From the President

The Most Important Question

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From the President

The Most Important Question

“Every baptized Catholic is called to be holy and, by the way we live our life, to help sanctify the world.”

Summer 2023 | Father Dave Pivonka, TOR '89

In This Article

“What must I do to inherit eternal life?”

That question burned in the heart of the rich young man in Mark’s Gospel (Mark 10:17-22). Yet, as I imagine this story, the man hesitated to ask it of Jesus. He felt worried about being rejected by the Good Teacher. Or what he’d do if Jesus didn’t know the answer. And, deep down, he feared what the answer might require of him. But when he saw Jesus setting out on a journey, he put aside his doubts and ran after him. He just had to ask Jesus; he had to know.

We all know the end of the story. Jesus looked on the young man with love and told him to sell what he had, give it to the poor, and “follow me.” At that, the man turned and walked away from Jesus.

“What must I do to inherit eternal life?” This is one of the most important questions ever asked. It’s a question every Catholic needs to find an answer for personally. Do you know what Jesus is asking of you? He isn’t asking everyone to sell all they own, as he did the rich young man, but what IS he asking of you and me?

From this story, I know Jesus asks us to follow him. He wants each of us to be in relationship with him and to do his will. Since I was young, I have had a sense of this—that God had a call on my life. Over time, I have discovered layers to this call. At the most basic level, I’ve always known Jesus was calling me to be holy. Today, I understand this as everyone’s call.

Every baptized Catholic is called to be holy and, by the way we live our life, to sanctify the world. But therein lies the next question. How exactly does God want me to do this? I want to be sure every student at Franciscan University can answer that question.

Our faculty, staff, and friars help students explore their unique mission or “personal vocation” in various ways. We recently created an Office of Personal Vocation with courses, resources, and tools to help each student, with his or her unique gifts and talents, discover their God-given personal vocation—the vocation only he or she can fulfill. So, we rejoice when students respond to the Lord’s call to the religious life or priesthood through our Priestly Discernment Program. We also celebrate their response to the Lord’s invitation to be teachers, nurses, engineers, writers, historians, theologians, police officers— and many other lay vocations.

This focus on personal vocation is one of the things that make Franciscan distinct from other universities—and our graduates different from other graduates.

A person who has hired several Franciscan graduates recently told me that what makes our grads so different is their sense of mission. He says they roll up their sleeves and work hard, but he sees them go beyond just the task at hand. Their sense of God’s call impacts everything: the integrity with which they approach their jobs, their care for the people they work with, and their dedication to those they serve.

It’s not just about a paycheck; it’s about working out God’s call in their life—doing what God asks of them so they may inherit eternal life.

The first time I spoke with our students when I became president four years ago, I said my prayer for them is that each student inherits eternal life. I told them my job wasn’t done until each one hears the Lord say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

At Franciscan, we are committed to doing everything we can so they may one day hear those blessed words. That all students know the answer to the most significant question they will be asked in college—and throughout life: What must I do to inherit eternal life?

Father Dave, TOR

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