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Rebuild My Church

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Capital Campaign | Featured

Rebuild My Church

Exciting capital campaign updates, including Christ the Teacher Hall progress and a new pro-life scholarship.

Summer 2023

In This Article

President’s Letter

Dear Friends,

Our Rebuild My Church Capital Campaign continues to progress—and now we can see it growing before our eyes. Christ the Teacher Hall had been big holes and piles of dirt for months as workers prepared a solid foundation; now walls and beams are going up, little by little. We’re on track for the building to be ready for our nursing, business, and engineering students in fall 2024. Christ the Teacher Hall will be a beautiful expression of the unity of faith and reason found in our academic programs and a monument to the investment of our benefactors in our mission.

The Capital Campaign is also building with living stones, through its scholarship component. Generous gifts are funding new scholarships to enable students to come and be built up by a Franciscan University education—so they can go out and be builders themselves, in the Church and in society.

The new scholarships include the St. Pope John Paul II Scholarship created by a Pennsylvanian for students from Pennsylvania. The Unplugged Scholarship, established by graduates of Franciscan, creates an incentive for students to get off their phones and into real relationships with God and each other. The Crossroads Pro-life Scholarship, also from a Franciscan alumnus, will be given to students actively involved in pro-life work, which is especially important now that the fight for life has shifted to individual states.

We continue to be humbled by the generosity of alumni, benefactors, and friends. We’ve raised more than $83 million—an amazing $52 million more than Franciscan University has raised in any previous campaign. I’m so grateful for this incredible outpouring of love and support for our students—and all the lives they will impact in the future. Thank you!

Thank you for rebuilding with us!


Father Dave Pivonka, TOR ’89

Franciscan University of Steubenville

“Go Out Into the Byroads”

New Crossroads Pro-Life Scholarship to educate Franciscan students for the challenges of building a culture of life post-Roe.

James Nolan ’99

James Nolan ’99

My grandmother learned about Franciscan University on EWTN,” says Jimmy Nolan ’99. “She said, ‘If you go, I’ll pay the first year.’”

Nolan went for the free year of college in the fall of 1993, and he stayed because he loved it.

In 1995, he heard about fellow student Steve Sanborn’s (crazy?) new plan: walking with other students across the country, from California to Washington, D.C., in answer to Pope John Paul II’s call at World Youth Day in Denver.

They called themselves Crossroads Pro-Life, and they were going to “make the Gospel of Life penetrate the fabric of society” by literally taking the message into the nation’s highways and byways. Nolan (who lived in D.C.) said to Sanborn, “Well, if you make it all the way to D.C., you can stay at my place.”

They made it; and the next year Nolan began volunteering for the organization and then walked across the country with them in 1998. In 2000, Nolan assumed leadership of Crossroads. By then, he was a student at Ave Maria Law School. Today Nolan practices law, works in his family’s business, and is president of Crossroads.

For 25 years, from 1995 to 2019, young men and women walked across America for the unborn. Each day, they were up early to attend Mass and then to walk. All through the daylight hours they walked, praying Rosaries and Divine Mercy chaplets. They stopped in cities and towns along the way, including Steubenville, where they would stay with local families and speak in local parishes. Then, they would be up early again to be back on the road, walking and praying.

By 2019, there were three separate Crossroads routes across America, plus walks in Canada and Australia. Over a thousand young people participated in walks across the country in that quarter century. They celebrated Crossroads’ silver jubilee with current and alumni walkers and began to prepare for 2020.

But 2020 didn’t go as they planned. Australia’s walk, scheduled for January, was cancelled when the worst wildfires in decades swept across that country. Then, COVID shut down the American walks, ahead of 2020’s summer of demonstrations, violence, and vandalism across the U.S. Then, the 2021 walks were cancelled, also due to COVID. In 2022, the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. At the same time, hostility toward pro-lifers became increasingly overt and violent.

Nolan had been sensing that it might be time for Crossroads to move in a new direction, and the cascade of events seemed to confirm that.

Father Dave Pivonka, TOR ’89, told him, “It’s strange when the Lord takes something that seems to be full steam ahead and just stops it. We’ve got to trust that he has something else in mind. Something better.”

For Crossroads, the “something else” is a new pro-life scholarship for Franciscan University students who have been active in pro-life work and/or intend to dedicate themselves to pro-life work once they graduate. Some of those scholarships will also go to single mothers studying at Franciscan.

“This is the first pro-life scholarship on this level that we know of,” says Nolan.

Crossroads will give Franciscan University $100,000 to give to student scholarships of $2,500 to $5,000 (with opportunities for other benefactors to contribute and potentially double Crossroads’ gift).

Franciscan gets the Crossroads Pro-life Scholarship, says Nolan, because it’s where Crossroads was born; because the first walkers came from Franciscan; and because Franciscan students and graduates consistently made up the bulk of walkers each year.

“Crossroads was like an extension of Franciscan,” says Nolan. “It was about giving people in college a summer of fellowship and of solidifying values and beliefs and of building community.”

The goal of the new Crossroads Pro-Life Scholarship is to educate and equip young people for the challenges of building a culture of life after the overturn of Roe. The battle has shifted to the state and local level now.

“We want to have people ready to meet those challenges,” says Nolan.

He’s hoping to form an army of pro-life doctors and nurses, lawyers, legislators, and more, to make the Gospel of Life penetrate the fabric of society.

“Do not be afraid to go out on the streets and into public places, like the first Apostles. … This is no time to be ashamed of the Gospel. It is the time to preach it from the rooftops. Do not be afraid to break out of comfortable and routine modes of living, in order to take up the challenge of making Christ known in the modern ‘metropolis.’ It is you who must ‘go out into the byroads.’” —Pope John Paul II, Denver World Youth Day, 1993

Chris and Molly McMahon

Molly and Chris McMahon

Molly and Chris McMahon

Are we doing enough? What do we do with the time we have left?”

Those are questions Chris and Molly McMahon keep asking themselves.

The McMahons have been married for 33 years; they have five grown children. They joined the local Legatus chapter, thinking of it as “Catholic date night.” It led them to commit to living the faith with more courage, energy, and purpose—“faith is critically important,” says Chris.

Faith is what drives them to service.

Chris is vice chair of the Legatus board. He’s on the board of their alma mater, Duquesne University, where he and Molly met. They actively support the Sisters of Mary in Mexico (founded by Father Al Schwartz) and the Sisters of Life.

They founded Mary’s Place, a home for pregnant and parenting women in Pittsburgh, to save mothers and babies and “protect the dignity of human life,” Chris says.

Chris also established MFA Wealth, an investment advisory firm in Pittsburgh, and Aquinas Wealth Advisors, to provide wealth management in harmony with Catholic moral teachings along with solid returns.

Chris and Molly found that they kept bumping into Franciscan University, metaphorically, as their faith deepened and their service expanded. Legatus friends had sons and daughters attending Franciscan. Many interns at Mary’s Place were from Franciscan.

The McMahons found themselves drawn by the mission, energy, and commitment of Franciscan, and they wanted to support what they see as vital work. True to form, they’ve stepped up, most recently with a generous contribution to Christ the Teacher Hall.

“Franciscan University is what’s needed in society,” says Chris. “We’re trying to get more involved.”

Last year, Chris and Molly started a new Catholic evangelization conference called Catholics at the Shore; this summer, Father Dave Pivonka, TOR ’89, will be one of the speakers at the New Jersey event.

“It’s relaxed and comfortable,” says Chris. “People who are on fire, it feeds them. Lukewarm folks come, too, and get set on fire.”

That’s what the McMahons do—they let themselves be set on fire, and they’re spreading that blaze in every facet of life and society that they can.


Dan McBane ’09, MBA ’13

Dan McBane ’09, MBA ’13

Dan McBane ’09, MBA ’13

The McBane family has been taking care of families and businesses since 1900, when James McBane founded McBane Insurance and Financial Services in Bergholz, Ohio.

Jim McBane is the third generation of McBanes in his family’s business. His son Dave ’92 joined the team in 1994. Twenty years later, Jim invited his younger son Dan into the business.

Dan hadn’t always seen himself picking up that mantle, but his father highlighted the importance of a good insurance agency.

“We are the first person people call when some of the worst things happen,” Jim told him. “If we do our job right, we’re able to take care of them.”

Dan really appreciated his father’s view and decided to join the family business in 2014, where he serves as vice president alongside his brother Dave as president.

The family’s generous support of Franciscan University’s mission is a McBane tradition, with contributions to scholarships and capital campaigns through the decades. Dan attended four Steubenville Youth Conferences at Franciscan’s main campus and then attended Franciscan for his undergraduate and graduate degrees. Dan also met his wife Clare (Smith ’12) while finishing his undergraduate degree.

Dan didn’t grow up Catholic; but at one of the youth conferences, during adoration, he began to understand and believe in the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. A seed was planted. During his early years at Franciscan, he joined a household, began attending Mass regularly, and enrolled in theology classes. However, he wasn’t positive where the Lord was calling him until a pivotal conversation.

“I was talking to Father John Ignatius—Aron Little ’02 at the time. He grabbed me by the shoulders and said, ‘If I was in the Church because of the people, I would’ve left a long time ago. I’m in the Church because of Jesus.’”

After that, Dan says, “It was painful to go to Mass and not receive Jesus.”

The McBanes support Franciscan because it helped to make them the people they are today through formation, education, and rock-solid friendships with people all over the country.

“We fully and enthusiastically support the mission, and we want to give back so others can have the experience we did.”


Rebuild My Church Campaign Progress

“I give thanks to my God at every remembrance of you, praying always with joy in my every prayer for all of you, because of your partnership for the Gospel.”

(Phil. 1:3-6)

Because of your partnership for the Gospel, we have almost reached our $85 million goal for the Rebuild My Church Campaign. May God bless you for your generosity to our Franciscan University students!


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: $47,231,248
  • Financial Aid and Scholarships ($18 Million)
    • Total Raised: $26,978,677
  • Outreach and Evangelization ($5 Million)
    • General: $2,810,000
    • PhD Theology Program: $2,258,000
  • Center for Leadership and Entrepreneurship ($2 Million)
    • Total Raised: $2,000,000
  • Nursing SIM Laboratory ($1 Million)
    • Total Raised: $1,000,000
  • Criminal Justice Major ($1 Million)
    • Total Raised: $1,000,000


Total Campaign Goal: $85 Million

Total Raised: $83,277,925 (as of May 12, 2023)
Number of Gifts: 1,272
Average Gift: $65,470

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