In Brief

In Brief – Winter 2024

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In Brief

In Brief – Winter 2024

A look at recent news from the Franciscan University community.

Winter 2024

In This Article

Honoring Outstanding Alumni

Seven Franciscan University alumni were honored at the 34th annual Alumni Awards Banquet during the 2023 Homecoming Weekend.

University president Father Dave Pivonka, TOR ’89, told honorees he was proud of them as a colleague and fellow alum, noting St. Francis’ attitude that men and women of faith would promote transformation and change.

The late John Romanoski ’51 received the John J. Carrigg Award for his lifetime of service both in and out of the classroom. A World War II army veteran, Romanoski devoted his life to teaching and to serving his community. He passed away on July 23, 2023.

Dr. Brian Tullius ’03 MA ’04 received the Father Dan Egan Alumni Award for his devotion to his patients and work as research medical director for Pediatric Cellular Therapy at AdventHealth for Children in Orlando, Florida.

Chad Wilson ’01 received the Alumni Citizenship Award for his work as a lobbyist for Nationwide Insurance helping lawmakers to pass laws that improve people’s lives, especially Ohio laws to prevent distracted driving and to offer low-interest loans for adoptive parents.

Robert Cruess ’09 received the Prof. Edward J. Kelly Award for his achievements in business and leadership in the field of clean technology. He co-founded ZeroNox, a California-based company with a focus on electric powertrains, batteries, microgrids, and other clean technology solutions.

Tim Glemkowski ’11 received the Bishop John King Mussio Award for his efforts to further the Church’s mission to make joyful disciples of Christ. A speaker, writer, and teacher, he now serves as executive director of the National Eucharistic Congress and founded L’Alto Catholic Institute to renew parishes.

Prudence Robertson ’19 received the Outstanding Young Alumni Award for her work on behalf of life as anchor of EWTN Pro-Life Weekly. Before joining EWTN in 2022, she was a communications associate for SBA Pro-Life America.

The late Mary (Anderson ’99) Zimmerman received the Rose M. Defede Faithful Franciscan Award for her dedication and service to Franciscan University for more than 20 years, serving in the Christian Outreach Office and in Alumni Relations. Accepting the award on her behalf, her husband, Tony Zimmerman, said Mary “just wanted to help others without receiving recognition.” She passed away peacefully on December 4, 2022, after battling cancer for two decades.

Front row: Alumni Board President Annie Foster ’17, Tony Zimmerman, representing his late wife, Mary (Anderson ’99), Rosemarie Zebreski, representing her late brother, John Romanowski ’51, Fr. Dave Pivonka, TOR ’89, Mary Prudence Robertson ’19, Charles “Chad” E. Wilson ’01, Christie Fleming ’10, director of Alumni Relations Back row: Robert T. Cruess ’09, Dr. Brian P. Tullius ’03 MA ’04


Chesterton on Tour

In a creative twist, Prof. John Walker, Franciscan University associate professor of theater, will be taking his spring 2024 sabbatical on the road.

The award-winning film, television, and theater actor will bring his one-man show, The Golden Key: An Evening With G.K. Chesterton, to Wheaton College and to more than a dozen Chesterton schools and societies from Philadelphia to Sacramento.

This nationwide tour builds on Walker’s popular portrayal of the British writer on EWTN, first in Saints vs. Scoundrels, created by fellow Franciscan professor Dr. Benjamin Wiker, and then in Chesterton Station, now in its seventh season, also on EWTN.

Prof. John Walker in character

In Chesterton Station, Walker, as Chesterton, visits with souls, such as George Bernard Shaw, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Charles Dickens, who pass through a supernatural train station of the afterlife.

In addition, Walker has appeared as Chesterton at several conferences, writes for Gilbert Magazine, and serves as advisor to Franciscan’s Chesterton Club, which hosts events and talks about the author and his works.

On tour, Walker will also promote Franciscan University’s unique Chesterton connection. Through the Franciscan Advantage Program, students from the 50 member schools in the worldwide Chesterton Schools Network (CSN) can enroll concurrently in designated Franciscan University and CSN partnership courses. They will earn college credit from Franciscan upon successful completion of college-level exams.

The program began in fall 2022, offering 12 credits to high school juniors and seniors in select philosophy and theology courses, with the potential to expand to 36 credit hours across additional disciplines in the future.

“I’m excited for this adventure,” Walker said. “The only real talent I have is in creating theater, so I’m using the gift God gave me to lead others to him. All glory to God; I’m just trying to go where he leads me—or, as G.K. said, ‘To follow Christ is to be against the stream, but fully alive.’”

Chesterton Station is available at, with the eighth season set to begin filming in August 2024.


Religious Vocations Fair Draws Highest Attendance

Learning about a religious vacation from those living it out.

Alumni from 19 religious communities returned to campus for the annual Religious Vocations Fair held Friday, October 13, at Franciscan University. Sixty religious communities and dioceses, including the Diocese of Columbus, the Archdiocese for the Military Services (Army and Navy branches), TOR Franciscan Friars, TOR Franciscan Sisters, Dominicans, Jesuits, and more, were represented at the event sponsored by Franciscan University’s Priestly Discernment Program. Organizers said the fair drew nearly 1,000 current and prospective students, faculty, staff, and local families and high school students—the highest attendance to date.


Franciscan Square’s Ice Rink Opens

Beginners and experts take to the ice, enjoying the new rink at Franciscan Square.

Franciscan Square celebrated its grand opening on Friday, November 17, just in time to usher in the holiday season.

A community outreach of Franciscan University with many local sponsors, The Rink was first installed as a temporary skating rink during the 2020–21 winter season. The new, permanent rink is double the size and will operate annually from November through February. During the off-season, the rink’s infrastructure will be covered in turf to provide a green space at Franciscan Square.

“I’m happy The Rink will bring together local families, friends, visitors, and students to enjoy ice skating every winter,” said Father Dave Pivonka, TOR ’89, president of Franciscan University.

The Rink is open Wednesday through Sunday with special hours for holidays as well as party packages and private rink rentals. For more information, visit or call 740–275–8466.

Homecoming 2023 in Review

Franciscan University Holds U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Chartering Ceremony

The Planking Ceremony for the Franciscan University of Steubenville Auxiliary University Programs (AUP) unit of the United States Coast Guard (USCG) was held November 28 at the University, recognizing 15 students as founding members and Franciscan University as the institutional sponsor.

The ceremony marked the charter for the detachment, affiliated with USCG Auxiliary Flotilla 082-07-02, Pittsburgh, and included University President Father Dave Pivonka, TOR ’89, and senior dignitaries from the USCG Marine Safety Unit in Bridgeville, Pennsylvania, and the Pittsburgh flotilla.

Just 23 universities across the nation host AUP programs, with Franciscan joining the ranks of prestigious institutions such as William and Mary, Texas A&M, and the Citadel. LTG Eyobe Mills serves as the University detachment’s active duty officer and mentor for the program.

AUP liaison Dr. Charles Nemeth congratulate the founding members of Franciscan’s Auxiliary University Program unit of the U.S. Coast Guard.

According to Dr. Charles Nemeth, director of the University’s Criminal Justice Program and AUP unit liaison, students from any major can join the program and take part in internships, certifications and training, and deployment to natural disaster missions.

Completion of the AUP program allows a possible path to entry into the Coast Guard Officer Candidate School in New London, Connecticut.

Nemeth noted, “The Coast Guard’s primary goal is service to others in time of need—a mission completely compatible with Franciscan’s vision and a clear opportunity to carry out one’s faith in action.”

Community service is a key component of AUP programs, and Franciscan’s unit plans to take a major role in upgrading and restoring the Steubenville Marina. This fall, members cleaned the area and planted several hundred tulips and daffodils, and in spring 2024, members will paint the marina’s long blue wall.

“This will leave a long-term legacy to our community,” Nemeth pointed out.

For Ellie Toner, the AUP’s unit leader and a senior criminal justice major from Walnut Grove, North Carolina, the service component was a key reason to join the detachment.

“I don’t plan to go on to Officer Candidate School with the Coast Guard, but I have still gained so much from being in the program: education, leadership skills, an active interest in the community around me, and a much deeper appreciation for those in uniform serving our country,” she said.

Patrick Uhlenkott, a senior theology major from Front Royal, Virginia, and AUP deputy unit leader, said he is grateful for the program and is looking forward to what the unit will be able to accomplish.

“The Auxiliary University Program is a unique opportunity for students wishing to serve in a variety of ways or gain leadership experience,” he said. “From internships with active-duty Coast Guard units to training qualifications, the AUP is a one-of-a-kind experience for students at Franciscan University.”

Stephen Moynihan, a junior criminal justice major from Rockville, Maryland, said he hopes to continue in the Coast Guard Auxiliary after college.

“This program has helped me in more ways than I can count. It has been a tremendous opportunity, and it has not only made me a better person but has given me skill sets that will be useful for every area of life.”

University President Fr. Dave Pivonka, TOR, and AUP liaison Dr. Charles Nemeth congratulate the founding members of Franciscan’s Auxiliary University Program unit of the U.S. Coast Guard.

Franciscan Saint

Blessed Jeanne-Marie de Maille (1331-1414)

The daughter of a wealthy French baron, Jeanne had a special devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary from a young age and, at her confirmation, added “Marie” to her name. The death of her father placed her under the guardianship of a grandfather, who wanted to ensure Jeanne was taken care of before his own death. So, he arranged a match between her and Baron Robert de Sille, a noble and virtuous man. On their wedding day, Robert agreed to Jeanne’s desire to live in virginity.

Jeanne and Robert ran a Christian household, requesting their servants to observe the commandments and forbidding cursing, gambling, and gossip. The couple also generously looked after the poor of their community. It was said that no person in need left their door empty-handed.

When a war broke out between England and France, Robert joined the defense of his homeland. He was severely wounded in battle, and the English captured him as a prisoner.

Jeanne sold most of their possessions to raise money for her husband’s exorbitant ransom but, before she could send the money, Robert escaped and returned home. However, he would later die from his injuries.

Jeanne’s in-laws blamed her for wasting her husband’s fortune on charitable works and denied her both a home and her widow’s inheritance. So, the noble woman took up a tiny residence near a church, joined the Third Order of St. Francis, and devoted the rest of her life to prayer and caring for the sick and poor, although she herself was now destitute. Some mocked her piety. Once, a madwoman threw a rock at her that injured her back; the scar would never heal. Others recognized Jeanne’s holiness and virtue, visiting her to consult her faithful wisdom and near-prophetic insights.

In 1414, she died at the age of 82 and was buried in her plain habit. Pope Pius IX beatified her in 1871.

Her feast day is March 29.


Everyday Heroism: 28 Daily Reflections on the Little Way Reflections on the Little Way of Motherhood of Motherhood

Christine (Gartung ’93) Hanus

Being a mother is incredibly beautiful—and incredibly hard. In her devotional, Franciscan alumna Christine Hanus provides a 28-day “recharge” for mothers in the trenches of family life. Through bite-sized chapters perfect for busy moms, she shares stories of raising her own children, inspiration from the saints, and passages from Scripture to encourage other women to persevere in their vocation. By the conclusion of the 28 days, readers will recognize how God and holiness can be found, even among the toddler temper tantrums and piles of laundry.


Eucharistic Gems: Daily Wisdom on the Blessed Sacrament

Father Donald Calloway, MIC ’99

Marian Press

During this time of National Eucharistic Revival, cultivate a renewed love for Jesus Christ present in the Blessed Sacrament with Eucharistic Gems: Daily Wisdom on the Blessed Sacrament. Compiled by alumnus Father Donald Calloway, MIC, this book features 366 timeless quotes on the Eucharist from saints and popes. Eucharistic Gems provides a simple way to be reminded each day of the profound power and mystery of the Holy Eucharist, and its format means it can be reread year after year.


Courtship of the Saints: How the Saints Met Their Spouses

Patrick O’Hearn MS ’13

TAN Books

With the prevalence of lust, cohabitation, and broken relationships, sacramental marriage is under attack today. In Courtship of the Saints, alumnus Patrick O’Hearn offers encouragement for those called to the vocation of marriage through highlighting the stories of 25 holy couples—including Joseph and Mary, Boaz and Ruth, and Louis and Zélie Martin. Each couple’s story is beautifully unique, but they all show how virtuous marriage is possible when a man and a woman pursue each other with their eyes fixed on Christ.


Catholics in Exile: Biblical Wisdom for the Journey Home

Dr. Scott Hahn and Brandon McGinley

Emmaus Road

As Christians, we know our home is with God in heaven. So, how do you balance that truth with the reality that we also live in and are heirs to the world? In this book, Franciscan University theology professor Dr. Scott Hahn and co-author Brandon McGinley offer practical advice and wisdom for Christians who are on the pilgrimage toward heaven. Drawing from the Bible, they show how Christians have always lived in exile and how this exile can be filled with hope and joy.

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