Capital Campaign

Called to Do More

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Capital Campaign

Called to Do More

The capital campaign advances to Phase Three, plus details on the Christ the King Chapel expansion.

Autumn 2023

In This Article

“God is doing more than we ever imagined.” That was how Father Dave Pivonka, TOR ’89, responded to the extraordinary progress in the Rebuild My Church Capital Campaign. “He’s leading Franciscan University, and we want to follow. We’re called to do more! We can do more!”

As if in confirmation, generous donors stepped forward hoping to fund more at Franciscan University: to renovate and expand Christ the King Chapel, to launch an ambitious missionary effort in the heart of our nation’s capital, and to start a proposed new PhD in Theology Program with an anticipated launch in fall 2024.

To support these and other initiatives, and to cover the ongoing construction of Christ the Teacher Academic Hall, on October 4, Father Dave announced the Phase Three campaign fundraising goal: $110 million.


Honoring Christ the King

In 1969, Father Kevin Keelan, TOR, was president of the young College of Steubenville; the campus had been at its current hilltop location only eight years. That’s when the newly constructed Christ the King Chapel was first dedicated. Its design was meant to symbolize reaching from earth to the heavens to give glory to God.

The chapel stands at the spiritual and physical heart of Franciscan University. Its iconic shape graces the University’s logo. It has served as holy ground for decades of eucharistic liturgies, adoration, confessions, weddings, baptisms, and confirmations; Festivals of Praise, concerts, convocations, conversions; and much more. How many men and women have lifted up their hands in praise in Christ the King Chapel, bowed their heads in worship, shed tears, sung hymns? How many more will there be?

With most of the four weekday Masses and five Sunday Masses packed, many with standing room only, Franciscan University has discerned that now is the time to literally “rebuild my church” on campus.

“The University has looked at building a new chapel or renovating the existing chapel since I was a student in the late ’80s,” Father Dave explains. “Just in the last couple of years, everything has come together for a truly beautiful expansion and renovation of Christ the King Chapel.”

When the Thomas and Audrey Ruthman family stepped forward to provide significant funding for renewing the chapel, Father Dave couldn’t help but see the hand of God—and St. Francis.

“Tom and Audrey had a charism for renovating chapels— they led the renovation of 36 chapels in their lifetimes. That really resonated with me because St. Francis himself restored several churches near Assisi,” Father Dave says. “Christ the King has been such an important spiritual center of our life here; rebuilding it just seemed the Franciscan thing to do.”


“This renovation gives us opportunities to highlight Christ the King and our Franciscan spiritual heritage.”



Let Us Begin

April 2024 will see the beginning of the long-anticipated renovation of Christ the King Chapel. The work will enlarge the chapel’s footprint by 40 percent and increase seating capacity from 325 to 500.

There will be expanded office and rehearsal space, a conference room, upgraded bathrooms, even a cry room and a mothers’ room. There will be new stained glass windows, Spanish tiles on the extension roof, and Assisi-style stonework in the new walls. The additions will preserve the chapel’s iconic shape, harmonizing with and beautifying the space that has been a spiritual home for generations of Franciscan students and alumni.

Most importantly, says Father Jonathan St. André, TOR ’96, vice president of Franciscan Life, the beautification and expansion will give glory to God through its design.

“This renovation gives us opportunities to highlight Christ the King and our Franciscan spiritual heritage.”

The renovation will include new sacred furnishings: pews, altar, baptismal font, ambo, and stations of the cross. These will be newly created for Christ the King Chapel. But it’s hoped the stained glass, statuary, and other items will come from decommissioned Pittsburgh churches. The Diocese of Pittsburgh has been consolidating parishes—but saving much of the sacred art, furnishings, and stained-glass windows, and making them available for purchase.

The cost of the renovation will be about $10 million, according to Bob Hickey ’96 MBA ’01, vice president of Advancement. Generous donors have already contributed more than $7.4 million to the chapel expansion.

“We need $2.6 million more to make it a reality,” says Hickey. “We’re going to start work and trust that the Lord will provide the rest.”

Much of “the rest” is projected to come through naming opportunities within the chapel for alumni, families, and friends. That campaign kicked off in October 2023.

During renovations, Masses will be in the Christ the Teacher Conference Event Space. Christ the King Chapel is projected to reopen in May 2025.


For more details on the Christ the King Chapel renovation, watch the highlight video here.

Audrey and Tom Ruthman

“Rebuild my Church,” Jesus said. Francis was praying in the extremely dilapidated church of San Damiano. “You can see that it is in ruins,” Jesus said, and Francis did. He took his father’s horse and bolts of expensive fabric from his father’s store; he sold the fabric and the horse; and he gave the money to the priest of San Damiano to pay for renovations.

The generous donation, even if not the idea, came from his father; the execution, from the son.

Francis’ rebuilding campaign eventually grew beyond bricks and mortar. The church’s physical disrepair symbolized the Church’s spiritual decay. But the Lord still calls bricks and mortar builders of his kingdom. And rebuilders.

Like Audrey and Tom Ruthman.

Tom’s grandfather and great uncle founded the Ruthman Machinery Company in 1912 near Cincinnati, Ohio, to service Ohio River steamboats. His father made Ruthman Companies an international business in the eighties and nineties. Tom was the third generation of family leadership; his son continues the family business.

Audrey was a religious sister for many years; then she was the Cincinnati archbishop’s personal secretary and housekeeper, before she met Tom. They married in 1979. Two of Tom’s children graduated from Franciscan University, and Tom and Audrey attended Franciscan’s Defending the Faith Conference every summer for decades.

Over the years, Tom and Audrey were involved in the renovation of 36 chapels. Father Dave Pivonka, TOR, thought they might be interested in adding Christ the King Chapel to the list.

When Paul Bernetsky, director for Leadership and Planned Giving at Franciscan, called Audrey in 2020, she told him to get Father Dave to meet with her husband. “He could build your chapel.” Tom and Audrey eventually committed to the chapel renovation.

In 2022, Tom passed away after suffering a stroke. Audrey joined him in eternity three months later, after a long battle with cancer. For their children, it was a given that Tom and Audrey’s commitment to Christ the King Chapel be honored.

“The chapel is the heart of it all,” one of them said. “Jesus is there. It is so important to make sure that is given the most attention.” The students are being formed for the world, and the chapel is “where they will encounter Christ and get strengthened.”

Audrey and Tom were “so proud” of renovating chapels and “super happy” to rebuild Christ the King. “They would be proud we are supporting this to the end.”

Audrey and Tom loved Franciscan University. They had an apostolic partnership while they lived, which continues even now, through their children. Like Francis and his father, the generous donation comes from the parents (enthusiastically, in this case); the execution, joyfully, from the children.


Christ the King Chapel Naming Opportunities


Chapel Element Naming Gift Amount
Nave $500,000
Pews (60) $5,000 each, $300,000 all
Sanctuary $250,000
Stained Glass Rose Window $150,000
Our Lady of Guadelupe Shrine $75,000
Sacristy $75,000
St. Francis of Assisi Statue $50,000
Confessionals (4) $25,000 each, $100,000 all
Musician Platform $25,000


For a complete list of Christ the King Chapel naming opportunities, contact Paul Bernetsky, director for Leadership and Planned Giving, [email protected] or 740-284-5845.

Rebuild My Church Campaign Raises Goal to $110 Million

Through the generosity of alumni and friends, Franciscan University’s Rebuild My Church Campaign has surpassed its Phase Two goal by more than $10 million, bringing our total raised now to $99.8 million! Your gifts are making it possible for Franciscan to provide enhanced and expanded academics, increased scholarships and financial aid, and expanded evangelistic outreach.

Phase Three’s $25 million goal will enable us to expand Christ the King Chapel, add a proposed PhD in Theology Program, and launch a new missionary outreach in the D.C. area, so we can form more joyful disciples to rebuild our Church and our world.

With your prayers and gifts, Franciscan will keep this exciting momentum going! Thank you for your strong support for the mission of Franciscan University of Steubenville!


Phase One Campaign Goal: $75 Million Completed

Phase Two Campaign Goal: $10 Million Completed

Phase Three Campaign Goal: $25 Million Ongoing


Case Components:

  • Christ the Teacher Academic Hall and Conference Center ($59 Million)
    • Total Raised: $48,585,148
  • Financial Aid and Scholarships ($18 Million)
    • Total Raised: $34,766,263
  • Outreach and Evangelization ($5 Million)
    • General: $2,823,559
    • PhD Theology Program: $2,276,096
  • Center for Leadership and Entrepreneurship ($2 Million)
    • Total Raised: $2,000,000
  • Nursing SIM Laboratory ($1 Million)
    • Total Raised: $1,000,000
  • Criminal Justice Major ($1 Million)
    • Total Raised: $1,000,000
  • Christ the King Chapel Renovation ($10 Million)
    • Total Raised: $7,400,000


Total Campaign Goal: $110 Million

Total Raised: $99,851,066 (as of October 4, 2023)
Number of Gifts: 1,631
Average Gift: $61,220

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