A pilgrimage led by Franciscan University president the Rev. Sean Sheridan will set out from Steubenville, Ohio, next April and make its way to Rome for the canonization of Blessed Popes John Paul II and John XXIII, the university announced.
The canonizations, Mass, and papal blessing by Pope Francis will take place in St. Peter's Square on April 27, 2014, the Feast of Divine Mercy. During his pontificate, Bl. Pope John Paul II promoted the devotion to the Divine Mercy and established the celebration of Divine Mercy Sunday.
Fr. Sheridan explained the school's devotion to Bl. Pope John Paul II as a strong proponent of Catholic education:
Franciscan University of Steubenville has always felt a strong connection to Blessed John Paul II. In 1987, three years before the promulgation of Ex corde Ecclesiae, our new library was named the John Paul II Library in his honor. The library’s John Paul II Room is filled with mementos of personal encounters with the Holy Father by our friars, faculty, and students. During his papacy and to this day, the words of John Paul II come alive on our campus in homilies, classroom teachings, on posters in residence halls and many other ways.
In his apostolic constitution on Catholic universities, John Paul II has given Franciscan University a gift of immense value, for Ex corde Ecclesiae provides us with clear direction to educate and form men and women to be a transforming presence in the Church and the world. In Ex corde Ecclesiae, John Paul II identified what it means for a university to be Catholic. (EcE, Part II, Art. 1 §1). He challenged Catholic universities and those associated with their mission to deliver more effectively the Church’s message. Teachers at Catholic universities are “to be witnesses and educators of authentic Christian life, which evidences attained integration between faith and life, and between professional competence and Christian wisdom.” (EcE, Part I, Art. 22) He challenged bishops to be more actively involved in the Catholic universities within their dioceses. John Paul II maintained that the relationship between a Catholic university and its diocesan bishop should be “characterized by mutual trust, close and consistent cooperation and continuing dialogue,” (EcE, Part I, Art. 28) with the bishop actively participating in the life of a Catholic university within his diocese. Since he was also a university professor, John Paul II emphasized the importance of an education rooted in the Catholic intellectual tradition as directed towards Catholic universities in Ex corde Ecclesiae.
Indeed, we think so highly of John Paul II that we chose his words to conclude the university’s official Mission Statement. ‘The mission that the Church, with great hope, entrusts to Catholic universities holds a cultural and religious meaning of vital importance because it concerns the very future of humanity.’” (John Paul II, Ex Corde Ecclesiae, Conclusion). We have seen the fruit of John Paul II’s thinking in Ex corde Ecclesiae with the transformation of numerous Catholic universities, his canonization is further recognition by the Church of his sanctity.
In addition to attending the canonization, pilgrimage attendees will visit the major basilicas, other churches, the Vatican Museum, and attend an audience with the Holy Father. Pilgrims will also have the opportunity to hear special lectures from the Rev. Jonathan Morris and George Weigel.
Franciscan University of Steubenville is recommended in The Newman Guide for its strong Catholic identity.
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