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Faith in Future Prayer Breakfast set

FAITH IN THE FUTURE — Discussing details of the Faith in the Future breakfast, which will be held Dec. 8 at Froehlich’s Classic Corner, were Mike Florak, vice president; Greg Froehlich of Froehlich’s Classic Corner; Phyllis Riccadona, vice president and program chair; Ross Gallabrese, executive editor of the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times; and Tracy McManamon, president. The Rev. Jason Elliott, pastor of First Westminster Presbyterian Church in Steubenville, also has been involved in the planning process. -- Janice Kiaski

STEUBENVILLE — If you ask Mike Florak why the annual Faith in the Future Prayer Breakfast has remained an important event for nearly two decades, he will give you a very simple answer:

“We have said it many times, the history of our city goes back to the city of churches, as it was known,” Florak, vice president of Faith in the Future, explained. “There is an undercurrent of faith among the people who stay here and work and live here, and they know it is a terrific place to be. We believe that with all of the great things that are happening here, despite the tough times we have been through, God is touching our area.”

Organizers are certain that spirit will be felt at this year’s ecumenical meeting. The Rev. Dave Pivonka, TOR, president of the Franciscan University of Steubenville, will be the guest speaker when the series continues at 8 a.m. Dec. 8 at Froehlich’s Classic Corner, located at the intersection of Washington and Fourth streets.

“The people we have had as speakers over the years have just been amazing,” said Tracy McManamon, president of Faith in the Future. “We never have to look hard to find a speaker because there are so many good, quality, amazing, spiritual and faithful people in our community.”

Faith in the Future was started in 2004 by R. Daniel Conlon, former bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Steubenville, as a way to build a climate of economic development through prayer, leadership, encouragement and teamwork.

That Pivonka will add his name to that roster of speakers is exciting, according to Florak, McManamon and Phyllis Riccadonna, who is a vice president and program chair.

“Steubenville is in Father Dave’s heart,” Florak explained. “He loves Steubenville. He probably has spent more time in Steubenville than he has anywhere else, with the exception of his hometown. I think he feels a real connection to the people of Steubenville, and the people of Steubenville feel a real connection to him.”

Pivonka became the first graduate of the university– which was founded in 1946 as the College of Steubenville — to be named president of the school during the board of trustees meeting on May 21, 2019. The school’s seventh president, he was inaugurated on Oct. 4, 2019, the Feast of St. Francis. The native of Durango, Colo., earned his bachelor’s degree in theology from the university in 1989, and was ordained as a priest in 1996. He also has earned a master of divinity degree, a master of arts in theology, a doctorate in education and an executive juris doctorate.

From 2008-2012, Pivonka served as director of post-novitiate formation for the Franciscans, TOR, and from 2012-2019, he directed Franciscan Pathways, hosting “The Wild Goose” video series on the Holy Spirit, a documentary on St. Francis of Assisi and “Metanoia,” a 2019 video series on conversion, according to his biography. He has written six books, including “Breath of God: Living a Life Led by the Holy Spirit” and “Sign of Contradiction.”

Members of the committee agreed he is a dynamic speaker.

“I think it’s not only the words that he uses, but the physical witness he is in the community,” McManamon said. “He’s everywhere — he’s like the Energizer bunny, he’s just everywhere, he has so much energy. He’s interacting with the community, he’s interacting with students, he travels all over the country, he travels all over the world. I just think he reminds me of the days when the Rev. Michael Scanlan was here, with what he does for the community.”

Scanlan, who died in 2017, served for 26 years as the university’s president before he stepped down in 2000, and for 11 years as chancellor before his retirement.

The Rev. Jason Elliott, pastor of First Westminster Presbyterian Church on Fourth Street in Steubenville, will provide spiritual readings during the breakfast. He also has been part of the planning process.

Organizers explained that the yearly Faith in the Future breakfast became such a success that the program was expanded to include monthly luncheon meetings. Speakers at those events, which have become successful as well, have covered a wide variety of topics and have provided new perspectives about the region.

Taken together, the yearly and monthly meetings have created a series that does not dwell on the past, but looks forward to what the community can become.

“I think it’s a reflection on the quality of the amazing people we have here,” McManamon said. “When we are able to have them as speakers, it just shines a light on who they really are. Not just what they do in the community, but also about their faith and how their faith leads them. It’s a complete reflection on what all of our faiths have taught us, and that’s to let God lead us.”

The cost to attend the Dec. 8 breakfast is $10, which is payable at the door, and reservations are due no later than Friday, the planners explained. For information or to reserve a spot, e-mail Florak at mflorak@franciscan.edu or call McManamon at (740) 282-1132. They added those who are planning to attend should arrive early — the program, they explained, will begin promptly at 8 a.m. It is an ecumenical event, they added, reminding area residents it is open to people of all faiths.

“Everyone’s welcome,” McManamon said. “We’d love to have a great turnout. This is the first time we have done this in two years because of COVID. We’d really like to pack Froehlich’s.”

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