An Exciting New Initiative


A Touching Video from Antioch

We think you will enjoy seeing this video created by the Antioch Unified School District about our new initiative described below. This video was posted on the District's website and Facebook page.

In early December 2017 we launched a new initiative — a “Gift Giving” for over 1,000 underserved children and their families in three cities in the S.F. East Bay Area. We wanted to provide them gifts that would truly impact their lives, so we talked with principals, teachers, and parents and found that food, clothing, books, toys, and art supplies would make a huge difference.

Your generous donation helped us stage four “gifting” events:


Our largest event was here where 640 elementary school children received:

  • An opportunity to “grocery-shop-for-free” with their parents for two weeks’ worth of fresh groceries for the holidays. We were concerned how their families would feed them during their two-week winter vacation, so we arranged to bring 32,000 pounds of food to their school for them to select from to take home. The typical family received a frozen turkey, two whole chickens, two gallons of milk, a flat of eggs, a choice of fresh produce, including avocados, fruit, potatoes, carrots, and lettuce, fresh breads, holiday cookies, and a fresh living plant for their holiday dinner table.

  • A generous gift bag with eight to ten grade-appropriate educational toys, including a build-your-own Lego watch, art supplies, math games, reasoning puzzles, and sports toys to aid dexterity, balance, and hand-eye coordination.


32 fourth graders who needed clothes received:

  • New shoes, pants, coats, socks, and shirts in their size and, whenever possible, in their favorite colors, as well as educational toys, quality art supplies, and more.

30 sixth graders who needed books received:

  • Individually wrapped gifts of three beautiful new, often hardbound books plus colored pencils, a pencil sharpener, and a hardbound sketch pad. Books were selected for each child based on his or her interests and reading level.


420 elementary school children here received:

  • The same gift bag as given to the children in Antioch. They also received socks and a blanket in the child’s favorite color.

Going Forward

We will repeat these “Gift Giving” events in the spring and summer of 2018, as funding is available.

Always Forward in San Francisco
On May 5, 2016, more than 1,000 children were hosted at a Francis in the Schools program held at St. Mary of the Assumption Cathedral in San Francisco.

The morning segment of this fun-filled Cinco de Mayo event featured a new musical play called Always Forward! Saint Junípero Serra and the California Missions, which tells the story of a great man who brought the message of Francis to the Americas.

After attending the play, the children were treated to a delightful Fiesta-style Faire, where they enjoyed music and dancing, a delicious tamale lunch, face and hand painting, singing troubadours, parachute and relay games, flower arranging, a mission adventure, a fishing game, and a chance to meet the characters from the morning play. At departure time, each child received a special gift treat and our warmest thanks for sharing Cinco de Mayo with us.

Following Francis in New York City


In honor of Pope Francis’s visit to New York City in 2015, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of New York, invited Francis in the Schools to present our program for 800 children from underserved New York neighborhoods.

On September 28, 2015, third through fifth graders from nearly a dozen schools in the Bronx and Washington Heights-Inwood gathered at the Church of the Good Shepherd in Manhattan to see our play Following Francis. Then they were taken to Van Cortlandt Park for a Francis in the Schools Faire – an afternoon of food, music, crafts, games, gifts, and love.

The short clip above shows a two-minute report on the event by New York City's WNYW-TV Fox 5 News.


A Day of Perfect Joy in Oakland, California

     Fourteen hundred children from some of the most disadvantaged neighborhoods of San Francisco and Oakland…

     Four hundred volunteers, many working months to create one magical day for these children…

     A shy Italian friar thrust out of seclusion by his golden voice that has made him a singing sensation…

     All centered on an extraordinary vision of transforming children through loving respect and kindness.

A Concert for the Children
On October 30, 2013, it all came together in an unprecedented event headlined by Friar Alessandro Brustenghi, the Franciscan monk from Assisi, Italy, whose golden tenor voice has made him an international recording star with Decca Records.

At the invitation of Murshida Carol Weyland Conner, founder of the Francis in the Schools program, Friar Alessandro came directly to the San Francisco Bay Area on his first trip to America to give a free concert for these children.

The concert took place in the stunning Cathedral of Christ the Light in Oakland, where Friar Alessandro sang songs associated with the life of Francis of Assisi. He was accompanied by the White Horse Chorale and the White Horse Youth Chorale. Between songs, the White Horse Players dramatized scenes from Francis’s life.

A Joyful Faire
After the concert, the children were led by “pied pipers” to a beautiful park by Lake Merritt where they discovered a colorful Umbrian Renaissance Faire being staged just for them.

There they were given a nutritious lunch and joyously took part in games, dancing, face painting, flower arranging, and storytelling, and were given a tasty gift treat as they departed.

The volunteers worked tirelessly to plan and stage this event with the hope that this loving experience would inspire the children to remember and share Francis’s timeless principles of compassion and selfless giving to others.

It was a day when “the air was filled with happiness”, as one attendee described it, a day when nearly 2,000 people of different races, religions, and ages shared what may be Francis’s favorite principle of all  –  Joy.

Francis in the Schools incorporated as a California public benefit corporation on February 19, 2016, and received tax exempt ​status ​ as a 501(c)(3) corporation on May 19, 2016.