STEUBENVILLE - The new president of Franciscan University of Steubenville told his faculty, staff and students, "there is much more for us to do as we move forward in this next chapter of our history."
"I further believe that even though we have seen many of our students being formed to transform the culture through what takes place here at the university, we have only seen a glimpse of what God has planned for Franciscan University and for each one of us," the Rev. Sean O. Sheridan, TOR, said during his inauguration. ceremonies Thursday afternoon.
Sheridan also promised, "We stand with the successors of the apostles and will continue to fight attempts of our government to violate our religious beliefs and ability to practice our faith. We will continue to be a pro-life institution that fosters the dignity of human life from the moment of conception to the moment of natural death."
THE NEW PRESIDENT — The Rev. Richard Davis, TOR, and minister provincial, leads the applause Thursday afternoon following the official installation of the Rev. Sean O. Sheridan as the sixth president of the Franciscan University of Steubenville. -- Contributed
"Even though I also believe that God has much more planned for us, we must safeguard our culture as we explore options for further development and growth. Such steps need to be taken in a deliberate way that allows for growth without jeopardizing our culture. We must remain true to our Catholic identity as a Catholic and Franciscan University," continued Sheridan.
"Our university community is and will remain focused on Christ who has entrusted to us his mission for this university to be academically excellent and passionately Catholic. Moreover, led by the Holy Spirit, I will continue to foster and develop what it means for us to be academically excellent and passionately Catholic," Sheridan said.
Sheridan said he would like to see a larger chapel on the university campus.
"It is humbling to me to see a full chapel for each of our daily Masses. To further promote the faith life on campus and the spiritual needs of our university community, it is time for us to build a larger chapel so that more of our students can worship the Lord together," commented Sheridan.
Sheridan called education to be available to all qualified people.
"As both a Catholic and Franciscan university we should endeavor to make a college education available. While financial aid is essential to making available Catholic higher education we should consider alternative funding mechanisms such as growing the endowment so that our graduates will be able to minister within the Church while able to support their families," he said.
"At Franciscan University, our students have the opportunity to do research both for class, but also for independent research projects alongside their professors and they are encouraged to publish their scholarship or to present the results of their research to the scientific community. These teaching opportunities are important to the intellectual formation of our students. Franciscan University is truly blessed to have many academically excellent professors here. In addition to teaching full course loads, they do their own research, write scholarly publications, and advocate in the public square. We need to encourage these types of activities as well. We are academically excellent. We need to continue to foster academic excellence among our faculty and students. We need to be more active with being the voice of academic excellence in the public square," Sheridan said in his prepared remarks.
"I would like for us to demonstrate further our commitment to academic excellence and to afford to our professors the opportunity to excel in their scholarly work, whatever their area of discipline. I would like to bring back Franciscan University Press to publish scholarly works that promote Franciscan University's academic excellence. God has blessed us in so many ways as an academic institution. If we continue to be led by the spirit to be an excellent academic institution," said Sheridan.
The two-hour ceremony saw four people greet the new president with humor, Franciscan humility and simplicity, as well as words from the heart from board of trustees member Jamie McAleer who declared, "The presidential torch has passed. We honor and thank Father Terence Henry for his service to the university. God has raised up a new legacy in Father Sean Sheridan. And he has seized the day."
"We all know we live in dark days. Today we pledge our loyalty and place our trust in Sheridan. And we will always be grateful to the Franciscan friars of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus," McAleer said.
"To quote the author G.K. Chesterton, may you give grace and praise to God for helping you to do great things for our school," said the Rev. Terence Henry, TOR, who preceded Sheridan as university president.
Henry will serve as chancellor of the school, a job he said he is looking forward to doing.
"I am honored to have been asked to remain here as the chancellor. I am looking forward to staying here in that capacity and I know Father Sean will do a wonderful job as president. I also find tremendous relief that the torch has been passed," Henry noted.
(Gossett can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)