“Only at Franciscan” (And, I’m sure, a few other schools)

Finnegan Fieldhouse at Franciscan University

Finnegan Fieldhouse on the campus of Franciscan University of Steubenville.

Just a simple post about a few episodes that sort of epitomize the experience of being on campus at Franciscan University.

Naturally you’ll overhear conversations about philosophy, theology, and morality in random groups around campus on occasion, but these few were a little different because of where they happened: that den of testosterone, the gym and men’s locker room.

I was at the gym the other day trying to stay in shape—a mostly losing battle during the stretch from Thanksgiving through the New Year. I was doing lunges—taking long steps, dipping down until my one knee touched the ground then standing up and stepping forward with the other foot, touching the other knee to the ground—with dumbbells in my hands to increase the intensity. One of the other guys in that particular room was a friend of mine, the student head of goings-on at the Chapel. He remarked, “doing genuflection exercises, eh?” I laughed and came back with, “Please! I grew up Tridentine! I don’t need to do no stinking genuflection exercises!” He laughed. Then two other guys in the room, one of whom is in our Priestly Discernment Program, smiled and  engaged in the conversation and an enjoyable joking discussion about genuflecting, kneeling for long stretches during liturgies, and various experiences of these sorts broke out right there in the weight room. It’s the sort of conversation I would have with my seminarian and priest friends while in seminary, but never in a setting where the majority of people are *not* preparing to be, or already are, priests.

On another occasion a month or two ago in the same place, Dr. Pat Lee, director of our Institute of Bioethics, was down there exercising when a student approached him with a question pertaining to sexual morality. Right there in the middle of the weight room they engaged in a fairly lengthy, in-depth conversation about the dignity of marital relations, the true meaning of sexuality, and related issues. It was a veritable class on sexual morality while pumping iron. Not a bad soundtrack to the workout!

On another occasion something similar happened in the locker room, but this time it was two student-athletes. One had had more moral theology credits than the other and the two were having a thoroughly open, non-judgmental conversation about authentic sexual morality and why it is a good thing. The student with the questions was sincerely engaged and interested. I’ve been in a fair number of locker rooms over the years, but I cannot ever recall overhearing a conversation about sex that *upheld* the dignity of women and sexual relations rather than denigrating both.

There have been other similar experiences here, all refreshing, and somewhat surreal.

Truly a blessing to work at a place that prepares men and women to be excellent professionals who also are excellent ambassadors for Christ wherever they go.



  • Linda Adams

    Great Post! But, Seriously, couldn’t the student have left Dr. Lee alone so that he could have his workout? He probably had to move heaven and earth to get that time in the first place.
    Office hours and class are the place for such discussions…not while a professor is working out, having dinner with this family or shopping at Wal-Mart.
    I would have never thought of bugging on of my professors on their own time.

    • http://twitter.com/TomCrowe Tom Crowe

      Linda— I can promise you, knowing Dr. Lee personally, that he prefers teaching at any opportunity to completing his workout. The student’s questions were based in a personal experience—something he was struggling with. It wasn’t just an educational moment, it was a pastoral moment.

      • John200

        As a professor, I give the same answer to students — I’ll talk with you anytime about my field or other topics.

        It goes with the profession, I think.

        • BenM

          I think that right there indicates whether an instructor is in it for a paycheck, or in it for the love of imparting knowledge (and wisdom).



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