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Franciscan Institute graduates 12 individuals as Franciscan mission officers and leaders

Aug 01, 2022

Twelve individuals from various Franciscan institutions across the world have graduated from the Franciscan Institute’s Padua Program for the training of Franciscan mission officers and leaders.

The announcement was made by Fr. David B. Couturier, O.F.M. Cap., director of the Franciscan Institute and the Padua Program during a prayer service July 28 marking the end of a yearlong program in Franciscan studies, organizational development, and Franciscan mission-based leadership training.

The graduates, both lay and religious, come from a wide variety of institutional settings, such as hospitals, colleges and universities, retreat centers, and social service agencies, as well as the Secular Franciscan Order.

“The program is designed first to orient participants to the basic principles and fundamental values of the Franciscan movement in the time of Saints Francis and Clare of Assisi,” said Fr. David. “And then, it helps think about ways to integrate those Franciscan values into the complex dynamics of today’s evolving Franciscan institutions.”

Participants, he said, learn about the role and challenges of being a mission leader/officer and discuss such things as the balance between Franciscan mission and financial margins. Through case studies and in discussion with experts in the field, they learn about the central importance of a relational approach to Franciscan institutional ethics.

Dr. Michelle M. Fleig Palmer, associate professor and director of the Master’s in Healthcare Administration Program at the University of St. Francis in Fort Wayne, Indiana, spoke about the benefits of her time in the Padua Program.

“The Padua Leadership Program will help me to have deeper mission-related conversations with my colleagues at the university about how to meet the needs of our students,” she said.

Besides Palmer, this year’s other graduates include Dr. Michelle Santana, coordinator of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Neumann University; Dr. Paula Scraba, O.S.F., associate professor at St. Bonaventure University; Sr. Marie Puleo, Vicaress General at Missionary Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Conception; Frank Miller of the Executive Regional Council, Secular Franciscans; Br. Michael Saminathan, Society of St. Francis in Sri Lanka; Jennifer Howell, health care provider in Olean; Robert Tasman, JD, vice president for Mission Integration at Our Lady of Lourdes Regional Medical Center, Lafayette, Louisiana; William Bouffard, formation facilitator with the Secular Franciscans; Sr. Laura Nettles, mission officer at Viterbo University; Emilio Alvarez, director of Campus Ministry at Viterbo University; and Sr. Sarah Anderson, O.S.F., president of the Board of Directors at Our Lady of Adirondacks House of Prayer.

Padua Program faculty members attending the graduation prayer service included Dr. Julianne Wallace, VP for Mission at St. Mary’s University in South-Bend, Indiana; Jeff Papia, former VP for Mission at Hilbert College and now chief strategy officer at Our Lady of Victory Human Services in Lackawanna; and Colleen Walters, VP of Mission and Ethics at Bay Care Health System in Tampa, Florida.

The Franciscan Institute is an educational unit of St. Bonaventure University that supports and publishes research into the Franciscan intellectual tradition and provides master classes, workshops and seminars that help individuals and groups learn how to apply their Franciscan learning in the world today.

For more information on the Padua Program or other recent news regarding The Franciscan Institute, visit