Following the events and journey of the weekend, the Rev. Sean Sheridan, TOR, president of Franciscan University of Steubenville sent out this letter to all the parents of students.
When you look back over your life, what do you remember? Often we recall the moments where the unexpected collides with our plans to create an adventure. As most of you know, our trip this year to Washington, D.C., for the March for Life was an adventure we will long remember.
While I was sorry for the long delays that our students, staff, friars, and faculty endured with me on the return trip, I was not sorry to have made the journey. Instead, I found my heart filled with gratitude.
First, I was grateful that our students chose to brave winter’s worst to show love for mothers and unborn babies. Franciscan University students have braved January weather many times before to give a courageous and compassionate voice to those who cannot speak. You can be proud of your students—their commitment is both challenging and humbling.
Second, while this storm came on faster and on a different course than expected and our earlier-than-usual departure from D.C. proved fruitless, I am grateful for the spirit of the cooperation that occurred on our motor coaches. One of the reasons the University sends buses to this event is that we know so many of our students will participate, regardless of whether we send buses or not. As a result, we want to offer the availability of the safety of motor coaches rather than individual vehicles for them.
While we will probably have mixed emotions about the PA turnpike in the future, we will also remember the conversations, the movies, and the moments of laughter and prayer as each bus faced down the long hours of waiting. Multiple times I was thankful that most of our students had chosen to ride in motor coaches rather than drive. I did offer a prayer for any students who were not riding in our coaches.
Please join me in asking a prayer of blessing for our coach drivers. These seasoned professionals skillfully returned us home safely and in good spirits. When I think of the 500 vehicles stranded with us—truckers, student-athletes from Duquesne and Temple universities, elderly couples, young families—I realize that in comparison, with our full gas tanks, heated coaches, movies, and restrooms, our adventure was safe and fairly tolerable.
Most of all, however, I am grateful to our Lord Jesus Christ for the good that came out of our situation—the increased media attention brought to the March for Life, the bus driver with another group of marchers who was healed of a past abortion, the witness of the outdoor Masses celebrated by two parishes—and for the good that we will only see in the days, weeks, months, and years ahead, or only when we enter into our heavenly reward.
As always, please don’t hesitate to contact me with your thoughts, suggestions, and affirmation. Thank you for your ongoing thoughts and prayers. You have entrusted us with your students and your support. We do not take either lightly. Together, let’s continue to be courageous in our pro-life and pro-woman witness, ever committed to building a true culture of life and love.
In Christ and St. Francis,
Father Sean O. Sheridan, TOR
President, Franciscan University