Deepening Franciscan Identity: Teaching Care for Creation

Paul Keggington

June 05, 2013

Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity Sister Mardelle Meinholz, Mission Director at Silver Lake College of the Holy Family, Manitowoc, WI,  reflects on Brother Keith Douglass Warner, OFM’s recent workshop “Deepening Franciscan Identity: Teaching Care for Creation” given in collaboration with 6 Franciscan institutions.

The Association of Franciscan Colleges and Universities partnering with the Franciscan Action Network recently sponsored a faculty and staff development workshop at Silver Lake College of the Holy Family. “Deepening Franciscan Identity: Teaching Care for Creation” was designed to assist the learning and the integration of care for creation in the Franciscan tradition with practical activities in the classroom, community-based learning, and campus life. Br. Keith Douglass Warner, OFM of Santa Clara University facilitated the presentations, best practices, and collaborations for six Franciscan institutions: Alverno College and Cardinal Stritch University, Milwaukee; Viterbo University, LaCrosse;  Silver Lake College of the Holy Family, Manitowoc; Madonna University, Livonia, Michigan; Santa Clara University, Santa Clara, California; and FAN, Washington, D.C.

Br.-Keith-Douglass-Warner-OFMWarner is the Director of Education and Action Research at the Center for Science, Technology, & Society, where he directs a fellowship that places undergraduates with social entrepreneurs using frugal technologies in the developing world. His MA Thesis on Franciscan spirituality of itinerancy, a PhD in Environmental Studies, and life as a Franciscan friar are the springboard for his integrated knowledge of creation. He is best known in the Franciscan world as a coauthor of Care for Creation: A Franciscan Spirituality of the Earth.

With the resources provided though the workshop on Franciscan care for creation, the participants from the Franciscan schools are commissioned to develop or deepen the Franciscan character of a learning unit, a student assignment, a syllabus, a program, activity, or a totally new and creative idea. By linking the Franciscan spirituality and intellectual tradition with ethics, science, service, and advocacy, a distinctive Franciscan identity emerges. This work-in-progress will be shared through the AFCU webpage.

I perceived a growing awareness of the Franciscan identity among the participants. As my colleagues Br-Keith-Douglass-Warner OFMrecognized that the Franciscan tradition is not only possible but can be integrated naturally with the academic and student life of a college community, a positive and enthusiastic spirit emerged from within the group.

The workshop began with cloudy rains and ended with a blazing fire of passionate conviction that all creation is good; humankind is part of creation, and ecological literacy is critical for decision making.


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