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Father Sean Sheridan, TOR, Appointed Sixth President of Franciscan University of Steubenville


Father Sheridan succeeds Father Terence Henry, TOR, who has served as president since 2000.

Posted:  2013-04-19  

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STEUBENVILLE, OHIO—On April 19, the Board of Trustees of Franciscan University of Steubenville announced the appointment of Father Sean O. Sheridan, TOR, as the school’s sixth president. He succeeds Father Terence Henry, TOR, who has served as president since 2000.

“Father Sean brings an excellent blend of academic, pastoral, legal, and business experience to Franciscan University. He has also demonstrated a strong care and concern for the good of the University’s educational and spiritual mission. Together, these qualifications will uniquely equip him to lead Franciscan University according to the ‘heart of the Church,’” said Father Nicholas Polichnowski, TOR, chairman of the Board of Trustees and minister provincial of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus Province of the Third Order Regular of St. Francis of Penance.

Father Sheridan served as assistant professor in the School of Canon Law at The Catholic University of America from 2009 until he joined Franciscan University’s Theology Department as a professor in fall 2012, teaching graduate and undergraduate courses. A member of the Board of Trustees of Saint Francis University in Loretto, Pennsylvania, since 2010, he also held a position on the Franciscan University Board of Trustees from 2007-2012, working on the Student Life Committee and the Academic Affairs Committee, which he chaired from 2011-2012.

Before he entered the Franciscan Third Order Regular, he graduated in 1985 with a bachelor of science in pharmacy from the University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy, working as a pharmacy training manager from 1984-1990. In 1990, he earned his juris doctor from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law and spent the next 10 years as a practicing attorney in Sacramento and Pittsburgh, focusing on healthcare litigation, primarily with the representation of hospitals and physicians.

The Cresson, Pennsylvania, native entered the Franciscan Third Order Regular in 2000 and made his solemn profession of vows in 2005. He was ordained to the priesthood in December 2006.

In 2007, Father Sheridan graduated from Washington Theological Union with his master of divinity. He obtained a doctorate in canon law from The Catholic University of America School of Canon Law in 2009. His dissertation, “Ex Corde Ecclesiae: A Canonical Commentary on Catholic Universities ‘From the Heart of the Church’ to Catholic Universities,” addresses seven challenges to the implementation of Pope John Paul II’s Apostolic Constitution on Catholic Universities and suggests solutions to those issues.

“I am honored to serve as the next president of Franciscan University. It is inspiring and truly humbling for me to be here at Franciscan University with the students who are pouring their hearts into their education and their prayer life, falling in love with God and the Church, and striving to become saints,” Father Sheridan said. 

“The University has grown in every area under Father Terence’s leadership and increased its reputation for excellent academics and faithful Catholicism. I will build on that strong foundation, always with a view to serving the Church and the new evangelization,” Father Sheridan said. “I look forward to working with Father Terence, the Board of Trustees, and the entire faculty and staff as we continue to seek God’s will in advancing Franciscan University’s educational and spiritual mission.”

Father Henry, credited with strengthening the University mission through a new core curriculum, public stands for religious freedom, entry into NCAA D-III athletics, and a $31 million capital campaign, will remain at Franciscan University to help the new president with his transition.

“I have the utmost respect for Father Sean, and I have deeply valued his opinion, especially on Church issues, over the years,” Father Henry said. “I’m happy to be leaving the University to his leadership, and I am certain he will continue to raise the bar of excellence. I will be glad to introduce him to friends and alumni, and to help him with the transition into his new position.”

Since 2009, Father Sheridan has served on the Editorial Board and since 2011, as book review editor for The Jurist (CUA Press), the only canon law journal published in the United States. His scholarly articles have been published in The Jurist, Journal of Catholic Higher Education, and other academic journals. He has given presentations at The Catholic University of America School of Canon Law, and in June 2012, he addressed Catholic bishops at a symposium offered by a committee of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. He advises religious communities and Catholic universities as a canonical consultant and began serving as judge of the Diocesan Tribunal for the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown, Pennsylvania, in 2012.

Father Sheridan’s pastoral experience includes Franciscan University summer conferences, parish ministerial duties, RCIA, pastoral care at hospitals, campus ministry, and residence hall chaplaincy. He also serves within the Sacred Heart Province in many other capacities.

Father Sheridan will assume the duties of president June 1, the start of the new fiscal year for Franciscan University. He will be formally installed as the president during the inauguration ceremony on October 10, 2013.

Franciscan University of Steubenville, founded in 1946 by friars of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus Province of the Third Order Regular of St. Francis of Penance, integrates excellent academic programs with a dynamic faith environment to serve over 2,400 students from all 50 states and 15 countries. Franciscan offers more than 40 undergraduate and seven graduate degree programs, the most popular of which include theology, catechetics, nursing, education, and business. Franciscan University has received a top-tier placement for 12 consecutive years in U.S. News & World Report’s list of America’s Best Colleges. It is also featured in The Newman Guide to Choosing a Catholic College and Kiplinger Personal Finance Magazine’s top 100 “best values” in private higher education.

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