Lourdes University is grounded in the values of its Franciscan heritage, courtesy of our founders and sponsors - The Sisters of St. Francis of Sylvania. In each edition of AtLourdes magazine, Sister Ann Carmen Barone, OSF, Vice President for Mission and Ministry, will share with us a glimpse of our Franciscan Family, its importance in history and relevance today.

"The Franciscan experience has always been about relationships," notes Sr. Ann Carmen. "In the Sacrum Commercium, or Sacred Exchange, Lady Poverty asks Francis where he and his brothers (friars or companions) live. He answers without hesitation that the world is their cloister, their home. That continues to be true for the nearly million women and men who belong to the Franciscan family.

"We're busy about following the Lord Jesus and trying to live in right relationships with God, with our sisters and brothers, and with all of creation. We find our way into peoples' lives matching our service to their needs. Educators, social workers, parish ministers, health care and social service professionals, artists, reformers, prison ministers, and religious educators. Franciscans wear these hats and many more.

"We believe in the power of one to make a difference but we are also aware of the strength we share working together for change. One such example is The Franciscan Action Network, begun in 2007, a new effort of the Franciscan family of the U.S. to bring the vision and hope of the Franciscan spiritual message to the process of social change. Our aim is to be agents of transformation, rebuilding the world through the inspiration of our common Franciscan experience.

"By walking with our brothers and sisters who are poor and marginalized, we intend to advocate for peace and to reaffirm the dignity of all creation. Lourdes — a community of learning, reverence and service — is already a vortex of that transformative energy."

In this first installment, we focus on the town of Assisi, Italy, during World War II. Today, Lourdes students, faculty and staff know Assisi as the town where Franciscanism was born and where thousands travel each year to participate in pilgrimages.

The book Three Heroes of Assisi in World War II, written by Franciscan Pilgrimage Leader Andre Cirino, OFM (lovingly known as "Father Andre" to many a Lourdes pilgrim), and Josef Raischl, SFO, shares how this tiny town had such a giant effect in mid-1940s Europe. To learn more about these events, visit The Righteous Among The Nations website.