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Flagler attends conference at Franciscan Institute honoring famous theologian

Jul 19, 2017

Two Flagler College professors, four alumni and two current students recently attended a symposium commemorating the 800th anniversary celebration of the 13th-century Franciscan leader Saint Bonaventure. The conference, held at The Franciscan Institute at St. Bonaventure University in New York in mid-July, was dedicated to the cultural and religious dynamics that shaped the scholar’s theology and spirituality.

Professor of Religion Dr. Timothy Johnson and alumna Katherine Wrisley-Shelby, now a doctoral candidate at Boston College, worked closely together with other colleagues for several years to assure the success of this year’s event. Approximately 100 scholars were present from Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, North America and South America.

“I knew this 2017 gathering was going to be significant but I didn’t realize how moving it would be for me on the personal level,” said Johnson.

At the official opening of the conference, Johnson was able to present his own undergraduate mentor, Dr. J.A. Wayne Hellmann from Saint Louis University, a commemorative collection of essays in honor of Hellmann’s distinguished career of mentorship, publications, research and teaching. Johnson’s new co-edited book is titled “Ordo et Sanctitas: The Franciscan Spiritual Journey in Theology and Hagiography.”

Also representing Flagler were Dr. Helmut Flachenecker, a former visiting professor from the University of Wurzburg in Germany; alumni Robert Sims, Dr. Nicholas Youmans and Luke Zerra; and current students Carie Levy and Zachary Moore.

Flagler’s presence was clearly evident at the conference: Johnson, Flachenecker, Wrisley-Shelby, Zerra, Youmans and Moore all delivered papers. Johnson said he attended every presentation by Flagler alumni.

“It was exciting to see all these former students, whom I had in class at one time or another, present public-professional papers to an international audience,” he said. “All the papers were well-received and spurred spirited discussions.”

Johnson added that Moore was the only undergraduate who presented a paper at the gathering.

“His efforts to link his ministry with the disabled together with the Franciscan tradition of care for others impressed all those in attendance, including the President Emerita of Saint Bonaventure University, Sister Margaret Carney,” he said.

The titles of the Flagler presentations are listed below:

Helmut Flachenecker, “Martha or Mary? A Comparison of a Model
of Life in St. Bonaventure with other Medieval authors”

Timothy J. Johnson, “‘We are Beggars; this is True’: Bonaventure and Luther on Prayer and Theology”

Zachary Moore, “Bonaventure and the Disabled as ‘Other’”

Katherine Wrisley Shelby, “The Vir Hierarchicus and the Goal of Theology According to St. Bonaventure”

Nicholas Youmans, “‘Boni, May I?’: Unraveling the Layers of Minorite Obedience under Bonaventure”

Luke Zerra, “Beauty in Lowliness: Bonaventure and Luther on Christ’s Beauty and the Life of Virtue”

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