The sun set on the Piazza dei Santi as a dozen Franciscan University of Steubenville students gathered to pray a rosary for the reparation of the sins of clergy on Friday, Sept. 7. With a chorus of crickets in the background, freshman Mary Louise Hoffman, the coordinator of the event, led the group in the sorrowful mysteries of the rosary.
Hoffman was in part inspired to organize this rosary for reparation by the university’s panel discussion on sexual abuse in the Catholic Church on Sept. 3. “I felt really called to do it because it’s an important issue and it’s weighing really heavily on our Church,” said Hoffman.
Hoffman was also inspired by the homily given at Mass on the prior Sunday at Holy Family Catholic Church in Steubenville. The celebrant mentioned that Holy Family intended to start a prayer night on Mondays that would be led by the laity.
This resonated with Hoffman, who said that the prayers for clergy and renewal of the Church need “to be led from the Church, from the people, because obviously it’s the priests, it’s the shepherds who’ve wronged us …it’s us who has to make the change.”
Freshman Rachel Martin, who was at the Mass with Hoffman, was also moved by the priest’s words. “(He said) ‘this is showing who the Church is …it’s you guys,’” Martin said.
Taking these words to heart, Franciscan students sat in chairs or on the concrete steps of the Piazza to lift their prayers for the souls of the clergy. “It’s something we should all be praying about, thinking about,” said freshman Matthew Evans, one of the students present.
This rosary is only one of many actions taken by members of the university family in response to scandal in the Catholic Church. This event was organized by students, but previously, the university also hosted a holy hour in reparation for clerical sins as well as the aforementioned panel discussion.