April 08, 2019
Dear Franciscan University Family,
A search process will soon begin for the next president of Franciscan University. Not too long ago, I submitted my resignation after a great deal of prayer, and over the weekend, it was accepted by the Board of Trustees. I feel called to continue my service to the Catholic Church in another capacity to be determined in consultation with our TOR minister provincial. I will receive a new assignment upon the completion of my service as president. As you can imagine, this was a difficult letter for me to write and deliver to you as I have great affection for the entire Franciscan Family.
Upon my arrival at Franciscan University, I came to know my brothers in the Holy Spirit Friary who have supported me in my work. The heart of the University is the mission and ministry of the Franciscan Friars of the Third Order Regular, Province of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. More than 20,000 students have benefited from the pastoral care of the friars since the province established the University nearly 75 years ago. I am grateful for having been able to play a small part in this long and significant history.
My greatest love, as a priest, is found in the celebration of the sacraments, and especially the Eucharist. When I arrived at Franciscan, my primary desire was to be of service to the students and help them grow in the faith and intellectually. Over the years, I have said hundreds of Masses in Christ the King Chapel and in our Kartause Chapel in Gaming, Austria, and I have heard thousands of student confessions in Steubenville and across Europe while serving as president. The sincerity and seriousness Franciscan students have for the faith will continue to inspire me, and I am thankful for their witness.
Soon after I arrived, I began to know the faculty beyond their well-earned reputation of being passionately Catholic and skilled teachers. In my years in higher education, as a student, faculty member, and as a researcher of Ex corde Ecclesiae and the Code of Canon Law, I have not encountered faculty so committed to pursuing their beliefs. I leave Franciscan knowing that our students are being well formed to be joyful disciples prepared to transform the world for Christ.
There are countless works within the life of the University by which staff enrich the lives of students and all those who call Franciscan their home. It is impossible for me to list all these acts of these dedicated employees, but I can point out the primary attribute that unites them all—joyfulness. The kind words of the staff throughout each day has been edifying.
I will remain with you as president until the end of this academic year and look forward to opportunities to thank you individually for your witness and support over the years. Any university president would readily admit that all the days are long; many are great days, and some are difficult. Being a Franciscan Friar has taught me to recognize that all those long days—the great days and even the difficult days—are blessed days and all the more so when I am among my Franciscan Family. Please pray for me, and know that I am praying for you!
In Christ and St. Francis,
Father Sean O. Sheridan,