Saint Francis of Assisi: His Impact, Then and Now

An Online Spiritual Formation Elective



Sept. 9, 16, 23, 30, Oct. 7, 2021, 2:00-5:00 p.m. ET (synchronous meetings)


Francis of Assisi (1181-1226) was not a Church Reformer, but he was a reformer of the Church. He held no high ecclesial office, but Church leaders of his day and ours alike continue to draw inspiration from his message. He wrote no sagacious theological treatises, but theologians down through the centuries have claimed to write in his spirit. He was not self-assuming, but the current pope chose to assume his name, and entitles some of his encyclicals from Francis's writings. Francis lived more than 800 years ago. Was he ahead of his time? He certainly seems to still be ahead of ours. Who was Francis of Assisi, what did he set into motion, and what does his message still call us to address today?


Fr. Bernie Tickerhoof is a friar of the Third Order Regular of St. Francis. He is currently the director of ongoing formation for his religious community, and is a member of Franciscan Pathways, the community’s retreat ministry. Fr. Bernie received his master of divinity from St. Francis Seminary, formerly in Loretto, Pa., in 1978, and a master of theology in spirituality and liturgy through the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley, Calif. (now part of Santa Clara University) in 1979. He received a doctor of ministry at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary in 2001. Fr. Bernie has also pursued graduate studies at the Franciscan Institute at St. Bonaventure University and at the Catholic University of America.

Fr. Bernie was ordained in 1978, and has been involved in spiritual ministry and retreat work since 1979. He is a founding member of the Vineyard Guild, an ecumenical organization dedicated to promoting spiritual leadership. He is also a member of Spiritual Directors International and has an active ministry in the spiritual direction of a number of individuals. Other interests include storytelling, social justice, ecumenism and inter-faith, and ecological concerns. He is the author of several books and articles on the spiritual life.


If you are taking this class for personal enrichment, you are encouraged to read the books, but it is not a requirement for participation. For those enrolled in the Spiritual Formation Certificate Program, please read the required books (listed below) prior to your arrival. A one-paragraph statement on a point from each book that connected with you will be due by the first meeting.

Required Reading

  • Armstrong, Regis and Ignatius Brady, Eds. & Trans. Francis and Clare: The Complete Works. New York: Paulist Press, 1982.
  • Robson, Michael. St. Francis of Assisi: The Legend and the Life. London, New York: Cassell, 1997. [Paperback edition]
  • Warren, Kathleen. Daring to Cross the Threshold: Francis of Assisi Encounters Sultan Malek Al-Kamil. Eugene, Oregon: Wipf and Stock, 2003.


A schedule of times when the class will meet synchronously (all at the same time) are listed above. Registrants should plan to commit these hours for class work and guard against interruptions. Portions of each session will be (1) online, face-to-face presentation; (2) dedicated individual reflection work; and (3) open discussion forums with the instructor. Other content may be made available for download or viewing at the student's convenience. 




Registration fee: $275 


E-mail or call 412-924-1345.

online spiritual formation class St Francis of Assisi