ALLEGANY, N.Y. – The high point of the year for the Franciscan Institute is the feast of St. Bonaventure, the patron saint of St. Bonaventure University, recognized during a two-day celebration, marked by a feast day liturgy, dinner and academic convocation.
“The Franciscan Institute entertains the largest summer session on campus, which includes up to 77 students,” said Michael Cusato, OFM, director of the Franciscan Institute and dean of the School of Franciscan Studies. “The feast day liturgy has usually been the responsibility of the Institute to plan and carry out for the university’s most important annual liturgical celebration.”
This year’s event included the award of an honorary doctorate to Alcuin Coyle for more than 50 years of teaching, administrative experience and extraordinary service to the Church after the Second Vatican Council. Edward Coughlin, vice president for Franciscan Mission, read the citation honoring Alcuin.
At a formal dinner following the liturgy, on the occasion of her 65th birthday, Sister Margaret Carney, OSF, president of St. Bonaventure University, was presented with a volume of essays written in her honor.
“We decided about a year ago that we wanted to honor her with a collection of scholarly essays, called in academic circles a festschrift. Before Sr. Margaret started her administrative assignments, she was an up-and-coming scholar in her own right until she got conscripted into administration of the Franciscan Institute and now president,” said Michael. “With fellow colleagues, I was able to draw up a list of scholars from the United States and abroad who have known her and have worked in her particular field of expertise. Over 20 authors contributed essays for this effort. It is, in fact, the 2006 version of our most scholarly periodical, Franciscan Studies.”
Sr. Margaret’s festschrift pieces are focused around the theme of the evangelical life – which gives the volume its specific title: “Vita Evangelica: Essays in Honor of Margaret Carney, OSF.”
“It is a very good way to describe what Franciscan life is all about,” said Michael. “The Catholic Church tries to define us either as a clerical institute – an institute of priests – or an apostolic institute – one primarily dedicated to mission. The best description of us is that we’re neither. We’re something else, and when we talk about ourselves it’s really about a way of life, the Gospel life, an Evangelical life. Since Sr. Margaret taught a course on that topic and advocated for that understanding in things that she has taught and presented, we thought that this would be a nice capstone to describe the whole orientation of her life and work. We asked our contributing scholars to touch base with that type of a theme in their choice of what to write about.”
During the ceremony, Canice Connors, OFM Conv., a longtime friend of Margaret’s from the Pittsburgh Diocese, presented a humorous take on her development as a young woman and religious sister. Sister Daria Mitchell, OSF, interim managing editor of Franciscan Institute publications, also presented the first of two issues of The Cord, dedicated specifically to Sr. Margaret as well. “The articles are more pastorally oriented to cover that aspect of Sr. Margaret’s life in ministry,” said Michael.
The celebration of the feast of Bonaventure is also connected to a formal academic convocation, this year held on July 16 and preceded by solemn vespers in the university chapel. The ceremony, which honors the scholar chosen by the Franciscan Institute faculty as its recipient of the Franciscan Institute Medal of Scholarship, followed at the Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts. This year’s recipient was Luigi Pellegrini, OFM Cap. He presented an academic address titled “Poverty and Wealth: Bonaventure’s Treatment of Two ‘Not-Irreconcilable’ Realities.”
Also acknowledged at the convocation was David Flood, OFM, who is concluding his work in full-time research at the institute and will be returning to his home province in Montreal.