Siena Celebrates Franciscan Heritage

Jocelyn Thomas In the Headlines

LOUDONVILLE, N. Y. — Siena College administrators, friars, students and faculty gathered here Oct. 1 to commemorate the 800th anniversary of the Order by recognizing individuals for their service and celebrating the 10th anniversary of Siena’s Franciscan Center for Service and Advocacy (FCSA).

The campus community was treated to speeches, music, nostalgia and even almond cookies — said to be a favorite of St. Francis — as part of an academic convocation in the college’s alumni recreation center.

Lives of Service
After an opening invocation by college chaplain Gregory Jakubowicz, OFM, Siena awarded three honorary degrees: to a friar, a Franciscan sister and a local pastor. Student Steve Hannigan told attendees at the 11 a.m. ceremony that the spirit of St. Francis is what distinguishes Siena.

The honorees were:
• Homeless advocate John Felice, OFM, who established the FCSA in 1999, during his term as Provincial Minister
• Sr. Margaret Carney, OSF, president of St. Bonaventure University, Siena’s founding college
• Community leader Rev. Robert Lamar, pastor emeritus of First Presbyterian Church in Albany, N.Y., whose ministry has been dedicated to social justice, equality, nonviolent social change and freedom for the oppressed

In her presentation, keynote speaker Sr. Margaret said the Siena community is a “stunning testimony to the legacy of saints Clare and Francis.” She described the lessons of five incidents in the life of St. Clare. Sr. Margaret’s citation was read by former SBU president Mathias Doyle, OFM, now director of the FCSA. Robert Cushing, chair of Siena’s board of trustees, presented Sr. Margaret with her honorary degree (shown in rear collage).

John, whose citation was read by Judy Dougherty, FCSA assistant director, was praised for his service to the homeless and the mentally ill.

“Today is a great day for the college,” said Siena president Kevin Mullen, OFM, who also was a FCSA director. “Our honorees have done us proud and reminded us of some of the essential features of our college.” He added, “Education has been one of the original acts of service. I’m proud that in our 800th anniversary of the Franciscans, we celebrate education.”

sienaTen Years of Outreach
FCSA supporters and leaders were honored the day before the academic convocation at an anniversary celebration that highlighted “10 years of faith, education, service and outreach,” according to the event program.

Guests were greeted by Kenneth Paulli, OFM, Siena’s chief of staff. In addition to Mathias and Kevin, presenters included Thomas Walters, OFM, one of John’s partners at St. Francis Friends of the Poor (SFFP) in New York City, and New Yorker Mark Lebow, SFFP board chairman. 

In the last decade, more than 10,000 Siena students have participated in service and advocacy activities sponsored by the FCSA, which has partnered with more than 165 social service agencies in the capital region of New York state.

Other friars who played key roles in the two-day celebration were:
• Provincial Secretary Michael Harlan OFM, the first director of the FCSA. He was recognized by master of ceremonies Linda Richardson, Siena’s vice president for academic affairs, who thanked him for his six years of service. 
• Provincial Minister John O’Connor, OFM, joined the honorees in a luncheon following the convocation.
• Siena faculty member Dennis Tamburello, OFM, who sang “Canticle of Brother Sun,” accompanying himself on guitar.

At the conclusion of the convocation, attendees were invited by Richardson to take a packet of almond cookies, said to originate in Italy.

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