An Introduction – Friar Ed Ondrako, OFM Conv.

Rebuild My Church” by Friar Ed Ondrako, OFM Conv.: August 2nd, the Feast of Our Lady of the Angels of Portiuncula, was the publication date for Ed’s newest book which features two detailed chapters each on the life of the late Fr. Peter Damian Fehlner, OFM Conv.; on Bonaventure; on Duns Scotus; on Newman, and on Fr. Peter’s theological vision and why it matters.

The following introduction was presented on October 21st,
at the Hammes Notre Dame Book Store – Book Talk and Signing.


My name is Cyril O’Regan, Huisking Professor of Theology, here at the University of Notre Dame. It is my pleasure to introduce Fr. Edward Ondrako, who will shortly have the stage to himself, and to say a few words about his new book, which Fr. Ondrako will speak to more fully.
Rebuild my Church is the reworking and expansion of a dissertation that Fr. Ed. Ondrako completed under my supervision at Notre Dame. Intentionally, it constitutes a homage to his teacher and mentor Fr. Peter Fehlner, or Fr. Peter Damian Mary Fehlner, which probably captures just about all the aspects of Fehlner’s writing and teaching on the Church, its substance, office, and mission. In particular, Rebuild my Church wishes on the basis of a diagnosis of the erosion, drift, and assimilation of the Church in and into a secular modernity, to propose with and after Fehlner the retrieval of the Franciscan School whose lynchpins in the medieval period are Bonaventure and Duns Scotus, are  developed in the modern period by Franciscan scholastics, and outside a direct causal line echoed by Newman, who in turn is echoed by Benedict XVI, though in his case he has direct access to the Franciscan tradition in his deep study of Bonaventure that constitutes his Habilitation (1958). But in line with the Franciscan genius that Christianity is first a form of life and only secondarily a form of thought, again after Fehlner Fr. Ondrako wants to insist upon the pivotal importance of the witness, and especially the witness of Saint Maximillian Kolbe who died at Auschwitz.
Above when speaking of Fr. Ondrako’s relation to Fr. Fehlner I used two prepositions for the price of one, that is, “with” as well as “after.” Fr. Ondrako knows as well as anyone that one does not do honor to a teacher by rote repetition. Rather, you honor the teacher by carrying forward what was opened up but not fully articulated. To speak in the language of tradition as tradio, the gift that is handed on exceeds what the hander-on offered on and sets the one who is gifted a task of developing as well as elucidating what is intended in what has been said. This is precisely what is happening in this rich text. If Fehlner’s major contribution lies in his ressourcement of Franciscan sources and the prophetic claim of their relevance for the renewal of the modern age and in the rebuilding of the Church, perhaps Fr. Ondrako has the keener sense of the evacuation of doctrines and practices effected by secular modern age and the drift of the Church towards the secular that makes retrieval so necessary. Without challenging Fehlner as the ultimate source of Fr. Ondrako’s inspiration, it might be said that Ondrako has plumbed deeper into Newman and Benedict XVI, for him the two prophets of both lamentation and jubilation in the modern period. This is a serious and learned book, but I also dare to suggest itself a prophetic one.
Congratulations to Fr. Ed for producing such a treasure. Since his energy is indefatigable and his passion without bounds, I suspect that we will be repeating today’s event of celebration and appreciation any number of times in the future.
Cyril O’Regan
Catherine F. Huisking Professor of Theology
University of Notre Dame College of Arts and Letters


Fr. Edward J. Ondrako, OFM Conventual
Research Fellow Pontifical Faculty of St. Bonaventure, Rome
Visiting Scholar, McGrath Institute for Church Life
University of Notre Dame
Recent Reflections:
Reflection by Fr. Ed Ondrako, OFM Conv. | Our Lady of the Angels Province, USA (
Reflection by Fr. Ed Ondrako, OFM Conv. | Our Lady of the Angels Province, USA (
Reflection by Fr. Ed Ondrako, OFM Conv. | Our Lady of the Angels Province, USA (

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