Simple words to live by

“The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult and left untried.”

If those words sound a little unfamiliar to you, it might be because you have not attended an event at the Franciscan University of Steubenville during the last 13 years or so.

That quotation is taken from the writings of Gilbert Keith Chesterton. Chesterton, who was born on May 29, 1874, and died on June 14, 1936, was a prolific English writer who covered many topics throughout a career that included 80 books, hundreds of poems and short stories and 4,000 essays.

A convert to the Roman Catholic faith, he also is the favorite author of the Rev. Terrence Henry, TOR, who recently retired as president of the Franciscan University of Steubenville. And at every event Henry had the opportunity to speak at while serving in that capacity, whether surrounded by students or by supporters of the school or members of the community or even during a commencement address, he always managed to find a way to share at least one nugget from Chesterton.

Henry’s retirement brings an end to a successful run as president of the university. The fifth person to hold that post (the others – all Third Order Regulars – were the Revs. Dan Egan, Kevin R. Keelan, Columba J. Devlin, Keelan again and Michael Scanlan; the sixth will be the Rev. Sean O. Sheridan), Henry saw the university experience a great deal of growth.

For example, when he became president in August 2000, the school had an enrollment of 2,154 students. The university he is leaving had an enrollment of 2,466 students. If you throw in the distance and online numbers, that enrollment figure is 2,735 students.

That’s impressive by itself, but the university has grown in many other ways under Henry, including physical size – the campus has doubled to 242 acres. He began the commuter grant program, which allows local high school seniors who enroll at the school the opportunity to receive 50 percent off tuition. The Barons returned to intercollegiate athletics under Henry’s watch, joining the NCAA Division III Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference.

Education was only a part of Henry’s mission, however. He remains steadfast to the teachings of his Catholic faith, making the trip to Washington each year to participate in the annual March for Life, and joining with other presidents of Catholic colleges and universities to protest the mandates the federal government has handed down in conjunction with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act – the growing mess better known as Obamacare.

Which brings us back to Chesterton, and the mark Henry – and his love and respect for the author – will leave on the hilltop campus. As you probably would have expected, Chesterton was well represented in the gifts Henry has received in the past few weeks.

For example, he received an etching of a work done by his favorite author during a dinner held May 17 at the school.

Just a few days earlier, during the university’s commencement on May 11, he was presented a framed portrait of Chesterton by Michael Hernon, the school’s vice president of advancement, and the Rev. Malachai Van Tassell, TOR, delegate of the chairman of the board of trustees.

“It’s great to see the face of a guy who was a champion of his faith, who loved life and who defended it whenever he could,” Henry said while accepting the portrait. “I know you will be inspired by him. Read as much as you can.”

Henry’s accomplishments and deep faith will be remembered for a very long time on the campus and throughout the community. He’s a personable and humble priest who always has time to stop and talk with anyone who crosses his path, and there might be no better way to remember him and to sum up his many successes than through the words of Chesterton himself, who once wrote, “If I can put one touch of rosy sunset into the life of any man or woman, I shall feel that I have worked with God.”

(Gallabrese, a resident of Steubenville, is executive editor of the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times.)