From the President

On Being Called Father

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From the President

On Being Called Father

“Hopefully, I am revealing the face, the heart of our heavenly Father, as so many fathers have done for me.”

Winter 2024 | Father Dave Pivonka, TOR

In This Article

Once, before I was ordained, I heard a faint voice as I walked by the Rosary Circle. “Father. Father.” I turned around when I realized the voice was calling to me. The student approached and said, “Father, could I talk with you for a minute? I mean, would you hear my confession?” I explained I wasn’t a priest yet so I could not hear her confession.

About 18 months later, I was ordained a priest, and I went from “Brother” Dave to “Father” Dave. I knew people would call me Father after my ordination; I just didn’t know then how special that title would become. But as I’ve grown older, being called Father has become ever more dear to me.

I didn’t become a priest because I didn’t want to be a dad. I always felt attracted to the idea of being married and being a dad. One reason I found that vocation attractive was because I had such a great dad as an example. I was greatly blessed with a dad who loved God, loved my mom, and loved me and my five siblings.

I remember Dad talking with me about a relationship with Christ as I was growing up. Dad and Mom were the first to disciple me. Once, I Googled “disciple children,” and it came back, “Do you mean discipline your children?” Nope, that was not what I meant. My dad discipled me. He really was my first teacher of the faith, and I will be forever grateful. His love for me, in all its expressions, imprinted in my heart the deep love of a father.

But Dad was not the only father figure to me. Many fathers have greatly impacted me and my life. One of the earliest, Father Paul, was a good friend of my parents. A Franciscan, Father Paul would visit my family often. He had such tremendous joy. He would celebrate Mass at our home, and it was such a special blessing.

When I was a student at Franciscan University, Father Augustine always made time for me to take a walk or have a cup of tea. He inspired in me the desire to pray more and seek Jesus with a purer heart.

I could go on and on about the priests who have shown me the face of our heavenly Father. Their care and example helped me respond to the call to the priesthood. I had received the fruit of so many fathers who discipled me (and a few who also disciplined me). I felt God inviting me to live out my fatherhood by being a priest and sharing what my dad and countless other fathers had impressed on me. I have not done this perfectly, but I have tried to take the best of what I learned from my dad and other priests and be a father to the people the Lord puts in my path. I have experienced such blessings and peace in the last 27 years I’ve been called “Father.”

Since I came back to the University as president, those introducing me at various events often say something like, “We are blessed at Franciscan because Father Dave is not only our president, but he is also our pastor. He is our father.” I delight in this. It is a joy for me to be the father of this community. Hopefully, I am revealing the face, the heart of our heavenly Father, as so many fathers have done for me. The human heart longs for a Father, and I pray I will always cooperate with God’s grace and lead others to the Father who loves them perfectly.

The other day I was walking by the St. John Paul II Library and heard behind me, “Father!” I stopped, turned around, and said, “Did you call me?”

Yes, it is a joy!



Father Dave, TOR

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