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New Home for the FriarsGroundbreaking attended by bishop, community
Posted: Wednesday, April 30, 2008
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From left to right: Bishop Conlon, Mayor Domenick Mucci, Bob Smith, Father Terence Henry, Father Christian Oravec, Jamie McAleer, and Father Richard Davis take part in the shovel ceremony.
STEUBENVILLE, OH-With prayers, hymns, and the turning of some soil, Franciscan University of Steubenville celebrated a major milestone in its $25 million capital campaign on April 25. The groundbreaking for a new Holy Spirit Friary drew over 150 friends, faculty, and students to the foot of the Steel Cross, which overlooks the building site of the new friary.
The 30-minute ceremony began with the singing of “Holy Ground,” a theme underscored in remarks from Father Richard Davis, TOR, local minister for Holy Spirit Friary.
“We are so grateful to God that we will have a home where we can continue to gather and live our community life, where we can be together in fraternity in prayer,” said Father Davis.
The need for a new friary became evident when engineers determined it would be too costly to update the 47-year-old existing friary, which has been increasingly plagued with heating, electrical, and plumbing problems, as well as structural deficiencies.
Father Christian Oravec gave the Prayer of Blessing and sprinkled the site with holy water. The new friary will provide modest accommodations for up to 20 friars. Among the improvements that come with the new structure will be a larger chapel, additional meeting rooms for spiritual direction, handicapped accessibility features for elderly friars, and guest rooms for visiting friars and clergy. The expanded facilities will allow the friars to better serve a student population that has more than tripled since the original friary, one of the first buildings on campus, was constructed.
University president, Father Terence Henry, TOR, pointed out the significance of the new friary’s location. “This means that the entire student body can look up the hill and see the Steel Cross and see the vowed life that is being lived by a very special group of men. We look forward to a renewed commitment to the pastoral care of our students with this new friary.”
Father Richard Davis, TOR, leads the Franciscan Friars in their annual recitation of vows. Father Henry expressed his gratitude to the many individuals and groups who donated to the new friary. Those who gave in “heroic ways,” he said, include Father Christian Oravec, TOR, minister provincial of the Sacred Heart Province, trustee Bob Smith and his wife, Joan, trustee Jamie McAleer and her husband, Jack, and the family of trustee Ed Johnson.
Steubenville Bishop R. Daniel Conlon also took part in the ceremony.
He noted that the first bishop of Steubenville, John King Mussio, asked the friars to establish a college in the diocese 62 years ago. “For the betterment of the community and the Church, this groundbreaking means the friars are planting their roots here even deeper,” Bishop Conlon said.
The first clumps of dirt were scooped up and overturned by Bishop Conlon, Father Oravec, Father Henry, Father Davis, Bob Smith, Jamie McAleer, and Domenick Mucci, mayor of Steubenville.
Other highlights of the ceremony included the blessing of the site by Father Oravec and the annual renewal of vows by all Franciscan TOR friars present.
Construction work is currently underway. The friars should be able to move into their new home by June 2009. Franciscan Friars recite their annual vows