On September 20-24, 2021, doctoral and licentiate students residing in Rome took part in a study conference on “Franciscan Pedagogy.” The event was held at the Pontifical Theological Faculty of St. Bonaventure (Seraphicum) in Rome.
More than twenty student friars gathered to reflect on Franciscan pedagogy. The students come from countries around the world and study in Rome while living at the Seraphicum International College or at the Friary of St. Anthony at the Baths (La Vigna). The General Definitory called for this formation week in response a request made by the last General Chapter. The Chapter asked for the continuation of the “St. Bonaventure Project” which trains friars who study theological disciplines to be able to animate their confreres in initial and ongoing formation. In this sense, the “Project” has been rethought and proposed as Franciscan formation program for all the friars studying in Rome so that they may become “not only trained teachers, but Franciscan teachers,” as the Vicar General, Friar Jan MACIEJOWSKI, stated in his invitation letter to the event.
Franciscan teachers and others developed and presented the theme as a means for students to “immerse themselves” in the universe of pedagogy in a general sense and in keeping with applications typical in Franciscan settings.
On the first day, after introducing the course, the friars discussed the pedagogical dimension found in the writings of St. Francis of Assisi. This topic was presented by Friar Bernardo MOLINA, OFM Cap., who used the Franciscan Sources to find various ideas, which help explain the dynamic between God educating Francis and Francis educating the friars.
The second speaker, Friar Emil KUMKA, OFM Conv., spoke about Franciscan pedagogy as understood in the Franciscan hagiographical sources. Among other things, he stressed that St. Francis proposed an open model of pedagogy, one which respected the person in his concrete situation and highlighted his worth and freedom.
The following day Franciscan spiritual direction was discussed. Friar Raffaele DI MURO, OFM Conv. gave a lecture on Francis and Clare as spiritual guides. He was followed by Friar Adam MĄCZKA, OFM Conv., who interpreted “A Letter to Brother Leo” as the Magna Carta of Franciscan spiritual direction.
On the third day, Friar Massimo VEDOVA, OFM Conv., spoke about pedagogy in fraternal life within the Franciscan universe. He affirmed that we cannot find a pedagogical doctrine from St. Francis but rather the traces of a pedagogy that was first manifested in the fraternity.
Finally, Father Giuseppe ROGGIA (Salesian) spoke about contemporary pedagogy as it regards consecrated life.
Each day after the lectures, the participants gathered into study groups to answer questions, discuss their experiences and share their personal visions concerning the topic at hand. On the last day, Friar Raffaele DI MURO served as the Moderator while the friars presented their summaries of their group work, made proposals for future meetings and offered some ideas for further study of the topics that were covered. At the end of the week, Friar Raffaele invited the student friars to continue their research with enthusiasm and to respond to the invitation of Pope Francis, to combine what they have been studying with the spiritual life, and to create a network for sharing their knowledge.
Friar Zvonimir PERVAN