Franciscan charism of obedience brings new friars to campus, calls others to new ministries


This past semester, Franciscan University has bidden farewell to eight friars and welcomed two brothers and two priests.

The Rev. Shawn Roberson, TOR, University Chaplain, said that the two new priests will be working as counselors at the Wellness Center: Health Service.

The Rev. John Shanahan, TOR, is the new local minister of Holy Spirit Friary. He has a background in counseling and pastoral work. Shanahan will be aiding in the sacramental ministry of the university as well as working as a pastoral counselor in the Wellness Center.

“I was selected by the provincial council at the end of our chapter to be the local minister of the friars here at Holy Spirit Friary; it’s another term for house superior,” said Shanahan.

“In addition to the sacramental obligations on campus, I am a clinical counselor in the counseling center,” he said. “I have a master(’s) of social work degree and years of helping people to empower themselves. I am also the dorm chaplain for Marian Hall.”

The Rev. John Mormon was transferred from the TOR Lorretto motherhouse to Franciscan University.  Mormon will also be working as a pastoral counselor in the Wellness Center.

Two new TOR brothers have also joined the Franciscan University family for their apostolic year of formation.

Brother Jason Wooleyhan, TOR, will be working out of Franciscan University’s Office of Evangelization. Wooleyhan also has office hours for spiritual direction in Trinity Hall.

Brother Nathan Meckey, TOR, will be serving students through working with Household Life staff. Meckey is also serving as a spiritual director for Sts. Kolbe and Clare Halls.

“My main role at the university is working as a pastoral assistant for residence life,” said Meckey. “Mostly I work with households. I also minister in the residence halls for pastoral support. I really enjoy ministering here. The students are truly striving to grow in their faith and as young adults. Sometimes that combination is messy. I like being a part of the mess.”

Eight Franciscan priests have moved on from Franciscan University, expanding their reach to new faith communities.

The Rev. Terence Henry, TOR, former Franciscan University president, was transferred to the Pittsburgh Mary Queen of Peace house as a chaplain.

The Rev. Denny Gang, TOR, is also doing ministry in Pittsburgh.

The Rev. Patrick Whittle, TOR, is now in Washington, D.C., working on his doctorate in liturgical theology at the Catholic University of America.

“At Franciscan, I worked with liturgy committee, and I enjoyed working with students dedicated to fostering beauty in the liturgical worship on campus,” said Whittle. “I hope through these studies that I am able to help people see how beautiful and awesome the sacred rites of the church really are.”

The Rev. Ronald Monickey, TOR, and the Rev. Luke Robertson, TOR, were both transferred to Texas to continue their priestly ministry.

The Rev. Bradley LePage, TOR, left the Franciscan order to build a new order in Phoenix, Arizona.

The Rev. Dominic Foster, TOR, is currently studying at Loyola University in order to earn a doctorate in parish pastoral counseling.

The Rev. Timothy Harris, TOR, was transferred to the Gaming campus to teach there for several semesters.

While it is sad to see familiar faces move on and exciting to meet new friars and priests, Roberson said that the comings and goings of spiritual fathers always ties back to the Franciscan chrism of obedience.

“Obedience is a lifetime call,” said Roberson. “We all get called to different ministries and apostolates. St. Francis beautifully exemplified the virtue of obedience that is the call of every priest and friar. This is a transitional life. We move for God and with God.”