friars at tables

Lively discussion during the conference at St. Bonaventure University.

On July 14-15, Carl Langenderfer and I attended a conference at St. Bonaventure University on the early Rule of 1221, the Regula non Bullata. Titled “Celebrate our Gospel Life,” this event was originally planned for the summer of 2021, which would have been the actual 800th anniversary of the Chapter approval of this first Rule. Pandemic restrictions pushed the conference to this summer.

On Oct. 4, 2020, the Ministers General of the three major branches of the Order published a letter in advance of the anniversary, Titled “To Live and Follow” (Live-and-Follow), this letter inspired Dominic Monti, OFM, David Couturier, OFM Cap, and Wayne Hellman, OFM Conv, to organize this conference.

It was intended not to be a forum for medieval scholars, but rather a fresh presentation of the early Rule as a source of guidance and renewal for the friars. Besides presentations by the three organizing friars, there were talks by Jay Hammond, a scholar of Franciscan studies who teaches at St. Louis University, and a keynote address by retired Bishop John Corriveau, OFM Cap.

In between these talks were multiple sessions by younger friars, Tommy Piolata, OFM Cap, Mario Serrano OFM Conv, Ben Johnson, OFM Cap, and Ryan Thornton, OFM, Jeffrey Jordan, OFM, and Paul Schloemer, OFM Conv, Their presentations explored the different ways that the Rule speaks to those seeking a renewed Franciscan life. Their talks were lively and stimulating.

Carl and I enjoyed making 55 plus new acquaintances and also renewing other friendships that we had experienced many years ago when we attended summer sessions at the Franciscan Institute in our younger years as formation directors. The nightly social events were lively, with friars from the three families enjoying what we share and what makes us different from each other. A special treat for me was getting to know my classmate Al Hirt’s nephew, who is a Capuchin in the Detroit province.