Franciscan University President Resigns

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Father Sean Sheridan will stay in the post till a successor is located.

STEUBENVILLE, Ohio — Franciscan Father Sean Sheridan has resigned as president of Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio. Father Sheridan informed the university’s trustees of his selection throughout a frequent meeting of the board on Friday.

The unexpected selection comes pretty much precisely six years due to the fact his appointment to the part in April 2013. While he informed the university board of trustees of his selection on April five, he has agreed to stay in the post till a successor is located.

Father Sheridan mentioned in a statement that he had produced the selection “after a wonderful deal of prayer.”

“Any university president would readily admit that all the days are lengthy numerous are wonderful days, and some are hard. Becoming a Franciscan friar has taught me to recognize that all these lengthy days — the wonderful days, and even the hard days — are blessed days, and all the additional so when I am amongst my Franciscan family members.”

“Franciscan University is a specific and immensely spiritual spot, and it was a blessing to serve in our mission to educate, evangelize and send forth joyful disciples of Jesus Christ. This is and normally will be a university committed to offering an education that is rigorous and demanding, vibrant and definitely orthodox, with an unwavering commitment to Catholic faith and tradition,” Father Sheridan mentioned.

The university’s board of trustees released a statement April eight, in which they thanked Father Sheridan for his years of service to Franciscan University.

“We are thankful for Father Sheridan’s years of leadership and dedication, all through which he continued the Franciscan University tradition of exceptional education grounded in a passionately Catholic faith that enables our alumni to evangelize and transform the culture,” mentioned Franciscan Father Malachi Van Tassell, chairman of the board of trustees.

Although the selection came as a surprise to the board and the wider university neighborhood, mates of Father Sheridan noted that the timing appeared effectively selected.

“Father Sheridan absolutely desires what’s finest for Franciscan,” 1 pal told CNA, “and waiting till the board met towards the finish of the academic year was timed to lead to minimal disruption to the neighborhood.”

The exact same pal noted that Father Sheridan is “a gentleman and devoted to the college he produced it clear he would remain in spot till his successor arrives and there is a smooth handover.”

“This was his selection, and he produced it on his personal terms. There’s a wonderful deal of surprise, but he absolutely is not walking out on the college.”

The statement released by Franciscan University mentioned the board of trustees expects to have a new leader in spot by the start out of the subsequent academic year.

Father Sheridan’s resignation comes immediately after the university has faced inquiries about its handling of historical sexual-harassment situations and its manner of addressing sexual-assault claims produced by students. In September 2018, Father Sheridan ordered the removal of a plaque commemorating a friar and former campus minister accused of assaulting young girls, in addition to a critique of campus policies connected to sexual assault and harassment.

But Father Sheridan has also faced a distinctive sort of criticism from some faculty members and web-primarily based groups and blogs, who have questioned his commitment to making sure a faithfully Catholic method to university education.

A great deal of the criticism stems from an incident in January, in which a professor utilized a text with inflammatory passages — termed “blasphemous” and “obscene” by critics — for an sophisticated reading course. At the time, Father Sheridan mentioned that when the text was “scandalous and incredibly offensive,” he did not think the professor who assigned it had any “malicious” intent, although he did replace him as the head of the English division.

In a letter apologizing to these disturbed by the text’s use, Father Sheridan highlighted the value of forming students “to do battle against the blasphemy and heresy rife in our culture currently.”

“Is any person right here excellent?” Father Sheridan later asked in a Jan. 14 homily. “No. Do persons right here make blunders? Yes. But our specific Franciscan charism is rooted in ongoing conversion. That we resolve to continue to do far better just about every day.”

Father Sheridan, a theologian and canon lawyer, is a published specialist on Ex Corde Ecclesiae, the 1990 apostolic constitution of St. John Paul II on Catholic universities. Below Father Sheridan, Franciscan University hosted a series of symposia to mark the constitution’s 25th anniversary.

A pal of Father Sheridan told CNA that the aggressive and individual vitriol leveled against him by some blogs had taken a toll.

“Father Sean decided he necessary a transform in the light of all the criticism of him and the university,” he mentioned. “He located the coverage to be quite distasteful, and it was clearly taking a toll on him personally, and on the university neighborhood.”

One particular professor at Franciscan told CNA that the communion amongst the university’s faculty had suffered beneath the sustained criticism.

“Father Sheridan genuinely couldn’t be a far better instance of humble leadership, devoted to the faith and the neighborhood right here.”

“I wonder if this selection is not a final instance of that humility,” the faculty member mentioned, when describing it as a “devastating decision” nonetheless.

The professor praised Father Sheridan’s commitment to strengthening the Catholic identity and academic rigor of the university.

Close friends of Father Sheridan also note that in 2018 Franciscan University enrolled its biggest ever freshman class and registered a balanced annual budgetm each stated aims of the university administration.

“It requires mature, inventive teamwork to realize that type of accomplishment, and that is what will be difficult to replace,” 1 close pal of Father Sheridan mentioned.

The exact same pal noted that Father Sheridan’s religious neighborhood will be holding elections in July.

“Father Sean is a young man who can teach, preach and lead with holiness and humility — that is a uncommon mixture. I am certain that an order with worldwide attain will quickly discover a new part for him.”

Father Sheridan himself mentioned he feels “called to continue my service to the Catholic Church in one more capacity to be determined in consultation with our TOR minister provincial.”

“The sincerity and seriousness Franciscan students have for the faith will continue to inspire me, and I am specifically thankful for the ministry and witness of the friars. In my years in larger education, as student, faculty member and researcher of Ex Corde Ecclesiae and the Code of Canon Law, I have not encountered members of a university neighborhood so committed to pursuing their beliefs.

“I leave Franciscan a far better teacher and catechist and appreciative of the time to develop in this location of my ministry.”

Ed Condon is the Washington bureau chief for CNA.

 

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