Catholic Franciscan Tradition
The Catholic intellectual tradition is a 2,000 year-old conversation about the deepest questions that haunt the human spirit: questions about life’s meaning and purpose; questions about the nature and character of God; questions about what contributes to human happiness and what constitutes a just society. The 800 year-old Franciscan tradition in education is a critically important voice in this centuries-long conversation. Born of the insights of Saints Francis and Clare of Assisi, and shaped by the example of their extraordinary lives, the Franciscan tradition took root in the great medieval universities of Europe where it was nourished by the insights of renowned friar-scholars and teachers. It was transplanted to the Americas by Franciscan missionaries who established the first institution of higher learning in the New World in 1536. It continues to inform the mission of Siena College and 21 other Franciscan colleges and universities in the United States.
At Siena, this tradition of intellectual inquiry and spirituality is distinguished by the following features.
- Franciscan education at Siena is incarnational.
Because God became human in Jesus of Nazareth, our tradition affirms that the Creator is found in creation, the divine in the human, the spiritual in the material, the abstract in the concrete, the theoretical in the practical, and the exalted in the humble.
- Franciscan education at Siena is personal.
Because God is personal and we are made in the divine image, our tradition affirms the dignity of the human person and values each individual as a unique gift of priceless worth.
- Franciscan education at Siena is communal.
Because God is a communion of love who draws us into divine fellowship and to a like communion with one another, our tradition promotes common worship; fosters welcoming, inclusive communities of brothers and sisters; and seeks to understand and sustain the profound interdependence of all creation.
- Franciscan education at Siena is transformative.
Because God has endowed us with the capability of self-transcendence and with an inexhaustible capacity for truth, goodness, beauty and love, our tradition is devoted to on-going, life-long intellectual, moral and spiritual conversion.
- Franciscan education at Siena engages the heart.
Because God is the source of all compassion and the fulfillment of all our desires, our tradition cultivates habits of the heart as much as dispositions of the mind, interpersonal skills as well as intellectual abilities, compassion for one’s neighbor as well as passion for one’s field of study.
- Franciscan education at Siena develops servant-leaders.
Because God the Most High became “most low” in the poverty and humility of Jesus of Nazareth, our tradition seeks to instill in our students a perception of their life’s work as service in solidarity with their brothers and sisters, especially the least among us.
- Franciscan education at Siena pursues wisdom.
Because God calls us to live rich, full lives in communion with our brothers and sisters, our tradition seeks to discern what constitutes human happiness and what is of real and enduring value, and to apply this knowledge to the practice of making a good living and living a good life.