FAQs Siena College Friary
What is the Franciscan link to education?
Franciscans have been involved in education for hundreds of years. A few years after the founding of the Order of Friars Minor, the friars began teaching at the University of Paris (1219), at Oxford University (1224), and at Cambridge University (1230). They quickly became popular teachers of the arts, sciences, and theology because of their knowledgeable scholarship and their practical and matter-of-fact style of teaching. This popularity was often the source of conflict with non-Franciscan faculty members who saw the friars taking away their students! There were even statutes in many universities that stated Deans of Theology could only be appointed from among the Franciscans. The popularity of Franciscans as educators spread throughout Europe and by the end of the 13th century there were Franciscans teaching in Germany, Spain, and Italy as well. The attraction of Franciscan education lay in its attempts to deal with the most challenging and existential questions of human existence in a grounded and practical way. For Franciscans, education was not pursued for knowledge's sake alone or to gain a profitable career alone. Knowledge for Franciscans is a gateway to understanding God and God's will in human life and destiny. The "more" that Franciscan education offers is the "more" of "faith," where faith is a means to understanding who we are and for what reason we have been created. At a Franciscan college or university, like Siena College, you will not leave ready to become a robot for good pay; rather you will leave with a perspective on life that is filled with a sense of hope of what can be possible in our world.
What is the difference between a priest and a brother?
First, all Franciscan friars are brothers. We are a community of men who join together to share a common life, a common mission, and a common destiny. We are drawn to this life by God and by a love for God that seeks expression in concrete ways. Second, the "work" of Franciscans is often called "ministry." Ministry is work given from the heart, not the result of any financial compensation or desire for recognition; this distinguishes it in some ways from "work" that is engaged in to make a living. Third, God calls some within the Franciscan community to what is known as ordained ministry. This is the ministry of priesthood. As a Franciscan priest a person has the ability to preside at and administer some of the sacraments in the Church, like the Eucharist, Reconciliation, and Anointing of the Sick. This ability to perform sacramental ministry is the most significant difference between a priest and a brother within the Franciscan Order. Above all, however, all Franciscans, whether priest or not, are brothers. So it is perfectly appropriate to refer to a Franciscan by the title "Brother."
How many friars live at Siena?
There are 22 friars in residence at the Friary. The Friary is the place where the friars live and is named for St. Bernardine of Siena, the patron saint of Siena College. It is located across from the Foy Center upper parking lot, adjacent to Siena Hall. Br. Brian Belanger is the Guardian of the Friary, and Fr. Capistran Hanlon is the Vicar. Br. Romuald Chinetsky is the Curator (or Head of the Plant) of the Friary. There are currently fifteen friars who minister at the College, including Fr. Kevin Mullen, Siena's President. Four friars (Fr. Peter Fiore, OFM, Fr. Reginald Reddy, OFM, Fr. John Van Hook, OFM, and Fr. Blaise Reinhart, OFM) have been honored with the designation of Professor Emeritus, meaning they have served the College with distinction and are now in retirement at the Friary, though some are still active in other ministries. Five friars who are in residence at the Friary minister at St. Francis Chapel in the Wolf Road Shoppers Park.
What is the Guardian's job?
The title Guardian is given to the person who is head of the Friary. Br. Brian Belanger is the current Guardian of St. Bernardine of Siena Friary at Siena College. His job is to look after the friars in residence at the Friary. He is the one the friars turn to whenever they need something, when they need an ear to listen, or when one has an idea for the community. He sets the tone for the house and, with the help of the Vicar of the Friary, decides on policies and the vision for a particular year. In addition the Guardian is in charge of the upkeep and administration of the Friary, and he acts as the principal liaison between the Franciscan Community and the College.
What does it mean to live as a friar?
To live as a friar means to live in a community of men bound by a common mission. This mission is to carry out the message of Jesus Christ as St. Francis of Assisi understood it. Friars do this through something called the Vows. These vows are public commitments that each Friar must personally make stating that he will live without finances (Poverty), unmarried (Chastity), and sacrificing his needs for the needs of others (Obedience). Friars share what resources they have or gain so that the whole community may be enriched and that they might enrich the lives of others. The vows are not intended to be burdens, but are embraced as a means of opening one's life to the goodness of God and God's grace in one's life. Francis always speaks of accepting the vows with joy. If they cannot be embraced as such, then they are not vows but chains. It is hope that the witness of a friar's life will free others from the imprisoning and often times demeaning tendencies of materialism and contemporary culture. In all things, a friar hopes to be a witness to all people of the power of God's love and presence in human life and history.
What buildings on the Siena campus are named after Franciscans?
Many of the buildings on this campus are named for Franciscans: