The Franciscan School of Theology brings together three important words: Mission, Franciscan, and California. The Franciscans have provided theological training in California since the beginning of the state’s history and have worked with California’s diverse population since then.
In 1854 Mission Santa Barbara was chartered as an apostolic college and continued in that capacity until 1885. From 1869 to 1877, it also functioned as a college for lay men. In 1896, it began a four-year high school seminary program. The high school became a separate institution in 1901, and the college department became a separate institution at San Luis Rey, California, in 1929. Over the course of the years, the college department expanded into a four-year accredited liberal arts college.
Mission Santa Barbara remained the center for theological studies and continued to operate as a seminary until 1968 when the theological school moved to Berkeley, California as the Franciscan School of Theology, a member school of the Graduate Theological Union.
As our history indicates, once we were a seminary preparing men for service as priests; now we are a seminary and a theology school preparing lay women and men, religious and clergy for shared ministry in the Roman Catholic Church. Once we were one of a number of Franciscan seminaries in the United States; now we are the only Franciscan seminary/theology school whose mission it is to prepare professional ministers for the Church.
From its earliest history, the Franciscan School of Theology has responded to the changing cultural, social, and religious realities of California and the West. Today, FST’s Berkeley location puts it in the center of one of the most culturally diverse and intellectually stimulating areas in the United States. Like the students who journey with us in their preparation for ministry, the history of the Franciscan School of Theology is a story in process.
Guided and governed in its educational mission, community life, and degree programs by the Order of Friars Minor, Ratio Studiorum, “In notitia veritatis proficere” (Rome, GSFS, 2001), the Franciscan School continues to bring the questions of contemporary culture, society, and Church into dialogue with the ever-ancient and ever-new Word of the Gospel.