This year’s summer classes at the Franciscan School of Theology in San Diego, California, and at the Franciscan Institute in Western New York will be conducted virtually. Registration for all of the 2020 summer courses can be completed on the schools’ websites.
Franciscan School of Theology
The four courses being offered at FST at the University of San Diego explores themes in the Franciscan social vision in today’s Church and society. Topics range from the timeliness of the spiritual experience of Francis of Assisi, and an analysis of many of his writings, to the contemporary importance of the philosophical and theological principles of John Duns Scotus, to the sensitivities involved in a pastoral presence with the dying.
Francis, His Spiritual Experience, His Gospel Interpretation, and Contemporary Life (June 29-July 3)
Taught by Joe Chinicci, OFM, a member of St. Barbara Province, this course reflects on the relationship between Francis’s experience of the spirit, his mission in society, and the articulation of this experience in his writings and actions. Its goal is to present a method for moving from the experience of life’s journey to Gospel interpretation to mission, and to mission in the world. Several themes will be emphasized that reference the writings of Pope Francis: (1) the meaning of “encounter;” (2) “contemplative gaze;” (3) personalization of the poor; (4) the “grace of working;” (5) the “field hospital” of the Church, and (6) the sharing in Christ’s redemption. Selections from Francis’ writings and some secondary articles will be provided.
Writings of Francis of Assisi (July 6-10)
Francis of Assisi has left a remarkable collection of writings, ranging from meditations on the words of Christ to norms for organizing life in a small community. This course examines the full range of these texts, some 30 in all, from the saint’s autographs (those that survive in his own handwriting) to fragments of his “lost” writings contained in the writings of Clare of Assisi and others. During what promises to be an intense week of study of his letters, Rules, Prayers, and Admonitions, students will learn about the medieval historical context of these works and reflect on their insights about living according to the Gospel then and now. The course instructor is William Short, OFM, also a member of St. Barbara Province.
The Franciscan Vision of John Duns Scotus (July 13-17)
Taught by Mary Beth Ingham, CSJ, this five-part series explores key aspects of the Franciscan vision of creation, human dignity, and God held by the 13th-century philosopher and theologian Duns Scotus. Through the lens of beauty, the course will reflect on important Franciscan insights that frame a coherent vision of the dignity of all that exists and the challenge of loving action in a world torn by suffering, violence, and economic inequality.
The Spirituality of Presence with the Dying: Cultivating Awareness for Caregivers and the Dying (July 20–24)
Facing the end of life can create anxiety, uncertainty, and fear for those who are dying, their caregivers, and their friends and family. Based on the popular full semester course offered at the Franciscan School of Theology, this class – taught by Darleen Pryds – offers a rich combination of theological and historical reflections fused with practical pastoral applications for cultivating a Franciscan approach to the end of life. In addition to learning about the Franciscan spiritual tradition on dying and death, participants will practice experiential meditations on being present to all that arises at the end of life with awareness, grace, and faith.
All classes are held from 9:15 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, and may be taken for continuing education credit. Each course costs $250.
The classes at the institute at St. Bonaventure University will focus on the life and mysticism of poet Robert Lax, St. Clare of Assisi and women in the early Franciscan Movement, and St. Bonaventure.
Robert Lax: Mystic Poet (June 8-12)
This course explores the life and mysticism of Robert Lax, a native of Olean, New York. Utilizing new biographical information and fresh sources from the Lax Archive at SBU’s Friedsam Library, the course will introduce Lax’s life, including his connection with St. Bonaventure University and the Franciscan Institute. It will also explore his thoughts on the virtue of charity, and study his introspective poetic mysticism. The instructor is Joshua Benson, chair of the St. Bonaventure Department of Theology and Franciscan Studies.
Clare and Women in the Early Franciscan Movement (June 1-19)
This course, taught by Jean Francois Godet-Calogeras, elaborates on the contribution of women in the early Franciscan movement, studying the life and spirituality of Clare of Assisi and other women whose lives have affected the vitality of the Franciscan family in the 13th century. In addition to identifying primary and secondary sources, participants will develop an understanding of prominent and recurring issues affecting the lives of Franciscan women. Class methods will prepare students to develop further research for themselves, or for their religious congregations or lay associations.
Marvelous Depths: Reading Scripture with St. Bonaventure and His Teachers (July 6-10)
The enduring contributions of St. Bonaventure to theology and philosophy were built upon his lifelong engagement with sacred Scripture. This seminar focuses on the medieval biblical commentaries and interpretative works that helped to form his unique approach as Master of the Sacred Page. With this background in place, Bonaventure’s biblical exegesis remains accessible and relevant even today. The seminar instructor is Aaron Gies.
A fourth course, the Secular Franciscan Conference on “Happiness and the Enjoyment of God: The Franciscan Vision of Life,” which had been scheduled for June 26 to 28, has been canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
All classes at the institute are $300. Additional course and registration information can be found on the institute’s web page. The registration deadline is May 15.
— Jim McIntosh is a communications assistant for Holy Name Province.
- John Duns Scotus page of Franciscan Institute Publications website
- “SBU’s Franciscan Institute to Take Over Sole Sponsorship of Padua Program” – May 4, 2020, SBU website
- “Robert Lax, 84, Minimalist Poet Known for Experimental Forms” – Oct. 24, 2000, The New York Times