Capital Campaign | Featured

Rebuild My Church

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Capital Campaign | Featured

Rebuild My Church

The capital campaign pushes onward to the Phase Two goal, plus exciting enhancements to the Nursing Program and stories from donors.

Autumn 2022

In This Article

President’s Letter

Dear Friends,

Franciscan University is in a big mess right now; and we’re celebrating! Because this construction mess is a sign of building and renewal.

It is awesome and humbling to be building for and with the Lord! He takes our messes and builds his kingdom, and he gives us the privilege of building with and through him. We can pray like King David: “Who are we, O Lord God, and what is our house, that you have brought us thus far?… For your servants’ sake, and according to your own heart, you have wrought all this greatness” (cf. 1 Chron. 17:16-19).

The home turf of our lacrosse, soccer, and rugby teams, Trinity Health System Field, is in phase two of construction. The track is getting a rubber coating; men’s and women’s locker rooms and restroom facilities are being built. Christ the King Chapel will also be undergoing renovation and expansion. And the biggest project of all: In October, we will break ground on Christ the Teacher, the new academic and evangelization center.

All because of the support of generous benefactors.

I’ve been meeting with supporters of our Rebuild My Church Capital Campaign, and I like to ask: Why do you support what we’re doing at Franciscan University? Oftentimes, their responses are incredibly emotional and personal. Almost always it’s a celebration of what God has done and is doing here.

As I announced at commencement, we’ve reached our Phase One goal of $75 million, and the capital campaign continues. We have more building to do so we can prepare and send new generations on mission.

I know I keep saying this, but—I believe the Lord has more for us. He always does.

I can’t wait to see what’s next!

Peace and blessings!


Father Dave Pivonka, TOR ’89

Franciscan University of Steubenville


Empowering Our Nursing Students

Franciscan University’s undergraduate and graduate Nursing Programs have been first-rate for decades. They combine a stellar nursing education with respect for the dignity of every human person and the sacredness of human life. The first-time pass rate for the NCLEX, the licensing test for nurses, has remained above the national and state averages for years, and graduates have a 100 percent job placement rate. Franciscan University nursing graduates’ reputations for compassionate, professional, Christlike service make them highly sought after, and the department routinely receives calls from facilities looking to hire Franciscan graduates from both the bachelor’s program and the Master of Science in Nursing Program.

Right now, Franciscan University is turning out top-notch nurses from their current digs in Egan Hall, a cramped 7,000 square feet. Just the number of nursing students—250 and growing—cries out for more space.

“The simulation lab is significantly smaller than recommended for a program of this size,” says Nursing Department Chair Dr. Catherine (Recznik ’10, MSN ’12) Sullivan. “Simulations are routinely scheduled during evening hours so students can be in small enough groups to gain the skills they need to be successful in clinical practice.”

The Rebuild My Church Capital Campaign aims to solve the Nursing Department’s space constraints by allotting it a floor in Christ the Teacher Hall and Conference Center. The plan for the new building houses academics and evangelization under the same roof, with a wing dedicated to faith formation and a wing dedicated to academics. Like the undergraduate and graduate Nursing Programs themselves, the building will be dedicated to both faith and reason.

When Christ the Teacher Hall is completed, the Nursing Department’s physical footprint will nearly triple in size, with over 20,000 square feet dedicated to nursing: classrooms, SIM labs, control rooms, offices, and more.

The new nursing wing will be named after Terry and Barbara Caster, in honor of their tremendous generosity to Franciscan University (see Franciscan Friends, page 28).

Terry Caster believes in solid education, and over the years, he and his late wife have been particularly supportive of nursing education, both at Franciscan University and elsewhere. He recently made a significant commitment to the Rebuild My Church Campaign; specifically, the Christ the Teacher building; more specifically, Franciscan University’s Nursing Programs.

Franciscan also collaborates with the institute the Casters helped found, Life Perspectives, to include their compassionate approach to pregnancy-loss healing as a part of the nursing student formation.

Caster says that when he was 5 years old, two cousins moved in with his family in South Dakota. They were training to be nurses, and they kept in touch through the years.

“They told us a lot about nursing,” says Caster. They were impressive, and it stuck with him. At school, his teacher, a religious sister, spoke often about the importance of helping people, and it “tied together with what those two cousins were going to do.” It was an early connection with nurses’ training and service.


Just the number of nursing students–250 and growing–cries out for more space.


The seed planted in young and receptive soil grew and flourished. Caster has dedicated his energy and resources to the support of education, nursing, and compassionate service for decades.

The new Terry and Barbara Caster Nursing Wing will provide an appropriately up-to-date and spacious platform for nursing formation, particularly with the expansion of the simulation lab. This space allows nursing students to practice what they’re learning in the classroom without risking harm to human patients. The lab will mimic a real-world medical environment, with manikins as patients simulating nursing scenarios like childbirth, illness, trauma, and more.

Says Sullivan, “By participating in simulations, students will have the opportunity to experience high risk, low frequency events, as well as practice assessments and interventions for more common situations and emergencies.”

Simulation experiences, says Sullivan, are “a chance to interact with situations that are either uncommon but really important to recognize, or perhaps are extremely common and have major learning opportunities.”

The manikins have silicone skin for a more realistic feel; heart and lung sounds; palpable pulses; visible chest rise; anatomically correct airways; blood pressure readings; and much more. One manikin can simulate labor and delivery. Faculty use a case-study based curriculum, which includes programming the manikins to represent realistic nursing scenarios requiring management or intervention, to give students the opportunity to recognize symptoms, make decisions, and practice treatments.

“This is particularly helpful in clinical situations where staff would not be able to wait for the student to recognize what is happening,” says Sullivan. “For example, if in a clinical setting, a newborn begins to demonstrate difficulty breathing, it would not be appropriate for the nurse caring for the patient to sit back and wait for the student to recognize and intervene.”

The new building will include dedicated control rooms for faculty to observe and communicate with the students as they work with the manikins. The wing will also have conference areas that can be used to “debrief” the students, to ask and answer questions and explore alternatives.

“Best practice says we should have access to video recordings of the students’ performance during the simulation,” Sullivan explains. “The new debriefing space will be dedicated to this purpose and will provide the technology for us to show students the timing and outcomes of their interventions. This is a really exciting addition for our simulation program.”

The latest members of Franciscan’s medical manikin family are the Laerdal SimBaby™ (9-month-old) and SimNewB® (newborn) manikins. The new “babies” were provided through a grant from Mary Jane Brooks Charitable Trust, and they were welcomed with a baby shower, complete with decorations and cake and an opportunity to give gifts to the local pregnancy help center. As a part of the shower, guests submitted potential baby names. SimBaby was named Mary Jane, in honor of the granting organization; SimNewB was named Carolyn, after the long-standing, now retired, Nursing Department chair, Dr. Carolyn Miller.

The new space will include additional new manikins and equipment purchased through the Casters’ generous gift. Like the new building that will contain it, Franciscan’s bachelor’s Nursing Program and MSN Program will continue to present both faith and reason to form compassionate, faithful, and highly skilled nurses to love, serve, and heal patients.

“Our nursing students and faculty have been working patiently in the same facilities for many years,” says Sullivan. “We are grateful and humbled by Mr. Caster’s generosity and will think of him often when we move into the new building in fall 2024.”

Franciscan Friends

Terrence and Barbara Caster

Terry and Barbara Caster

We’re generous because we think Franciscan University is a great investment,” says Terrence “Terry” Caster. “It gives us joy when we see our investment” help young people to “be all the things Christ created them to be.”

Over the years, Caster and his wife, Barbara, and their family business, The Caster Group, have made a sizeable investment in Franciscan University programs, education, infrastructure, and youth conferences. Most recently, Caster made a generous gift to the Rebuild My Church Campaign, and the Nursing Program wing of Christ the Teacher Hall and Conference Center will be named in honor of the Casters.

“We invest heavily where we see somebody can make the world a little better,” he says. “We love rock solid education, especially with strong faith.”

Caster says this kind of education is the “only solution to save our country.” Without strong faith and without strong families, countries fall apart. “The family foundation is the secret sauce to any country,” he says. “The structure of the family in our country is disintegrating. We’ve got a lot of work to do!”

Caster knows more than a little about hard work and strong families. He was born during the Great Depression in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. “We had no running water in the house, no bathrooms, no electricity.” When he was 11, the family moved to Southern California, which was “like heaven.”

He met Barbara on a blind date.

“She came to California from New Jersey for one week’s vacation,” says Caster. They started dating, and “she forgot about going home.” For nine months, they talked “about every issue you could think of. What we wanted in life, what we didn’t want. We decided to get married.

“We were together for 65 years, the most beautiful 65 years you’d ever dream of. She was everything I could ever dream about. She was a partner in everything—we did everything together,” he says.

Barbara passed away in 2018.

They have 8 children, 40 grandchildren, 53 great-grandchildren, and 1 great-great grandchild on the way.

The Casters began developing mobile home parks in the 1960s, then moved into industrial, commercial, and residential development, all kinds of real estate, and self-storage facilities. They have created and support numerous philanthropic endeavors, such as Serving Hands International, which provides physical, spiritual, and educational aid to needy individuals to restore in them dignity and hope, and Life Perspectives, which offers safe, anonymous support after miscarriage or abortion.

The Casters have been coworkers with Mother Teresa and the Missionaries of Charity, helping to develop and build five facilities for them in Mexico and California. Mother Teresa herself wrote personal letters to the Casters, asking for and giving them advice.

These days, Caster is up at five o’clock every morning, and he stays “pretty busy until eight at night.” With his large family, his business, and his charities, he says he is scarce on time. Again—“We’ve got a lot of work to do!”


Franco and Maura Carapellotti

Maura, Chiara Francesca, and Franco Carapellotti

It’s a great time to be here,” says Franco Carapellotti, speaking of Franciscan University and the city of Steubenville. “And great for my family to be able to support an organization that benefits our area and the world.”

Franco Carapellotti grew up in Steubenville, and he says that his family has “always” been involved with Franciscan. His grandfather was a student in the ’40s. His grandmother was the first secretary to the first president. His grandparents and parents helped make the Portiuncula Chapel happen, even picking stones from a quarry in Assisi. Franco attended Catholic Central High School and then opted for John Carroll University. But he did coach track for a couple of years for Franciscan University, which led to a rugby trip to Ireland, where he met the women’s lacrosse coach (Maura Conant ’10 MA ’12) … who is now his wife.

Even though he grew up with Franciscan in his hometown, and even though his family supported Franciscan’s mission for decades, it wasn’t until he was traveling in Ireland that he realized how much reach the University has.

“Catholics in Ireland knew about the University and its impact around the globe,” says Franco.

When he heard that the University was building out Franciscan Square and looking to fill it with local businesses, Franco stepped up.

“From my childhood, I’d always wanted to do something to have a positive impact on the community.”

As the founder and CEO of Fraspada Company Limited, he was already involved in commercial real estate and outdoor recreation. With Franciscan Square, he added food service to the portfolio.

“We struggled to get restaurants” for Franciscan Square, says Franco, “so we backed into the restaurant business.” He brought a Bennigan’s and founded Brooklyn Bagel on the Square, which now has a second location in Pittsburgh (Brooklyn Bagel at Arsenal).

Franco has served on the University’s Board of Advisors and currently serves on the Supervisory Board for the Foundation Maria Thron in Gaming, Austria. Franco has been working on a plan to sell Kartausebrau (the Kartause’s own beer) in the U.S. He calls the Kartause a “special place” and an “asset to the University.”

“If you haven’t been on campus in a while, come back!” Franco urges. “See the changes and the growth. Make new friends. See the community here, Franciscan Square—experience how things are going.”

Franco and his family are enthusiastic supporters of the Rebuild My Church Campaign and lead donors: his mother, Rita; brother, Michael; sister, Nikki; wife, Maura; and baby daughter, Chiara Francesca.

“The mission is very important to us,” he says. “We give because it’s important for us to support organizations like Franciscan University that are having such a big impact on our local community and also on our world as a whole.”

Rebuild My Church Campaign Progress

“We give thanks to God always for all of you, remembering you in our prayers, unceasingly” (1 Thess. 1:2).

We continue to push onward toward our Phase Two goal, aided as always by the faithful prayers and support of our alumni and friends. Thank you for your generosity!


Phase One Campaign Goal: $75 Million Completed

Phase Two Campaign Goal: $10 Million Ongoing


Case Components:

  • Christ the Teacher Academic Hall and Conference Center ($59 Million)
    • Total Raised: $48,184,608
  • Financial Aid and Scholarships ($18 Million)
    • Total Raised: $22,774,447
  • Outreach and Evangelization ($5 Million)
    • Total Raised: $1,770,000
  • Center for Leadership and Entrepreneurship ($2 Million)
    • Total Raised: $2,000,000
  • Nursing SIM Laboratory ($1 Million)
    • Total Raised: $1,000,000
  • Criminal Justice Program ($1 Million)
    • Total Raised: $1,000,000
  • Undesignated Gifts
    • Total Raised: $1,187,757


Total Campaign Goal: $85 Million

Total Raised: $77,696,812 (as of September 1, 2022)


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