About Commission on the Franciscan Intellectual-Spiritual Tradition

Who we are, and why we do what we do.

Who We Are

The Commission on the Franciscan Intellectual-Spiritual Tradition (CFIT) was established in 2001 by the English-Speaking Conference of the Order of Friars Minor (OFM) to promote a contemporary retrieval of the distinctive theological and spiritual vision that animates the Franciscan movement.

That vision is rooted in the charism of Francis and Clare of Assisi who initiated a new Gospel way of life within the Church. It was developed in a more systematic manner by such academic theologians as Alexander of Hales, Bonaventure, Roger Bacon, Peter of John Olivi, John Duns Scotus, and William of Ockham, as well as by vernacular theologians such as Angela of Foligno and Veronica Giuliani. Unfortunately, in more recent centuries, the voices of such thinkers have seldom been heard so that the Franciscan tradition has been often relegated to a “minority voice” within the Church.

CFIT is convinced that our Franciscan tradition has a powerful “word” to speak to people today, one that responds to deeply-felt needs in our Church and our world. As Joseph Chinnici, OFM, stated in a report to the English-Speaking Conference of the Franciscan Order back in 2001:

"When our intellectual tradition, with its view of God’s overflowing goodness, its Christocentric emphasis, its moral decision-making process, its view of a Spirit-filled yet sinful Church, its understanding of property and community, and its valuation of freedom and perfect dignity, is presented to people, it almost always meets with an enthusiastic reception. But do we really know this tradition? Are our resources mobilized so as to protect and update it?"

CFIT was founded in response to the questions he posed. Our mission is to retrieve, preserve and articulate that tradition in a language that is understandable to contemporary men and women and addresses the issues of our day.

Brother Ed
Brother Ed

What We Do

Over the past decade, CFIT has accomplished a number of its initiatives to preserve the Franciscan tradition.  
  • Identify the central themes and emphases of the Franciscan Intellectual Tradition. This led us to create a Franciscan Heritage Series, designed to break open those basic themes for non-specialists. So far ten volumes in this series have appeared.
  • For men and women with a more theological background, the Commission also decided to publish the Washington Theological Union Symposium Papers. Beginning in 2001, ten symposia were hosted by the WTU, bringing the insights of Franciscan theology to bear on such contemporary issues as ecclesiology, economics, evangelization, and ecology.
  • A third series of CFIT publications, the Custodians of the Tradition, provide four-page syntheses of important articles by noted scholars on key elements of the Franciscan tradition; these are designed for use in the classroom or in adult education groups
  • CFIT has also cooperated with the Franciscan Institute of St. Bonaventure University in hosting several study groups for scholars who want to work together to share their research and deepen their insights on a specific aspect of the Franciscan tradition. The result of one of these “think tanks” is the important volume on The Franciscan Moral Vision: Responding to God’s Love, edited by Thomas Nairn, OFM.
  • Many informative presentations have been given over the years by Franciscan scholars, some of which are virtual “classics” in the field. Another initiative, Retrieving the Tradition, makes these presentations accessible to a larger audience by reformatting them in DVDs. Talks are broken down into smaller segments to facilitate their use and are accompanied by study guides.
  • The creation of this website – The Franciscan Intellectual Tradition - to serve as an entry portal for people engaged in Franciscan studies or interested in learning more about our tradition.
  • Making the foundational documents of our tradition – the writings of Francis and Clare of Assisi, as well as their early biographies - instantly accessible world-wide. CFIT is currently uploading all of the early Franciscan sources to our website: both the original Latin texts as well as their English translation found in the three volume series, Francis of Assisi: Early Documents (FA:ED), edited by Regis Armstrong, OFM Cap., Wayne Hellmann, OFM Conv., and William J Short, OFM, published between 1999-2001 and in Clare of Assisi: Early Documents (CA:ED), edited by Regis Armstrong, OFM Cap., and published in 2006.

To complement this website, CFIT has also launched Facebook and Twitter pages, where we post reflections on major Franciscan liturgical celebrations and events and keeps followers abreast of new developments in Franciscan studies.

Commission Members

  • Joseph Chinnici, OFM (Franciscan School of Theology)
  • F. Edward Coughlin, OFM (Siena College) Died July 30, 2019. May he rest in peace.
  • David Couturier, OFM Cap. (Franciscan Institute, St. Bonaventure University)
  • Johannes B. Freyer, OFM (Missionzentrale, Bonn)
  • Debra Haug (Association of Franciscan Colleges and Universities)
  • J.A. Wayne Hellmann, OFM Conv. (St. Louis University)
  • Mary Beth Ingham, CSJ (Franciscan School of Theology)
  • Timothy J. Johnson (Flagler College)
  • Michelle L'Allier, OSF (Administrator) 
  • Daniel T. Michaels (CTO, National Institute for Newman Studies)
  • Dominic V. Monti, OFM (St. Bonaventure University, Chair)
  • Kevin J. Mullen, OFM (Liaison with the OFM English-Speaking Conference)
  • Darleen Pryds (Franciscan School of Theology)
  • William Short, OFM (Collegio S. Bonaventura, Rome)
  • Keith Douglass Warner,  OFM (Santa Clara University)
  • Kathleen Warren, OSF (Franciscan Federation)
  • Marie Kolbe Zamora, O.S.F. (Silver Lake College)


CFIT has outlined following priorities for its current initiatives:
  • Continue to communicate the value of the Franciscan intellectual tradition  by publishing new volumes in our Franciscan Heritage and Custodian series, but especially through increased development of this website as a portal for all interested in learning more about the Franciscan tradition.  The mission is to better serve those Franciscan men and women who are engaged in the work of formation, both initial and ongoing, within the Franciscan family.
  • Building stronger links among the various Franciscan study centers, as well as with the Association of Franciscan Colleges and Universities, by forming partnerships for collaborative scholarship and promoting the teaching of the Franciscan intellectual tradition.
  • Supporting men and women who are engaged in studying the Franciscan tradition, especially through hosting conferences where these scholars can share their research and gain new insight into the meaning of that tradition.
© 2017 Commission on the Franciscan Intellectual Tradition. All Rights Reserved.