Franciscan University of Steubenville will kick off a year-long celebration of its 75th jubilee Dec. 5 and 10 with special Masses, the unveiling and blessing of a new mosaic on the J.C. Williams Center exterior and an Advent festival.
While the official kickoff date for the jubilee celebrations is Dec. 10, events will be held on campus Dec. 5 to include students before they head home for winter break.
Dec. 10 marks the first day of classes at the university in 1946, the founding year. Ann Dulany, dean of advising and a co-planner of the jubilee celebrations, said the semester may have started at an unusual time since the university was founded to educate men returning from World War II.
The official kickoff Dec. 10 will begin with a press conference, an all-campus Mass at 1 p.m. and the revealing and blessing of the new mosaic.
Dulany said the mosaic was commissioned especially for the university. The picture, featuring Our Lady of Angels, was painted by Blair Pirras, ’15, who will be present on campus for the blessing.
The Dec. 10 festivities will also include an Advent festival in the evening. Dulany said the inspiration for this came from Advent markets in Europe.
“That’s not something we’ve done at Franciscan before,” Dulany said. “Anybody who’d been to Austria before in the fall semester, if they’ve been there long enough, they may have seen the Advent market at the Kartause, where vendors from all over town come and set up their tables and their wares to sell.”
Dulany said in Austria, St. Nicholas comes with “Krampus,” which are giant devilish monsters who come to scare children into being good.
“We’re trying to incorporate some aspect of that as well,” Dulany said.
The Advent festival will be open to students and to spouses and families of faculty and staff. There will be live music in the fieldhouse, a coffeehouse in the J.C. Williams Center and a children’s corner in the library with a Santa Claus. More activities will be available in the fieldhouse, including gingerbread decorating and reindeer races. Vendors from throughout the valley will be selling their products at the festival.
During the evening, there will be a blessing of the creche and lighting of the Christmas tree.
Since most students will be finished with finals by Dec. 10 and no longer on campus, a celebration will be held Dec. 5 as a preliminary jubilee kickoff for students.
There will be an all-campus Mass at 10 a.m. followed by a sneak peek of the new mosaic. Throughout the afternoon, there will be a celebration in the J.C. tent with live music, a T-shirt giveaway, free food and gingerbread decorating.
“They’ll have an opportunity to have a nice festive afternoon,” Dulany said.
Celebrations of the jubilee will continue throughout the next year, during the spring and fall semesters, including special Baron athletic events, a concert and other events. In the spring there will be a special jubilee focus on the Gallery of Research and Artistry in Community Engagement.
Dulany, who is assisted in the planning process by Tim Delaney, director of alumni relations, said the concept of jubilee comes from the Old Testament, when the Israelites were in exile.
“They were called back through forgiveness to their promised land and then there was an element of restoration,” Dulany said. “Forgiveness, return and restoration are the three things we’ve been focusing on a lot as we’ve been planning this jubilee.”
Dulany said Franciscan has a unique opportunity to lead in the restoration of the Church.
“I’m really excited that Franciscan has an opportunity to participate in a jubilee at this time,” she said. “I think it’s always good to be called back to forgiveness. … We’ve talked a lot about our scriptural theme of becoming builders of the Church and that’s what I think we are being asked to do through this restoration.”
Dulany has been involved with the university for almost 30 years, first as a student and then on faculty.
“Throughout that time, I’ve just been blessed to see the growth of the university in so many different aspects,” she said. “I’m very proud to be an alum from Franciscan and I’m very honored to be an employee here at Franciscan University. … It’s been a place where I’ve believed in the mission, I do believe that what we do is unique, that we are forming and educating students to go out and to evangelize the world. And I don’t see that happening in other places.”
The campus master facility plan has been released just in time for the jubilee, with plans to raise money for a new academic building.
“It will really be more than just an academic building, it will be a huge center on campus with large meeting space for events and things like that, as well as a new home for our admissions and enrollment team,” Dulany said.
There will be a pep rally Dec. 9 to launch the capital campaign for the new academic building.
“I’m just edified by the growth that Franciscan has done throughout the years,” Dulany said. “It hasn’t always been easy and there will always be challenges. But God’s faithfulness to Franciscan has remained strong, he has held us through some rough times and he will always prevail.”