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Franciscan University’s Spring 2009 Commencement

Speakers to address themes of Catholic Education, Role of Faith in a Secular Society

Posted: Wednesday, April 15, 2009

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STEUBENVILLE, OH—With gratefulness to God for His many blessings, Franciscan University of Steubenville will celebrate its 61st baccalaureate Mass and commencement exercises on May 8 and 9, 2009.

The Class of 2009 will number over 450 graduates from 46 states. The top ten states are Ohio, Pennsylvania, California, New York, Virginia, Michigan, Illinois, New Jersey, Maryland, and Texas. Countries represented include Canada, Jamaica, Grenada, France, Great Britain, and Vietnam.

Addressing this year’s graduates at three separate events will be Most Reverend Michael J. Higgins, TOR, minister general of the worldwide Third Order Regular Franciscan religious community; Michael Novak, the nationally known political thinker, writer, and defender of Catholic principles, and Dr. Paul Kengor, presidential biographer and executive director of the Center for Vision and Values at Grove City College.

The events begin Friday, May 8, at 6:00 p.m., with the baccalaureate Mass in Finnegan Fieldhouse. Steubenville Bishop R. Daniel Conlon will be the main celebrant and Father Higgins will give the homily. Prior to Mass Father Higgins will receive an honorary doctorate in sacred theology.

Father Higgins entered religious life after a tour of duty in Vietnam with the U.S. Army Signal Corps and employment in the electronics field.

He joined the TOR Province of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, based in Loretto, Pennsylvania, which founded and governs Franciscan University. Following his ordination in 1985 he taught theology at Franciscan University for a year. Since then he has served his religious community as a Franciscan scholar, secretary general, provincial council member, spiritual assistant to the Secular Franciscan Order, and in other capacities.

In 2007 he was elected minister general of the Third Order Regular friars. He resides in Rome at the Basilica of SS. Cosmas and Damian near the Forum, where he directs the activities of the 900-members of the Third Order Regular Franciscans who are active in 17 countries.

Commencement ceremonies begin Saturday, May 9, at 9:00 a.m. in Christ the King Chapel with the conferral of master’s diplomas in business, counseling, education, educational administration, nursing, philosophy, and theology.

Paul G. Kengor, PhD, professor of political science at Grove City College, Pennsylvania, will give the main commencement address and receive an honorary doctorate in humanities for bringing faith and reason to the forefront of today’s top political and moral issues.

Kengor has become known as the “faith historian” of major political figures with books such as God and Ronald Reagan, God and George W. Bush, and God and Hillary Clinton.

Kengor also directs the Center for Vision and Values, a think tank and policy center. His recent writings for the center warn of the rise of an “abortion socialism” mentality that threatens to further erode the rights of the unborn, elderly, infirm, and other marginalized members of society.

Baptized Catholic, Kengor had left the Church as a teenager. In 2005, Kengor, his wife, and five children were received into the Catholic Church.

Finnegan Fieldhouse will be the setting for the 11:30 a.m. undergraduate commencement ceremonies. Graduates will receive degrees from the University’s 42 bachelor of arts and bachelor of science programs. The top 10 majors this year are theology, catechetics, business administration, nursing and English (tied), education, philosophy, communication arts and mental health and human services (tied), and history.

Michael Novak, an internationally known writer and philosopher will give the main undergraduate commencement address and receive an honorary doctorate in humane letters.

Novak’s 26 books and hundreds of essays on faith, culture, politics, economics, and philosophy have left a lasting mark on Church and society. His writings have appeared in every major Western language, as well as Bengali, Korean, and Japanese. Many major newspapers publish or reference Novak’s thoughts in their opinion pages.

A major theme running through Novak’s writings has been the erosion of cultural values as evidenced by the rise in abortion and euthanasia, the loss of the sacredness of sex, and the erosion of the dignity of the human person and the traditional family as the cornerstone of society.

Also receiving an honorary degree at the undergraduate ceremony will be Dr. Erhard Hanslik, a lawyer from Vienna, Austria, who will receive a doctorate in jurisprudence.

Dr. Hanslik has donated hundreds of hours of legal time to help restore and preserve the 14th century former Carthusian monastery in Austria where, since 1991, over 4,000 students have lived and studied for a semester.

Graduates at both events will receive their degrees from Franciscan University president Father Terence Henry, TOR. Attending will be Father Christian Oravec, TOR, chairman of the Board of Trustees, with other members of the Board of Trustees and Board of Advisors.

More information about May 2009 commencement activities can be found at

Spring 2009 Commencement Schedule

Baccalaureate Mass
Friday, May 8, 6:00 p.m., Finnegan Fieldhouse, Open Admission

Graduate Commencement
Saturday, May 9, 9:00 a.m., Christ the King Chapel, Tickets Required

Undergraduate Commencement
Saturday, May 9, 11:30 a.m., Finnegan Fieldhouse, Tickets Required

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