STEUBENVILLE - The first order of business Saturday afternoon for Rachael Fox was to clean her apartment and prepare for her missionary work in Boulder, Colorado.
Fox received a master's degree in Theology Saturday morning during ceremonies at Franciscan University of Steubenville that also saw Bishop Jeffrey M. Monforton of the Diocese of Steubenville receive an honorary doctorate of sacred theology.
"I will be a missionary for two years at Camp Wojtyla in Colorado," said Fox, "It was a bit of a transition when I came here two years ago but I absolutely love this school. It is a different culture. I grew so much as a person because of the teachers, the religious here and the people on campus," a smiling Fox related.
SPEAKER — Nearly 700 Franciscan University of Steubenville graduates listen to Michael P. Warsaw, chairman of the board and chief executive officer of the Eternal Word Television Network, deliver the Saturday commencement address inside Finnegan field house. -- Dave Gossett
Dan Craig was busy nearly putting on his cap and gown for the 66th commencement exercises in the Finnegan Fieldhouse and he also referenced the campus atmosphere and faculty.
"I transferred here two years ago for accounting and finance and I found the faculty to be absolutely super," said the Corpus Christi, Texas native.
"I already have a job in the accounting department of a non-profit group that helps abuse victims in Corpus Christi. And I plan to get my MBA at Texas A & M. I am excited today but I will also miss this place," noted Craig.
It was also a melancholy day for Franciscan University Events Coordinator Dave Fatula who described Saturday, "as the best day of the year after Christmas."
"Everyone is excited today. The graduates are happy and the parents are happy. But I am a little melancholy because I meet these kids and get to know them for four years and then they are gone," said Fatula.
"The student workers are the one that make the graduation proceed so smoothly. They run the show. I'm just here today to put out fires. There are 80 students working today taking care of transportation, shuttling people around the campus, setting everything up and then tearing it all down again. Anything that needs to be done the Event Coordinator students do it all. This is my 24th year doing this and these kids keep me young," laughed Fatula.
The graduation was also Rev. Sean Sheridan's first time commencement since he was inaugurated as university president last summer.
"It is exciting today for me because I am seeing students I taught graduate. They are now moving on and I wish them well in their spiritual and academic life," Sheridan said.
Brian Kirby, a junior Theology and Catechetics student from Massachusetts was working on the events staff Saturday and said he is looking forward to next year's graduation ceremony.
"I guess I am nervous and excited. It is a big step to know I will graduate in a year. I hope to work for the Diocese of Boston after I graduate. Next year will be all about coordination and communication. And I am looking forward to my senior year and graduation," remarked Kirby.
The undergraduates cheered for several minutes when the parents of Amanda Looman received a posthumous degree for their daughter who was killed in an automobile accident in October 2013.
The graduates then listen as Michael P. Warsaw, chairman of the board and chief executive officer of the Eternal Word Television Network share personal stories about Mother Angela and her success in founding the network more than 30 years ago in her monastery garage with $200.
"God has blessed me with the opportunity to be part of the work of EWTN and its important mission over the past 23 years. In particular He blessed me with the opportunity to spend nearly every day with Mother Angelica for what would be the last decade of her active work in EWTN. Every day I am awed by the fact it is my responsibility to guide and carry on her mission," stated Warsaw.
"During your time here at Franciscan you have been blessed with the opportunity to practice and to learn more about the Catholic faith, the most important thing which we possess. I hope your goal as you conclude your college years today is to live and pursue a 'poetic' life, a life which is timeless, a life which is good and beautiful, a life which is true and authentically Catholic. This is why you came to Franciscan University of Steubenville, a place where every aspect of the university's life is focused on being authentically Catholic. A remarkable number of graduates of this university have responded with vocations to the priesthood and to the consecrated life. This is a special gift both to the individual students and to the Church," stated Warsaw.
"My dear graduates of the Franciscan University of Steubenville Class of 2014, despite what is customary on such occasions I do not wish you luck or good fortune. I wish you something greater: Heaven," Warsaw concluded.
University officials said the graduating class Saturday was the fourth largest in the history of the university. The top five states represented at the graduation ceremonies were Ohio, Pennsylvania, California, Michigan and Virginia.
Franciscan University of Steubenville area graduates:
Bergholz: Carole Hood-Rodsky, John Recznik.
Bloomingdale: Chelsey Marrow, Daniel Roberts, James Wood, Mary Mikesell.
Cadiz: Dana Sefsick.
Colerain: Amber Voytecek.
Dillonvale: Lucinda Schooler.
Empire: Gina Kelley.
Hopedale: Joseph Miravalle.
Jewett: Luke Starre.
Mingo Junction: Bridgit Pashke, Hannah Means, Anthony Colabella, Lewis Caldrone, Carla Bensie, Brea Hosenfeld.
Rayland: Darrin Shank.
Richmond: Monica Krason, Debra Straka, Shyen Jackson.
Steubenville: Ashley Ackerman, Andrew Adams, Adam Biggs, Catherine Campbell, Stephen Estes, Scott Fanders, Marcus Fluty, Glen Fontenot, Emma Giblin, Javier Panlilio Gomez, Brittany Guess, Benjamin Hartley, Caroline Hartley, Jordan Herboth, Catherine Hernandez, Lindsey Hoppenjan, Brian Hughes, Gary Lizotte, Keith Major, Daniel McBane, James McDonald, Matthew Merkel, Samantha Motto, Lindsey Rosaschi, Gabrielle Rowand, Peter Toyat, Jami Wiese, Frank Baker-Gleason, Caitlin Keough, Tiffany Ribar, Fredric Shellabarger, Joseph Danaher, Scott Lane, Taylor McGee, Anthony Renzelli, Kristin Curran, Raquel Lopez, Stefano Tandon, Hannah Poyo, Christina Duff, Steven McGlone, Abby Perko, Karen D'Anniballe, Joseph Steele, Jamie Beauregard, Hannah Padgett, Jane Crosby, James Hostetler, Christiana Sengenberger, Theresa Dombrowski, Peter Schreck, Roger Davey, Carissa Knowd, Genevieve Epie, Shawn Seger, Amy Seitz, Maryellen McCrady, Kyle Murphy, Andrew Ward, Chad Bauman, Kristen Roe, Ronald Shier, Sarah Welker, Suzanne Welker, Lisa Beaulieu, Kayla O'Brien, Julie Neuman, Rachel Balzano, Matthew Norkevicus, Justin Luther, Meghan Spencer, Lorra Kirk, Nicole Janosco, James Mello, Jamie Lamantia, Brandon Albarano, Victoria Kubicz.
Toronto: Joshua Elliott, Christy Renforth, Haley Downard, Courtney Lewis, Rebecca Barlow, Samantha Merritt, Veronica Fallon.
Wellsville: Jamie Boyle, Barbara Kornbau.
Wintersville: Patrick McNamara, Melinda Weedin, Erica Kuchinski, Adam Jeskey, Michael Gotta, Kirsten Teramana, Scott Kosek, Gabriela McGurn.
Burgettstown: Breanne Montero.
Colliers: Timothy Hooper.
Follansbee: Tonya Logan.
New Cumberland: Ryan Miller, Makenzie Hines, Darlene Henry.
Weirton: Taylor Oliver, Christopher Robinson, Megan DeGori, Kris Burner, Rachael Oiler, Renea Jones.
Wellsburg: Amanda Johnson.