Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Michael Terheyden

8/30/2010 (5 years ago)

Catholic Online (

'I developed a very Catholic world view while I was at Franciscan'

Franciscan University is located in Steubenville, Ohio. It is a small Catholic university; yet, it is one of the more renowned Catholic universities in the Nation - with a global presence. I know some very special young men and women who graduated from Franciscan. They are the greatest testimony to the wonderful work of this authentically Catholic University.

Photo of Danny Gouge and Nina Madden taken on the night of their engagement blessing.

Photo of Danny Gouge and Nina Madden taken on the night of their engagement blessing.


By Michael Terheyden

Catholic Online (

8/30/2010 (5 years ago)

Published in College & University

KNOXVILLE, TN (Catholic Online) - Franciscan University is located in Steubenville, Ohio. It is a small Catholic university of approximately 2400 students. Yet, it is one of the more renowned Catholic universities in the Nation - with a global presence. For the past several years, U.S. News & Report has ranked Franciscan in the elite top tier of Midwestern universities. It currently offers 42 undergraduate programs and 7 graduate programs. All of their programs, whether religious or secular, are structured in a way that "integrates faith and reason in the pursuit of truth and right living." Franciscan sums up the college experience it offers in 4 words: "Academically Challenging. Passionately Catholic." If you are interested in additional factual information about Franciscan, you can find it at

One of the reasons Franciscan is all that it claims to be is because of Dr. Scott Hahn, who is renowned in his own right and one of my favorite authors and lecturers. Although I am sure there are many other first class professors at Franciscan, the fact that a man like Dr. Hahn is on the faculty indicates to me that this university is truly academically challenging and passionately Catholic.

Another reason Franciscan is all that it claims to be is because I know some very special young men and women who graduated from Franciscan and they are its greatest testimony. If you are considering attending a Catholic college, you will be interested in what they have to say. I interviewed two of them in August 2010. Danny Gouge is a 2004 graduate, and his fiancée, Nina Madden, is a 2005 graduate.Like so many others who have been educated there, they are the greatest testimony to the wonderful work of this authentically Catholic University.  The following is a recap of our interview.

Interviewer: Why should young Catholics choose a Catholic college?

Danny: College is often a time of transition from a structured life at home to a life of independence. But greater independence brings an increase of temptations. Attending a Catholic college helps students navigate through the temptations because it supports and builds upon the foundation of faith that many of them received from their parents, or through their personal conversion experiences.

Nina: Catholic colleges that offer a strong spiritual component are almost like a home away from home. And Franciscan offers a strong spiritual component.

Interviewer: What advantages did you receive from attending a Catholic college?

Danny: I received support and Catholic fellowship. I was inspired by the kindness of others and the joy I saw on their faces. It also planted seeds in me that I did not realize until later. For instance, it gave me a greater appreciation for the Mass. I used to go to Mass because my parents took me or because they expected me to go; but when I was a student at Franciscan, I went of my own volition. In this way, the Catholic faith truly became my own faith.

Nina: I received a true and deeper understanding of the Catholic faith. I also received support and motivation from my peers to practice my faith and grow in it. Living our faith was considered cool. This gave me a good feeling about living my Catholic faith more fully and expressing it in front of others. As a result, I was able to reach out to others and experience what it is like to serve them.

Interviewer: What made you choose Franciscan?

Danny: My older sister told me about Franciscan while I was still in middle school. Then I visited her in 1999 when she was going to Franciscan, and I got to see the campus and meet her friends. I was also discerning the priesthood and Franciscan had a pre-theologate program, which is equivalent to minor seminary formation. The pre-theologate program includes courses in philosophy and theology. It also includes spiritual formation--praying The Liturgy of the Hours, going to Mass and Adoration.

Nina: My dad found out about Franciscan from EWTN and Scott Hahn. Dad suggested that I consider going there when I was in high school, but at first I was not interested. Then my great aunt told me a story about a girl who went away to a large state school. There was a lot of drinking, and her roommate had boys spend the night. So when the girl†s parents suggested that she try Franciscan for one semester, she agreed; but she liked it so much that she stayed and graduated from there. I thought that if I went to a state school, the same thing could happen to me. I was intrigued about Franciscan, so I applied and almost immediately decided to attend.

Interviewer: What values did you take with you from your Franciscan experience?

Danny: In order to successfully complete my studies, I had to acquire greater discipline. And the discipline carried over into other areas of my life. I also learned the importance of integrating my spiritual life with my academic life and my studies. My experience at Franciscan also helped me become more open to new things and more aware of what really matters in life.

Nina: I developed a very Catholic world view while I was at Franciscan, and I formed my opinion on many issues. One issue was abortion; I became pro-life and started going to abortion clinics to pray. I also developed a strong appreciation for Natural Family Planning (NFP) and homeschooling. In addition, I realized that there was a great need to teach the Catholic faith to others, so I went on several mission trips while I was a student. I have continued to evangelize and preach the Gospel ever since.

Interviewer: What was your field of study?

Danny: I was in the pre-theologate program, but I transferred out of the program after a year. I ended up getting my Bachelor of Arts degree in sociology.

Nina: I received three Bachelor degrees. My first BA degree is in catechesis. However, the catechesis program included so many theology courses that I only needed two more theology courses to get a BA in theology, so I took the extra courses. I also wanted to learn Spanish and ended up getting my third BA in Spanish.

Interviewer: How did Franciscan, in particular, help you prepare for your chosen field?

Danny: My chosen field is teaching. I am currently in the process of getting certified. My studies in sociology taught me to be sensitive to different groups. Plus, my exposure to psychology and demographics help me understand the students and teach them.

Nina: I learned teaching techniques in the catechesis program. And I taught second through fifth grade for two and a half years in Honduras and Nicaragua. I am now a teacher at a Catholic Montessori school. 

Interviewer: What is college life like at Franciscan?

Danny: It is a tight community, very spiritual. It has a strong Catholic atmosphere and culture. Catholicism permeated everything, even our courses and our social life. I belonged to a group called a "household." Much of my social life centered around my household. Households are an important part of college life at Franciscan. But Nina will explain more about them.

Nina: When Father Scanlan became president he established households. At the time, every student was required to join one. I believe this idea helped Franciscan become a devout Catholic environment. However, students are not required to join households anymore, but most still join. Each household has a specific name and charism. My household  was called "Jesus the Lamb and Mary the Mother of the Lamb." Our charism revolved around Divine Mercy, the Sacred Heart, sacrifice, and suffering. We prayed and went to daily Mass together, and we ate our meals together. Our activities often involved various ministries. As you can imagine, the students are not wild; they are counter cultural.

Interviewer: What words of wisdom would you pass on to young people who are now choosing a college?

Danny: Don't pick a school just because your friends are going there. Check out the school's academic standing and the department you are interested in getting your degree in. But also check out the spiritual life. And be open to God's will for your profession and your vocation.

Nina: Getting an education prepares you for a career, but faith formation prepares you for eternal life. Therefore, when picking a college, besides looking at the obvious things, also look for an environment that will not lead you astray but will nurture your faith. 

Interviewer: Have you set the date for your wedding?

Danny and Nina: August 27, 2011

Interviewer: Is Scott Hahn invited?

Danny and Nina: Chuckle


Michael Terheyden was born into a Catholic family, but that is not why he is a Catholic. He is a Catholic because he believes that truth is real, that it is beautiful and good, and that the fullness of truth is in the Catholic Church. However, he knows that God's grace operating throughout his life is the main reason he is a Catholic. He is greatly blessed to share his faith and his life with his beautiful wife, Dorothy. They have four grown children and three grandchildren.


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'

Copywriter 2015 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for October 2015
That human trafficking, the modern form of slavery, may be eradicated.
Evangelization: That with a missionary spirit the Christian communities of Asia may announce the Gospel to those who are still awaiting it.


More College & University

Religion and Science: The Evolutionary Controversy

Image of

By Kyle Jorstad, Grove City College

Catholic Online welcomes scholarly submissions for consideration, contact Abstract: Though members of the scientific and atheistic community alike often tout science as the downfall of religion, theories regarding Darwinian evolution ... continue reading

Do you love America? What these college professors were caught doing on camera will shock you! Watch

Image of The Constitution codifies many liberties, including the right to shred the Constitution itself.


It should be no surprise that America's colleges and universities are overrun with anti-American liberals who lack all respect for the country and the principles upon which it is founded. In an age where political correctness has run amok, students are indoctrinated by ... continue reading

Catholic Colleges: Tackling Student Loans Ethically


By Caitlin Bootsma

It's almost an assumption in today's world that students will take out a staggering amount of debt to be able to attend a four year university. And, with college costs rising faster than the rate of inflation, 18 year olds are signing themselves up for increasingly ... continue reading

Franciscan nun becomes first woman head of a pontifical university Watch

Image of Sister Melone is an alumnus of the university set up in 1890 in honor of St Anthony, a 13th century saint from Spain known for his forceful preaching and expert knowledge of the Bible.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The Vatican Congregation for Catholic Education made history last week when it nominated a Franciscan nun as the first woman head of a pontifical university. In a position held usually by priests, Sister Mary Melone will become the rector of the Pontifical ... continue reading

University of St. Thomas Graduates First Nursing Cohort in 25 Years

Image of University of St. Thomas Nursing Graduate, Elizabeth Ciocco

By Darnell Miller - University of St. Thomas

This May 27 nursing students, including Elizabeth Ciocco, will be the first nursing students to graduate from the University of St. Thomas in nearly 25 years.  Ciocco joins 298 undergraduates and 739 graduates at the University's 64th Commencement ... continue reading

University of St. Thomas Honors Research Goes 6 Feet Under

Image of Honors Program students consider the issues of death and mortality in the Contemporary Seminar research presented at UST's Research symposium.

By Brenda Cooper, University of St. Thomas

A few hundred people have undergone cryopreservation procedures since 1962, having their bodies cooled to sub-zero temperatures, with the hope that one day they may be brought back to life using highly advanced technology. It's the kind of issue-along with assisted ... continue reading

What the devil?! Bill Gates wants your college info so he can tell you what classes to take Watch

Image of Bill Gates could do so much more if only he had your privacy.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

It might be easier to compose a short list of people and agencies that don't want to spy on you. Adding his name to the long list, Bill Gates has proposed tracking the lives and careers of college graduates as an ongoing means to assess college value. Of course, they'd ... continue reading

Two Cardinals, a Theologian and a Historian to Lecture at the University of St. Thomas

Image of N.T. Wright, one of the world's leading Bible scholar.

By Darnell Miller, University of St. Thomas

The University of St. Thomas is fortunate to have four outstanding speakers giving lectures on campus in the month of March. These speakers include N.T. Wright, one of the world's leading Bible scholars; Thomas Cardinal Collins, the Archbishop of Toronto; Dr. Andrew ... continue reading

Women Succeed in UST Engineering, CUA is New Partner

Image of Kendall Niemann is a UST cooperative engineering student studying at the University of Notre Dame.

By Brenda Cooper, University of St. Thomas

In the male-dominated field of engineering, it can be difficult for women to succeed, but last year, all four graduates of the University of St. Thomas cooperative engineering program were women, and three of them were Hispanic. Dr. Sheila Waggoner said she is proud of ... continue reading

Mardi Gras King, Queen Exemplify UST Mission

Image of University of St. Thomas Mardi Gras King and Queen, C.J. Miller and Meredith Smith.

By Vivian Cabrera - University of St. Thomas

The ideal Mardi Gras king and queen should embody the University's mission to educate leaders of faith and character. With the crowning of C.J. Miller and Meredith Smith The ideal Mardi Gras king and queen should embody the University's mission to educate leaders of ... continue reading

All College & University News


Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

the FEED
by Catholic Online

  • Prayer For Courage HD Video
  • Daily Readings for Sunday, November 29, 2015
  • St. Saturninus: Saint of the Day for Sunday, November 29, 2015
  • The Miracle Prayer HD Video
  • President likens Syrian refugees to pilgrims on Mayflower in ...
  • 'Black Friday' leaving bruises as shoppers trample each other for ...
  • BIGGER THAN ISIS - There's a hidden power behind ISIS and it's so big ...

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Jeremiah 33:14-16
14 "Look, the days are coming, Yahweh declares, when I shall fulfil the ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 25:4-5, 8-9, 10, 14
4 DIRECT me in your ways, Yahweh, and teach me your paths.5 ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 21:25-28, 34-36
25 'There will be signs in the sun and moon and stars; on earth nations ... Read More

Reading 2, First Thessalonians 3:12--4:2
12 May the Lord increase and enrich your love for each other and for all, ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for November 29th, 2015 Image

St. Saturninus
November 29: St. Saturninus Bishop of Toulouse and Martyr ... Read More