Notes from the Road: The Franciscan School of Theology, Oceanside, CA

Submitted by Andy Carter, ATLA Digital Projects Manager

While in Los Angeles for the Code4Lib 2017 conference, I had the pleasure of riding an Amtrak train down the coast to visit the Franciscan School of Theology (FST), and ATLA Member Institution located in Oceanside, California. I was there to meet with their Library Director, Carl Adkins. FST is the only remaining Franciscan seminary/theology school in the United States.


History of FST

Briefly: “Franciscans have provided theological training in California since 1854.” FST came into existence in 1968, after the Mission Santa Barbara moved to Berkeley. In 2012, FST moved to the Old Mission San Luis Rey in Oceanside where it is currently affiliated with the University of San Diego. You can read more about their long history in California on their website.

Carl gave me a tour of the site, which combines several different buildings. The mission itself is a beautiful compound in the Spanish Colonial style. On the grounds are housing, library, and classrooms for the FST, a Mission Church from 1815, a “convento” which used to provide living quarters for friars and is now a museum, and a cemetery. You are never unaware of the history of this place, but it also feels quite comfortable under a bright, clear California sky. And it is active in its own way, with both the FST and museum drawing people for different but not unrelated reasons.

FSTThe Library

The library Carl directs is small but focused on the needs of its students. They have an impressive collection of books and pamphlets collected from South American missions that cover the 18th and 19th centuries. Carl has managed to build out a digitization program for FST with some assistance from the University of San Diego, a model of what can be accomplished with limited resources.

I am always thankful for the time that members give to educate me on the past, present, and future of their institutions. I even had the pleasure of a brief meeting with William Short, OFM and Professor of Spirituality, to discuss some of the holdings in their archives.

If you ever find yourself within an Amtrak ride of Oceanside, a visit to FST is recommended.

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