Jeffery M. Papia
Vice President for Mission Integration and Campus Ministry
Office of Mission Integration
Franciscan Hall, 202
5200 South Park Ave.
Hamburg, NY 14075
Franciscanism dates back to the 12th century in the tiny Italian village of Assisi from the work of one man: St. Francis of Assisi. He was more than a saint - he was a prisoner and soldier who possessed a magnanimity of spirit.
The son of a wealthy merchant, Francis’ prosperous, rebellious life changed one day with a chance meeting of a leper. Rather than shun this social outcast, as he and so many others had done in the past, Francis embraced him. This gesture led Francis to a life of service to God.
Soon after his conversion, Francis was praying before the crucifix at San Damiano when he heard Christ speak: "Francis, go and repair my house."
A man of action, Francis began repairing chapels, financing his work by selling family possessions. Disowned by his father and jeered by the masses, Francis remained focused on his mission. He soon realized that God was speaking not of physical buildings, but of the spiritual Church and souls of people.
Francis’ belief in preaching by living the gospel message attracted devoted followers whose lives were changed, eventually leading to the founding of the Franciscan Order.
Although Francis lived only to the age of 44, his message of a life of simplicity and the power of prayer has never faded. Today, St. Francis is a symbol of spiritual love, guidance and hope. His ideals of peace and healing live on at Hilbert.
Students witness these values and are challenged to appreciate issues and problems that go beyond their daily experiences. At Hilbert, they form their value system in an environment that stresses the importance of ethical behavior.
As responsible citizens, Hilbert graduates enter the next phase of their lives with a model for building meaningful relationships spiritually, personally and professionally. They take the lessons learned at Hilbert into the world by reflecting Franciscan values in their homes, neighborhoods and workplaces.
Prominent in St. Francis’ life was his relationship with God, whom he saw as almighty, all powerful, all good, and the Church to which he showed his loyalty. In other people, Francis saw the reflection of the person of Christ. He expressed genuine respect for all human beings, even the least. That love overflowed to all God’s creation, great and small.
The relationship and love which Francis professed and lived are the core of the spirit which permeates Hilbert and its people, giving rise to respect among everyone at the college. It also abounds in the caring attitude toward all in Hilbert and the surrounding communities.
We acknowledge our obligation to be our best, utilizing well our God-given talents. The Hilbert community influences students, alumni and benefactors to do the same in their lives, in their families, in their work, and in their communities. It is then that each will attain the peace and joy of which Jesus and St. Francis speak.
In 1897 she founded the Congregation of the Franciscan Sisters of St. Joseph and extended her influence in the ministry of education in elementary and secondary schools for generations.
It was in 1957 that the Franciscan Sisters founded Hilbert College where Mother Colette’s strong faith, concern for others and respect for the unique value of each person, still reflect her guiding principle - "in all things love."
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