The Church’s year began anew last Sunday with the celebration of the First Sunday of Advent. This is the season of hope—and of joyful expectation of the Lord’s coming again!
Hope and joy are virtues for which the world longs. In our present age, despair and sorrow are too often a daily part of people’s lives. The good news that Christ brings should be for us a source of great rejoicing for it is an account of God’s loving plan for a hope-filled future.
Here at Marian University we have made a commitment to bring Christ’s good news to others. Our mission as a Catholic university located in a great American city is to dedicate ourselves to excellent teaching and learning in the Franciscan and liberal arts traditions so as to profoundly transform lives, society, and the world. Signs of this wholehearted dedication to academic excellence can be found in our science honor society (Gamma Eta Chapter of Sigma Zeta), our Academic All Americans, our Academy for Teaching and Learning Leadership, and the vibrancy of all our academic programs including math-science, nursing, and our entire liberal arts curriculum. We proclaim hope for the future by helping women and men prepare for life—intellectually, spiritually, physically—so that all may effectively answer their vocation.
We also proclaim hope outside the classroom. Our outstanding athletics programs—including our #1 ranked cycling program, our basketball program, and our championship football team—are complemented by programs in the arts and music, by speaker series such as the annual Senator Richard Lugar Lecture (this Sunday, December 9 at 7 p.m. in the Marian University Theatre), and by many other expressions of a campus life that are vibrant and faith-filled.
Advent is also a time for giving thanks. Here at Marian University we have much to be grateful for—beginning with the courage and foresight of the Sisters of St. Francis, Oldenburg, Indiana, and extending to the board members, faculty, staff, students, alumni, donors, and friends who have built up this great Catholic university over the past 75 years. Without their leadership and generosity, we would not have had the courage, or the resources, to face the challenges of the past century. Without their stewardship of time, talent, and treasure, we would not be able to respond boldly to the opportunities that will present themselves to us in the years ahead!
We dare to call ourselves “a great Catholic university” because of the profound importance of the mission entrusted to our care and a confidence in our vision – a vision which finds its roots in the Gospel. A great Catholic university is a sign of hope for the future. To the extent that we are faithful to this great calling, Marian University will succeed in its efforts to prepare leaders who can transform lives, society, and the world especially in the vitally important areas of healthcare, education, business and religious leadership.
We are blessed that this Advent season coincides with the installation of Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin as the spiritual and pastoral leader of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis. We join with the Catholic community in central and southern Indiana in welcoming our new archbishop and dedicating ourselves to close collaboration with him and with the clergy, religious, and lay leaders of our archdiocese.
Hope, joy, and thanksgiving are Advent themes, but they are also the result of fervent prayer and witness to our Franciscan values: the dignity of the individual, peace and justice, reconciliation, and responsible stewardship. This Advent, may the entire Marian University community—so enriched by a diversity of faith traditions—come together in prayer to ask for God’s blessing on our continued success. Pray that we can profoundly transform the lives of individuals, society, and the world. Pray that the teaching and learning that occurs here will open minds and hearts. Pray that students, faculty, and staff will be faithful to their calling. And pray that God will continue to bless us with the resources we need to carry out our mission successfully.
As we offer these prayers to our Father, let us also pray for those who are preparing for final exams and projects, for our football players, band members, and cheer squad, and coaches and staff as they prepare to represent the Marian community in the national championship game in Rome, Georgia, on December 13.
See you on Friday, December 7 at 4 p.m. in the Bishop Chartrand Memorial Chapel for the Immaculate Conception Vigil Mass. We look forward to having Bishop Christopher Coyne preside. My best wishes to you for a very blessed Advent.
Daniel J. Elsener