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Patrick Briley

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Franciscan Faces

Patrick Briley

Mercy is Ever New.

Winter 2022 | Maura Roan McKeegan

In This Article

In high school, Patrick Briley knew he wanted to attend a college that would strengthen his faith, but he didn’t know where to find it. Then, his dad sent him some YouTube videos that “PDPers” (students in the Priestly Discernment Program) had made about Franciscan University.

“I hadn’t fathomed that this kind of community would exist,” recalls Patrick.

The following fall, he headed to Steubenville, where he enrolled in the Nursing Program and joined a household.

In the Knights of the Holy Queen Household, Patrick found the community he had been searching for, with a spiritual depth he never imagined.

“I didn’t know what Marian devotion was until I came here,” he says. “Getting to know these guys who were so radical and so devoted about this total consecration to Our Lady set me on fire.”

In the Nursing Program, Patrick learned to put theory—and faith—into practice in caring for patients.

“It’s not just this theoretical understanding of heart failure, for example, or diabetes,” he explains. “It’s cool to understand how that works, but now, what does that mean for this person sitting across from me in this bed in the hospital? How does my theoretical knowledge of all these things come down to earth and meet this person where he is and bring him healing and goodness?”

Patrick also learned to put theory and faith into practice with another passion of his: music. Growing up in California, he had spent years intensively studying music theory. He sang, played piano and guitar, wrote music, played in a jazz band, and performed regularly at a restaurant.

Joining the music scene at Franciscan, he decided to shift to playing for worship and liturgy. Now he co-leads Festivals of Praise.

The music community on campus, he says, helped him figure out what to do with his theoretical knowledge of music.

“I can play all these fancy chords, but what does that really mean? How do you go about praying in the midst of all this and allowing the Holy Spirit to guide you? The Lord is so present in it.”

Last summer, Patrick worked as camp musician at a Catholic summer camp in Colorado. On campus, he performs at coffee-houses and other events. He hopes to write more Catholic music after graduating.

Patrick says one theme God has been teaching him especially over the past year is about the newness of mercy.

“Mercy is ever new,” he says. “Just like music never gets old. The brothers I’ve found in household never get old. The Nursing Department here, these experiences I have with these patients, and taking the knowledge from my lectures into the hospital where I’m taking care of these people, that never gets old. And coming to the Lord and encountering his mercy, learning how to forgive myself, and learning how to be OK with imperfections—none of that ever gets old, because mercy is ever new each day.”


Maura Roan McKeegan is the author of “Saved by the Lamb: Moses and Jesus” and other Catholic children’s books.

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