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The Franciscan Institute attracts more than 600 people to its summer 2022 classes

Aug 05, 2022

As a new academic year at St. Bonaventure University approaches, the Franciscan Institute closes its summer season of Franciscan learning with a record number of participants in a variety of classes, seminars and workshops.

More than 600 individuals participated in on-campus or Zoom workshops taught by faculty and research fellows of the institute.

“We have had another successful summer dedicated to the passing on of the Franciscan intellectual tradition,” said Fr. David B. Couturier, O.F.M. Cap., director of the Franciscan Institute and associate professor of theology and Franciscan studies at St. Bonaventure.

“St. Bonaventure University has a long history of hosting Franciscan educational opportunities during the summer,” Fr. David noted. “In the past, the institute was able to host scores of students in its master’s level courses. Now we have diversified our offerings and the populations of people wanting to learn about Franciscan spirituality and theology.”

Among its summer offerings, the institute’s Research Fellow Dr. Luke Togni taught a master class on Bonaventure’s “The Mind’s Journey into God” and a symposium on the “Philosophia Moralis” by medieval friar and “father of the empirical scientific method,” Roger Bacon.

Secular Franciscans around the country participated in three Saturday sessions on secular Franciscan spirituality with conferences by Fr. Michael Reyes, O.F.M. (“Incarnational Spirituality”), Fr. Michael Bennett, O.F.M. Cap. (“The Cross in Franciscan Spirituality”), and Br. Robert Lentz, O.F.M. (“Kenosis in the Church’s Eastern Spirituality”).

In addition, the Franciscan Institute co-sponsored an academic conference with Tilburg University in the Netherlands on the theme of “Trust and the Franciscan Tradition.” Dr. Aaron Gies, assistant professor of theology and Franciscan studies at St. Bonaventure and managing editor of the institute’s academic journal, Franciscan Studies, coordinated the event. Fr. David presented a paper on “Trust and the Fraternal Economy: Franciscan Foundations for Economic Justice.”

The institute continued its partnership with Boston College’s Historical Theological Society’s summer conference by sponsoring the Franciscan Institute Lecture in Historical Theology – “The Nature of Nature: Sacrament and Creation in the Summae of Hugh of St. Victor and Thomas Aquinas” by Dr. Willemien Otten of the University of Chicago-Divinity School.

Among the institute’s most notable summer offerings was the gathering of 65 Conventual, Capuchin and Order of Friars Minor friars for a study of St. Francis of Assisi’s Earlier Rule of 1221.

Fr. Wayne Hellmann, O.F.M. Conv., one of the organizers of the event, noted that there has not been such a joint meeting of friars from the three First Order congregations since the 1980s. Fr. Dominic Monti, Fr. David Couturier and Dr. Jay Hammond of St. Louis University rounded out the team that provided lectures and exercises in living out the Gospel life today.

“The vibrant and extensive engagement of the Franciscan Institute this summer with women and men, lay and religious across the country and beyond confirms once again the status of St. Bonaventure University as the leading English-speaking institution in the world for pedagogical innovation and research into the Franciscan tradition,” said Dr. Timothy Johnson, Distinguished Professor of Theology at Flagler College in Florida and chair of the Franciscan Institute’s Research Advisory Council.

“The steady, successful stream of publication initiatives, insightful courses, praxis orientated workshops, and academic conferences throughout the summer assured that the compelling, centuries-old vision of Francis and Clare continues to impact and transform the world of today,” he said.

For more information about the Franciscan Institute, visit