FRANCISCAN FRIARS Office of Communications Province of St. John the Baptist

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March 23, 2017

A legacy of learning

20 years later, Duns Scotus program still going strong

 

PHOTO BY JAVIER XAIRE, OFM

The Franciscan Study Day drew women religious, OFMs, Capuchins and Conventuals.

BY TONI CASHNELLI

Above, Ed Foley with presenter Bill Short; below, Duns Scotus, “The Subtle Doctor” And you thought it was just a lecture.

The goal of the Duns Scotus Spirituality program is “to bring in great speakers and give people a fine experience of hospitality and prayer,” says Capuchin Fr. Ed Foley of Catholic Theological Union. As the third person to occupy CTU’s Duns Scotus Chair of Spirituality, Ed aims to showcase the Franciscan intellectual tradition – a tradition sometimes ignored by the schools that educate friars. March 18, five SJB friars experienced that hospitality and prayer during a Franciscan Study Day organized by Ed at CTU in Chicago. Led by Br. Bill Short of St. Barbara Province, it focused on the first formal division of the Franciscan Order in 1517 – a subject that resonates with American friars as they discuss revitalization and reconfiguration. (See From Jeff.) Besides professed friars, the program drew women religious, OFM novices, Conventual and Capuchin postulants and their formation directors. “It’s much bigger than simply the students at CTU,” Ed says.

All of this was made possible by a forward-thinking provincial council. Twenty years ago St. John the Baptist Province gave away funds from the sale of Duns Scotus College in Southfield, Mich. Among the recipients were sponsored ministries and causes earmarked by individual friars.

One endowment seemed an especially appropriate legacy for a college. According to CTU, “The Duns Scotus Chair in Franciscan Spirituality was endowed in 1997 through a generous gift of the St. John the Baptist Province of the Orders of Friars Minor, Cincinnati, Ohio, in order to promote the rich spirituality of the Franciscan tradition as well as the other great spiritual resources of the Catholic heritage.”

Friar Zachary Hayes, the first Chair (1997-2005), was a Bonaventure scholar. His successor, Sr. Dianne Bergant of the Congregation of St. Agnes (2006-2009), is known for biblical studies. As for Ed, who is also a Professor of Liturgy and Music at CTU, “I’m actually not a Scotus scholar. The holder of the chair is not one who necessarily is a specialist” on the life and works of John Duns Scotus, the 13th-century philosopher-theologian whose complex, nuanced thought earned him the nickname, “The Subtle Doctor”. There is one similarity, Ed says: “I think of myself as a practical theologian, and Scotus was.”

PHOTO BY JEFF SCHEELER, OFMBill Short focused on the first formal division of the Franciscan Order in 1517.For the first 12 years of the CTU program, it was all about scholarship. When Ed assumed the chair in 2009, “There was no program, no advisory board, no job description. There was nothing in place. Over time I talked to the administration about establishing an advisory board. There were a lot of different Franciscans affiliated with CTU,” students, faculty, formators. Ed wondered, “How could we resource these different groups?” SJB’s Fr. Francis Tebbe was among those asked to serve on an advisory board (see below).

“The first couple of years we did a lecture,” Ed says. The inaugural program in 2011 featured Fr. John Corriveau, former Minister General of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin, and the second was offered by Friar Daniel Sulmasy, MD, a professor of medicine.

The following year, “The Advisory Board in consultation with formation directors suggested that the next event not simply be a public lecture but a ‘study day’.” March 23, 2013, about 100 people gathered for a day-long presentation on “Beauty in the Franciscan Tradition” by Sr. Mary Beth Ingham, CSJ. The expanded format was a hit.

The program recruited Paul Moses, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author of The Sultan and the Saint, for the 2013 lecture. They mounted a second Franciscan Study Day in 2015 on St. Bonaventure with friar-preacher Andre Cirino. For the 2015 lecture, popular author Sr. Ilia Delio, OSF, drew an overflow crowd when she presented, “Evolution and the Primacy of Christ: from Scotus to Teilhard”. This fall, the Scotus Lecture will focus on Clare of Assisi, with Catherine Mooney of Boston College.

With the Chair of Spirituality firmly established, where do they go from here?

“We’re looking at having our first symposium” next year, Ed says. There’s still a wealth of material to mine. “Through all of my training, and I’ve done five graduate degrees, I never had a course that gave virtually any attention to the Franciscan tradition. I think the Franciscan intellectual tradition is not something that has been exploited or attended to very well. In postulancy in my own province, they get a lot of writings on Francis and Clare, but in theological studies there’s very little. How can we bring this into the discussion today?”

For those who host and those who attend the Scotus programs, “Having world-class folks like Bill Short or Ilia Delio or Mary Beth Ingham is eye-opening,” Ed says. Beyond the Franciscan gifts of poverty and inclusivity, “The Franciscan intellectual tradition has a lot to contribute – a particular way of looking at the world."

Colin King, Gene Mayer, Norbert Bertram, Larry Zurek (discerning with the Conventuals)and Jeff Scheeler (John Boissy also attended)Feedback from friarsFive SJB friars attend the March 18 Duns Scotus Franciscan Study Day at CTU. Presented by Br. Bill Short of St. Barbara Province, the program focused on the 1517 division of the Franciscan Order. Here’s what attendees said:Br. Norbert Bertram, OFMI had been to one of the Duns Scotus programs before; they’re very good and well-attended. The main reason I went to this one is that I never understood why the three [Franciscan] branches broke off from each other and went their way. It stirred the pot of the Order and things changed, like it’s gonna do now. Bill related that to what we’re doing [in the U.S.], possibly becoming one province, another big stir in the Order.We were able to relate to the Capuchins and Conventuals [at the program]; I never had much experience with those guys before.Br. Gene Mayer, OFMI enjoy history and as a side, my Franciscan history is terrible. The extent of my Franciscan history was one three-hour class from Larry Landini.This was the first [Duns Scotus] program I’ve been to. I knew Bill Short was a good presenter. When I saw the topic of ‘schisms’, I said to Norbert, that’s something I would really like to listen to. The most shocking thing [from the program] would be how Bill established the fact that there has not been a century in the Order’s existence in which there has not been some major reform; it has been an ongoing thing. That certainly put things in perspective for me.Listening, planningFrancis Tebbe, OFMFollowing Fr. Jeff Scheeler’s election as provincial in 2008, he asked Fr. Mark Soehner and I to follow up on the status of the Endowed Chair, regarding activities and programs available at CTU as a result of the province’s gift that created this Endowed Chair.  I am one of the “founding” members of the Duns Scotus Advisory Board in 2009.  It was one of Fr. Ed Foley’s first initiatives when he was named as the holder of the Duns Scotus Endowed Chair.Over the years the Advisory Board, which has grown from five to 10 members, has served as a valuable planning group with Ed as well as sounding board for how the Franciscan spirituality can be more visible at CTU through study days and lectures for those in initial formation and women and men religious and seculars connected to and associated with Franciscans. Likewise, these events help to highlight the Franciscan presence and charism at CTU, concretizing the fundamental intention of the province’s generous gift after the sale of Duns Scotus College.I am honored to be part of this Advisory Board and to represent the province.–Fr. Francis Tebbe, OFM

PHOTOS BY JEFF SCHEELER, OFMMark Gehret in Greenwood, above; and below, with Pat McCormack and Craig Wilking This week Fr. Jeff Scheeler visited Br. Mark Gehret in Greenwood, Miss., where he recently began working with Assumption BVM friars Greg Plata, Pat McCormack and Craig Wilking. With St. Francis of Assisi Friary as their home base, friars serve St. Francis Parish, St. Francis School and three other parishes. Mark is contributing his jack-of-all-trades talents to the mission in Greenwood, which began in the 1950s with outreach to the poor.

Daniel Arthur RuddCatholic journalist and civil rights activist Daniel Arthur Rudd is the subject of a presentation Sunday, March 26, at St. Monica-St. George Parish Newman Center (Parish Hall) in Cincinnati. In 1890 Rudd, editor and publisher of the American Catholic Tribune and founder of the Black Catholic Congress Movement, was called the “greatest Negro Catholic in America”. Presenting the 7 p.m. talk, “Calling a Church to Justice”, is Dr. Gary Agee of Anderson University. It’s free and open to the public.

Above, Bob Weakley, OFM, and Norbert Bertram, OFM• The first weekend in April Br. Norbert Bertram and Fr. Bob Weakley, who ministered together in Illinois, will meet at a restaurant to celebrate their birthdays. Norbert’s is April 3 and Bob’s is March 31. As they do each year, they plan to treat each other. When the bills arrive, Bob pays Norbert’s check, and Norbert pays Bob’s. This time, Red Lobster is a likely prospect; “We haven’t been there in a few years,” says Norbert, who is celebrating the milestone birthday Bob reached last year, No. 75.

• The next time someone asks, “What’s the difference between a friar, a priest and a monk?”, send them to an explanatory story via this link: aleteia.org. We found it on St. Clement’s Facebook page.

• This year the St. John Passion Play celebrates its 100th season in Cincinnati. For dates and times see: stjohnpassionplay.org. And visit our Facebook page each day (facebook.com) to meet the pioneering friars who helped produce the Passion Play for more than 50 years.

• The Facebook page of the Monastery of the Holy Land (facebook.com) has some great photos, video and reporting on yesterday’s inauguration of the restored Edicule surrounding the Tomb of Jesus in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem.

 

Leo X issued his papal bull 500 years ago.I am not an expert in our complicated Franciscan history. But last Saturday when I attended a talk by Franciscan historian Br. Bill Short, OFM, at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago (organized by our province-funded Duns Scotus Chair of Spirituality), I was reminded that this year we are remembering the 500th anniversary of Pope Leo X’s papal bull, Ite Vos.This declaration, issued on May 29, 1517, both separated and unified movements in the Franciscan family:  The Conventual Franciscans were recognized as a group, and the many reform movements were unified in the Observant branch as Friars Minor of the Regular Observance.  I like to say that our charism is so rich that no one group can adequately express it, but it may be more true that we are broken people just struggling to get along.  Sound familiar?Our General Ministers are reminding us, as we remember our history, that we are still members of one family.  There are many signs of greater cooperation these days, including the joining of our universities in Rome and the joint preparation program for missionaries in Brussels, which our brother Br. Tim Lamb participated in before going to Africa.  There may be some other local opportunities to celebrate the richness of our Franciscan family and charism.— Fr. Jeff Scheeler, OFM

Send comments or questions to: sjbfco@franciscan.org

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FRANCISCAN FRIARS Office of Communications Province of St. John the Baptist

FRANCISCAN FRIARS Office of Communications Province of St. John the Baptist

A legacy of learning

20 years later, Duns Scotus program still going strong

PHOTO BY JAVIER XAIRE, OFM

The Franciscan Study Day drew women religious, OFMs, Capuchins and Conventuals.

Office of Communications Province of St. John the Baptist

A legacy of learning

20 years later, Duns Scotus program still going strong

PHOTO BY JAVIER XAIRE, OFM

The Franciscan Study Day drew women religious, OFMs, Capuchins and Conventuals.

FRANCISCAN FRIARS
Office of Communications Province of St. John the Baptist