OAKLAND, Calif. — Fr. Joseph Chinnici, OFM, has been named president of the Franciscan School of Theology in Berkeley, Calif. Fr. John Hardin, OFM, chairman of the FST board of trustees and provincial minister of St. Barbara Province, announced the appointment on March 30.
Fr. Joseph will assume the presidency on July 1, after Fr. Mario DiCicco, OFM, retires. Fr. Mario has been president since 2004.
“We are very pleased and excited about Joe’s appointment,” Fr. John said. “He’s clearly the right person at the right time. We’re looking forward to the school’s growth, both in terms of educating ministers to serve in the church and in promoting scholarship in the Franciscan intellectual and spiritual traditions. We see this appointment as a very positive step, and believe that Joe is uniquely qualified to lead the school in this direction.”
Fr. John also acknowledged Fr. Mario’s years of service as FST’s president.
“We have a real debt of gratitude to Mario,” Fr. John said. “He steered the ship for these past seven years, and worked tirelessly to make sure the school was left in good condition. FST owes a great deal to him.”
Fr. Joseph, a professor of church history at FST, was academic dean of the school, and was the provincial minister of the Province of St. Barbara for nine years.
“This is an exciting new adventure for me,” Fr. Joseph said. “I’m grateful for the confidence the Board of Regents and trustees have placed in me. I look forward to working with — and for — the faculty, staff, alumni and supporters of our Franciscan theological mission in the church and society. All of us are here to promote and enhance one of the strongest spiritual and theological traditions in the Church, to make its riches accessible to people who are hungry for God and for a human community of justice and peace.”
Fr. Joseph, who received his doctorate from the University of Oxford in 1976, is a widely known preacher and has written on both the history of American Catholicism and the development of Franciscan theology and spirituality. The past president of the American Catholic Historical Association, authored the seminal work Living Stones: The History and Structure of Catholic Spiritual Life in the United States (1989, 1996). His most recent book was published last year, When Values Collide: The Catholic Church, Sexual Abuse, and the Challenges of Leadership.
Several Holy Name Province friars have connections to FST, which is a member of the Graduate Theological Union, headquartered in Berkeley, an ecumenical consortium of nine theological schools and seminaries.
David McBriar, OFM, was a member of the FST faculty in the 1970s. The late Robert Stewart, OFM, completed graduate studies there in the 1980s, and a number of friars have spent sabbaticals at the FST, including Provincial Vicar Dominic Monti, OFM, and Francis Di Spigno, OFM, who is currently studying there.
The Franciscan friars, who have provided theological training in California since the beginning of the state’s history, founded an apostolic college at Mission Santa Barbara in 1854. In 1968, the school was renamed the Franciscan School of Theology and moved to Berkeley to join the GTU.