Regular Faculty

Fr. Joe Boenzi, SDB

DSPT Professor - Fr. Joe Boenzi, SDB

Professor of Theology

Office Location: East 119
Phone: 510-883-2070
Office Hours: Mondays/Thursdays, 8:45 am-12:00 pm
Tuesdays, 8:45-11:00 am




BA, Don Bosco College (NJ); Professional diploma in Education, University of Alberta; STB, Salesian Pontifical University (Turin); STL, STD, Università Pontificia Salesiana (Rome).


Be who you are and be that well! - Francis de Sales

Fr. Joe Boenzi is a member of the Salesians of Don Bosco. He made his first vows as a Salesian in 1968, and was ordained to the priesthood in 1979. His early training was in special education, catechetics and youth ministry. After a number of years directing a young adult community in Los Angeles, he was encouraged by the young people and his fellow Salesians to train in spiritual direction and to deepen his studies in Christian spirituality. He earned a doctorate in spiritual theology in 1996. In 1984, the Salesians launched the Institute of Salesian Studies (ISS) at Berkeley, affiliating this Institute with DSPT. Fr. Joe resourced to the ISS from the beginning, and began teaching core ISS courses in 1992, joining the DSPT faculty at the same time.

In his teaching, Fr. Joe brings to light how the gifts of the Holy Spirit become fruitful in the life of the individual disciple and in the coming together of the Church. His courses have highlighted the experience of the great leaders and founders of the last millennium as well as the experience and ideals of contemporary Christians committed to the Gospel in the New Ecclesial Movements. He often asks his students to see the Church as an ongoing story of ordinary people who can allow the extraordinary (charisms of the Spirit, rootedness in Christ) to transform their lives so that they become signs and bearers of God's love to new generations and new contexts. Fr. Joe's hope is that all those who study theology will not be content to leave their studies at an academic level, but will discern ways to integrate these studies with a life of faith.

In addition to teaching at the Institute of Salesian Spirituality and DSPT, Fr. Joe Boenzi is often called upon to direct retreats and to facilitate workshops or in-services for parents and educators.

Courses Taught:

Since 2005, Fr. Joe Boenzi has been a Visiting Professor of Spiritual Theology at the School of Theology of the Salesian Pontifical University in Rome. There he teaches the following courses:

  • Francesco di Sales: Storia e Spirito (Francis de Sales: Story and Spirit)
  • Spiritualità nel racconto: Giovannino Bosco, Harry Potter e la magia della spiritualità giovanile (Storytelling the Spirit: Johnny Bosco, Harry Potter and the magic of youth spirituality)
  • Spiritualità Giovanile (Youth Spirituality)
  • Resourcement: La teologia di Josef Ratzinger (Resourcement: Readings in Ratzinger)

Research Interests:

Catholic mission movement and developments in Northeast India; Francis de Sales: testimony of contemporaries; ecclesial movements and small ecclesial communities.

Selected Publications:


Articles and Chapters

  • “Francesco di Sales e l'Introduzione alla Vita Devota”, Quarto centenario della «Filotea», a cura di Aldo Giraudo. Roma: LAS (forthcoming).
  • Francis de Sales: Life and Spirit. Stella Niagara: De Sales Resources and Ministries(forthcoming).
  • "Cry of the Pastoral Heart of Francis de Sales." Journal of Salesian Studies 15, no. 1 (Fall 2007): 13-24.
  • "Youthful Holiness: the Encounter between Dominic Savio and Don Bosco." In Human Encounter in the Salesian Tradition, Collected Essays Commemorating the 4th Centenary of the Initial Encounter of St. Francis de Sales and St. Jane Frances de Chantal, edited by Joseph Chorpenning, 333-364. Wisniewski. Rome: ICSS, 2007.
  • "«Da Mihi Animas!» Il grido del cuore pastorale di Francesco di Sales." Quaderni di Spiritualità Salesiana, no. 7 nuova serie (Dicembre 2007): 49-59.
  • "Parole che illuminano il nostro cammino spirituale. La Bibbia, guida dei predicatori secondo Francesco di Sales." Quaderni di Spiritualità Salesiana, n. 6 nuova serie (Marzo 2007): 42-54.
  • "Francis de Sales and the Bases for Salesian Prayer." Journal of Salesian Studies 14, no. 1 (Fall 2006): 112-127.
  • "Paolo Albera's Instructions: Early Efforts to Inculcate the Spirit of Don Bosco." Journal of Salesian Studies 13, no. 1 (Fall 2005): 103-146.

Other Publications and Events:

Audio CD

    • "Francis de Sales in Western Spiritual Tradition." Paper presented at the 2007 National Salesian Conference, St Paul (Minnesota), 3 August 2007.