Franciscan University of Steubenville in Steubenville, Ohio, is widely known as one of the most faithful institutions of Catholic higher education. But among those institutions recommended in The Newman Guide, it is the only one that maintains a “Franciscan” identity. The Cardinal Newman Society recently caught up with Father Jonathan St. André, a Franciscan friar of the Third Order Regular who works and ministers at Franciscan University, about what makes this Catholic university so unique.
Newman Society: When someone says they are “going to Steubenville,” most Catholics today immediately recognize that they are headed to that vibrant Catholic university in Ohio. We almost forget to say, “Franciscan University,” and yet the Franciscan charism is essential to the education you provide. What is it about Franciscan University’s charism that makes it so special?
Fr. Jonathan St. André, TOR: The primary charism of Franciscan University of Steubenville is ongoing conversion, since that charism is the foundation of the TOR friars who serve at the University (the Franciscan Friars of the Third Order Regular of Penance—penance being another word for ongoing conversion). The University’s charism is to offer in everything it does the opportunity for people to become disciples of Our Lord Jesus Christ! People can tell there is something special here, and what they sense is a vibrant faith rooted in an openness to the Holy Spirit and the joy that comes from following the Lord.