenship, in doing so representing the voice of thousands of immigrants from Minnesota.

Maria Elena and her family are an inspiration to others because of her dedication to her social justice ministry currently by taking the Gospel into the public arena.

Many people know Maria Elena and are aware of how she organizes to end discrimination and find equality in a not very equal world.

Whether it is racism in a mobile home park, work exploitation, Census 2010, voter registration, organizing candidates for office, public forums or marching in Washington D.C. or in downtown Minneapolis, Maria Elena has been one of the strongest Latina leaders of Asamblea de Derechos Civiles.