Father Dave Pivonka, TOR, Inaugurated | Franciscan University of Steubenville
  • Father Dave Pivonka, TOR, Installed as Seventh President of Franciscan University of Steubenville

    Fr. Dave Pivonka receives a standing ovation by those in attendance and on stage including: Dr. Regina Boerio, Professor of Psychology, Dean of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences; David DeWolf, Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees; Fr. Dave Pivonka, TOR, President of Franciscan University; Very Rev. Joseph Lehman, TOR, Minister Provincial of the Sacred Heart Province, Chairman of the Board of Trustees; The Most Rev. Jeffrey M. Monforton, Bishop of Steubenville; Dr. Daniel Kempton, Professor of Political Science, Vice President for Academic Affairs.

    October 08, 2019

    STEUBENVILLE, Ohio—Standing before 1,600 current students, alumni, faculty, staff, religious, and guests on October 4, the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, Franciscan University of Steubenville’s first alumnus president said he did not come to start over, but to continue the good work of Franciscan University.

    “I believe that God is laying a foundation for revival in our Church,” Father Dave Pivonka, TOR, ’89 said moments after being inaugurated as the University’s seventh president, “and I firmly believe that Franciscan University is being invited to be the center of that revival.”

    Throughout his remarks, Father Pivonka said Franciscan University should look to Christ the Teacher.

    “[Jesus] opened the minds of his students to new ways of thinking,” Father Pivonka said. “He taught them not only by what he said but often more importantly by what he did. He empowered [his students] and sent them into the world to be disciples.

    “The mission of Franciscan University is to carry on Jesus’ work of teaching and forming disciples. The purpose of our existence has been and will always be about Jesus.”

    This mission to “send forth joyful disciples” from Franciscan will remain at the heart of his time as president, said Father Pivonka. As a 1989 graduate of the University, he said, “I am extremely proud of my degree . . . but I am more proud that my heart was formed here at Franciscan, that my life was given direction.”

    Father Pivonka promised students, current and future, that he would work tirelessly to ensure they have the proper educational facilities and resources and would be taught by the best faculty who live the mission of Franciscan University. 

    Students will be “formed in the light and the truth of faith. . . .  At Franciscan University, I commit to see that you become the saint of God that you were chosen to be,” Father Pivonka said to loud applause.

    Father Pivonka also reflected on the state of the Church and harkened back to the example of St. Francis, who was faced with a Church in similar distress when Jesus spoke to him, saying, “Francis, rebuild my Church which you can see is falling into ruins.”

    “As graduates of Franciscan University, you are being charged with the essential job of repairing the Church,” Father Pivonka said. “Once again, 850 years after the life of St. Francis, the Church is struggling. She is profoundly wounded. But while she is wounded, [the Church] is still the bride, and she is still beautiful to behold. . . . She is worth fighting for because Christ said the gates of hell will never prevail against her.”

    In addition to Father Pivonka’s inaugural address, the ceremony featured five representatives of different facets of life at Franciscan.

    Father Joe Lehman, TOR, minister provincial of the Sacred Heart Province and Father Pivonka’s best friend in the community, praised Father Pivonka’s accomplishments but said that above all he’s done, what makes Father Pivonka a great president for Franciscan University is “the way he lives life in an authentically spiritual way.”

    Steubenville Bishop Jeffrey M. Monforton said, “Father Dave, you are called by name to maintain the helm of this holy vessel we call Franciscan University. You have my undying support.”

    David DeWolf ’99, vice chair of the Board of Trustees, said the president of Franciscan University plays “an essential role as we face challenges from secular society.”

    “As [the board] spoke and discerned, we came to the conclusion that God had prepared Father Dave to be president,” DeWolf said.

    Dr. Regina Boerio, professor of psychology, represented the faculty and called Father Pivonka’s presidency “a new chapter in a book of deep tradition” at Franciscan.

    Derek Markle, Student Government president, said students were prepared for this year to be their best year yet at Franciscan because of Father Pivonka’s presidency.

    After the remarks, Father Lehman and the University’s fifth president, Father Terence Henry, TOR, presented Father Pivonka with the presidential seal, formally recognizing him as the University’s seventh president.

    Following the inauguration, Father Pivonka celebrated Mass for the Solemnity of St. Francis of Assisi, honoring the life of the University’s patron saint. The homilist, Father Jonathan St. Andre, TOR, Franciscan University vice president of Franciscan Life, said we need to “smash the birdbath” and embrace the true St. Francis, who was about “living for, making known, and giving glory to one person — Jesus Christ.”

    Following his homily, Father Pivonka retook the Oath of Fidelity before Bishop Monforton, promising to preserve communion with the Catholic Church through his presidency by “holding fast to the deposit of faith.”

    As Father Pivonka said in his inaugural address, holding true to the faith and maintaining Franciscan University’s reputation of dynamic orthodoxy are of the upmost importance, because the students who pass through its doors represent the future of the Church.

    “At Franciscan, we commit to the formation of the entire person, their mind and their spirit,” he said. “From here, you who graduate, you will go on to engage the world, and you will bring what you have learned both from the classroom and the chapel to a world that needs to know what you know and who you know."

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