University celebrates patron saint, new president


St. Francis’ spirit of peace and joy permeated Franciscan University of Steubenville’s homecoming weekend, which began Thursday evening. Alumni returned to their home away from home to mingle with families and friends, and the weekend was alive with joyful activities.


The Transitus  which marked the beginning of homecoming weekend  commemorated St. Francis’ life and death. Led by Brother Joseph Krilich, TOR, the Transitus was celebrated through readings, songs and a reflection.  

In his reflection, Krilich explained how people could learn practically from St. Francis. 

“We are on that same journey back to God that St. Francis of Assisi was taking,” Krilich said. “We’re all called to that same growth and holiness that is not out of our reach.” 

Holy Hour 

Friday morning, the university community gathered to pray for the Rev. Dave Pivonka, TOR, in preparation for his inauguration as president. 

“To become a living emulation of Christ, you sacrifice yourself for something else. That’s what Father Dave is doing,” Brother Daniel Klimek said in his reflection.  

“I challenge you to offer a weekly sacrifice for our president,” Klimek said. “Maybe a rosary, maybe fasting, maybe a holy hour.”


Friday afternoon, the university celebrated Pivonka’s official inauguration as the new president of Franciscan University. Finnegan Fieldhouse filled with eager students, alumni and family of Pivonka. The inauguration was followed by a Mass and an outdoor reception. 

“I feel safe that our university is in good hands, and I know that Father Dave Pivonka loves Jesus and will carry out our university mission of loving Jesus,” said sophomore Marcellino Ahearn. 

Talent Show 

“We got it all at Franciscan: the Bollywood dancers, the Irish Dancers, the PDP, the boy band, the cheesecake. … What else do you need?” said senior Matthew Walker, the master of ceremonies of Exc!te’s “A Million Dreams” talent show Friday evening 

The Hummmbuckers comical parody of “My Heart Will Go On” earned many laughs; Miguel Daez’s stunning rendition of “O Sole Mio” ended with a standing ovation; and Steve from the Pub’s heartwarming performance gained applause and a jubilant “We love you, Steve!” 

“The diversity of talents was amazing,” freshman Elise Paretzel said. “Each performance had something special that I wasn’t expecting, and everyone really glorified God with their talents.”

A Celebration of the Life of St. Francis 

A Celebration of the Life of St. Francis began at 1 p.m. Saturday. Resembling a living Stations of the Cross, the Celebration focused on seven individual moments from St. Francis’ life. 

The Celebration was unique in that each station incorporated narration, acting and constant movement as they took place in different parts of campus. At each station, students reenacted a moment from St. Francis’ life — beginning with St. Francis’ encounter with a leper and ending with St. Francis’ death. Each reenactment was followed by a reflection and prayer. 

The Rev. Nathan Malavolti, TOR, led the prayers for the Celebration.  

“It is beautiful to reenact St. Francis’ life,” Malavolti said. “I’m just so glad that we can celebrate St. Francis and highlight this presentation on how he turned away the things of the world.”

Francis Fest 

Photo by: Anne Deemer

Meanwhile, the annual Francis Fest brightened the already-sunny Saturday afternoon as households, clubs, students and outside vendors set up on the lawn outside the J.C. Williams Center to sell their goodies.  

The vendors sold a variety of wares ranging from stickers to drawstring bags to laser-cut wood art. Other booths sold food, and visitors bought lunch and picnicked on the hill.  

Senior Alicia Flood, coordinator of Beloved First Truth household, was happy to see the large crowds that milled about and stopped by her booth. “There was an upbeat mood among the vendors, and it was great seeing everyone’s smiling faces in our short interactions,” she said. 

Blessing of the Animals 

Photo by: Daniel O’Loughlin

Some visitors took a detour away from Francis Fest at 2:45 p.m. to congregate outside of the Portiuncula chapel with their leashed companions. People with their cats, dogs and one parrot stood reverently as the Rev. Shawn Roberson, TOR, blessed the animals and sprinkled the pets with holy water.

Homecoming Mass 

The eventful Homecoming weekend concluded with the Homecoming Mass Sunday morning in the Fieldhouse. 

During the homily, Pivonka told the listeners that the Holy Spirit resides in each of them but it is their responsibility to fan the flame. 

Before the final blessing, student body president Derek Markle  along with two faculty members  presented Pivonka and his brother friars with a spiritual bouquet from the student body, as well as an oil lamp and a Tau cross. 

The friars processed out of the Finnegan Fieldhouse, thus ending Franciscan University’s 2019 Homecoming.