Neumann Institute for Franciscan Studies

About Us

Neumann University identifies itself as a Catholic University in the Franciscan tradition and takes seriously a commitment to what it calls “the Franciscan point of difference.” In August 1998, the college established the Neumann Institute for Franciscan Studies (NIFS) to advance the Catholic and Franciscan intellectual tradition. The Institute, in collaboration with the Vice President for Mission and the Campus Ministers, serves the scholarly and spiritual needs of the entire college community, with a special focus on faculty support. In 2000, the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia endowed the Institute to ensure continuous quality staffing and programming. Since its founding, the Institute has undertaken many activities to help the University community understand, own, and integrate the Catholic and Franciscan mission of the college.


Neumann Institute for Franciscan Studies


The logo of the Neumann Institute for Franciscan Studies speaks simply of the love Francis and Clare had for the poor crucified Christ. The San Damiano Cross symbolizes the central theme. This Cross was hanging in the abandoned San Damiano Chapel outside Assisi when Francis went there to pray in 1206.


During a time of intense prayer, Francis heard the words: “Francis, go and repair my house which as you see is falling into ruin.” Later, St. Clare and her companions lived in a monastery attached to the Church of San Damiano. Today, the original San Damiano Cross hangs in the Basilica of St. Clare in Assisi.


On either side of the cross are the medieval letters "F" and "C." The cross connects the lives of Francis and Clare illustrating their faithful response to following in the footprints of the poor crucified Christ.


Major activities include the following:


  • Sponsorship of lectures by recognized scholars. Past speakers have included:

    • Zachary Hayes, OFM (August 26, 1998)

    • Ingrid Peterson, OSF (October 5, 1999)

    • Michael Blastic, OFM (October 4, 2000)

    • Margaret Carney, OSF (October 1, 2001)

    • Thomas Bourque, TOR (September 30, 2002)

    • Joseph Nangle, OFM (August 25, 2004)

    • Charles Finnegan, OFM (December 1, 2005)

    • Kathy Warren, OSF (February 27-28, 2006)

    • Mary Beth Ingham, CSJ (August 21, 2007)

    • Michael Calabria, OFM (September 5, 2008)

    • Mary Beth Ingham, CSJ (August 26, 2009)

    • Mary Beth Ingham, CSJ (October 5, 2009)

    • Pam Wood (October 26-27, 2009)

    • Darleen Pryds (October 25, 2010)

    • Diane Tomkinson, OSF (April 11, 2011)

    • F. Edward Coughlin OFM (August 24, 2011)

    • Rev. Anthony Ciorra (December 8, 2011)

    • Timothy Johnson, Ph.D. (January 10, 2012 in collaboration with Office of Academic Affairs)

    • Claire D'Auria, OSF (December 3, 2014)

    • Daniel Horan, OFM (October 17, 2015)

    • Ilia Delio (November 21, 2015)


  • Full days and half-days Days of Reflection (annually since 2008-2009) related to the mission theme for the year.


  • Artistic, musical, and literary presentations featuring guest speakers, including:

    • Andrea Likovich, OSF in 2002

    • Linda Vonderschmidt-LaStella on September 30, 2003

    • Leonardo Defillipis on October 27, 2005

    • Murray Bodo, OFM on October 22, 2007 and May 4, 2012

    • Melinda Parsons, Ph.D. on February 22, 2010 and April 16, 2011

    • Philadelphia Art Museum lecture and tours on October 29, 2004 and December 10, 2010

    • Brother Michael McGrath, OSFS (November 13, 2012 and February 27, 2013)


  • Lectures featuring Neumann University presenters, including:

  • Dr. John Mizzoni on October 28, 2003

  • Dr. Maria Traub on November 6, 2003

  • Dr. Connie Korteland on February 16, 2005 and April 6, 2011

  • Professor Ron Chance on March 23, 2005

  • Dr. John Kruse on November 28, 2006, December 1, 2008, March 16, 2009, and March 20, 2012

  • Dr. Eileen Flanagan on March 1, 2007, March 16, 2009, and February 15 and 27, 2012

  • Dr. Mac Given on March 29, 2007

  • Dr. Janet Massey, Dr. Mac Given, and Leon Francis on March 19, 2007

  • Dr. James Houck on March 9, 2010

  • Dr. Richard Sayers on October 6, 2010

  • Dr. Kathleen Conn on March 21, 2011

  • Marina Espiritu Lutz on March 29, 2011

  • Rev. Philip Lowe on September 25, 2012

  • Sr. Pat Smith on October 18, 2012

  • Dr. Robert McMonagle and Dr. Geoffrey Karabin on October 22, 2012

  • Dr. John Kruse and Dr. Len DiPaul on April 10, 2013

  • Elaine Gross on September 6, 2013

  • Sr. Suzanne Mayer, IHM October 21, November 20, 2013, January 9, March 24, 2014

  • Melissa Hickey October 30, December 15, 2013, February 28, April 23, 2014

  • Dr. Mac Given on April 23, 2014

  • Elaine Gross on October 2, 2014

  • Sr. Suzanne Mayer, IHM on March 30, 2015

  • Dr. John Kruse on November 19, 2015

  • Dr. Len DiPaul on December 2, 2015

  • Sr. Diane Tomkinson, OSF on January 6, 2016

  • Dr. Mac Given on February 19, 2016


  • Book discussions on the following:

    • A Franciscan View of Creation: Learning to Live in a Sacramental World, Ilia Delio, OSF, Lent 2004

    •  Francis of Assisi: Performing the Gospel Life, Lawrence S. Cunningham, Lent 2006

    • Care for Creation[A Franciscan Spirituality of the Earth] Keith Warner, Ilia Delio, and Pam Wood, Lent 2009

    • Rejoicing in the Works of the Lord: Beauty in the Franciscan Tradition, Mary Beth Ingham CSJ, Fall 2009

    • Caritas in Veritate, Pope Benedict XVI, Lent 2010

    • Women of the Streets: Early Franciscan Women and Their Mendicant Vocation, Darleen Pryds, Fall 2010 through Spring 2011.

    • Christian Simplicity: A Gospel Value (Lent 2011)

    • Sustainability and Catholic Higher Education (Lent 2012 and 2013)


  • Publication of newsletters highlighting the activities of the NIFS and sharing local and national efforts to promote understanding of the Franciscan tradition

  • Co-sponsorship (with the University Library) of the Frances and Wesley Bock Book Award for Children’s Literature

  • Collaboration with the Office of Experiential Education to promote academic Service-Learning in light of the Catholic and Franciscan Tradition

  • Collaboration with Franciscan Action Network to promote advocacy issues related to care for creation, peacemaking, poverty, and human rights

  • Collaboration with Franciscan Spiritual Center to make relevant programs available to faculty and students

  • Collaboration with the Care of Creation Council to promote respect for the environment through support of educational programs, lectures, and other initiatives

  • Collaboration to ensure that the Catholic and Franciscan tradition and values are integrated appropriately into the academic program.

  • Development and implementation of Mentoring for Mission Program for new faculty members (initiated in 2007)


In addition, the Institute Director


  • Contributes to the orientation and on-going development of faculty with respect to the University’s Catholic Franciscan identity and mission

  • Provides in-service programs to the various academic divisions within the university; consults individually with faculty members; and speaks with classes in order to integrate the Catholic and Franciscan tradition into course work  

  • Assists students with research projects to ensure integration of Catholic Social Teaching and the Franciscan worldview

  • Participates in the review of hiring and evaluation policies to ensure integration of the Catholic Franciscan mission

  • Assists with the selection and preparation of faculty, staff, and students for the AFCU annual pilgrimages to Assisi

  • Prepares and/or procures and disseminates resources related to the Catholic and Franciscan intellectual tradition

  • Encourages and financially supports attendance at regional and national events on Catholic Social Teaching, the Catholic Intellectual Tradition, and the Franciscan Intellectual Tradition. 

An advisory group supports the work of the Institute, helps to develop and implement a comprehensive strategic plan, and plays a key role in developing activities which support the annual university-wide theme. The Neumann Institute for Franciscan Studies Committee supports and advises the Director of the NIFS by planning, developing, and promoting activities which advance the Catholic Franciscan intellectual tradition and University identity.

The work of the Neumann Institute is guided by a strategic plan which is updated regularly. An Annual Report is published yearly. The strategic plan and the Annual Report are available through the NIFS Office.

One Neumann Drive Aston, PA 19014-1298 Phone: 610-459-0905 or 800.9.NEUMANN

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