Franciscan Common Venture – Volunteer Service Program

Franciscan Common Venture provides the opportunity for women and men to contribute their talents, time and commitment in service by standing with the poor, caring for creation and building community. Short and long-term service opportunities are available in the United States and overseas.

Short-Term Service Opportunities

What qualities do I need? If you are a woman or a man at least 20 years of age who desires to:

  • be of service
  • grow spiritually
  • live in simple community
  • be an advocate for justice and peace
  • have a Christian/Catholic perspective
  • have the ability to work as a team person
  • be in good health.

2023 Short-Term Service Opportunities (3-14 days) - Click to view

Catholic Worker House, Waterloo, IA: July 9-15, Cost $100

St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Worker House is a faith-based intentional community committed to practicing the Works of Mercy as found in Jesus’ teachings. Service needs include: assisting with community meals, cleaning, painting, and ministry of presence. There will be the opportunity to give service with a few other non-profit organizations in Waterloo like the Food Bank. Arrival is Sunday with departure on Saturday. Open to men and women, age 21+.  Due date to apply: June 11.

Mustard Seed Community Farm, Ames, IA: Two Opportunities Pilgrimage of Service: Food Justice Week-long: July 9 – 15, cost $100

The Mustard Seed Farm is dedicated to sustainable, simple living, love of our neighbor, and creating a community in which everyone can participate in growing and eating delicious, healthy, locally produced food. Throughout the week volunteers will learn about food justice by visiting/serving at the farm, the Catholic Worker House, Food at First and other local organizations.  Arrival is Sunday afternoon with departure on Saturday morning. Due date to apply is June 26.

Food Justice Short-term: August 3-6 Cost: $50

Volunteers will assist with the harvest and other tasks on the farm and with the community meal at the Catholic Worker House.  Arrival is Thursday afternoon with departure on Sunday.  Due date to apply is July 6.

The Wild Rose Center, Busby, MT: September 5-11. Open to men and women 21+ years of age.  Cost: $125 plus bring $50 for food purchase on site.  Service of any type is welcome, though in September the most common tasks include:  winterize the facilities and grounds, landscaping chores, minor repair jobs, organizing supplies, painting, maintenance, construction, and other tasks as needed. Due date to apply is August 7.

Contact Sr. Shell Balek via email ( or phone (563) 583-9786 for more information.

Long-Term Service Opportunities

It is understood that volunteers would be at least 21 years of age and commit themselves for a minimum of three months, and up to a year (or longer) of service.  Volunteers will be expected to come to Mount St. Francis in Dubuque for orientation. Transportation to and from the place of service will be negotiated.  Volunteers will receive a monthly stipend for personal and living expenses. Volunteers are expected to contribute $200 ($800 for international programs) to help cover costs. A limited number of scholarships are available.  The service options at each of the sites will be matched with the skills, background, interests, and personal gifts of the volunteer. Programs are well coordinated so as to receive maximum benefit for both the volunteer and those being served.  Service sites for may be added or withdrawn, contingent upon circumstances.  To apply for any of the programs, return the Long Term Application and Volunteer Recommendation forms as soon as possible. Applications will be processed as they are received.
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Long-Term Service Opportunities (3 Months to 1 Year) - Click to view

1. Morton, Mississippi Excel 1-2 volunteers • Women, age 21+ Preference is for volunteers with some experience in tutoring or working with small groups of children. Bilingual skills are helpful but not necessary. Community: Volunteers will live and serve with our sisters. Service Needs:

  • Assist as teachers, tutors, and aides for elementary school students in the afterschool program.
  • Tutor adults as needed, with basic reading, language, and math skills.
  • Assist with administrative and secretarial tasks, answering phones, and light cleaning. • Assist with meal delivery and visiting the elderly.

Application and Start Dates: This opportunity is available year round. Apply as soon as you know when you’d like to serve. A start date will be negotiated with the host site. 2. Okolona, Mississippi Excel 1-2 volunteers, • Women/Men, age 21+ Community: Community life is shared with sisters of several congregations and with the staff of EXCEL. Living situation varies based on length of service and number of volunteers. Situations include living in a volunteer house, with a sister, or at the EXCEL Center for volunteers. Service Options:

  • A volunteer to manage the One-of-a-Kind resale store. This would be the volunteer’s primary “ministry.” It would include overseeing store operations, coordinating other volunteers, sorting, and preparing donated items.
  • A second service need would be the management of the Mugs On Main Coffee Shop and Bakery. Open from 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Monday through Friday, this service would include serving customers, preparing the coffee, and coordinating volunteers.

Application and Start Dates: This opportunity is available year round. Apply as soon as you know when you’d like to serve. A start date will be negotiated with the host site. 3. Suchitoto, El Salvador Centro Arte Para la Paz 1-2 volunteers • Women/Men, age 21+ Community: Volunteer would form community with Sister Peggy O’Neill and other staff members at the Centro Arte Para La Paz–a center dedicated to developing and promoting a culture of peace through the arts, creativity, imagination, and cultural exchange. Service Options:

  • Volunteer would have background, skill, and experience to offer workshops and tutor adults and/or children in some form of art or music–for example, string or brass instruments, keyboard, dance, ballet, yoga, photography, Tai Chi, creative writing, theater, etc.; or be able to present seminars to promote non-violence, and spirituality.

Usual Application Deadlines and Start Dates:

  • Apply by April 1, notification of acceptance by June 1, formal orientation in Dubuque in August for start date in September
  • Apply by September 1, notification of acceptance by November 1, formal orientation in Dubuque in November or December, start in January

Start dates are negotiated with the host site. Bilingual English-Spanish skills are necessary.

Apply for Franciscan Common Venture

For more information about the Common Venture program contact Michelle Balek, Common Venture Director. To apply to become a Franciscan Common Venture Volunteer, download the two forms and e-mail the completed information to: Sister Michelle Balek, OSF, Common Venture Coordintator (563) 583-9786