Siena Launches Franciscan Fridays

Lisa Witkowski Around the Province

LOUDONVILLE, N.Y. — Sayings of the saints are being shared with a new generation at Siena College, in jewel quotes that refract the light of wisdom and tradition onto an often fraught and divided society.

Each Friday morning, a quote from St. Francis, St. Clare or St. Bonaventure is being shared on the college’s social media accounts, the 31 display screens in various buildings across campus, and the electronic messaging sign on Route 9 at the front of the Loudonville campus.

The first quote was posted Oct. 12: “Whoever comes to you, friend or foe, receive them with kindness.”

The idea for this Franciscan outreach was generated during a “blue sky thinking session” about how Siena could share its Franciscan mission and tradition in a way that would resonate with today’s audience, according to Jason Rich, director of marketing and communications at Siena.

“We wanted the message to resonate with a broad audience, in an inspiring and relatable way,” Rich said.

F. Edward Coughlin, OFM, president of Siena, took the proverbial ball and ran with it. Ed reached out to his brother friars at the college and together they created a list of soundbites from the saints that would be meaningful and thought-provoking.

“We want people both on and off campus to reflect on the message they read each Friday and think about how it translates to their daily lives,” said Ed. “We can get a lot of wisdom from a few words if we are open to accepting the message.”

Many of the quotes Ed had already underlined in texts from his years of teaching.

“We talk about our Catholic and Franciscan tradition, but what does it really mean in daily life? How do we put it into practice?”

Ed said that in the Franciscan tradition, knowledge “should be given to others with love,” and it is in this spirit of love and humility that the messages are being sent out onto campus, and thanks to social media, to the wider world.

“It’s information that we hope will translate into action,” he said. “We hope it will cause people to reflect on how they see themselves, and how they want to treat others.”

The quote posted on Oct. 19 was accompanied by a reflection from Lawrence Anderson, OFM, Siena’s chaplain. He shared a tale set during the Revolutionary War of a man dressed in civilian clothes who passed a corporal screaming orders at his men as they prepared for battle:

“…Seeing that they were obviously exhausted from their labor, the man asked the corporal, ‘Why don’t you help them?’

‘Sir,’ the corporal bristled as his anger rose, ‘I am a corporal!’ With a quick apology, the stranger took off his coat, rolled up his sleeves and set out to work with the soldiers.

‘Mr. Corporal, Sir,’ he said when the task was completed, ‘whenever you need someone to help with a job, feel free to call on your commander-in-chief. I will be happy to be of service.’ With that, George Washington put on his coat and left.”

Larry reflected that “Washington understood that those who aspire to greatness or rank first among others must serve the needs of all. This concept of a leader called to be a servant is foundational to Jesus’ teaching found in all four Gospels.”

Interested in receiving Siena’s Franciscan Friday messages? Follow Siena College on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. Look for #FranciscanFridays.

— Lisa Witkowski is associate director of communications.

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