Mission Statement Amplification
Catholic and Franciscan
The University of Saint Francis holds fast to the teachings and faith of the Roman Catholic Church and the virtues of the wisdom tradition inspired by St. Francis and St. Clare of Assisi.
The Catholic Intellectual Tradition is the 2000 year conversation between Faith and Reason which stresses the centrality and dignity of the human person in its search for God. In the words of Pope John Paul II, “Faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth.” (Fides et Ratio, prologue) In the Catholic tradition faith is not merely a supplement or afterthought to reason, still less its rival. Rather, faith and reason complement each other because “each contains the other.” The Catholic Intellectual Tradition holds the belief that humans can search for ultimate truth and that the guarantee of this is the Incarnation of Jesus into this world. It is the Christian view that our destination is beyond this world, that sin interferes with our search and that while on earth we are called to care for the poor and for creation. Ex Corde Ecclesiae, Pope John Paul II’s document concerning Catholic universities, lays out their four essential aspects:
- A Christian inspiration not only of individuals but of the university community as such;
- A continuing reflection in the light of the Catholic faith upon the growing treasury of human knowledge, to which it seeks to contribute by its own research;
- Fidelity to the Christian message as it comes to us through the church;
- An institutional commitment to the service of the people of God and of the human family in their pilgrimage to the transcendent goal which gives meaning to life. (#13)
The Franciscan Intellectual Tradition is embedded in Catholic tradition of faith and reason and bears the mark of Francis and Clare who could be called vernacular theologians (not formally trained), and early Franciscan scholars, primarily St. Bonaventure and Blessed John Duns Scotus. This tradition can be characterized by four fundamental ideas:
- God’s presence and universal accessibility in Christ – in creation, in the poor, in the non-event, in the non-believer;
- God as a community of persons, a Trinity, sharing life and goods – a model for fraternity, social peace, relationality, mission, and the exchange of goods between peoples
- God’s gratuity and liberality to be with us, even in our creaturely disfigured way – in Christ’s birth, life and passion, in each unique creature, in the great gift of the Church with its people and priests and theologians and sacraments and doctrine and teaching magisterium;
- God’s human way of exercising authority, creating order and “being with” – through example, humility, courtesy, respect and love-willing-to-suffer with the neighbor. (Joseph Chinnici, OFM in The Franciscan Intellectual Tradition, xiii)
From this tradition we have received the five Franciscan Values which we treasure and strive to observe.
Both the Catholic and Franciscan intellectual traditions are rooted in the Liberal Arts tradition. The Liberal Arts, encompassing the humanities and the natural and social sciences, convey specific content knowledge, but they also form a certain discipline of mind that promotes skilled judgment and intellectual insight. They are action-oriented, exciting in students habits of active engagement, exploring, and connecting knowledge across disciplines. When these thinking skills are combined with professional education in business, the health sciences, education, counseling, social work, or the creative arts, students at the University of Saint Francis are transformed into intentional learners and highly competent professionals oriented toward those they serve.
The Liberal Arts Tradition
The Liberal Arts, encompassing the humanities and the natural and social sciences, convey specific content knowledge, but they also form a certain discipline of mind that promotes critical thinking, ethical judgment, and intellectual acuity. They are action-oriented, exciting in students habits of active engagement, continuous questioning, exploring, and connecting knowledge across disciplines. When these thinking skills are combined with professional education, students at the University of Saint Francis are transformed into intentional learners and highly competent professionals.
The University of Saint Francis encourages acceptance of all cultures, individuals and religious traditions. Our community actively engages in personal reflection and dialogue about faiths, ethnicities and cultures. As an intellectually robust and supportive community, we are committed to fostering an environment of inclusion, mutual appreciation and equity. Our programs and activities align with Catholic Social Teaching as they seek to understand and celebrate diversity including, but not limited to, differences in ability, age, gender, language, nationality, race, religion and socioeconomic status.
Students, faculty, staff and administrators, each according to his or her role and capacity, actively participate in a community of scholars wherein each member continually develops his or her professional expertise in service to others. The university’s academic programs foster lifelong learning and provide a broad education in the liberal arts tradition. An ethic of respect, inclusion, study, continuous quality improvement, reflection, and dialogue is foundational to the University of Saint Francis as a community of learners.
Franciscan leadership fosters a shared moral purpose (mission, values and vision) through a service orientation that builds community within a network of interdependent relationships.
St. Francis employed mutuality, spiritual joy and renewal to maintain balance as a leader. Further, Catholic Social Teaching emphasizes that every community member has a responsibility to serve and foster the common good.
USF Franciscan leadership enriches the capacity, growth, and development of others while at the same time accomplishing the USF mission and vision. It is about being in relationship, being interdependent and connected with all humanity and creation. Franciscan leadership fosters relationships and networks that are mutually dependent on each other because of their care, support and respect. Spiritual joy is sought to strengthen leadership approaches, whether to soften difficulties or to celebrate achievements. Leaders need to regularly step away from active service to be renewed spiritually through prayer, contemplation, reflection and solitude, and simple fellowship. Franciscan Leadership is a value oriented approach to leadership that impacts the University and beyond. Change is created first within the individual and affects groups and communities, and can have a global impact.
Service at the University of Saint Francis is an embodiment of our foundational Catholic and Franciscan values. As Pope John Paul II stated, “Everyone has a vocation: parents, teachers, students, workers, professional people, people who are retired. Everyone has something to do for God.”
As a response to God’s call, students, faculty, staff and alumni use their vocational talents to serve, increase awareness and respond to community needs. Outreach efforts are focused on building knowledge, celebrating individual contributions and, as Catholic Social Teaching promotes, by compassionately addressing the needs of marginalized individuals so that all may live in a more just and peaceful world. USF employees exemplify a commitment to service thereby leading by example. Service experiences are incorporated into curricular and co-curricular programs through service-learning and activities such as projects and events, special service days and trips, and student-initiated volunteer efforts.