A New Blog Is Launched — Franciscan Connections

Jocelyn Thomas Franciscan World

An academic partnership between the Franciscan Institute at St. Bonaventure University and the Franciscan Study Center in The Netherlands resulted in the launch this past summer of “Franciscan Connections,”  an international blog in which the scholarship and talent of the two Franciscan research hubs in Europe and America are shared in a digital medium accessible to all generations of readers across the globe.

The international blog, which showcases the robust depth and range of the Franciscan intellectual tradition, is a joint effort led by David Couturier, OFM Cap, executive director of the Franciscan Institute – who serves as the blog’s editor – and Krijn Pansters of the Franciscan Study Center at Tilberg University in Utrecht, The Netherlands, who serves as chief editor.

“This blog is a mechanism that offers the latest in Franciscan thought and source material on Franciscan studies in a more immediate and accessible manner,” said David, who explained that the initiative is meant to connect, communicate, and convey the best of Franciscan learning in the 21st century.

The new Franciscans Connections website.

“The purpose of Franciscan Connections is to offer a central website that connects the best of Franciscan learning with the wider world of scholars, educated professionals, and communities of practice,” said David, who has been stationed at St. Bonaventure in Western New York since 2014.

“We are constantly updating our blog and demonstrating the popularity of Franciscan studies globally as we accumulate a large body of readers from around the world,” he added.

The blog posts contemporary and applied Franciscan scholarship, as well as contemporary issues in politics, society, ethics, and Church. Contributions include articles, scientific news, opinion pieces and discussion, literature reviews, portraits of Franciscan scholars and professionals, videos and podcasts, news from the Franciscan Study Center and the Franciscan Institute, and event and other information. All content is organized by categories, such as Church, ecology, ethics, leadership, and society.

The posts include information about the Laudato Si’ and Integral Ecology online course, and the Franciscan inspirational video, “Political economy, ethics, leadership, and religion.” A recent entry, “St. Francis and Creation,” posted on Oct. 1, is an online lecture about the life of St. Francis and his approach to experiencing the Book of Creation. Several weeks before, David contributed an article, “The Theology of Risk in Laudato Si’.”

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The blog has an international team of editors, many of whom are emerging scholars of the Franciscan tradition, who work with David and Pansters in identifying the latest in applied Franciscan studies.

All decisions regarding the maintenance, direction, and budget for the blog are made by the co-editors in collaboration with an editorial team composed of members who represent the Franciscan Study Center and the Franciscan Institute – the latter which is marking its 80th anniversary this year.

David Couturier, OFM Cap (Photo from the SBU website)

“We are celebrating the fact that the Franciscan Institute has been providing the best education in the Franciscan Intellectual Tradition to generations of Franciscans,” said David. “Now, with the Franciscan Study Center as a partner, we can go global and expand the reach of the scholarship of both of our institutions.”

The anniversary milestone will be commemorated by a number of events and celebrations, as long as COVID-19 protocols allow, according to David.

Conferences are planned for summer 2021 – including an academic conference titled “Lesser Ethics: Retrieving the Good Life in the Franciscan Tradition,” and a conference for OFM, Conventual, and Capuchin friars on the “800th anniversary of the Rule of 1221,” which will be held at St. Bonaventure University.

In addition, the Institute is planning to hold a special lecture on Bonaventure’s political theology on April 15 at SBU. In the upcoming weeks, it will also publish a 720-page volume on Bonaventure’s theology and spirituality as a capstone to the four-year celebration of the 800th anniversary of Bonaventure’s birth and the Institute’s 80th milestone.

The winner of the 2020 Franciscan Institute Medal will also be announced as part of the 80th anniversary celebration.

“We had hoped to provide a more ‘worthy’ celebration of the 80th anniversary with a dinner, but the pandemic intervened,” said David, who also serves as associate professor of theology and Franciscan studies, and director of university planning at SBU.

The Franciscan Institute was established in 1940 by Thomas Plassmann, OFM, who, as president of St. Bonaventure’s College, appointed Philotheus Boehner, OFM, as the first director of the Institute. Directors who followed included Conrad Harkins, OFM, who served from 1969 to 1982 and died recently on Aug. 31.

The Institute engages in three main areas of scholarly concern – research, education and publications. On Sept. 30, the Institute announced that it had published a new volume, “Franciscan Women: Female Identities and Religious Culture, Medieval and Beyond.” Like all of its publications, it is available for purchase through the Franciscan Institute publications website.

Franciscan Connections is also the name of the Institute’s publication, which was launched five years ago – as the successor to The Cord – to communicate Franciscan themes. David said that with the magazine and now the blog, the Institute is vigorously providing a new generation of readers with access to Franciscan studies from around the world.

Jocelyn Thomas is director of communications for Holy Name Province.