Faculty of Theology of St. Bonaventure Turns 100

Interview With Father Kijas, Dean

ROME, MARCH 23, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Among the specialized programs offered by the Faculty of Theology of St. Bonaventure is one aimed at peace building.

So notes Conventual Franciscan Father Zdzislaw Kijas, who was recently elected dean of the faculty.

Father Kijas, who comes from the Pontifical Faculty of Theology of Krakow, has taught courses in Switzerland, Germany, Romania, Russia and Brazil. A member of the Polish bishops’ Commission for Ecumenical Dialogue with the Orthodox Churches, he has taken part in numerous international ecumenical congresses.

Q: The faculty has celebrated the centenary of its resumption of academic activities, but, in fact, isn’t it true that St. Bonaventure’s College has a centuries-long tradition?

Father Kijas: St. Bonaventure’s College is rooted in 800 years of Franciscan academic tradition, initiated in the Paris General Stadium in 1236, in the Roman Basilica of the Twelve Holy Apostles by Pope Sixtus V.

Later, in the 19th century, it was moved to St. Theodore, only to be suppressed afterward, in the suppression of religious congregations carried out by the Kingdom of Italy in 1873.

In 1905, academic activities were resumed with the institution of the Faculty of Theology of St. Bonaventure — the “Seraphicum” — by Pius X.

In 1964, the order decided to move the faculty to the great EUR neighborhood of Rome, where today it continues to carry out its activity. An intellectual center of the Order of Brothers Minor Conventual, in addition to the bachelor’s degree, it confers a licentiate and doctorate in Christology and in Franciscan studies, with a historical and spiritual line.

Q: What are the other study activities, in addition to the theological?

Father Kijas: Along with the specializations, we have a master’s in “Peace Building Management” for the laity, in collaboration with the Community of Sant’Egidio and the Europa 2010 association.

The building of peace in the areas of crisis in the world entails directly or indirectly several professions, such as agents of the armed forces, volunteers, medical and paramedical personnel, educators, and civilians with labor activities and relations, including of a private nature.

There are other academies in the faculty that focus their studies on Mariology and patristics, both Greek as well as Latin. And, together with the faculty, another independent master’s is conferred in graphology, founded in 1984, thanks to the Franciscan school of graphology, initiated by Father Girolamo Moretti, the first in Italy to train highly professional graphologists.

Q: On March 11, the faculty celebrated the 100th anniversary of the resumption of academic activities. How did you prepare for this event and what expectations do you have for the near future?

Father Kijas: The festivity in the faculty, which celebrated the attribution to St. Bonaventure of the title Seraphic Doctor, was the motive to commemorate those who served the faculty in the past, and the personalities who have been formed in it, such as Lorenzo Ganganelli, later Pope Clement XIV, many cardinals and scientists, and, among the latter, St. Maximilian Kolbe and the Servant of God Leone Veuthey.

The celebration gave us the opportunity to review the joys and difficulties of the present, with a view to a near future of collaboration with other Franciscan families and other institutes of the order disseminated in Rome and the world.

Topics were debated regarding the Bologna Process [of education ministers to establish a European area of higher education]; the structure of the faculty; and — thanks to the interventions of Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education, and of Massimo Borghesi, professor of ethics of the Faculty of Moral Philosophy of the University of Perugia — new sap has been utilized to respond to the challenges of the present time, of interculturalism and secularization, which makes increasingly necessary authentic theologians who are witnesses of what they teach.

Finally, attention has been given to the growth of the Franciscan order, increasingly present in Asia, Latin America and Africa.

Q: You have recently been appointed — by Cardinal Camillo Ruini, vicar for the Rome Diocese — theologian for the process of canonization of Pope John Paul II. In what does your work consist?

Father Kijas: The work that has been entrusted to me, in the Commission of Theologians, consists in reading critically all of the writings that Karol Wojtyla wrote before his pontificate and all the Pope’s “personal” writings, written since his appointment until his death — a work of full responsibility that calls for great dedication. Those who know John Paul II know how numerous his writings are.

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