Unite Our Nation Events Bring Together Steubenville Faith Communities
October 6, 2020

STEUBENVILLE, OHIO—More than 175 Franciscan University of Steubenville students and staff, local residents, and religious leaders gathered on Saturday, October 3, for Unite Our Nation events to pray for healing and peace in the United States.

The morning began with Bishop Jeffrey Monforton of the Diocese of Steubenville celebrating an 8:00 a.m. Mass in Franciscan University’s Finnegan Fieldhouse. University president Father Dave Pivonka, TOR, gave the homily, in which he called for an increase in humility, repentance, and prayer.

“Each one of us as an individual, as a town, as a country must reconcile with this reality—that if things are going to change and if things are going to be different, it’s up to us,” Father Pivonka said. “It has to be a personal decision that each one of us makes.”

He encouraged people to recognize both the beauty and brokenness present in the Church, the nation, and their own lives. “We need to be humble enough to look at the person down the street and recognize that he or she may have a different story or may look different than us, but they are no different in the sight of God,” Father Pivonka said.

A eucharistic procession followed Mass. Priests, religious sisters, students, and members of the community prayed the Rosary as they walked more than two miles from the University to Holy Name Cathedral in downtown Steubenville. Bishop Monforton closed the procession with benediction, and then Father Pivonka introduced local faith leaders for an ecumenical prayer service.

“If there is going to unity anywhere, it has to start with the body of Christ,” said Rev. Dr. Vaughn Foster Sr., executive director of Relationship Builders, during the service.

He said Christians need to see the world as it is so they can identify with one another’s pain and hear what others have to say because “too often we’re good at telling, but we’re not very good at listening.”

“There can be no unity without empathy,” he said. “Not until we can really empathize with each other, see each other where we are, and hear with our hearts, that we can begin to take those steps toward unity.”

Rev. Toni Hubbard of Urban Mission Ministries likewise reminded the crowd that the “character of a real Christian will show through our unity.”

“God is smiling down on us today. It’s not about who you are and who I am. It’s about who God is in our life,” she said.

Bishop Monforton, reading from the Beatitudes, called for people to be peacemakers who actively work to heal broken relationships, love others, and instill hope.

“We are the protagonists in this story of human history,” Bishop Monforton said. “You and I can animate our personal vocation through our personal relationship with Jesus Christ, the source of all joy and hope from whom our very lives find meaning.”

He concluded, “Unite our nation. My dear friends, let’s get to work.”

Franciscan University students offered prayers of petition, and those gathered sang together the hymn “How Great Thou Art.” The Steubenville procession was held in union with other Unite Our Nation prayer events taking place across the country.

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