Homecoming festivities flood Franciscan with spirit of St. Francis


Photo by: Layna Corbett

Despite Saturday’s fickle weather, students and their guests and families enjoyed the festivities of Franciscan University of Steubenville’s 2018 homecoming weekend.

On Friday, Oct. 5, homecoming weekend opened with the Exc!te Talent Show as the student performers filled Finnegan Fieldhouse with song, dance and laughter.

Hosted by Masters of Ceremony Kyle Aubert and Patrick Neve, the show kept the audience alternately in stitches and awe at the various talents displayed, with acts ranging from Jenna Kuebler’s original composition “The Hopeless Romantic” to Mark Cook’s magic show to the women’s swim and dive team’s above-water synchronized swimming.

Junior Adriana Guevera saw the talent show as an opportunity to “let the parents and visitors see what Franciscan is really about.” Commenting on the PDP’s (“People Doing Parodies”) Veggie Tales parody, she quipped, “We all finally know what they do besides praying!”

Junior Emma Gómez-Contreras, who loved the Franciscan Irish Dancers’ performance and expressed her admiration for their endurance and style, said that the talent show was “a great way to start the Franciscan homecoming weekend.”

On Saturday, Oct. 6, days of preparation finally paid off as the St. Francis Festival took place from 12-4 p.m. and was a great success despite the rain. As the festival began, the lawn outside the J.C. Williams Center was buzzing with activity, and students and families milled around to look at the various booths. Many households were present to fundraise, selling a variety of goods such as baked treats, rosaries, chicken tenders and figurines. Live music filled the air while the sun stayed out, but even when the rain arrived, the festivities continued inside the J.C. and Finnegan Fieldhouse.

In remembrance of the university’s namesake, students performed The Celebration of the Life of St. Francis. Though it was delayed and relocated by the sudden rainstorm, the show went on in the Pugliese Auditorium. Directed by senior Monique Sammut, the production was a simple yet reflective and prayerful depiction of the life of St. Francis and was enjoyed by homecoming guests and students alike.

Photo by: Layna Corbett

By the mid-afternoon, the skies were clear, bright and sunny, and the blessing of the animals took place outside of the Portiuncula at 2:45 p.m. as planned. Parents and students gathered together along with their pets, and the Rev. Shawn Roberson, TOR, led the group in prayer and blessed the animals, causing the second “downpour” of the day.

At 8 p.m., the Festival of Praise began, alive with energy, lights and music. Pink lights splashed on the walls of the Finnegan Fieldhouse as students sang “Hope Comes Alive” and “God is Good.”

After several minutes of praise and worship, Sr. Mary Gianna Thornby of the Disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ gave her testimony about God’s plan for her life through her experience in the Columbine High School shooting and her subsequent conversion.

Thornby explained how God protected her and had a plan for her on the day of the shooting. She could see how God had put order in her life and directed her where to go. She said that people can respond to God and his plan for them by setting aside time for prayer and being open to his call. “(It is) a journey of saying yes to God,” Thornby said. She also emphasized how God will fulfill the desire of the hearts of the faithful.

As the Eucharistic procession began, the Rev. Sean O. Sheridan, TOR, carried in the monstrance, and the faithful knelt in reverence. After benediction, there was more praise and worship as Sheridan carried the monstrance through the fieldhouse.

The weekend concluded on Sunday, Oct. 7 with the homecoming Mass at 10:30 a.m. The Rev. Nathan Malavolti, TOR, celebrated the Mass, welcoming back two priests who are alumni of Franciscan. Malavolti based his homily on the gift of marriage, speaking on the essentiality of marriage and how both man and woman are equally created in the image and likeness of God.

Though this year’s homecoming is over, students can look forward to next year’s festivities being just as fun, though hopefully significantly drier.