Nuns receive FUS 2013 Founders’ Award honor

STEUBENVILLE – The Franciscan University of Steubenville honored the Franciscan Sisters Third Order Regular of Penance of the Sorrowful Mother with its 2013 Founders’ Award on Saturday, marking the sisters’ 25th anniversary.

The order was founded in 1988 to renew the contemplative dimension of the Franciscan penitential form of life. The TOR sisters now have 37 members, including three novices, three postulants, and five candidates. They are based in the Our Lady of Sorrows Monastery in Toronto. Following in the footsteps of St. Francis of Assisi, they embrace the charisms of penance, crucified love, mercy, poverty and contemplation.

The TOR sisters have two mission houses affiliated with Franciscan University, the Santa Chiara Mission House, located on the main campus, and the Greccio Mission House, located at the university’s study abroad site in Gaming, Austria.

Through these mission houses, the sisters offer spiritual direction, Bible study and residence hall advising to the students. They also coordinate student evangelization networking teams and run formation and retreat programs. Some sisters accompany students on spring break mission trips to places including Ecuador, Honduras, Chicago, and New York.

The sisters operate the Heart of Mary Mission House in Steubenville where they serve the poor.

They also run the Samaritan House Thrift Store, a clothing store and emergency food center, where they offer weekly praise and worship and Scripture study. Through LAMP Ministry, the sisters host a soup kitchen serving more than 100 people twice a month.

The Franciscan sisters also lead parish missions and retreats, speak at religious conferences and offer vocation programs for children and youth.

Mother Katherine Caldwell, TOR, accepted the award on behalf of the sisters.

Caldwell, one of the original founding sisters, said the she sees the order as “the fruit of the vibrant Catholic life” at the university.

Caldwell said part of renewing the Catholic church is working with the friars at the school.

“The friars form the Catholic youth, who are the future of the church. We are grateful for the opportunity to work side by side with the friars. It is a privilege to be a part of what they are doing at Franciscan University. The gave so much to us, and we are grateful to give back to them and the church,” she said.

The Rev. Sean Sheridan, TOR, university president, said the sisters have embraced the charismatic mission of the university. He said the university sees the sisters as a gift and a special part of the university life.

“We wanted a special recognition for them on their 25th anniversary,” he said.

The Rev. Nathan Malavolti, TOR, vice president of community relations at the university, said the first Founders’ Dinner was held in 1949 as a way of bringing together the school and the community. The first Founders’ Award was presented in 1978 to recognize individuals and organizations that help with the university’s mission.

“The award highlights both what the sisters do for the community and how active and helpful they are with the young people in the dorms and being advisers to the students,” Malavolti said.

During the dinner, the Rose M. DeFede Women’s Guild Scholarship was presented to seven area students. The University Founders’ Scholarship was presented to three area students.