Friday, May 28, 2010

All Things Franciscan

Last week a group of faculty and staff left for the AFCU sponsored pilgrimage to Assisi and Rome. They will be spending two weeks getting to know Francis and Clare by visiting the sites where they grew up, had multiple conversion experiences and created a spiritual and intellectual tradition that has lasted 800 years.


I made that very same pilgrimage four years ago. My daughter made the pilgrimage last winter. Normally I make a virtual pilgrimage at this time of year. I blog about where the pilgrims are going and relate it to my own experiences. Not this year.

This year I am too busy. I like to walk with the pilgrims in support of them, to remember my pilgrimage and to re energize myself. Certainly I, like all the other pilgrims on campus, think about our current pilgrims and pray for them daily. However, this year there are more immediate and local pressing Franciscan concerns for me.

Our school is part of the Association of Franciscan Colleges and Universities. Every two years the association holds a symposium at one of the member institutions. Well, for the past two years we have been planning for the symposium to be held at our campus. That will occur in two weeks. We live and breath the symposium. We are not even able to escape it when we sleep because it permeates our dreams. Yep, we are excited.

Our school may not be the biggest school and we may not have row after row of residential housing. However, we are special. We have Mirror Lake, we have the renovated Brookside Manor known by many as the Bass Mansion. We have an incredible art complex. We are in the heart of the city and yet our love of creation is manifest by our many trees, turtles, herons, geese, squirrels and hawks. This is a perfect setting for this symposium’s unifying theme.

USF Mirror Lake and Stadium: AFCU 2010

This years theme is: Educating for the Care of Creation: Contemporary Verses for the Canticle of the Creatures. The Canticle of the Creatures was the first poem in Western history written in the vernacular. It was the on-going song of Brother Francis. It is the Canticle that connects us all to all other creations, animate and inanimate. The Canticle is the focus of our stain glass windows in our modest chapel. The values in the Canticle are reflected on our campus. The struggle to care for creation in today’s world is also a struggle that our campus like most campuses is forced to deal with. In light of global warming, melting glaciers, the current disaster in the Gulf of Mexico and the ever increasing list of animals and plants becoming extinct this is a very important and timely theme.

San Francis - The Canticle of the Creatures" -

The symposium is creative. We have major speakers, breakout sessions, café style presentations and poster sessions. We will have 22 Franciscan schools represented at the symposium. The planning for the symposium included the very real contributions of our neighboring Midwest schools. They include
• Lourdes College
• Madonna University
• Marian University
• Silver Lake College of the Holy Family
• University of St. Francis—Joliet, IL

Attendees will have time to tour the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. They may decide to go Mussleing and visit the burial site of John Chapman (Johnny Appleseed). They may sign up to take a tour of our local nature center. Lawn games and bikes will be available. There will be three socials and a gala dinner. The symposium will take place in the North Campus building, the auditorium, Brookside, the John Paul Center, Achatz Science Hall (including the planetarium) and the Rolland Art Center.

While it is not Franciscan, it is not humble, I may still find time to brag. I will brag about the fact that since this March our school has won their first two national Championships. The fist was the Men’s Basketball team and last night we won our second in Women’s Hammer Toss. Yep, I will brag.

We have great speakers. Brother Keith Warner, PhD Environmental Studies – Assistant Director for Education, Center for Science, Technology & Society; Lecturer, Department of Religious Studies – Santa Clara University, CA, .will talk about The Incarnation Matters! Franciscan Education for Ecological Conversion. His will be our keynote address which is open to the public. His book is required reading for all attendees. It is a good book.

We have a number of other major speakers. They include:

Sister Pat Smith, O.S.F., PhD Canon Law – Assistant Professor: Theology – Neumann University, Aston, PA and Sister Kathleen Moffatt, O.S.F., MA Franciscan Studies – Program Developer of “God’s Extravagant Love” – Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia, Aston, PA. Their presentation is titled, Sharing the Franciscan Intellectual Tradition

Our very own Esperanca Camara, PhD, Associate Professor – Art History – University of Saint Francis, Fort Wayne, IN will speak on, Saint Francis and Creation: A Lesson for the 21st Century.

William R. Cook, PhD, Distinguished Professor of History – State University of New York, Geneseo, NY, will speak on The Influence of St. Francis on Pictorial Art

Finally, Brother Bill Short, O.F.M., Professor of Spirituality at Franciscan School of Theology at Berkley; CFIT scholar will speak on Breaking Open Our Franciscan Intellectual and Spiritual Tradition.

So, the symposium is only two weeks away. I would love to focus exclusively on our brothers and sisters in Assisi. However, time does not allow that. This is a time of working closely with colleagues, paying attention to detail in a way I have never done before. It is a time to pray and to listen. Most importantly, it is a time of Thankfulness.

No comments: