The following is a statement from the board of trustees of the Franciscan International Study Centre.
After forty-six years of existence, the Franciscan International Study Centre in Canterbury will close on June 30, 2017. Its Board of Trustees passed the following resolution on December 1, 2016:
The Franciscan International Study Centre in Canterbury shall cease functioning at the end of Trinity Term 2017, and begin the process of closure and the eventual alienation of the property.
The Trustees expressed their hope that the Franciscan ethos, with its intellectual and spiritual tradition, would find new ways of expression and growth throughout Great Britain and the English-speaking world.
Many of you are aware that the FISC has been struggling to survive for a number of years. Academic programmes were redesigned; external validation of programmes was discontinued; teaching and support staff were reduced in number; securing visas for students who needed them remained a challenge; the number of qualified friars from the ranks of the founding Orders to assume staff positions decreased; student enrolment has not been able to offset operational costs. This current year we have no students enrolled in the Franciscan Studies Certificate or the Training for Franciscan Formation Certificate. The Ecumenical Training Programme in Spiritual Direction continues to thrive, and we are hopeful that the Resident Training in Spiritual Direction programme to be offered in Trinity Term will succeed in attracting a sufficient number of students to allow the programme to run one last time.
During the Summer and Autumn several proposals were made by supporters of FISC to restructure the Centre. The Trustees expressed their gratitude for these initiatives. In the end, the Trustees judged that the adverse conditions of the past five years have put the FISC in an unrecoverable state.
Despite the sadness we feel today we cannot forget the innumerable blessings that the FISC represents. So many people have shared life experiences in our chapel, library, classrooms and refectory. So much learning has taken place as some spoke and others listened. So many good things have happened here. We want to celebrate these blessings, and planning has already begun. We are mindful and grateful for the forty-six years of the FISC’s existence.
Friar Thomas Reist OFM Conv