BY: STEVEN J. THOMAS
Franciscan University is perhaps like no other with the many priests and religious present on campus. The Rev. Richard Davis T.O.R. is one such example of this.
Currently a Franciscan friar and Vice President for Community Relations, Davis looks back upon having had what many would consider an ideal, happy childhood.
The third of five children, three boys and two girls, he grew up on the South Side of Buffalo, New York. There he attended a Catholic elementary school and was taught by the Sisters of Mercy, of Buffalo.
When recounting the environment of his youth, Davis said, “Growing up on the South Side, there was a very strong Irish ethnicity to it. It was also a very Catholic environment. If you told somebody you were from the South Side, they automatically knew.”
He also shared some of his childhood activities. “I had a truly marvelous childhood. I loved swimming, camping, and all the other summer fun. I was a Cub Scout, a Boy Scout, and four merits short of becoming an Eagle Scout. It was fun and I had an enjoyable time.”
He attended a public high school while still continuing religion classes with the Franciscan Friars. This only increased his love for this order “I always wanted to be a Franciscan,” said Davis. “I loved St. Francis. The friars were such good examples for me. After all these years, I’ve never been unhappy; my life has been filled with gratitude.”
After graduating from high school in June of 1964, he entered the order three months later on September 6, at the age of 18. He made his first profession of vows two years later in 1966, and final vows on July 1, 1970. One of his main duties upon entering the order was teaching high school, and he did this for 22 years at two different schools.
Through all this, his first goal was to become a brother, not a priest. “I felt unworthy,” he said. But thankfully, he was ordained a priest on May 10, 1980.
Although he is a much-experienced teacher, he has also spent quite a bit of time at the desk as a student. After high school graduation, he went on to study at St. Francis University, where he received a bachelor’s of art in History, a master’s degree in Religious Education from LaSalle University and a master’s of Divinity from St. Francis Seminary.
His first association with Franciscan University took place in 1992 when he was made Executive Director for Community Relations. He kept with this office until 2000. After a few years in the formation for the order’s seminarians, he returned back to Franciscan in 2004. Since then, he has been made Local Minister of Holy Spirit Friary on campus, as well as fulfilling the duties of Vice President for Community Relations.
Aside from all the busyness of business, Davis enjoys being on campus. He likes to listen to classical music, and walk and swim when he can. He enjoys in particular the great group of young Catholics seeking to grow in their faith and holiness.
“I enjoy it immensely,” he said. “We have a great student body. The students continue to inspire me and I hope I inspire them.”
When asked to sum up what his goal was for life, he replied simply and without hesitation, “Heaven!”