Points of Light

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Points of Light

Franciscan University sends forth the Class of 2022, the largest in its history.

Summer 2022 | Tom Sofio

In This Article

The job market for college graduates hasn’t been better in decades.

Despite inflation and the omnipresent recession, the U.S. job market continues its strong comeback from the pandemic, with openings across all fields and a low overall unemployment rate of 3.6 percent.

That’s good news for the Class of 2022—and their parents!

Franciscan University of Steubenville did its part to develop career-ready graduates to fill those job vacancies by sending forth 761 graduates—the largest class in the University’s 75-year history—at commencement ceremonies held May 13-14.

But what sets Franciscan University grads apart from much of the graduating pack is the moral and spiritual development they received along with their solid academic formation.

It’s what prompted Reilly O’Luanaigh MA ’22 who graduated with a master’s in clinical mental health counseling to say, “Because the program is taught from a Catholic perspective, we’re prepared for the secular workforce so we can maintain our Catholic perspective of the human person.”

It’s what prompted Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco, who presided over the Baccalaureate Mass, to call Franciscan grads “a great beacon of hope, a shining light in so much darkness.”

Kateri Lock ’22


Archbishop Cordileone received an honorary doctorate of Christian ethics at the May 13 Baccalaureate Mass for his “defense of truth in the public square” on matters such as abortion and for his call for increased reverence of the Blessed Sacrament to combat the culture of death.

“In a certain sense, we are now again facing a civilizational collapse. There are many forces in the world today that want to make us feel ashamed to be Catholic,” Archbishop Cordileone said.

But just as monasteries became the points of light across Europe after the fall of the Roman Empire, Archbishop Cordileone said the Church needs “new points of light” that will rebuild civilization in a Christian way.

“When people think of points of light in the Church in the United States of America, you [Franciscan University of Steubenville] come immediately to mind. You’re at the top of the list.

“Of course, we’re thankful there are many other points of light as well, where the Church is vibrant, young, and growing. Where the fullness of our Catholic faith and tradition is joyfully embraced. You are a great hope and inspiration to me and to all my brother bishops.”

Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco received an honorary doctorate of Christian ethics for his “defense of truth in the public square.”


Alex McKenna ’22, the outgoing Student Government president, is one of those points of light. A political science and humanities and Catholic culture double major, Alex is taking a gap year to teach at Mar Qardakh School, a K-11 school in Erbil, Iraq, that is under the Chaldean Catholic Archdiocese of Erbil.

As he sees it, “We were called here to rebuild the Church, and we’ve been given four years of being built up for that mission. Now is the time to go forth and live that mission.”

Fr. Jude Ogheneochuko Emunemu MA ’22


Jonathan Greiner ’22 will shine his point of light in the world as a commissioned officer in the United States Air Force. A chemistry major, he is pursuing a career in law enforcement in chemical forensics.

“Being able to openly acknowledge the presence of God and use our knowledge to further understand the science of God’s creation is amazing. I’m grateful to have the opportunity to be a Catholic scientist and be a witness to those around me.”

Of course, graduation means going forth, which means leaving the holy hill known as Franciscan University, where students are surrounded by like-minded Catholics who share their love for all that is good, true, and beautiful, with friends crazy enough to join you for 6:30 a.m. Mass or swap Holy Hours so you can cram for a test.

Who better to offer the Class of 2022 advice for navigating the woke culture and life off the hill than philosophy professor Dr. Peter Kreeft, a leading Catholic apologist and author of over 100 books? Kreeft delivered the commencement address at both the science and arts ceremonies, held Saturday, May 14.

Philosophy professor Dr. Peter Kreeft received an honorary doctorate of humane letters “for empowering people to rise to the contemplation of truth.”


With the engaging approach used in many of his books, Kreeft warned the graduates to be on the lookout for 10 lies championed by the contemporary culture, lie No. 1 being “you can be whatever you want to be.”

“That’s not true even for God. He can’t be the devil even if he wanted to be,” said Kreeft. “Good cannot be evil, and evil cannot become good.” To further illustrate, he said, “Hobbits cannot become wizards, only better or worse hobbits. Men cannot become women, only better or badder men. You cannot make yourself immortal. You can’t even make yourself a saint. Only God can do that, though you can let him do that.”

Summing up the lies of the “whatever” culture with its emphasis on personal freedom at all costs, Kreeft said: “Cavities hate dentists. And cancers hate radiation. And cockroaches hate light. And demons hate truth. But love cannot stop warring against hate. And light cannot stop warring against darkness….

“Just go forth and preach the truth, the good news in both word and deed. Remember Mother Teresa’s life-changing and liberating principle: “‘God did not put you in this world to be successful but to be faithful.’”

Theatre Arts Professor John Walker congratulates his daughter, communication arts major Anna Rose Walker ’22.


Before the Class of 2022 filed out of Finnegan Fieldhouse—bound for the prize of that first job, or maybe grad school, seminary, or mission work—they heard one last time from Franciscan University President Father Dave Pivonka, TOR, who spoke to them from his heart.

He told the graduates he looks forward to one day being in heaven with them.

Getting to that end point requires diligence, however. “I guarantee that if you go with your plan, your desire, your vision, it will lead to chaos and confusion and ultimately away from the Lord.”

But, if you surrender your plans, desires, and dreams to the Lord, “what he builds is much more beautiful, much more amazing, much more remarkable than anything you can possibly imagine.”


Angelina Palumbo ’22


Takeaway Message: “The nursing faculty don’t simply teach you how to recognize symptoms or understand a complex disease process. They teach you how to care for each patient in a holistic way and highlight the need to care for all aspects of their life.”

What’s Next: Work in a neonatal intensive care unit or pediatric oncology.


Nicholas Riccardi ’22


Takeaway Mesage: “Faculty are passionate about seeking truth, explaining it, and guarding it, and modeling it for the students.”

What’s Next: Music ministry in a parish setting.


Lauren Krawczyk ’22

Social Work

Takeaway Message: “I loved the small class size and one-on-one dialogue with my professors. And seeing a dozen people I know in my four-minute walk to class.”

What’s Next: Social work for an agency that serves the marginalized.


Gabriel Schoone ’22

Philosophy and Theology

Takeaway Message: “Here, I developed my own personal relationship with the Lord, fed by my professors, my household, mission trips, retreats, Mass, and especially the semester in Austria!”

What’s Next: Major seminary for the Diocese of Pittsburgh.

For videos of each event and the commencement program that includes the recipients of Senior Departmental Awards:

academics.franciscan.edu/ commencement-live.

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