Strategic Plan

Area 1: Retrieving and Communicating The Franciscan Intellectual Tradition

Goal I: To better articulate and clarify the nature of the Franciscan Intellectual Tradition

Means: To develop a working paper that seeks to articulate some of the broad outlines of "Franciscan theology." As Kenan Osborne described it:

Franciscan theology is not a 'new' theology; rather it is a traditional form of theology which emphasized certain basic ideas in contrast to other, traditional forms of theology (see "Alexander of Hales," in The History of Franciscan Theology,29).


William Short and Ilia Delio (A working draft completed).

Goal II: To ensure ongoing attention to the development of the Franciscan Intellectual Tradition as an alternative and orthodox theology for the contemporary Church and world.

Means: To establish a commission of the ESC (Task Force) as a coordinating and facilitating group to assist the Provincials in exercising their fiduciary responsibilities for the stewardship of the Franciscan Intellectual Tradition.

  1. Responsibility: It is recommended that the OFM English- Speaking Provincials appoint a standing Commission on the Franciscan Intellectual Tradition (CFIT). This Commission would be sponsored by the ESC and composed of representatives from the study centers and from the wider Franciscan family. It would serve as an institutional resource on the Franciscan intellectual tradition to the provincials, to other bodies of the ESC (e.g. Initial and Continuing Formation Directors, and to the wider body of the Franciscan family). It would be asked to coordinate some of the numerous activities which are recommended in this report. The Commission would also be charged with the responsibility of coordinating efforts that are already taking place (e.g. the annual symposium at the Washington Theological Union, publication efforts) so that over a period of time a coherent contemporary outline of the major themes of the Franciscan Intellectual Tradition can be presented.
  2. Plan: Promote studies and encourage scholars and scholarship among those who are in initial formation and among those friars who are already engaged in mission as Itinerant Franciscan Scholars. This is a new category of Franciscan scholar that has emerged in the last ten to fifteen years. This demands a willingness to:
    • See scholarship as a vocation and a ministry;
    • View studies/scholarship as a form of service to a Province, Order, Church, world;
    • Actively encourage capable individuals to develop the competence to articulate the tradition and/or to consider the tradition as a resource for doing practical-pastoral theology; and
    • Institutionally value those itinerant scholars who are not aligned with centers of learning but who are actively involved in translating, writing and networking and/or travel in retreat work.
  3. Responsibility: It is recommended that, through the ESC Provincials, a policy on promoting and encouraging studies be included in the ministerial and formational plan of every Province in the conference. A good beginning can be found in the Order's own Ratio Studiorum, a document which needs active and institutionalized application in the English Speaking world.
  4. Plan: Explore the viability of establishing an International English Speaking Academy of Franciscan Scholars (IEAFS). For historic precedent see Franciscan Education Conference (1914-70). The purpose of the IEAFS would be to:
    • organize an ongoing gathering of scholars (annual/ bi-annual);
    • provide a forum committed to critical reflection on the intellectual tradition as a contemporary resource;
    • enable networking and exchanges of insights, and scholarly activity;
    • encourage a thoughtful critique of contemporary questions drawing on the resources of the Franciscan Intellectual Tradition.
  5. Responsibility: It is recommended that the ESC ask the Commission on the Franciscan Intellectual Tradition to assume responsibility for laying the foundation for - testing the waters of interest in - a gathering of scholars [friars, sisters, others] to take place by June 2003. At least the first two meetings of the "academy" will require funding for the purposes of initially organizing, gathering, and establishing the group. It is recommended that the ESC approach the Board of the Academy of American Franciscan History and/or the Bonfils Foundation to see if they would be willing and able to provide funding for these endeavors.
  6. Plan: To establish a Web Page dedicated to the Franciscan Intellectual Tradition. The Web Page would include:
    • a listing of resource persons
    • a listing of works in progress
    • a bibliography on selected topics
    • an announcement of resources available; e.g. calendar of events
    • courses, programs, gatherings, homily helps, on-line publications, etc.
    • a network of those lay scholars working in Franciscan studies who are not connected with Franciscan institutions.
  7. Recommendation: It is recommended that the ESC appoint a Webmaster charged with the responsibility of establishing and maintaining this Web Page by January 2002.The hiring of a Webmaster can be done in conjunction with one of the major institutions but it may require some funding for national service and will be at the disposition of the ESC. Its usefulness and effectiveness should be reviewed by the ESC in 2005.