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Cardinal, Bishop, and EWTN CEO Address the Class of 2014


Father Sean O. Sheridan, TOR, Awards Degrees for the First Time as University President

Posted:  2014-05-13

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Full audio and video of Cardinal DiNardo's homily and all commencement addresses is available at the Commencement 2014 page.


STEUBENVILLE, OH—Dignitaries at Franciscan University of Steubenville’s 66th commencement implored graduates to use their knowledge to share the Gospel and to embrace God’s call for their lives. The 2014 commencement exercises, which sent forth 692 graduates from the University’s 40 undergraduate and 8 master’s programs, marked Father Sean O. Sheridan’s, TOR’s, first as president of Franciscan University.

In his homily at the May 9 Baccalaureate Mass, His Eminence Daniel Cardinal DiNardo, Archbishop of Galveston-Houston, focused on the readings, which he described as “boldly intelligent about what it means to live a Christian faith and to be passionate in your convictions about that faith.”

Cardinal DiNardo asked the graduates to consider the conversion of Paul in Acts, Chapter 9. “Is it a conversion? Is it a vocational call? I think it’s both,” he said, noting that Paul, upon losing his sight, “has to be led into town like a little kid, like a child. The obsessive, almost violent Saul needs the simplicity of the heart of a child. Have we heard that before from Someone?”

He then reflected on the Gospel of John, Chapter 6:52-59, in which Jesus reveals himself as the Bread of Life. “You will look on that mystery in the Body and Blood of the Lord, and you will be fed, and you will be united with one another,” he commented.

Cardinal DiNardo made known his pride and confidence in the new graduates: “[You have] Paul behind you. You have the Bread of Life with you. And in feeding upon Him, you will abide in a way that no scholarship, no degree, no honor, no fame could ever give to you.”

Prior to the Mass, Cardinal DiNardo received an honorary doctorate in sacred theology for serving the Church both nationally and internationally, and for steadily guiding one of the country’s fastest growing sees.

Born in Steubenville, Cardinal DiNardo’s family moved to Pittsburgh when he was 2 years old. He was ordained to the priesthood for the Diocese of Pittsburgh in 1977, serving there and in Rome for many years. In 1997, he was named coadjutor bishop of Sioux City, Iowa. In 2004, he was named coadjutor bishop of Galveston-Houston, becoming Archbishop of the same diocese in 2006. He was elevated to the College of Cardinals in 2007.

Franciscan University’s graduate commencement was held the morning of May 10. His Excellency Jeffrey Monforton, bishop of Steubenville, received an honorary doctorate of sacred theology honoring his commitment to the Diocese of Steubenville and his unwavering friendship with Franciscan University.

In his speech, Bishop Monforton asked the graduates to ponder the definition of a Christian attitude and to serve as ambassadors of Christ.

He discussed Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s assertion that education is integral to the Church’s mission in proclaiming the good news. Each aspect of learning “reverberates within the ecclesial life of faith,” Bishop Monforton explained, and he cautioned the graduates against hiding their faith under a “bushel basket.”

“Franciscan University cannot keep the truth up on a hill. We must get out to the people of God,” he urged.

“We should be aware constantly that to teach, to lead, to serve is nothing more than an act of love,” Bishop Monforton stressed, invoking the words of St. Teresa of Ávila, who reminded the faithful that God does not simply want deeds, but the love that prompts them.

Bishop Monforton was installed as the fifth bishop of Steubenville in September 2012, following service as rector of Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit and as pastor of St. Andrew’s Parish in Rochester. He previously served the Archdiocese of Detroit in several pastoral and administrative positions, also serving as personal priest secretary to Adam Cardinal Maida.

In his remarks during his first commencement ceremony as president of Franciscan University, Father Sheridan encouraged the graduate degree recipients to continue developing their relationship with Christ.

“That is how we begin to serve the Lord—through our own personal conversion, by deepening our own efforts to grow in holiness, and by living the joy of the Gospel in all that we say and do,” he said. “Like St. Francis, the Poverello of Assisi, may you always be the presence of Christ to all people that God sends into your lives.”

During the undergraduate commencement later that morning, Michael P. Warsaw, chairman of the board and CEO of the Eternal Word Television Network, the world’s largest religious media network, received an honorary doctorate of communications for his leadership in helping Catholic media become a voice of truth in a hostile culture.

Warsaw joined EWTN in 1991 and went on to hold senior management positions in television production, satellite operations, and technical services. He was named president of EWTN in 2000, and assumed the post of chief executive officer in 2009.

Upon accepting his honorary degree, Warsaw recounted the friendship between Mother Angelica, foundress of EWTN, and Father Michael Scanlan, TOR, Franciscan University’s fourth president. The relationship “led to much, much collaboration that continues to this day,” Warsaw said. “We, and our audiences around the world, have been blessed greatly by that collaboration, and I thank you for that wonderful gift to EWTN and to the Church.” Franciscan University Presents, the monthly television program produced on campus, has aired on EWTN for more than two decades.

In his address, Warsaw shared anecdotes about Mother Angelica who overcame the challenges of age, poor health, and inexperience in founding the network.

“Everyone thought she was crazy and they told her so,” he said. “So why take on this important work, this impossible task? She took on the work because she was called by God to do it. It wasn’t her idea—it was his—and she embraced it.”

“We can all change the world in varying ways, but this will not mean that the world will necessarily acknowledge what we do, or thank you, or care, or think that what you contribute to your family and to the Church is anything meaningful or worthy of praise,” he remarked. “What the world thinks is not our concern. The important thing, as Mother Angelica’s life and the lives so many of the saints have shown us, is to be faithful and to persevere.”

The top five states represented by the 2014 graduating class, in order, are Ohio, Pennsylvania, California, Michigan, and Virginia. The most popular majors among the graduates are theology, business (six majors combined), nursing, psychology, and communication arts.

Complete audio and video of Cardinal DiNardo’s homily and of the commencement addresses can be found at www.franciscan.edu/Commencement2014.

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