Setting this week within the context of Francis’ life journey, the course will reflect on the relationship between his experience of the Spirit, his mission in society, and the articulation of this experience in his writings and actions. The hope is to present for the contemporary believer a method for moving from the experience of his life’s journey, to Gospel interpretation, to mission in the world. While major attention will be focused on the life of Francis, his journey cannot be properly understood outside of the lay penitential and women’s movements of the time. Particular attention will be paid to the new insights in the Franciscan life that complement the teachings of Pope Francis: “Encounter,” “Contemplative Gaze,” “the operations of the Spirit, “ the “personalization of the poor,” the “Church” are some of the major themes.
An Oxford-educated historian, Joe is a widely respected scholar, teacher and speaker in the history of American Catholicism and the development of Franciscan theology and spirituality. Past president of the American Catholic Historical Association (2007-2008), he authored the seminal work Living Stones: The History and Structure of Catholic Spiritual Life in the United States (1989, 1996). His book When Values Collide: The Catholic Church, Sexual Abuse, and the Challenges of Leadership (2010) won national awards in pastoral theology. His most recent work studies in detail the American experience from 1940 to 1965, with particular emphasis on the American participation in Vatican Council II: American Catholicism Transformed, from the Cold War through the Council (Oxford, 2021). He was also general editor of the Franciscan Heritage Series, which makes available to contemporary audiences the spiritual, theological, and social inheritance of St. Francis of Assisi. Apart from his teaching duties, Joe has served in various administrative posts throughout his career: nine years as Provincial Minister for the Franciscan Friars of the Saint Barbara Province, two stints as Academic Dean at the Franciscan School of Theology, Chairman of the Commission for the Retrieval of the Franciscan Intellectual Tradition (CFIT, 2000-2013), and President of the Franciscan School of Theology (2011-2016).