Thirty minutes east of Guatemala City, a Franciscan boarding school called Valley of the Angels lives its motto: “Give the best to the poor.” Their emphasis on restoring dignity through service resonates with Franciscan Mission Service Executive Director Kim Smolik.
|Executive Director Kim Smolik with students from Valley of the Angels|
“I was able to confirm that Valley of the Angels holds great potential for a future service site for our program,” Kim says, “Also, Jack introduced me to the Kateri Center in Livingston which is a long-time passion for him.”
Jack was introduced to Kateri Center through his friend Fr. Tom Moran, a Claretian priest whose dedication to the Guatemalan people inspired Jack to continue Fr. Moran’s legacy after his passing.
Kim and Jack traveled to Guatemala on February 14 and returned on February 23 to gather information on both the Valley of the Angels school as well as the Kateri Center.
“We’re aiming for a launch goal of 2015 for a new service site in Guatemala, so Class 30 will be able to start their mission there early next year,” Kim said.
|El Manzano in Santa Catarina Pinula|
The founder of the school, Fr. Rocco Familietti, a Franciscan friar from the Immaculate Conception Province in the United States, served in Guatemala more than 60 years. He originally began Valley of the Angels in 1993 for orphans exclusively before the school opened its doors to all children in need. Today, Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Conception, Sr. Doris, Sr. Mirna and Sr. Hilda continue to oversee the day to day supervision of the children, ages 6 through 18.
|Dance party at Valley of the Angels|
"Visiting Guatemala with Kim, and seeing first hand the work that our missioners have the opportunity to be involved in, let me see firsthand why the work of FMS is an essential ministry in our Church and world," Jack says.
There is no substitute in a relationship for meeting people face to face. In Guatemala, Kim and Jack were able to develop opportunities for Franciscan Mission Service through the hallmark of our Franciscan charism: our presence.
|Walking with Valley of the Angels students|