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St. Bonaventure’s Franciscan Institute graduates cohort in Franciscan mission-based leadership

Jun 13, 2024

The Franciscan Institute at St. Bonaventure University celebrated the achievement of 22 people today as they completed the Padua Program, the Franciscan mission-based leadership program, on the Feast of St. Anthony of Padua (June 13).

The yearlong program provides training and resources in Franciscan theology, spirituality, management and leadership, mission integration and organizational development.

Participants in the 2023-2024 program came from a diverse group of Franciscan institutions, including universities, retreat centers, hospitals, social service agencies, nursing facilities, and religious congregations, across the United States and Jamaica.

Speaking to the graduates, Fr. David B. Couturier, O.F.M. Cap., executive director of the Franciscan Institute, reflected on their achievements in the program.

“Unlike religious vocations in the past, your institutional vocation is specific to a particular ministry and setting for a time, meant to bring charism, passion, wisdom and compassion into workplaces that can be sometimes competitive, depleting and exhausting without them,” he said.

The Rev. Carrie Wolfe, who serves as director of Pastoral Care at St. Elizabeth Motherhouse of the Franciscan Sisters of Allegany, commented on the meaning of the program for her work.

“St. Francis was known to weep upon entering certain towns or villages and when the brothers asked him why, he said, ‘because Love is not loved.’ The Padua Program encouraged me and my fellow learners to love Love and that – loving Love – is the core of mission. I am inspired and I am grateful,” she said.

Debi Haug, director of the Association of Franciscan Colleges and Universities and the Padua Program’s associate director for Engagement and Formation, provided a prayer for the members of the cohort: “So in all our choosing, O God, make us wise. In all our loving make us bold.”

Brian Lemoi, executive director of the Franciscan Center in Tampa, Florida, said the Padua program was a blessing for him on many levels, personally, spiritually and professionally.

“Without a doubt, this is the most influential professional/spiritual development program that I have experienced in a long, long time. It has impacted my work at the Franciscan Center in Tampa, and I have called on the language and learning of the Franciscan Way that I learned throughout the program,” Lemoi said. “It has practical and inspirational value for me every day.”

Jeff Papia, chief strategy officer for Our Lady of Victory Human Services and associate director of logistics and coordination for the Padua Program, focused his words to the graduating cohort on a blessing from the Rev. William Sloane Coffin: “Grace to risk something big for something good; and grace to remember the world is now too dangerous for anything but the truth and too small for anything but love.”

Among the graduates are Dr. Rene’ Hauser and Mary Beatty from the School of Education at St. Bonaventure and Br. Kevin Kriso, O.F.M., of Mt. Irenaeus. The other graduates are Philip Anderson, Melanie Berte-Hickey, Gary Boice, Amy Booker, Michele Calandra, Br. Greg Cellini, Susan Daniels, Linda Dees, Hannah Hagarty, Margaret Jarrett, Brian Lemoi, Riley Lochhead, Sean Martin, Sr. Patricia McMahon, Debra O’Connor, Rebeca Prado, Becki Romans, Frances Siracusa and Rev. Carrie Wolfe.