Sister Esther Anderson, OSF, congregational minister and president of the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia, delivered the Dr. Dorothy A.P. Leunissen Presidential Lecture.
The university celebrated the penultimate year in its first half-century on March 12, 2014, Charter/Sponsorship Day. After liturgy in Our Lady of Angels Chapel and lunch in Community Hall, Sister Esther Anderson, OSF, congregational minister and president of the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia, delivered the Dr. Dorothy A.P. Leunissen Presidential Lecture, “Educating in the Franciscan Tradition: A Journey of Celebration.”
To view the entire Charter Day program, please click HERE
Sr. Esther spoke of the history of Neumann University, explaining to an audience of more than 100 that the relationship between the institution and the congregation has evolved from family business to franchise to sponsorship.
“We believe that sponsorship provides an opportunity for us to express and extend the mission and values of our congregation; enables us to impact public policy with gospel values that promote peace, justice, and reconciliation; provides a base from which to network with other congregations and various dioceses concerning the promotion of Gospel values; facilitates presence and service with our brothers and sisters who are economically poor, marginal, and oppressed; and provides a means to collaborate in partnership with our brothers and sisters in promoting the mission of the Catholic Church.”
The Sisters have solidified this notion of sponsorship in inspirational and concrete ways. The Neumann Institute for Franciscan Studies, Sr. Esther noted, was endowed by the Sisters “to ensure that the vision and values of St. Francis, St. Clare and the early Franciscans permeate the campus community and that the Franciscan tradition which emphasizes respect for individuals, concern for the environment, and social responsibility is appropriately integrated into the curriculum.”
She concluded by emphasizing that the outcome of a Franciscan education is a way of life. “The presence of students and faculty to the suffering people in our local and world communities can and does provide a real experimental basis for asking the big questions of the day,” she said. “In this way, the elderly, the homeless, and those impacted by natural disasters will not be mere statistics on a page, but real human beings who can engage the students as they prepare to enter their careers.”
The Leunissen Lecture is delivered every year on the anniversary of Neumann’s founding. It is named after Dorothy A. Piatnek-Leunissen, Ph.D., M.D. A longtime area physician, she launched private practice in 1976 with her husband, R.L. Abraham Leunissen, M.D., at Riddle Memorial Hospital in Media. She was a lifelong friend of the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia and supporter of Neumann University.
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