Faith 101


    Sep 04, 2015

    By Adam P. Setmeyer, Director of Campus Ministry

    CrucifixIn the Decree on Ecumenism (Unitatis Redintegratio), issued at the Second Vatican Council, the Bishops of the Catholic Church stated, “Today, in many parts of the world, under the influence of the grace of the Holy Spirit, many efforts are being made in prayer, word and action to attain that fullness of unity which Jesus Christ desires. The sacred Council exhorts, therefore, all the Catholic faithful to recognize the signs of the times and to take an active and intelligent part in the work of ecumenism.” Marian University, in the tradition of Saints Francis and Clare and the Sisters of St. Francis, Oldenburg, Indiana, has long embraced this ecumenical spirit as they have served the needs of diverse populations in central Indiana, throughout the United States, and, the world.

    This fall, we begin our next great venture in promoting ecumenism through the Women and Men of Faith Program. On June 24, 2015, Marian University was awarded a $20,000 NetVUE Chaplaincy Implementation Grant from the Council of Independent Colleges. These funds will be used to:

    1. Provide academic, spiritual, communal, and pastoral formation opportunities for students preparing for Christian ministry.
    2. Create a rich worship experience which honors the diversity of the Christian traditions present on campus and provides a place for the prayerful exploration of vocation.
    3. Empower faculty and staff to interpret the signs of the times and address the questions of our age through the dialogue of faith and reason.

    Doing so will have a culture-shaping impact as conversations of faith and substance become more frequent and widespread, and we are able to become a hub for ecumenical dialogue among Indianapolis institutions.

  • Preparing Transformational Leaders in the Spirit of Saints Francis and Clare

    Sep 04, 2015

    By Daniel J. Elsener, President of Marian University

    President Daniel J. ElsenerIn June 2016, leaders from nearly two dozen Franciscan colleges and universities will gather on the Marian University campus in Indianapolis, Indiana, for the Association of Franciscan Colleges and Universities’ (AFCU) biannual symposium. A significant element of this AFCU symposium will include focused discussion of opportunities for ongoing collaborations among faculty, staff, and administration from Franciscan institutions. This collaboration will not only preserve, but enrich and dramatically advance our individual and collective missions in Franciscan higher education.

    The changing world around us requires us to venture forward courageously in new collaborative arrangements, paradigms, and entrepreneurial efforts in the spirit of our respective founders. We believe that in the current economic, religious, and social climate there is a strong need for dynamic, growing Franciscan institutions. Our forerunners recognized the critical value of Franciscan higher education in their own times, and we are called to continue these foundational efforts with an ever greater dedication and fervor today.

    Saints Francis and Clare of Assisi are the models for all our efforts to develop transformational leaders for service to the world. They inspired thousands of men and women—in their own time, and in succeeding generations down to our own day—to live the Gospel by embracing simplicity, purity of heart, and service to everyone in need, especially the most vulnerable social outcasts. As AFCU institutions, we want to work together to make authentic Franciscan values available to our students and to the communities they will serve, especially in the fields of education, business, health care, and church ministry.

    AFCU logoWith that in mind, it is our vision that the 2016 AFCU symposium allow for meaningful dialogue among presidents, congregational ministers, religious superiors, board chairs, faculty, and staff about leadership, governance, and collaboration. Top leaders from several AFCU institutions have agreed to work with me to coordinate the high level conversations that need to occur to ensure that the symposium is a truly collaborative affair from beginning to end. We are especially eager to promote fruitful dialogue in the critically important areas of academics, institutional advancement, finance, information technology, marketing communications, and strategic planning.

    During the coming months, pre-symposium conversations will take place among leaders of representative institutions about agenda items, speakers and presentation topics, and break-out sessions. Future issues of The Faithful Leader will report on our progress. In the meantime, please pray for the success of this courageous venture. It is our fervent hope that this historic opportunity for collaboration will strengthen our respective missions as Catholic Franciscan institutions and enliven the spirit of Saints Francis and Clare on our individual campuses and throughout the global community.

    Thank you for all that you do to support and advance Marian University and Franciscan higher education. May God continue to bless you, today and always.

  • Following Saints Francis and Clare

    Sep 04, 2015

    By Daniel Conway, Senior Vice President for Mission, Identity, and Planning

    In June, 16 pilgrims from Marian University traveled to Italy to follow in the footsteps of Saints Francis and Clare. Guided by Franciscan scholars from diverse regions of the United States, the Marian University pilgrims (comprised of faculty, staff, several spouses, and a member of the Board of Trustees) spent eight days in Assisi and three days in Rome before returning to Indianapolis on June 16. Their itinerary included lectures, visits to historic Franciscan sites, daily Eucharist and common prayer, shared meals, and opportunities for reflection and discussion.

    Assisi PilgrimsAccording to Mark Henninger, Marian University’s head football coach, “When I was asked to go on this pilgrimage (which I consider a huge honor) and was given the reading assignments, I started to become fascinated with the stories of Francis and Clare. However, after reading the books, they were still just stories. It wasn’t until I was able to walk through the streets of Assisi (or should I say walk up the streets of Assisi—as it seemed all the streets went up), hear the birds singing, see the ruins of the castle above the city, feel the cool rock walls of the buildings on a 90 degree day, was I able to appreciate the lives and the sacrifice of both Francis and Clare.”

    Seeing with the eyes of Saints Francis and Clare brought into focus their commitment to poverty, simplicity, and wholehearted love of all God’s creation. Byrum School of Business Dean Russ Kershaw, Ph.D. observed, “Through the deeper understanding of the lives that Francis and Clare led, gained during the pilgrimage, I believe that I will be better able to infuse their values into the classroom. Not only will I be able to do this on an individual basis as I teach in our curriculum, but as dean of the Byrum School of Business, I will be able to influence our entire program as we continue to implement and improve our experiential approach to teaching business.”

    Marian University’s pilgrims speak freely about how their experiences will benefit their work at the university. “As we develop curriculum,” says Sr. Jeanne Hagelskamp, SP, Ed.D., associate professor and director of the Marian University Academy of Teaching and Learning Leadership, “I will also be sharing some of the experiences with others so that the lives of Francis and Clare become real to them and so that they can breathe life into our Franciscan sponsorship values.”

    Karen Klabunde, wife of Richard Klabunde, Ph.D. who teaches in the Marian University College of Osteopathic Medicine, notes, “I was encouraged in my faith in Christ by daily Eucharist, by readings, reenactments, as well as our excellent teaching by our leaders, our growth together as pilgrims, the camaraderie of new friends, and the prayers of everyone. I came to understand concepts I had struggled with, but had not fully grasped before this trip. Truly, ‘Where you stand determines what you see.’ My faith has grown.”

    AssisiThe four Franciscan sponsorship values, informed by prayer, that Marian University received from the Sisters of St. Francis of Oldenburg, Indiana, took on a new vibrancy for the group. As Trustee David Haire ’71 observed, “For most of us, religion and values are very personal; we have to break out of our comfort zone and become evangelists for the pilgrimage and the Franciscan values. Like Francis, we have to spend some time in quiet prayer, and spend much time in preaching the Word.”

    Professor of physiology Richard Klabunde, Ph.D. says, “Words cannot express how much I learned about Francis’ and Clare’s spiritual journeys and the world in which they lived. They abandoned all the comforts of life in order to serve people in the love of Christ. What a testimony for me today! I was reminded of how little I have given up and the limits of my faith. I understand more clearly how faith must go beyond beliefs and be expressed in our actions toward others. As a non-Catholic Christian, I was deeply moved by daily participation in the Mass and by the teaching and example of the Franciscan leaders of our pilgrimage. I now understand more clearly the importance of the Franciscan movement not only for the Church, but also for all humanity.”

    Susan Kershaw, wife of Dr. Kershaw, notes “St. Francis’ dedication to Christ has inspired me to pray daily in everything I’m involved in. Spending time with God on a regular basis and yielding to His will is a new goal for me. ‘Abba, may your will be done unto me’ is my new mantra that is repeated several times throughout the day. In addition to prayer, I more fully appreciate the importance of relationships in our lives and the value of every soul.”

    The 2015 pilgrims have committed themselves to sharing their experiences with the Marian University community through a variety of means. Jennifer Waning ’94, who represents Marian University to prospective students and their families in southwest Ohio, says, “Sharing the experience, to whomever we can tell, bringing it up in conversation, talking about the things we learned and how it has influenced us to do things differently will go a long way in spreading the message. Our actions and attitudes will certainly be contagious.”

    Coach Henninger sums it up beautifully when he says, “The pilgrimage is an amazing experience. Marian University prides itself on teaching and displaying Franciscan values, and what better classroom to deepen one’s understanding of these values than the streets and hills of Assisi.”

  • The Franciscan Pilgrimage to Assisi

    Jun 12, 2015

    It is hard to capture this experience in words. We are all taking in so much information, visiting many fascinating places, learning the realities of the political, social, economic and spiritual world of Francis and Clare.

    The history, the story and the art and architecture are extraordinary. Our leaders are excellent. Our weather has been beautiful, and my first and last sounds each day are those of the beautiful birds we associate with St Francis.

    This experience is an immersion in Franciscan beginnings as well as a personal journey of reflection and prayer. For some of us it is also a new fitness program!

    June 4 and 5 were travel days-arriving in Assisi the late afternoon of June 5. We met the other pilgrims, participated in Orientation, participated in mass, walked into Assisi, and enjoyed dinner at our residence, Casa Papa Giovanni.

    June 6 we started our day with (rooftop) morning prayer. The view of the valley below is breathtaking. We had a great lecture after breakfast about the social and political life in the world of Francis and Clare. We then went to the boyhood home of St Francis. (Cheisa Nuova). It is now a historical site. We celebrated Eucharist there in one of the chapels.

    After lunch and reposo (rest) we visited the Cathedral of San Rufino. This is where Francis and Clare were baptized.

    On Sunday the 7th we travelled to San Damiano, where Francis heard God's call to "rebuild my church". The place later prepared for Clare and the sisters. We celebrated the Eucharist in a chapel at San Damiano. Later in the day we visited Santa Maria Maggiore, the place where Francis tossed his garments and money on the floor renouncing his father, when Pietro demanded that Bishop Guido settle the dispute about Francis selling his father’s fabric. In the evening we shared graced moments, as a group-as one would in a retreat.

    On Monday the 8th we learned more about the early stages. We visited Portiuncula-Our lady of Angels. Francis rebuilt this small church-which became the heart of the order. Following our tour, mass and lunch we travelled to La Madelena where we experienced the ritual used for lepers leaving all behind and joining this community. It felt like a very sad funeral.

    Today, Tuesday June 9 we travelled to La Verna. It was amazing. I will write more about it tomorrow. Each day has been filled with learning and beauty and questions for reflection. We have also had a bit of time to walk the streets of Assisi. Tomorrow we will have a little more time to process it all.

    Ruth Rodgers

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