In Brief

In Brief – Winter 2023

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In Brief

In Brief – Winter 2023

A look at recent news from the Franciscan University community.

Winter 2023

In This Article

Honoring Amazing Alumni

Six Franciscan University alumni were honored at the Alumni Awards Banquet during the 2022 Homecoming Weekend. University President Father Dave Pivonka, TOR ’89, thanked them for the “wonderful, holy, amazing, productive things” they had accomplished.

Anna M. Carter ’09 received the Outstanding Young Alumni Award for co-founding Eden Invitation, a nonprofit promoting chastity and discipleship. “A lot of what we do at Eden Invitation is actually inspired by a lot of what I experienced at Franciscan,” she told the audience.

The Dr. John J. Carrigg Award was given to Sister Virginia Joy Cotter, SV ’03, for furthering the culture of life through education. A Sister of Life and director of the Respect Life Office for the Archdiocese of New York, she developed a prolife archdiocesan curriculum for 62,000 students.

Leslie A. (Grimard ’10) Ford received the Father Dan Egan Award for applying what she learned at Franciscan to public policy on Capitol Hill and in President Donald Trump’s White House.

Robert H. Gentile ’66 accepted the Professor Edward J. Kelly Award for his success in executive leadership. He served in the Reagan and George H. W. Bush administrations in the U.S. Department of the Interior and U.S. Department of Energy. President and CEO of Leonardo Technologies, he said Franciscan gave him “the management style that I had for the rest of my life.”

The Bishop John King Mussio Award went to Sister Megan Mary Thibodeau, SOLT ’95, for her leadership of the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity. She completed the process to allow the SOLT sisters to become a Society of Apostolic Life of Pontifical Right.

The recently deceased Albert J. Wagner ’73 received the Alumni Citizenship Award for his exemplary public service. Known as A.J., he served as acting judge and magistrate for Dayton Municipal Court and judge for the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas. Lu Dreyer ’71 accepted the award on A.J.’s behalf, saying A.J. was “truly an instrument of God’s love in his community.”

Anna Carter ’09; Leslie (Grimard ’10) Ford; Fr. Dave Pivonka, TOR ’89; Robert Gentile ’66; Sr.Virginia Joy Cotter, SV ’03; Sr. Megan Mary Thibodeau, SOLT ’95; Christie Fleming ’10, director of Alumni Relations.

Anna Carter ’09; Leslie (Grimard ’10) Ford; Fr. Dave Pivonka, TOR ’89; Robert Gentile ’66; Sr. Virginia Joy Cotter, SV ’03; Sr. Megan Mary Thibodeau, SOLT ’95; Christie Fleming ’10, director of Alumni Relations.


Economic Impact Increases

Franciscan University’s Dr. Michael Welker ’89, professor of economics, released his latest study on the University’s economic impact on the Ohio Valley economy.

“Directly and indirectly, we estimate the economic impact of Franciscan University of Steubenville on the local economy to be $422 million and the employment of nearly 8,000 persons throughout the Ohio Valley,” Welker explained. “This study indicates an 8.8 percent increase in total economic impact over the past decade, which more than doubles the impact recorded in the 2010-11 study.”

One of the major sources of economic benefit to the region includes over $15 million per year in direct student spending. In addition, over $20 million is spent annually by over 32,889 visitors to Franciscan.

The University provided almost 120,000 hours of volunteer service to the local community in 2020-2021, which includes over 52,400 hours provided by students. The value of the contributed time was estimated at $4.1 million.

“We are deeply grateful for the many blessings revealed in this study and for the ways we’ve been able to give back to the community that has given us so much for so many years,” said Franciscan University President Father Dave Pivonka, TOR ’89.

Read the report here or contact the Franciscan University Community Relations Office at 740-283-6406 for a printed copy.


Inspiring Religious Vocations

Franciscan University held its annual Religious Vocations Awareness Day on October 7, 2022. Representatives from over 45 religious communities and dioceses attended, including priests and religious from the Diocese of Steubenville, the TOR Franciscan Friars and Sisters, Dominicans, and Carmelites.

Father Jonathan McElhone, TOR ’05, director of the Priestly Discernment Program that sponsors the event, witnessed its impact up close.

“Having an opportunity to interact with so many different vocation directors in one place is very beneficial to our students and other participants as they explore the possibility of serving Our Lord Jesus Christ and the Church through ordained ministry or consecrated religious life,” he said.

Hungarian President Visits

President Katalin Novák of Hungary visited Franciscan University on September 27 and spoke with students about her faith, family, and public service.

In May, Novák became the youngest person and the first woman to be elected president in her country. She is a devout Christian, well known for putting her faith and family values first in her public service.

“In this integration of her faith into her career and public service, she is an example to all of us who are called to live out our faith fearlessly in a radically secular society,” said University President Father Dave Pivonka, TOR ’89.

President Katalin Novák and Fr. Dave Pivonka, TOR

President Katalin Novák and Fr. Dave Pivonka, TOR

Novák concluded her presentation by encouraging students to remain humble.

“I know who I am responsible to, and that is our heavenly Father,” she told students. “If you keep that in mind, and you don’t forget to pray, then you don’t forget that his is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory.”

You can watch President Novák’s address to students here.

Franciscan in Top 15 Percent

U.S. News & World Report’s 2022-23 Best Colleges guidebook ranked Franciscan University 26th, putting it in the top 15 percent among Midwest universities.

Three factors for the top-tier ranking were an 86 percent first-year retention rate, a 72 percent graduation rate, and a 14-1 student/faculty ratio.

“Students choose Franciscan University for our unique blend of academic excellence, dynamic faith life, and rich campus community life,” said University President Father Dave Pivonka, TOR ’89.

The 2022-23 Best Colleges findings reflect the growth of the University, which saw its largest incoming class—almost 750 new full-time undergraduate students. Online enrollment also surged to a record-breaking 1,050 students. Total enrollment for fall 2022 reached a record of 3,650.


Vatican II’s 60th Anniversary

On October 11-12, Franciscan University held an academic conference, Vatican II at 60: The Legacy and the Controversy, to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council.

Conference speakers addressed over 200 participants on Vatican II’s teachings.

“It is difficult today to get a sense of what things were like before Vatican II and what the council intended to do and not to do,” said Dr. Stephen Hildebrand, Franciscan University dean of the School of Theology and Philosophy. “This conference brought light and charity to these often difficult and divisive questions.”

Select audio recordings of conference presentations can be found here.


Cutting Ribbons and Breaking Ground

On October 14, Franciscan University celebrated the ribbon-cutting ceremony for Trinity Health System Field and the groundbreaking ceremony for Christ the Teacher Academic Hall and Conference Center.

Father Dave Pivonka, TOR ’89, president of Franciscan University, led the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

“Today, we are pleased to especially honor the Carapellotti family, whose members have supported Franciscan University in many ways from its beginning,” said Father Dave. “It is my great pleasure that the newest athletic facility on our campus is the Carapellotti Fieldhouse.”

“We are so humbled and so grateful and thankful to be a part of the University and especially athletics,” said Nikki Carapellotti, accepting the honor on behalf of the Carapellotti family.

Trinity Health System Field is used by Franciscan’s NCAA Division III men’s and women’s soccer, lacrosse, and track and field teams and includes an eight-lane track, men’s and women’s locker rooms, and new scoreboard.

Former trustee Paul Carapellotti and Fr. Dave Pivonka, TOR, do the ribbon-cutting honors surrounded by the Carapellotti family at the new Carapellotti Fieldhouse.

Former trustee Paul Carapellotti and Fr. Dave Pivonka, TOR, do the ribbon-cutting honors surrounded by the Carapellotti family at the new Carapellotti Fieldhouse.

Bob Hickey ’96, MBA ’01, vice president of Advancement at Franciscan, led the groundbreaking ceremony for Christ the Teacher Hall.

The $59 million building will be over 110,000 square feet and will have one wing for the Nursing, Business, and Engineering Programs and one for spiritual formation. It will include a conference and welcome center, lecture hall, boardroom, and state-of-the-art nursing and engineering labs.

“We are taking Franciscan University to new heights as one of the world’s great Catholic universities,” said trustee emeritus Paul Michael “Mickey” Pohl, chairman of the University’s Rebuild My Church Capital Campaign.

Construction of Christ the Teacher is funded by the Rebuild My Church Capital Campaign, the most ambitious capital campaign in the University’s history.

Construction of Christ the Teacher is due to be completed in the fall of 2024.

You can see more photos of these events and campaign coverage here.

Pope Emeritus Writes to University President

Pope Benedict Conference

Pope Benedict XVI

Over 350 participants met at Franciscan University on October 20-21 for the Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI Vatican Foundation Annual Conference.

Foundation President Father Federico Lombardi, SJ, surprised attendees with a letter from Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI to Father Dave Pivonka, TOR ’89, president of Franciscan University.

Written just a few months before Benedict’s death, the four-page letter included a reflection on the Second Vatican Council.

“When Pope John XXIII announced it, to everyone’s surprise, there were many doubts as to whether it would be meaningful,” Benedict wrote. “In reality, a new council proved to be not only meaningful, but necessary.”

Benedict’s fascinating letter attracted immediate worldwide attention, with more than 75 media outlets around the world reporting on it.

“It is a great gift for me personally and for our entire University community to receive such a warm message of thanks and support from Benedict XVI, our pope emeritus,” said Father Dave.

The conference focused on the theory and application of Benedict’s ecclesiology.

Conference organizer, Dr. Stephen Hildebrand, Franciscan University theology professor and dean of the School of Theology and Philosophy, noted the wonderful presentations that “placed Benedict’s theology in the service of the challenges that the Church faces today.”

View videos of conference presentations.

Read Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s letter.

Read Franciscan’s tribute to Pope Benedict.

Franciscan Saint – St. Louis of Toulouse (1274 – 1297)

St. Louis of Toulouse

St. Louis of Toulouse

Holiness is possible at any age. Even the young can aspire to sanctity, as St. Louis of Toulouse did. Although he died when he was only 23 years old, Louis dedicated his life to growing in Franciscan charity, humility, and virtue.

On the surface, Louis’ devotion to the Franciscan life may have seemed at odds with his upbringing. He was born to royalty; his father was Charles II of Naples, and his mother, Mary, was daughter to the king of Hungary. But his family tree also contained noble saints: St. Louis IX on his father’s side and St. Elizabeth of Hungary on his mother’s side.

From a young age, Louis was said to pray often and share food with the poor outside the castle. Then, as a teenager, he and his brothers were taken to the king of Aragon as political hostages for seven years. There, Franciscan friars tutored the boy, helping him grow both academically and spiritually. Louis ultimately decided to forsake his royal title, hand over his inheritance to his younger brother, and pursue his vocation to the priesthood.

Shortly after Louis was ordained at age 21, Pope Boniface VIII wanted to appoint him as bishop of Toulouse. Louis, however, requested to first make his solemn profession as a Franciscan. He did so, even begging and donning his Franciscan habit as a bishop.

During the months of Louis’ episcopate, the people of Toulouse respected their young bishop for his gentleness and generosity. He continued the works of mercy of his childhood by feeding the poor and caring for his diocese’s churches. In 1297, he became ill with a fever and passed away.

St. Louis was canonized just two decades later in 1317 by Pope John XXII. Like his holy ancestors, he showed how an earthly kingdom means nothing without striving first for the kingdom of heaven.

St. Louis’ feast day is August 19.



Jesus I Trust in You

Jesus I Trust in You: A 30-Day Personal Retreat With the Litany of Trust

Sister Faustina Maria Pia Bianchi, SV ’05

Emmaus Road

We are called to trust in God completely, but sometimes the challenges of life can undermine that trust. Sister Faustina’s beautiful Litany of Trust has helped people draw closer to Jesus, and now she invites them to go even deeper with this month-long personal retreat. For each of the 30 days, she explores a single verse from the litany, accompanied by personal stories and insights from saints. Step by step, readers will walk closer to the Father’s heart and trust in his unfailing love. n


A Living Sacrifice: Liturgy and Eschatology in Joseph Ratzinger

A Living Sacrifice: Liturgy and Eschatology in Joseph Ratzinger

Roland Millare ’04

Emmaus Academic

Roland Millare, vice president for Curriculum and program director of Shepherd’s Heart for the St. John Paul II Foundation, draws from Scripture and Joseph Ratzinger’s works to illustrate the intrinsic connection between liturgy and eschatology. Millare examines Ratzinger’s emphasis on the primacy of logos and centrality of Christ, as well as his understanding of hope, charity, and beauty. A Living Sacrifice provides not only an in-depth study of Ratzinger’s theological contributions but also a reminder that the liturgy on earth points toward union with God in heaven.


Homeland Security: An Introduction to Principles and Practice

Homeland Security: An Introduction to Principles and Practice, Fourth Edition

Dr. Charles P. Nemeth

CRC Press

Dr. Charles P. Nemeth, director of the Criminal Justice Program at Franciscan University, blends theory with practical application to cover the latest policy, operational, and program developments to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). This updated textbook delves into the history, origins, and evolution of DHS and highlights emerging topics such as drone usage, surveillance technologies, pandemic threats, and border security and immigration. It also includes chapter summaries, discussion questions, and exercises to help students review and implement the material.


Principles of Change: Teresa of Avila's Carmelite Reform and Insights From Change Management

Principles of Change: Teresa of Avila’s Carmelite Reform and Insights From Change Management

Dr. Kristina R. Olson MA ’09

En Route Books and Media

The saints provide many lessons for the spiritual life, but they can also serve as guides for practical problems. Dr. Kristina R. Olson, a member of the Secular Order of Discalced Carmelites, examines St. Teresa of Avila’s reform of the Carmelite Order in 16th-century Spain in light of modern change management and information technology adoption principles. She illuminates why St. Teresa’s reform was a success and how spiritual and secular leaders can follow her approach when instituting organizational changes today.

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