God’s Victories

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God’s Victories

Franciscan University honors the Board of Advisors and Nicholas J. Healy with 2022 Founders’ Awards.

Winter 2023 | Lisa Ferguson

In This Article

In a speech that included a who’s who of Catholic luminaries of the early 1990s, Nicholas J. Healy detailed their roles and his in the founding of Franciscan University’s Austrian Study Abroad Program. Healy spoke to those gathered at Franciscan University on December 10 to honor him and the Board of Advisors with 2022 Founders’ Awards.

Healy, a maritime lawyer who joined Franciscan University’s Board of Trustees in 1985 at the invitation of then-President Father Michael Scanlan, TOR, later became a University vice president responsible for fundraising and Christian Outreach. He received the Founders’ Award for his “key role in founding the study abroad program in Gaming, Austria.”

In his acceptance remarks, Healy recounted his inspiring personal history and the fascinating story of his two greatest achievements at Franciscan: the founding of the Austrian Study Abroad Program, which has now given 8,400 students the opportunity to explore the cultural and spiritual treasures of Europe, and the establishment of the Language and Catechetical Institute, which has trained over 500 students from 30 former Communist countries and Asia as catechists.

Dr. Alice von Hildebrand, St. John Paul II, and Dr. Josef Seifert were among the notable Catholics Healy listed as connected with the founding and growth of the Austrian Campus along with Father Scanlan, Dr. Michael Healy, Jim Fougerousse, and Walter Hildebrand, the architect who restored the 14th-century Carthusian monastery.

Healy confessed he used to think about himself as the founder of the Austrian Campus, until he heard a talk by a successful religious liberties lawyer who said, “These are not my victories; these are God’s victories. God does not need me to win my cases, but he lets me help him.”

God's Victories - Board

Board of Advisors representatives Donna Keagler, chair Dr. Thomas Matanzo ’81, Dorothy Blaner, Michelle Gorman, William Hannen, and Ross Gallabrese with President Fr. Dave Pivonka, TOR ’89.

Healy concluded his remarks by saying, “I gratefully accept this award while acknowledging it belongs to God. This is a time of great crisis in our nation and in our Church. Let us all pray that we rightly discern the heavenly Father’s purposes, and we pray he will let us help him. I have no doubt that he is prepared to let Franciscan University help him in very, very significant ways.”

Board of Advisors chair Dr. Thomas Matanzo ’81 accepted the award for the board’s work to “strengthen the bond between Franciscan University and the city it calls home” from University President Father Dave Pivonka, TOR.

Father Dave wrapped up the evening by adding his thanks to the award recipients.

Calling the University’s relationship with the local community a “marriage made in heaven,” Father Dave said, “I am profoundly grateful to the many men and women who have been part of the Board of Advisors. We wouldn’t be where we are today if it wasn’t for you.”

He also remembered Father Scanlan and Healy from his years as a student and young Franciscan friar. “I remember the stories of Father Mike ‘and’—the ‘and’ could have been Nick, it could have been John Green, it could have been [John] Madigan, or [Dr. Donald] Kissinger, or [Dr. Michael] Healy, but it was always Father Mike ‘and.’ Without the other side of the ‘and,’ Franciscan University wouldn’t be who it is. Thank you, Nick, for your efforts and for listening to the Lord and ultimately desiring to be more faithful to him.”

Father Dave called the University’s mission “the work of the Holy Spirit,” and said, “It’s been God’s grace, and hopefully, we will continue to surround ourselves with men and women who are willing to be quiet, still, courageous, and ultimately, to follow what the Lord has asked us to do. I think together, us and the Lord, we can do great things for another 75 years.”

Watch the full Founders’ Award Ceremony video below and click here to download the full text of Nicholas J. Healy’s speech.

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