It is an honor to be the 2013 Mass of the Holy Spirit presider and homilist at Mercyhurst University.  A Catholic university in the Mercy tradition — founded in 1926 by the Sisters of Mercy in Erie, PA — Mercyhurst is an impressive school, especially given its age, size, and location. Highly ranked among regional liberal arts colleges, Mercyhurst can be proud of its programs, community engagement, and tradition. It has several campus locations, too, including one in Dungarvan, Ireland! Each year Mercyhurst University, like many Catholic colleges and universities, opens the academic year with a convocational Mass of the Holy Spirit. Last year the presider and preacher was Rev. William Byron, SJ, former president of the Catholic University of America and the University of Scranton, in addition to having taught at a variety of schools including Georgetown University and Loyola University in New Orleans. It is a privilege to be this year’s presider, preacher, and lecturer. The administration and faculty have been incredibly hospitable and I’ve enjoyed getting to several wonderful people here already. I’m looking forward to meeting many more throughout the day!

Here is the press release from Mercyhurst about this year’s events that take place today:

Daniel P. Horan, OFM, will explore the significance of the new pope’s decision to use the name Francis in a talk at Mercyhurst University on Thursday, Sept. 12. His presentation, “The Saint and the Pope: The Significance of Two Men Named Francis for the Church and World,” begins at 7 p.m. in Mercyhurst’s Taylor Little Theatre. It’s free and open to the public.

Earlier that day, Father Horan will also celebrate and preach at Mercyhurst’s Mass of the Holy Spirit, the traditional opening for a new academic year.

The similarities between Pope Francis and his namesake, St. Francis of Assisi, are many, including their shared commitment to the poor, focus on care for creation, and approachable and humble dispositions.

Father Horan says these characteristics mark only the beginning of the significance of the name “Francis” for the 13th century saint and church reformer and the 21st century pope.

“Although St. Francis still remains the most popular saint (after Mary) in all of Christian history, few have explored his complicated and radical relationship to the church and world at a time of great change,” Father Horan says. ”The legacy of St. Francis offers us hope for negotiating the dynamics of power relationships within the church and in the world, reconceiving our relationship to the rest of the created order, and understanding what it means to follow the footprints of Jesus Christ according to the Gospel.”

Father Horan, a Franciscan friar of Holy Name Province (N.Y.), is a columnist at America magazine, the national Catholic weekly, and is completing a doctorate in systematic theology at Boston College.

He is the author of several books including: Dating God: Live and Love in the Way of St. Francis (2012) and Francis of Assisi and the Future of Faith: Exploring Franciscan Spirituality and Theology in the Modern World (2013). His next book, titled The Last Words of Jesus: A Meditation on Love and Suffering, is scheduled for release in November. He has also written more than 40 articles that have appeared in both scholarly journals and popular publications.

Father Horan previously taught in the Department of Religious Studies at Siena College and was a visiting professor in the Department of Theology at St. Bonaventure University in 2012. He frequently travels around the United States and Europe delivering lectures, leading retreats, and offering workshops on theology and spirituality. His website is

For more information, contact Lisa Mary McCartney, RSM, at or 814-824-2572.


1 Comment

  1. Small world!
    My mother, Margaret Mary Burns Farrell graduated from Mercyhurst with the class of 1931 – during the last gasps of the Depression. She came from Batavia NY, a small town in upstate New York between Rochester and Buffalo. Very few women of that era had the privilege or opportunity of a college education. Their education usually ended after high school (if they went that far). It was the norm that they marry and raise a family. It was the men/boys for whom college was considered important because they would become the ‘breadwinners’!
    My mother married after graduation and bore six children, four of whom still live.
    She was extremely proud and grateful for the education she received from the Sisters of Mercy at Mercyhurst. She passed on to her children the love and necessity of learning.

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