Our Franciscan CommunitySts. Clare & Francis of Assisi

The Journey of St. Francis
Your association with Hilbert makes you a part of the Franciscan community.

Franciscanism dates back to the 12th century in the tiny Italian village of Assisi from the work of one man: St. Francis of Assisi. He was more than a saint - he was a prisoner and soldier who possessed a magnanimity of spirit.

The son of a wealthy merchant, Francis’ prosperous, rebellious life changed one day with a chance meeting of a leper. Rather than shun this social outcast, as he and so many others had done in the past, Francis embraced him. This gesture led Francis to a life of service to God.

Soon after his conversion, Francis was praying before the crucifix at San Damiano when he heard Christ speak: "Francis, go and repair my house."

A man of action, Francis began repairing chapels, financing his work by selling family possessions. Disowned by his father and jeered by the masses, Francis remained focused on his mission. He soon realized that God was speaking not of physical buildings, but of the spiritual Church and souls of people.

Francis’ belief in preaching by living the gospel message attracted devoted followers whose lives were changed, eventually leading to the founding of the Franciscan Order.

Although Francis lived only to the age of 44, his message of a life of simplicity and the power of prayer has never faded. Today, St. Francis is a symbol of spiritual love, guidance and hope. His ideals of peace and healing live on at Hilbert.

Taking Franciscanism Into the World
Hilbert provides an environment that promotes lifelong learning and discovery in a truly global society. Hilbert students and the community experience Franciscan values, particularly those of support, joy and compassion, throughout the campus.

Students witness these values and are challenged to appreciate issues and problems that go beyond their daily experiences. At Hilbert, they form their value system in an environment that stresses the importance of ethical behavior.

As responsible citizens, Hilbert graduates enter the next phase of their lives with a model for building meaningful relationships spiritually, personally and professionally. They take the lessons learned at Hilbert into the world by reflecting Franciscan values in their homes, neighborhoods and workplaces.

Peace and Joy
At Hilbert, when we think of St. Francis of Assisi, two words come to mind: relationship and love.

Prominent in St. Francis’ life was his relationship with God, whom he saw as almighty, all powerful, all good, and the Church to which he showed his loyalty. In other people, Francis saw the reflection of the person of Christ. He expressed genuine respect for all human beings, even the least. That love overflowed to all God’s creation, great and small.

The relationship and love which Francis professed and lived are the core of the spirit which permeates Hilbert and its people, giving rise to respect among everyone at the college. It also abounds in the caring attitude toward all in Hilbert and the surrounding communities.

We acknowledge our obligation to be our best, utilizing well our God-given talents. The Hilbert community influences students, alumni and benefactors to do the same in their lives, in their families, in their work, and in their communities. It is then that each will attain the peace and joy of which Jesus and St. Francis speak.

The Light of Clare
Clare was born into one of the richest noble families in Assisi. When Lady Ortulana was pregnant with Clare, she received a prophecy that her unborn child would be a great saint and bring light into a dark world.

Clare was known as a quiet, caring and optimistic young woman. As a child she was devoted to prayer and yearned for a more spiritual life. Drawn to Francis’ values, she succeeded in living his vision to the fullest.

Clare’s fervor and devotion to Francis’ ideals led to the founding of the Order of the Poor Clares (part of the Franciscan Order), and later to ensuring the continuation of the Order of Friars Minor following the death of Francis.

If you consider the analogy of music to words, Francis wrote the melody and Clare put words to his music. Together they composed a piece which is unforgettable and still listened to and sung today.

Hilbert’s Legacy
Trusting in God, Colette Hilbert, a remarkable and saintly woman, left her homeland and family at the age of 23 to respond to the needs of Polish immigrants in America.

In 1897 she founded the Congregation of the Franciscan Sisters of St. Joseph and extended her influence in the ministry of education in elementary and secondary schools for generations.

It was in 1957 that the Franciscan Sisters founded Hilbert College where Mother Colette’s strong faith, concern for others and respect for the unique value of each person, still reflect her guiding principle - "in all things love."

Canticle of the Sun
In his quote "Canticle of the Sun," St. Francis hailed the goodness of:

Brother Sun

Sister Moon and the Stars

Brothers Wind and Air

Brother Fire

Mother Earth

Sister Death

Franciscan Values
A Hilbert education in the Franciscan tradition is based on core values that guide and provide a framework for the college community to foster the Franciscan spirit of hope, understanding and peace. Based on these values, the opportunities for intellectual, social, cultural and spiritual growth encourage the Hilbert community to develop a respectful attitude toward learning, a reverence toward persons and things, and a desire to fashion their lives and communities for the better.

Committed to its Franciscan tradition, blue and white banners focusing on these core Franciscan values adorn the Hilbert campus quad. These values are:

  • Service
  • Respect
  • Compassion
  • Peace 
  • Hope
  • Joy
  • Integrity
  • Vision