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“Lift High the Banners of Love”

Franciscan Magazine

Faith households have become a household name at Franciscan University since Father Michael Scanlan, TOR, established them early in his presidency 35 years ago. You can read about what they are and mean to Franciscan alumni below. —The Editors

Morning Star Household was small, but we had lots of love for the Lord and for each other. When it was time for household pictures to be taken for the yearbook in my graduating year, we decided to have a little fun and pose kinda crazy in our jammies! Lots of other households were being very serious about their poses, almost too serious, and we just wanted to have a bit of fun.
—Terri (Jolly ’83) Miffitt

I was touched by the devotion I saw other students exhibiting when they approached the Eucharist. I knew I did not have the same belief coming from another denomination, so I prayed for the Lord to show me his will. In my sophomore year, I was confirmed during the Easter Vigil on campus. Afterward, my household, Dayenu, presented me with a big cookie that said, “Happy Catholicity,” and they gave me a box with “Catholic” things such as a picture of the pope, a Rosary, prayer cards, and so on, to celebrate my newfound Catholic faith. It was great to be part of a group of women whose primary purpose was to support one another and help each other grow in our faith in the Lord. I feel that my household was one of the best gifts of my Steubenville experience.
—Jennifer (Belt ’84) Kuhn

After one Ahim Adonai Household meeting, Andy Finkenstadt asked for prayer for his broken hand. Dino Pantoni ’86 led the prayer, and I remember faith welling up inside my heart as I watched Andy’s finger restored before my eyes. He went for an X-ray the next day, and it confirmed that the broken bone was healed. This experience launched me into a serious dedication to praying for the sick.

Our household was crucial in making a man of me. The brotherhood we had in Ahim Adonai, a brotherhood rooted in total commitment to Jesus Christ, strengthened my faith, built up my confidence, and brought me out of my isolation. I still consider it to be one of the greatest blessings of my life, and one for which I will be eternally grateful!
—Steve Kroeger ’86, MA ’88

My favorite memory of Mother of Love Household was our first lip sync competition. We hosted this event and did our own rendition of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.” The thought of Sarah Glazier ’99 dressed up like Michael Jackson still brings a smile to my face this day. The J. C. Williams Center was packed, and the winners were the boys of In His Image, who did a hilarious remake of the Spice Girls. Even Father Dave Pivonka, TOR, ’89, one of the judges, got up to cheer.
—Michele (Krilich ’99) Faehnle

I was in Living Stones, and I’ll never forget standing in the back of Christ the King Chapel as the household banner procession filed down the aisle. It was the Household Mass just before Christmas Break, and the air was wild with excitement. … There was such a joy infused in everyone at that liturgy that it could have been caused by none other than Jesus himself, present in the brotherhood and sisterhood of the households. I will never forget that liturgy, and how it taught me to take my joy in the Lord very seriously.
—Gabriel Giella ’07

My freshman year, five other young women and I felt called to start a new household, Daughters of Zion. Our desire was to bring others to Christ’s heart to receive healing, to recognize their dignity, and to make reparation to the Divine Heart, thus allowing ourselves to be dissolved into the ocean of his mercy. That this charism would be part of Our Lord’s plan for me for the rest of my life had never even crossed my mind. Now, with the Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles, I carry with me the seed of Divine Love planted in my heart with the help of my household sisters. Their support and loving concern in helping me to grow in my faith and as a person was instrumental in being able to respond to my vocation. 
—Sister Teresa Margaret of the Sacred Heart, OCD (Lauren Turner ’08)

Before the turn of the century, when AMDG was two years old and 10 men strong, we needed household t-shirts—more iconic than our “first-gen” banana-yellow ones. This is (truly) how we got ‘em.

We had no cash, so we decided the cavernous, abandoned roller-skating rink down by Wheeling Downs dog track was gonna be our cow. Three stories of roller glory: wooden floors, skates still on the racks, and the (secular) records were still in the DJ booth!  Well, my Granddad “coincidentally” was the track’s GM at the time and knew the skating rink’s owner. One call, an “Italian favor,” and a few prayers to St. Lydwina, patroness of Roller Skating (True.) later, it was ours!  For food, Ferelli (who shamelessly sold ice to Eskimos) convinced every eating establishment in town to donate their wares “for the children.”

Venue and Manna secured, we solved the (pastoral) need for getting the friendless and car-less down and back with three steel beasts—a borrowed Crown Vic, a Buick Park Avenue, and Evi’s dad’s 1985 Pontiac Grand Prix … and Reese’s dirty white Taurus.

For publicity, we hand-made posters with cut-outs from “Xanadu,” “Shall We Dance,” (Fred & Ginger’ skating movie), and tons of roller-derby “action photos.”.

Over half the campus showed up, and we netted (after “taxi” gas), upwards of tens of dollars … just enough for the “new” AMDG household shirts.

Who’d a’thunk? 14 years later, one of our original shirts with the iconic “AMDG cross” (designed by Paul Greene and bought with Roller Skating money) is now hanging over the fireplace in Kolbe Clare. I still wear mine proudly, and often pray for all the men who’ve ever worn (or every will) those sacred letters across their chests: “AMDG”.

Coolest fund-raiser ever…none of us knew how to skate…very AMDG.
—Father Ben Dallas ’98

In 1987, incoming freshmen and transfers were advised to visit several households before prayerfully pledging to one. If memory serves, new members formally joined households in time for the Feast of St. Francis. 

The Friday before the upcoming celebration, I dutifully posted invitations to what I believed would be my last Lord’s Day as a member of Carae Domini.  Most of the girls had graduated, so it appeared as if Carae Domini, one of the original households, would cease to be. Accordingly, I was attending Lord’s Day with other households, hoping to find a new one to join. But at none did I encounter the communal connection I had experienced when I had joined Carae Domini my freshman year.

On the night of that “last” Lord’s Day, I returned from a Lord’s Day with another household that I had reluctantly planned to join and began setting up for the evening’s events. Then, one by one, 12 freshmen girls crammed into my dorm room for the vigil celebration. Throughout the following days the same 12 trickled in at different times to declare their intent to join Carae Domini! Thus began four marvelous years with my Beloved Sisters of Carae Domini Household.
—Stephanie (Steckler ’91) Bryson

During the 1999-2000 school year, one of our Love of the Lamb Household members, Lori Gehl (Jarboe), was preparing to enter the Church through the on-campus RCIA program.  As the night of the Easter Vigil approached, our excitement for Lori grew and grew.  We couldn’t wait to witness the powerful inflow of sanctifying grace into her soul.  In order to get seats close to the altar, many of us decided to volunteer to process in with banners and flowers during the great Alleluia.  We attended the practices and were given great seats all together.  The Mass was exquisitely beautiful and the joy of watching Lori be baptized, confirmed, and receive her First Communion was beyond words.  As the final songs were being sung, Lori, clothed in white and exuding tremendous joy, walked over to where we were all standing.  Everyone wanted to congratulate her, but no words were necessary; the tears streaming down all our faces said everything.  In one 30-person hug, Lori was the embraced by her sisters and welcomed by Mother Church.  In that eternal moment, we were given a foretaste of the heavenly joy that awaits us when we finally come home to the Father’s house.
—Sister Faustina of Merciful Love, OCD(Kirstin Deppe ’01)

Seven years ago, I got the most hilarious letters from my household sisters in the Handmaids of the Lord while I was in Austria during the fall semester of 2003. Apparently, my household STARTED a prank war with the Brothers of the Eternal Song. I was very humorously surprised by my sisters. The coordinator, Jessica McDowell (Sonnett ’05), told me in her letter that it all started when one sister, Jess Podnar, convinced Sarah Schultz to “borrow” her boyfriend (husband now) Eric’s household t-shirt. Apparently, the girls took pictures of each member of household wearing Eric’s Brothers of the Eternal Song shirt, made a collage of all the pictures and included a picture of our Handmaids’ banner. They proceeded to make 50 copies of this collage and distribute it all over campus! In the letters, I am told that the next Friday, various members of the Brothers were spotted around campus in missing extra Handmaid Household shirts from our common room. Some shirts didn’t seem too fit to well. Then, on the Brothers’ retreat, the Handmaids completely decorated the Brothers’ common room in flowery everything including flowered couch covers. You wouldn’t have recognized it as a common room for guys. The brothers tried to keep it up, but I never heard if they got any more creative. 

In reading my Austria memories, I remembered having a 10-minute Lord’s Day (with only four of us) during one of our travels at the beginning of the semester with our brothers, the Soldiers Under Command, who were with us. It was impromptu but indeed special.

Household was there in a special way for sharing in your life for small and big moments. Birthdays were better in household; Christmas, we actually sent each other cards. To me, household was very special. From the first moment I met these girls, I felt the radiance of Christ’s love for me and during my time in the household, I felt I participated in true Christian joy. Certain praise and worship songs are very near to my heart to this day because of household memories. My faith was more alive as a result of being in household. My favorite tradition of household was in our senior year, we received letters from all our sisters to wish us well. Some of the girls had the funniest memories of me.  In my favorite letter, one of my sisters wrote, “Marie Kelly, let’s be saints!” That letter still makes me smile. 

That is what household meant to me, a chance to learn how to be more saintly. To love those you share meals with and can get irritated with, but those you call sisters nonetheless. We were a family away from our families. We were a family in a very real way. We prayed for each other and loved each other and were Christ to each other. We were Handmaids of the Lord!
—Marie Kelly ’05

When I arrived at Franciscan University, I did not have a strong relationship with our Blessed Mother.  I had a budding desire to know her better, but it still bothered me to see or hear public displays of affection for her.  My roommate, whose relationship to Mary was in a similar state as mine, walked with me through the Household Fair in the J.C. Williams Center at the beginning of our first semester.  We turned away from table after table disappointed that everything seemed to be all about Mary.  It did not take long for our Blessed Mother to win my heart.  The following year, I joined Love of the Lamb.  Our household motto?  “Loving the Lamb with the heart of Mary.”  And my roommate?  She joined Totus Tuus!  Now, 10 years later, I am in Carmel, Mary’s Order, and I am learning how to spend the rest of my life loving the Lamb with her heart.
—Sister Marie-Aimée of the Heavenly Father, OCD (Katie Martorana ’02)

Originally published in the Autumn 2010 Franciscan Way magazine. Your turn: What household memories do you still treasure? Send replies to, and we will share online or in Franciscan Magazine (submissions subject to editing).