Franciscan University of Steubenville celebrated the nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary on Wednesday with Mass, a Eucharistic procession and a consecration of the university campus to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
The birthday celebrations began with 4:45 p.m. Mass held in the Marian Grotto near the Portiuncula Chapel. The Rev. Shawn Roberson, TOR, presided, with the Rev. Dave Pivonka, TOR, and the Rev. Jonathan McElhone, TOR, concelebrating.
In his homily, Roberson, speaking of the Blessed Virgin Mary, said, “She comes to us as a sign … from heaven that everything is going to be alright.”
Roberson said that the Blessed Virgin also had difficult circumstances that disrupted her plans. He said that giving birth to Jesus in Bethlehem was not on her to-do list.
Roberson stressed that the Blessed Virgin is a guide for us to get to heaven. He said that she was “leading and guiding her children to salvation.”
After the Mass, the priests and altar server processed around and through the Portiuncula Chapel to open it for the semester. The congregation then sang “Tantum Ergo.”
Junior Cameron Kofalt said, “Thank God for the good weather on Mary’s birthday.”
At times, the wind blew the incense like a cloud underneath the feet of the statue of the Blessed Virgin in the Grotto.
At 9 p.m., a rosary walk with Eucharistic procession, adoration and consecration to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Immaculate Heart of Mary took place. The procession and consecration added to the nightly rosary walk that Pivonka instituted earlier in the semester.
Pivonka led the procession and consecration prayers with Roberson. The Knights of the Holy Queen household led the rosary.
Hundreds of people attended, so much so that during the procession, the streets were filled from side to side with people. Many different households attended.
Before the procession started, those gathered sang “Happy Birthday” to the Blessed Virgin.
The procession followed the typical route of the nightly rosary processions. Following the procession, there was a brief period of adoration and Pivonka consecrated the campus to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary in front of Christ the King chapel.
Pivonka said that St. Francis of Assisi felt that the small, insignificant original Portiuncula Chapel in Italy was close to the Blessed Virgin’s heart. He likened the original to the Portiuncula in Ohio, saying that in the Ohio Valley, people are also close to Our Lady.
In his prayer, Pivonka said to Mary, “As our gift to you, we give you ourselves.”
Senior Grace Tillman said, “What a blessing to walk across campus with Jesus Christ.”
Faustina Habisohn, senior, said, “It was pretty close to the union of Heaven.”
Super-senior Hope Bergsma said, “I was really happy with how many people came.”