In November 1990 the Franciscan Sisters of Little Falls arrived in Managua, Nicaragua, with an openness to discovering what it was that was theirs to do. Sisters Carmen Barsody, Carolyn Law and Joanne Klinnert, and later Sisters Ruth Lenter and Michelle L’Allier, planted the seeds that continue to bear fruit today. The sisters left full-time ministry in Nicaragua in December of 1997, but the relationship continues through Faithful Fools Street Ministry and the Franciscan Associate relationship.
Franciscan Associate Heidi Meza, together with many dedicated teachers and her husband Max Jerez, also an associate, created a primary school in 1999 in a small building left by the Franciscans. The school has grown in structure and vision and now serves 236 children from pre-school to 6th grade. Heidi, Max and all the staff provide an opportunity to study within this barrio that is filled with economic and human struggle, yet great commitment of residents.
Associate Mercedes Gonzales takes the leadership in stewarding the Fool’s Court (Community Center). Mercedes, together with Faithful Fools and Franciscan Associates organizes people to learn about consumer rights and critical issues, like privatization of water, consumer rights and domestic violence. She organizes an early childhood development and nutrition program for teenage girls and women who are pregnant or breast-feeding. The women learn to do exercises with their children to facilitate the development of muscles, motor skills and nervous systems. Mercedes, with the support of Associate Ana Cecilia Castillo organizes monthly meetings of Franciscan Associates and Faithful Fools in Managua and in the rural community of San Diego, Condega. They also dedicate time to prepare applicants to the Franciscan Associate relationship. Currently there are over 40 associates and applicants.