Founders Week will focus on students

By Kaye Burnet | The Duquesne Duke

A weeklong celebration of the Spiritan tradition at Duquesne will take on a new focus this year.

Founders Week, which will run from Feb. 2-7, honors Claude Francois Poullart des Places and Francois Marie Paul Libermann, the two founders of the Spiritan Roman Catholic religious order of priests, according to event planner and campus minister Kate Lecci.

Lecci is planning the week along with Adam Wasilko, director of freshman Development and Special Student Services, and the Rev. Raymond French, vice president for mission and identity.

In years past, the week was also a chance to show appreciation for Duquesne faculty and staff. However, the 2014 celebration will instead focus on Duquesne students, Lecci said.

“This year is really about looking at students, and how the Spiritan community continues to touch students from an array of perspectives,” Lecci said.
One of those perspectives is cross-cultural. Mihalik will give a talk on Feb. 3 about his experiences as a volunteer at a Spiritan mission in the Dominican Republic.

According to French, service like Mihalik’s embodies the Spiritan mission at Duquesne.

“I have been at Duquesne for twenty years working in Spiritan campus Ministry and I can testify to the amazing generosity of our students who reach out to the needy and disadvantaged locally, nationally and internationally,” French said.

Duquesne is closely tied with the Spiritan congregation, according to Lecci. In 1878, Spiritan priests founded a school for poor immigrant children in Pittsburgh that eventually became the university.

Lecci emphasized that participation in Founders Week is not limited to Catholics.

“With Founders Week, the goal is not necessarily to talk about all of our Catholic roots, although that’s very much a part of it, it’s about talking about the larger work of the congregation and the charism,” Lecci said.

She explained that the Spiritan charism is the idea of providing service to those in need with great humility and respect, a concept that goes beyond Catholicism.

The theme of this year’s week is the motto of the Spiritan congregation, “One Heart, One Spirit: Living the Mission.” It was chosen by French to reflect the single mission of charity and service that binds the global Spiritan community to life at Duquesne.

Events throughout the week include a faculty round table discussion, a presentation about the Spiritan mission from a commuter student’s perspective, a presentation by Greek life representatives and a vespers prayer service on Feb. 7 at 4:30pm in Trinity Hall.

Each talk will be accompanied by a free lunch buffet. A complete schedule of events can be found on posters throughout campus, on Duquesne’s website or through DORI. Reservations are required for all events, and can be made through DORI or by emailing

According to Mihalik, roughly 100 students have made reservations for each event so far. Lecci said she encourages more students to attend.

“It’s going to be fun. It will give you a perspective on a place where you go and what you’re a part of [at Duquesne] and a better idea of your community,” Lecci said. “Besides, at the end of the day—it’s a free lunch!”