In Brief

In Brief – Summer 2021

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In Brief

In Brief – Summer 2021

A brief look into the lives and stories of the Franciscan community.

Summer 2021

In This Article

Music Center Unveiling

Adedication ceremony held April 23 formally opened the George D. Rice Music Center, located on University Boulevard. The center provides classroom space for Franciscan University’s new Music Ministry Minor Program and two music rehearsal rooms equipped with keyboards, drums, and a Steinway Baby Grand piano.

“The George,” as students call it, was made possible by a gift from the late George D. Rice and his family: his wife, Moira Rice, who attended the ceremony, his daughter Kimberly, and his son Bob, who is a catechetics professor, popular Catholic musician, and director of the Music Ministry Program at Franciscan.

In the later years of his life, George Rice often said, “I thank God every day for the gift of music.” That sentence, painted on the wall in the lobby, greets everyone who enters the building.


Brian McCarthy Joins Trustees

The newest member of Franciscan University’s Board of Trustees is Brian McCarthy ’01, who graduated in three years from Franciscan with bachelor’s degrees in history and theology.

McCarthy was a member of Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam Household and active in intramural sports and evangelistic outreaches.

He has a background in sales and management and is currently the executive vice president and chief revenue officer for ThoughtSpot, a software company that builds analytic software for major retailers.

In 2019, he received the University’s Professor Ed Kelly Award for Success in Business.

Brian and his wife Chrissy (Tonini ’01) McCarthy have five children, including one who will attend Franciscan this fall semester.


GRACE 2021

At the annual Gallery of Research, Artistry, and Community Engagement (GRACE), dozens of students shared the fruits of their academic studies from a variety of disciplines.

Presentations included tabletop, oral, video, theatrical, and works of fine art.

Two examples: Biology majors Daniel Casey and Monica Moore presented research on the dominant worldwide use of ethical, adult stem-cell research in clinical stem cell trials, while history and classics major Clare Young presented a play she wrote that was inspired by the legends surrounding the 16th-century martyr St. Edmund Campion.


Parental Rights Conference

Experts from across the country will gather at Franciscan University October 15-16 for the Conference on Parental Rights. The conference focuses on attacks on the American family from the legal system, health care, public schools, and other agencies.

“The Threat to Parental Rights by Gender Ideology,” and “Parental Rights and the Life Issues” are two of the topics to be addressed.

For more information, go to or contact Annie DelFiandra at [email protected].


Totus Tuus Room

After a semester in Austria, three Franciscan University students—Justine Smykowski, Jacob Schmiesing, and Clement Harrold—wanted to bring European beauty back to the main Steubenville campus.

Now, what was once a simple study room in the St. John Paul II Library has been transformed into the Totus Tuus Group Study Room, boasting a Baroque-like coffered ceiling, wooden wainscoting, Renaissance and ancient depictions of Our Lady, and chandelier lighting.

“We wanted to promote the academic culture on campus,” said Harrold. “We have a beautiful campus, especially out of doors, and now we have a beautiful space to study, as we did in Austria.”

The students raised over $10,000 to pay for the renovations. The project was part of their Center for Leadership senior capstone project.

“What I like about this is that it was initiated by our students,” said Father Dave Pivonka, TOR, at the ribbon-cutting ceremony held in April. “They had the vision and worked with our staff to see their vision come to life.”


Faculty Awards

At the 2021 Faculty Awards Ceremony, three professors were honored for excellence in teaching, scholarship, and service.

Dr. Justin Greenly, associate professor of engineering, received the faculty award for excellence in teaching. Father Dave Pivonka, TOR, said Greenly’s innovative methods bring engineering concepts to life and exemplify the adage “Tell me and I’ll forget; show me and I’ll remember; involve me and I’ll understand.”

Dr. Jacob Wood, director of the Online Graduate Theology Program, received the scholarship award. In his recently published book, To Stir a Restless Heart: Thomas Aquinas and Henri de Lubac on Nature, Grace, and the Desire for God, Wood proposes a third resolution to the contemporary nature-grace debate, documenting his research from St. Thomas Aquinas and Greek, Arabic, Hebrew, and Latin sources.

Dr. Derek Doroski, director of Franciscan’s Engineering Programs, received the faculty award for service. Doroski designed two new engineering programs, which include a new inter-departmental course, “Catholicism, Science, and Technology.” He also organized campus visits from experts who spoke on issues concerning Catholicism and science.


Herd Immunity Study

A research study underway at Franciscan University seeks to know the extent to which herd immunity has been achieved on the Franciscan University campus.

Hundreds of volunteers, primarily students, but also faculty and staff, had their blood drawn during the spring semester by senior nursing majors and then evaluated for coronavirus-specific antibodies by biology students.

The director of the study, biology professor Dr. Kyle McKenna, said, “To achieve herd immunity, which limits transmission of the virus, you need at least 60 to 70 percent of a given population to be resistant to infection, either through exposure to the virus or vaccination.”

Over 500 people were tested. The results are currently being compiled.

Care was taken to select and modify a commercially available antibody test so no cell lines derived from aborted fetal tissue were used to produce reagents for the test.

The study was funded by the Biology Department, the Franciscan Institute of Science and Health, and a generous grant from the American Life League.


Spiritual Directors Complete Training

After three years of study, the first cohort of 14 men and women completed Franciscan University’s School of Spiritual Direction and attended a commissioning ceremony held April 22. Participants received a blessing from Father Dave Pivonka, TOR, president.

The program was launched in 2019 to meet a growing need for trained and certified spiritual directors to help people encounter God in their spiritual journey. It offers traditional semester-style learning and a summer intensive option. For more information, visit


New OT and PT Pathways

Franciscan University students can now obtain graduate degrees in physical and occupational therapy at Walsh University, under a new agreement announced by both schools.

Starting in fall 2021, academically qualified students will attend Franciscan for three years before transferring to Walsh for three years of study for a doctorate in physical therapy.

Or they can attend Franciscan University for four years of pre-occupational therapy coursework before transferring to Walsh to complete a master’s degree in occupational therapy in two years.

Students will benefit from both universities’ small class sizes and strong Catholic intellectual tradition.

“With a firm foundation in Franciscan’s research-driven, faith-inspired science programs and the excellent professional formation of Walsh’s physical therapy and occupational therapy programs, our students will be well-equipped to bring healing and wholeness to the lives of their patients,” said Franciscan University President Father Dave Pivonka, TOR.

Both schools are recognized by the Cardinal Newman Society for providing a faithful Catholic education. For more information, search for occupational therapy or physical therapy under “Discover Your Program” at


Franciscan Saints

Blessed Delphina of Glandèves & St. Elzéar (13th C.)

Born of French nobility in 1282, Blessed Delphina of Glandèves grew up as a true lady in Provence. Though orphaned at the age of 7, she received lodging, education, and instruction both in the Catholic faith and etiquette by means of her aunt, abbess of a nearby monastery. Meanwhile, Delphina’s future husband Elzéar, of similar noble parentage, was pursuing an education under the direction of his abbot uncle. Elzéar became an outstanding warrior, knight, politician, and diplomat who would later reveal to Delphina that constant meditation on the Passion of Christ gave his face its well-known tranquility. The pair were perfectly matched when King Charles II proposed their wedding … except for the vow of perpetual virginity taken by Delphina years earlier. A maternal apparition from Our Lady gave Delphina peace, and she agreed to marry. This trust in the union was well-placed since Elzéar not only agreed to respect the vow and live chastely but likewise embraced poverty as his “Lady” in genuine Franciscan spirit. The couple joined the Third Order of St. Francis and lived zealously in the practice of prayer, mortification, and charity. He was known to wear hairshirts under his regal court robes, and she devoted herself to the care of her household including the servants that accompanied her station. Like St. Francis, they eventually came to see all creation as pointing to its Source. Delphina’s great sorrow came when her husband died in Paris on a royal errand. She sold their possessions, continuing to serve in poverty and prayer. Thirty-five years later she went to Apt, where her beloved Elzéar had been buried, and soon joined him in eternal rest. They were the first Franciscan couple to be formally canonized or beatified (followed only by the Martins of Lisieux). Their feast day is September 26.

Sarah (Kalb ’12) Ambrosio is an actress living in Southern California.




Motherhood Redeemed: How Radical Feminism Betrayed Maternal Love

Kimberly Cook ’05
(Tan Books)

Before she entered high school, Kimberly Cook’s family fell away from the Catholic faith. Cook became a “hot-headed feminist seeking restitution.” In her search for truth, Cook returned to the Church. Though she struggled to let go of feminist ideologies, her own experience of motherhood reshaped her harmful perception. Motherhood Redeemed challenges feminism, examines how our culture got here, and reminds readers that the nature of true womanhood is inseparable from a woman’s maternal soul.


Living the Fruit of the Spirit: How God’s Grace Can Transform Your World

Joshua M. Danis ’06
(The Word Among Us Press)

Discover a fresh approach to growing in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control as you read Living the Fruit of the Spirit. In it, author Joshua Danis breaks down myths about striving for a fruitful spiritual life and offers prayerful and practical steps to be used by individuals, prayer groups, and parish teams. By exploring each fruit in a simple and profound way, Danis reveals how the fruits of the Spirit can flourish in our daily lives, revive our faith, and help bring others to Jesus.


Rethinking the Enlightenment: Faith in the Age of Reason

Joseph T. Stuart ’01
(Sophia Institute Press)

In this book, scholar Joseph Stuart explores the tense interaction of the Enlightenment and Christianity as two cultures and two overlapping ways of life. Stuart reveals how many Christians—including Pope Benedict XIV and St. Louis de Montfort—strategically responded to the Enlightenment by engaging the culture and embracing faith and reason, or by building up Christian culture from within. Rethinking the Enlightenment demonstrates time-tested methods to employ in our own anti-Christian age, so we may revive Christian society once more.


Way of the Cross for Loved Ones Who Have Left the Faith

Fr. Jeffrey Kirby ’99, MA ’01
(Our Sunday Visitor Publishing)

It can be devastating to see loved ones leave the faith. But, in addition to invitations and conversations, we cannot forget the power of praying for them. Way of the Cross for Loved Ones Who Have Left the Faith invites readers to respond as Jesus did: with compassion and love. With emphases on intercession for loved ones and guidance for the faithful, this book can renew your hope as you contemplate the passion and death of Jesus Christ.


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