In 1975, Sister Joan Gerads founded Parish Neighborhood Renewal Ministry, a program that trains lay people as missionaries to go from parish to parish to help form "Base Church Communities." The goals of Base Church Communities include evangelizing and spreading the Good News which guides the people in their faith formation and strengthens the Catholic Church in Latin America. Though Sister Joan has returned to the United States, the work she began and nourished for many years continues under the guidance of Associates Glahecer Baque and Iris Prieto, who have been active in the ministry for over 25 years.
The Associate Relationship continues to grow and thrive in Ecuador. Over 40 lay people live and minister inspired by the lives of Saints Francis and Clare and the Franciscan values of Ongoing Conversion, Humility-Minority, Poverty and Contemplation. They work and walk together with more Franciscan Associates in South and Central America and with the Franciscan Sisters to live the Gospel joyfully wherever they are.
In Ecuador, Veronica Rivadeneria, who is co-minister for the Associates, lives out the values and nurtures the Associate Relationship. Associates meet together every month in Durán (Coast region), Cumbayá and Puembo (Highland region). Associates belong to different parishes and several work in pastoral ministries. Every year all the associates in Ecuador celebrate with a weekend Franciscan retreat.
The Franciscan Sisters are blessed to be in relationship with over 75 Franciscan Associates in four countries:
Click to view excellent videos production by Franciscan Associate Veronica Rivadeneira, from Quito, Ecuador.