Gabriella DiPietro | Staff Writer
The Spiritans saw a community in need and founded Duquesne University 140 years ago. To honor these individuals, Duquesne hosts a week-long celebration known as Founder’s Week.
Founder’s Week focuses on a different theme each year, and this year is centered around the theme of “Be Well in the Spirit” because wellbeing is considered to be a pervasive part of life.
Ian Edwards, assistant vice president for student wellbeing and director of counseling services, emphasized the importance of overall happiness.
“Wellbeing is the very vehicle through which one’s sense of aliveness is deeply felt as soul, expressed as authentic relationship with self, others and the cosmos,” said Edwards. “Wellbeing is living with purpose, meaning and intentionality in the midst of everyday life.”
Duquesne’s own Rev. Dan Walsh expressed the importance of celebrating the Spiritan fathers and their vision, legacy and values.
“The founders of the Spiritan congregation, Father Claude Poullart des Places and Francis Libermann, established the Congregation of the Holy Spirit for a purpose,” Walsh said. “Here at Duquesne, we build on the tradition of education as a way for young people to uncover and develop their talents. We are challenged to learn the lesson and continue the tradition.”
President Ken Gormley also shared his thoughts regarding Founder’s Week, praising the devotion and commitment of the Spiritan founders.
“The celebration of Founders Week is a joyous occasion of remembrance on campus — a time to recall those virtues which formed the heart and spirit of Rev. Francis Libermann, Founder of the Spiritan Congregation,” said Gormley. “His dedication to the poor, his life of prayer and service, and his commitment to the community around him, inspired his early colleagues and continues to inspire all of us at Duquesne today, to live by the same spirit.”
The week includes an array of activities filled with food, service opportunities, music, fitness, prayer and the sharing of stories. Those who partake in these festivities are encouraged to connect with others and tune into their faith to find wellbeing.
Founder’s Week is sponsored by the Division of Mission and Identity, who hosts the events and selects a theme. Luci-Jo DiMaggio, director of mission animation, explained how this year’s theme of Be Well in the Spirit relates to Duquesne’s Spiritan mission.
“The Spiritan Mission is rooted in the idea of Practical Union with the Spirit and openness to the Spirit. Wellbeing is essential if we want to truly exist in a way that we are always in Union with God,” DiMaggio said. “We need to care for ourselves in order to care for others. We need to be well to truly have healthy, authentic relationships.”
Acclaiming how much Duquesne has grown as a university since it was founded, Walsh credited the Spiritans for their transformative efforts.
“We have been blessed to receive a rich tradition of educating for the development of the mind, heart and spirit,” said Walsh. “Without the efforts of the early founders of Duquesne and many collaborators, this institution would have failed.”