Around the year 1224, St. Francis of Assisi gave permission to a young and learned Brother, St. Anthony of Padua, to teach theology to the Brothers “as long as such study did not extinguish the spirit of prayer and devotion.” In the century that followed, a “Franciscan School” of scholars developed a Christ-centered theology and philosophy based on the life and teachings of St. Francis. The outstanding Franciscan scholars of that period are St. Bonaventure and Blessed John Duns Scotus. They followed the intentions of St. Francis that learning be placed at the service of living as Christ did; in other words, the quest for knowledge was not to be an end in itself, but a quest to live more authentically within oneself and morally within the world community.
In the early nineteenth century, Franciscan Brothers in Ireland began schools for poor and ordinary people. Following that spirit, Brothers came to Brooklyn in 1858 to educate the large numbers of immigrants arriving in America.
Franciscan Education is based on love of the human person and on reverence for his or her God-given dignity. It sees each person as a gift from God and, therefore, as a beloved brother or sister. Knowledge can only be in the service of love. Franciscan Education embodies the following values:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.