From the President

Seeing God’s Hand

Franciscan Magazine Homepage > Summer 2021 > Seeing God’s Hand

From the President

Seeing God’s Hand

When Franciscan University announced our bold Step in Faith initiative 15 months ago, we were not sure what would happen.

Summer 2021 | Father Dave Pivonka

In This Article

If 2020 were a movie, I’m not sure what genre it would be—maybe a sci-fi-mystery-psychological thriller? Whatever it was, it certainly kept us all on the edge of our seats wondering how—and when—it would end.

Thus, when Franciscan University announced our bold Step in Faith initiative 15 months ago, we were not sure what would happen. We didn’t know how students would respond, and we had no idea what University life would be like during a global pandemic.

We didn’t know the extent of the restrictions on campus life and had no idea how long we would all be impacted by the virus and associated government policies. Plans were made and tweaked— and tweaked again as days turned to weeks, months, and then over a year.

But we did what many schools would not even attempt last fall: We welcomed students for in-person classes, including, thanks to Step in Faith, our biggest freshman class ever. And our students experienced more than just classes. They had an active household life, shared meals, snow day fun, athletics, school plays, lectures, Festivals of Praise, daily confessions, and five Masses a day.

It was often complicated and stressful. Yet on May 15, after this unforgettable year, we celebrated our largest graduating class in the history of Franciscan University. Despite the difficulties along the way, we did it! Faculty, staff, and students made it through a tough time, we cared for each other, and we completed the 2020-21 academic year.

Everyone involved should be very proud—including the parents, alumni, and friends who supported us with confidence, prayers, and donations.

I am so grateful to you and to God for getting us through. I want to sound a note of caution, however, as we look back on the last year.

There’s a danger in remembering only the disagreements, the masks, the social distancing, the pandemic. To only see these things to the exclusion of God’s blessings is not an accurate account of this last year.

Near the end of the spring semester, I heard a group of students lamenting that the year had been difficult and not like other years. Hearing this, a freshman exclaimed, “You mean it gets even better than this? This has been the best year of my life!”

Then a senior shared, “Everything came together this year: my classes, my relationships, and my spiritual life. My life has been transformed over the last four years, and it all came together this year, in the middle of a pandemic.”

And later I heard from an alumna who, after years of disappointment, finally had a baby: “In many ways, 2020 will always be remembered with great joy.”

God has been present during this year, and we need always to keep this in the forefront of our minds and hearts. We can’t ever lose sight of this because it is key to our faith.

Sure, in many ways 2020-21 was a dumpster fire, and I’m not saying we deny that or the terrible losses so many experienced. But at the same time, it was filled with unbelievable grace. We need to pray to continually see this. We need to pray for eyes of faith to see God’s hand in situations the unbelieving world misses. We, the Body of Christ, must show forth his light to a world largely in darkness.

In a year riddled with despair—in any year riddled with despair—we point to the hope that is ever present to those who believe. I guarantee you that when we grow in our ability to see God present and make him present in places that seem devoid of grace, it changes not only our lives but the lives of others. S

o, we turn the page on our pandemic plagued year, more confident in our ability to walk in faith. We now seek to see how God will show his faithfulness to us once again.

Let us begin again.


Father Dave, TOR

Go to Top