Expanding the House of Formation in San Antonio
By Friar Tim Unser OFM Conv.
Here in San Antonio, Texas, our friary is getting smaller. The building isn’t shrinking, of course, but the number of student friars living here is growing larger. Young friars from around the world are living here together, growing in their commitment to Conventual Franciscan life while completing the studies that will lead to priesthood or other ministries. Currently, we have friars from Mexico, South Korea, Haiti, Bahamas, Vietnam, Cameroon, and from across the United States.
Now other Provinces around the world are serious about wanting to send their students here. There is continuing globalization of the Franciscan Order, with the growing cooperation of the provinces around the world. We now have to meet the responsibilities that come from this movement. A movement to bring together students who will learn from one another and then work together in the future.
Our friary in San Antonio is becoming the environment for that to happen. We currently crowd 14 friars into our existing structure. But we are beginning a renovation and expansion project that will allow us to house a total of 30 friars while providing larger spaces for both studies and recreation. Following the lead of Pope Francis, The Oblate School of Theology, where our students attend, has opened its doors to a more profound pastoral theology. The Holy Father urges us to look at people pastorally to focus on their needs. The Oblate School of Theology is establishing that mentality in its course offerings.
Just as the Church is moving in a global direction, our Franciscan formation is moving that way also. We are aware of the various cultures our students come from, and we pay attention to the gifts they bring. Every day in our friary, this intercultural exchange is experienced, worked out, and lived.
In addition to having students from around the world, our next step is to welcome friars from other cultures into our formation team. Not only will this enable us to meet the needs of the international students, but it will also give our U.S. students a stronger sense of the global reach of the Franciscan Order.
Of course, this will take a more significant investment from our Province. While these international provinces are rich in vocations and the gifts of the Holy Spirit, they can’t fully finance the education of all their Friars.
We have taken on the challenge of providing the funding they need for formation and education and a facility where that can happen. We ask you to continue your prayerful support as we move forward. May God bless you for your generosity!