Lay Leaders Learn about Marian University's Commitment to Catholic Identity, Franciscan Values

by Dan Conway | Jul 25, 2014

On Tuesday, July 22, 2014, more than 75 leaders in the Catholic community gathered at Marian University to hear the results of the university’s year-long “visioning process” and to offer suggestions and support for Marian University’s efforts to strengthen its mission as a Catholic university in the Franciscan and liberal arts traditions.

 The gathering began with Mass celebrated by Monsignor Joseph F. Schaedel ’70, pastor of St. Luke the Evangelist Parish, who is a Marian University alumnus and member of the university’s Board of Trustees. “It’s been said that great cities have Catholic universities,” Msgr. Schaedel said. “I’m excited about the role that Indianapolis’ Catholic university is playing in our community. Thank you for your willingness to join me in praying for the students, faculty, and staff here at Marian and for your willingness to learn more about how you can help us carry out the university’s mission to educate leaders who will transform lives, society and the world!”

 Marian University President Daniel J. Elsener shared with the group the results of a thorough visioning process begun a year earlier that asked the entire Marian family (board members, students, alumni, faculty, staff, donors, civic leaders and friends of the university in diverse regions of the Unites States and beyond) questions such as: “What does it mean to be a great Catholic university?” and “What role do our Franciscan values play in distinguishing us from other colleges and universities?”

 As outlined by President Elsener, the visioning process demonstrated strong consensus, and broad, enthusiastic support, for strengthening the university’s mission and identity as a Catholic university in the Franciscan and liberal arts traditions. “Marian University is committed to carrying out this directive, which we have received from the Church, but which has now been affirmed by civic and business leaders, alumni and friends, and all who value the unique role that a faith-based institution of higher education can play in educating transformational leaders in healthcare, education, business and in all areas of life—including the family and the Church.”

The president went on to explain that real leaders do not necessarily have titles such as CEO, principal, or chief of staff. Great teachers are leaders in their classrooms. Faithful, productive employees who inspire and motivate their colleagues are recognized as genuine leaders. Active members of parish communities and women and men who volunteer their time and talent for worthwhile nonprofit organizations, can all be seen as great leaders. What’s needed is integrity, a strong sense of mission and values, and the willingness to give-of-self in order to serve the greater good.

 “This is what Marian University is called to do,” President Elsener said. “Our mission is to educate women and men of integrity who can be transformational leaders wherever they happen to be and however they are called to serve our Church and our society.”

 To fulfill this mission, Marian University is determined to foster a vibrant community of faith on campus. Mass and the sacraments, ecumenical and interfaith prayer services, Catholic and Franciscan studies and faith sharing, opportunities to participate in ministry on campus, and in a broad range of services off-campus in the surrounding communities are all vital to the development of leaders who can serve the Church and the world.

Senior Vice President Dan Conway reviewed the three pillars of Marian University's strategic plan for its “Rebuild My Church” program. Funding for Marian University’s efforts to educate leaders for Church ministry and to foster a vibrant community of faith on campus will require a minimum of $3.5 million over the next two years ($2 million for academic scholarships for seminarians who attend Bishop Simon Brute and for students participating in the university’s San Damiano Scholars Program for Church Leadership. An additional $1.5 million will be needed to support campus ministry projects such as student retreats, peer ministry, and “alternative spring break” service projects as well as efforts to enhance the religious art on campus and provide faith development opportunities for faculty and staff.  During his remarks, Conway announced that the university has received two anonymous gifts of $250,000 each—one as a challenge to encourage others to help fund scholarships and the other as a challenge to individual and groups who can help fund campus ministry and outreach programs.

 “Advancing Marian University’s commitment to become distinctly effective in educating transformative leaders is an aggressively aspirational challenge,” President Elsener said. “But our Franciscan heritage and rich Catholic tradition have prepared us well for the increasingly important work of preparing leaders for service to the Church and the world!”

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