Friday marked the end of the Franciscan Institute at St. Bonaventure University for everyone this summer. This was my first time as a student at the Institute, but I don’t believe it will be my last. What I encountered was beyond good. I was surrounded by scholarly yet un-pretentious friars, nuns and secular Franciscans and a smattering of others who all came to learn more about what it means to be Franciscan. I took a course called, “Retrieving a Franciscan Philosophy for Social Engagement,” taught by Keith Warner, OFM, Ph.D from Santa Clara University and the St. Barbara Province in California. The course was more than I bargained for. Not only did I learn how much I didn’t know, but I came away with a renewed sense of purpose in my life and a future direction. I enrolled at the institute in March of this year. Little did I know that I would form lasting relationships with people I would scarcely meet elsewhere. My experience at the institute confirmed for me that I am truly a Franciscan. I got to attend daily mass which was the first time in a number of years that I had been to Mass with that frequency. The Institute revolves around the liturgy and the liturgy revolves around the Institute. We had class on July 4th followed by Mass and a barbecue at the St. Bonaventure University Friary. We celebrated the Feast of St. Bonaventure on July 15th and in between all of those celebrations I learned about the richness of the Franciscan Intellectual Tradition which up until then was only a phrase.
I learned about Peter Olivi, John Duns Scotus, Bl. Bernard de Feltre, St. Bonaventure, St. Francis, St. Clare, and many more. What it means to have a Franciscan social philosophy and be able to articulate it are not just words anymore. I came away with a renewed commitment to my vocation as a Secular Franciscan and a re-energized sense of purpose. I want to thank everyone who contributed to the experience in any way because it was one of those watershed moments that define a lifetime. Pax et Bonum.