Ringing in the Jubilee

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Ringing in the Jubilee

Franciscan University kicked off its 75th anniversary celebration on December 10.

Winter 2022 | Jessica Walker

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On December 10, 1946, the College of Steubenville opened its doors. Before classes began, the small congregation of students, administrators, and Franciscan TOR friars gathered for Mass. They prayed for the first academic year and for the future of this brand-new Catholic college in the Ohio Valley.

Exactly 75 years later, on the same date in 2021, the campus once again came together for Mass. This time, they celebrated God’s blessings upon Franciscan University of Steubenville throughout the decades and asked for his continued graces, particularly through the intercession of Our Lady of Loreto, whose feast day is December 10.

“I can only imagine the early friars who came here 75 years ago at the invitation of the local bishop would have longed to celebrate what’s happening here. God is doing wondrous things,” said President Father Dave Pivonka, TOR, at the Jubilee Mass. Father Dave noted there are many reasons for rejoicing—but one reason stands above the rest.

“Franciscan University has been a part of creating saints, men and women who love God, who love the Church, and who love one another,” he said. “We’re celebrating the fact that everybody’s names here have been written in the book of heaven. The job of Franciscan University is to see that you are formed and educated, so as to be able to hear that roll call.”

Steubenville Bishop Jeffrey Monforton also offered his congratulations, saying he has been “grateful for the collaboration and cooperation” between the University and the diocese over the last 75 years.

After Mass, everyone gathered outside for the unveiling and blessing of a new Our Lady of the Angels mosaic on the façade of the J.C. Williams Center, overlooking Rosary Circle. Blair (Gordy ’15) Piras was commissioned to create the original painting for the mosaic, and Andrew Wilson Smith Sculpture Studio installed it. Alumni also spearheaded the project’s fundraising.

“We all yearn to see a face for the divine and to turn to that in prayer,” Piras said. She spoke of her artistic inspiration for the image, which features Mary with Jesus in her womb and surrounded by elements from St. Francis of Assisi’s Canticle of the Creatures—such as the sun, moon, water, and earth—to honor the saint and “how much he saw God reflected in creation.”

Now, the beautiful mosaic will be one of the first things visitors to campus see and a lasting reminder of the Blessed Mother’s loving presence.

But the day’s festivities weren’t over yet. At night, the community enjoyed an Advent festival with food, games, caroling, and even an appearance from St. Nick.

Of course, December 10 was just the beginning. Franciscan University is celebrating its jubilee anniversary all year long to remember the past and look forward to, Lord willing, another 75 years of forming saints for heaven.


Celebrate with us! Visit the 75th anniversary website at 75.franciscan.edu.

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