Franciscan Institute’s New Magazine Debuts

Jocelyn Thomas Franciscan World

Franciscan Connections: The Cord - A Spiritual ReviewALLEGANY, N.Y. — Franciscan Institute Publications has a broad array of books on Franciscan themes, a scholarly journal, Franciscan Studies, and now a new magazine. Franciscan Connections, the successor to The Cord, made its debut earlier this month.

The quarterly magazine’s new design signals a new vision and a new hope, according to a message in the first issue from Fr. David Couturier, OFM Cap., dean of the School of Franciscan Studies. David is also director of St. Bonaventure University’s research and publishing arm and the executive director of the new magazine.

The publication, formerly a 6” x 9” journal, is now 8 1/2” x 11” and 40 pages. It has changed from black and white to color with a modern format to reach more readers.

“We want people to know, as our mission statement says, why we are ‘passionate about Franciscan learning,’” said Fr. David. “Through this new look and fresh approach, we want people on our Franciscan boards, staffs and teams to have access to some of the best literature on Franciscan themes in a way they can access.”

Current Content
The first issue, dated March 2015, includes an excerpt from the book “The Heart of Thomas Merton” by Daniel Horan, OFM. It also offers articles on:

  • “What is the Franciscan Imagination?”, a piece on the elements of a Franciscan language, by Br. William Short, OFM
  • “The Globalization of Indifference” by Fr. David
  • “Clare and the Franciscan Missionary Charism” by Sr. Margaret Carney, OSF
  • The new general minister of the secular Franciscans, translated by Fr. David from “Fraternized,” the national magazine of the OFS of Spain

Franciscan Connections also gives readers news about Franciscans around the world and a description of the magazine’s editorial team, a staff of six recent SBU graduates. The publication’s articles are categorized into eight sections: Editorial, Franciscan News, Book Reviews, the Imagination of St. Clare of Assisi and four that feature the Franciscan Impact on aspects of today’s world: art, education, healthcare, and literature.

The reaction to the new publication has been positive, said Fr. David, who came to SBU’s campus last summer with a background in literature, psychology and organizational development. “We are trying to present Franciscan theology and history in a positive light and in a way that is accessible to a whole new generation of readers. Readership of The Cord had been falling for years. Now, we have an opportunity to provide people across all our institutions and initiatives with a fresh look at what is new and exciting in Franciscan theology.”

The magazine is “filled with insights from significant Franciscan scholars in an accessible style that doesn’t just provide information, but invites readers to think about how they are going to make the Franciscan charism come alive in their lives. Embrace the past, but begin again,” said Gary Maciag, OFM, executive director of the Association of Franciscan Colleges and Universities and a former staff member of the Institute.

The publication’s goal is similar to that of The Cord: A Franciscan Spiritual Review, which was first published in 1950. Editor Philotheus Boehner, OFM, the first director of the Franciscan Institute, wrote in a “letter from the editor” that was reprinted in the 50th anniversary issue in May/June 2000, “It is our fervent hope that The Cord will make us all more conscious of our Franciscan heritage, and especially that we in turn may give it to the poor suffering world that so badly needs it.”

Broader Audience
The title of The Cord captured the fact it was aimed at an internal Franciscan audience — friars and Franciscan sisters whose habits were characterized by a white cord — to help them attain “a deeper knowledge and more ardent love of the Franciscan way of life,” said historian Dominic Monti, OFM, distinguished professor of Franciscan Studies at St. Bonaventure. He has taught in the School of Franciscan Studies during its summer session since 1986. “For 65 years, The Cord filled this purpose admirably, but the world has changed. First, the traditional format had a steadily shrinking audience, as the number of vowed Franciscans declined in recent decades. But more importantly, the new format is trying to reach a new large audience — laypeople who work alongside Franciscans in schools, parishes, hospitals, and social agencies, who are attracted to Franciscan values and would like to learn more about them.”

“Franciscan Connections represents a great new effort to get our distinctive attractive Franciscan message out there,” added Dominic, who has been stationed on the SBU campus since last summer.

Franciscan Connections’s goal is to reach a new generation of adults to show them how Franciscanism is present in their lives at home, at church and at work.

“The Franciscan Institute has a distinctive role to play, not just for scholars around the world, but for the hundreds of young women and men who come to this campus seeking answers to the great mysteries of life,” Fr. David explained. “We are in the process of rebuilding the Institute so that it can deliver research, education and publishing in a sustainable way well into the future.”

“We have a great team of friars, sisters and lay Franciscans here and around the world, under the leadership of president Sr. Margaret Carney, working on creative ways of making Franciscan learning come alive,” he added. “Being at St. Bonaventure University is exciting, especially at a challenging time in the history of Catholic education. We have four years to provide students with an education and a worldview that will last a lifetime.”

Copies of Franciscan Connections: The Cord – A Spiritual Review can be obtained through the Franciscan Institute Publications website.

Questions can be directed to business manager Jill Smith at The next issue will be published on June 1.

Franciscan Connections is one of several Franciscan publications that have been revised recently. In January, St. Barbara Province launched a new version of its magazine, The Way of St. Francis. Last fall, Holy Name Province’s The Anthonian acquired a new name — The Anthonian Franciscan.

— Jocelyn Thomas is director of communications for Holy Name Province.