CFIT Announces Academic Federation

HNP Communications Franciscan World

DENVER — At their annual meeting here in January, members of the Commission on the Franciscan Intellectual Tradition (CFIT) announced that the three major Franciscan study centers in the English-speaking world are joining with the Antonianum in Rome to form the Franciscan International Academic Federation (FIAF). 

The Federation is a formal agreement between the three centers that will facilitate the exchange of students, teachers, marketing initiatives, and information. The three study centers are St. Bonaventure University’s Franciscan Institute in Allegany, N.Y., the Franciscan School of Theology (FST) in Berkeley, Calif., and the Franciscan Study Center in Canterbury, England.

SBU’s Franciscan Institute Joins Federation
The leaders of the three study centers —The Franciscan Institute, the rector of the Antonianum, and Tito Cruz from the Franciscan School of Theology — formed a CFIT sub-group, said F. Edward Coughlin, OFM, a member of the commission.

The FIAF will “make it possible for students to have access to the best resources for becoming familiar with the Order’s philosophical and theological traditions,” according to a report in a recent issue of the Assumption Province newsletter. It will also provide students with a more global experience of the Franciscan intellectual tradition. 

Among the committee reports was one from Edward on the online course offered in the fall of 2008 at SBU, “Franciscan Philosophy: God, Creation and Person.” The course was offered in a hybrid format, Ed said, adding, “In addition to the online segment, students will also spend a week on campus this summer to complete their projects and to have an opportunity to do some integration work. The university is aiming to help those preparing for theological studies to fulfill their philosophy pre-requisites.” Ed is vice president of the Franciscan Mission at the 150-year-old university. 

Joe Chinnici, OFM, of St. Barbara Province, also reported on FST’s intention to offer accredited extension courses in Franciscan philosophy through the University of San Diego. The friars in the post-novitiate house in Chicago are taking advantage of both programs. The goals of both programs are to present the richness of the Franciscan philosophical tradition, an alternative to the dominant Aristotelian-Thomistic philosophy. These courses have been developed in response to the mandate in the new Plan for Priestly Formation that individuals seeking Orders must have 30 hours of philosophical foundations for the study of theology, said Ed, who is pictured above. 

Franciscan Ethical-Moral Tradition
Another important CFIT initiative is the retrieval of the Franciscan ethical-moral tradition that will be directed toward the “the educated non-professional,” according to Ed.

Reports were provided by various commission members on the following:
• The most recent of the four international celebrations of the seventh centenary of the death of Blessed John Duns Scotus.
• The upcoming 12th annual Franciscan Symposium at Washington Theological Union, titled, “Poverty and Prosperity: Franciscans and the Use of Money,” scheduled for May 22 at the WTU. 
• The working relationship between CFIT and the Association of Franciscan Colleges and Universities (AFCU). 

In her report on the commission’s relationship with the AFCU, Sr. Margaret Carney, OSF, SBU president, stressed that this was an ideal way to “reach out to the next generation of Franciscan scholars, most of whom are lay theologians who are not connected with internal Franciscan communities or networks.” The CFIT Web site has been completely revised and can be accessed at 

The commission was established in 2001 by the provincial ministers of the English-speaking Conference-Order of Friars Minor (ESC-OFM).

Though the name of the organization was changed recently to “Secretariat,” the members continue to use the acronym CFIT (referring to the former name Commission) when identifying the organization. CFIT includes 13 Franciscan friars and sisters.

Editor’s note: A link to CFIT and to other Franciscan organizations can be found on the Province’s Web site; click on “Links” on the top of the home page.