By Brother Gregory Cellini, O.S.F. & Alexandria M. Egler, Ph.D.
College is no longer a luxury for the privileged but rather a necessity for economic opportunity. Higher education is the key to success for one’s future career, and, as a result, there are additional demands placed on students when it comes to pursuing a degree.
Students want to ensure that they will be competitive candidates in the workplace as they invest in their futures. We believe that the foundation of the Catholic Franciscan Intellectual Tradition serves as an advantage for graduates seeking opportunities. The Franciscan Tradition holds a view of the world that reflects God’s extravagant love and abundant goodness, the dignity of the human person, peace and justice, and responsible stewardship. This distinctive approach to life characterizes and shapes all manners in which Franciscans learn, study, pray, work, and relate in the world. It is this Franciscan lens through which we navigate our environment and our relationships both in the workplace and in our personal lives.
What does it mean to approach a career through a Franciscan lens? The popular belief is that “Franciscan” and “Career Goals” are in tension with one another. We understand that being Franciscan is all about serving the other through simplicity, collaboration, vulnerability, and hospitality. Pursuing a career is often viewed as amassing power, money, titles, prestige. These are two paths that do not appear to intersect, yet pursuing a career through a Franciscan perspective offers the opportunity for personal and professional success and satisfaction.
As a Franciscan Brother of Brooklyn for over a decade who works in the Career Center at St. Francis College for the past nine years, Bro. Greg Cellini, O.S.F., has come to realize that being a Franciscan and pursuing a career are very much linked. Before becoming a Franciscan Brother, he worked for 30 years in the pharmaceutical industry and spent a great deal of time trying to understand why he felt he did not have the professional satisfaction and gratification he was seeking. He believed that his countless working hours should result in rapid movement up the corporate ladder.
In retrospect, Bro. Greg believes that he had it all wrong. Upward mobility should not have been his focus. He should have focused on living his core values in the workplace and utilizing his strengths of positivity and empathy to maximize his contribution. Since becoming a Brother, he has experienced a significant change in perspective on how to have a meaningful career as a Franciscan.
Career success requires not only intellect and skills but also heart. At St. Francis College, it is this heart-centered approach to education that informs and transforms the experience of our students towards living and working as Franciscans. This means that SFC inspires students to seek joy and cultivate a core foundation of striving for justice in the workplace and the world. The Franciscan approach to career success is about helping every student to make a productive contribution to society. The focus shifts from our conditioned way of thinking about looking out for ourselves as individuals to that of a desire to make the world a better place.
The Franciscan approach of preparing students for their careers includes encouraging students to witness, consider, contemplate, and act with compassion towards others. The examples of the lives of the saints and the values they strove to integrate into their lives and share with others are not necessarily aspirations for Catholics alone but rather guidelines for all of us to consider as a way to create a life that is deeply fulfilling, meaningful and purpose-driven.
Bro. Greg is a Franciscan Brother of Brooklyn. He is the Franciscan Advisor in the Career Center of St. Francis College as well as an Adjunct Professor in the Management and Information Technology Department.
Dr. Egler is the Executive Director of Mission, Ministry & Interfaith Dialogue at St. Francis College. She is an Adjunct Professor of Religious Studies at the College and an Adjunct Professor in the Graduate School of Religion & Religious Education at Fordham University in The Bronx.