Recently I met with the principal of a local Catholic high school who is attempting to resurrect the Franciscan tradition upon which her school was originally built. Declining vocations meant that the school had to be staffed with lay people and administered by them too. There are members of the school’s governing board who would like to see a return to the school’s roots. There are few reminders of its rich Franciscan heritage nor of the Franciscan friars and nuns who once walked its corridors. But aren’t we all called to follow Christ and couldn’t we model this charism for faculty and students. Could this rebirth of the Franciscan Intellectual tradition be a model for others. Could the creation of an authentic community of teachers and learners modeled on the care of creation point and the celebration of the uniqueness of each individual mark the way forward? The following quotation taken from the Rule of the Secular Franciscan Order points the way.
“Together with all people of good will, are called to build a more fraternal and evangelical world so that the kingdom of God may be brought about more effectively. Mindful that anyone “who follows Christ, the perfect man, becomes more of a man himself,” let us exercise our responsibilities competently in the Christian spirit of service. Let us individually and collectively be in the forefront in promoting justice by the testimony of our human lives and our courageous initiatives. Especially in the field of public life, we should make definite choices in harmony with our faith. Let us esteem work both as a gift and as a sharing in the creation, redemption, and service of the human community.”
Aren’t all students and teachers whether in public or private education called to conversion where knowledge becomes more than mere learning and instead begins to animate the life of the students and the faculty? Franciscans celebrate life and creating a school where life in all its forms is celebrated and respected would provide a unique experience for the students. Imagine a school where care for all creation became a theme around which the school could unite.