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Mission & Ministry

The rich diversity of our community, Catholic tradition, Sylvania Franciscan roots, and the spiritual, intellectual, and social values of the students, alumni, faculty, staff, and administration are essential measures of the dynamic relationship between our mission and ministry. Together they insure our fidelity to the mission and our call to service and express our Franciscan values as a Community of Learning, Reverence, and Service.

Sister Barbara Vano, OSF, M.A. Vice President for Mission and Ministry; Director of Service Learning

Sister Barbara Vano

Office: St. Clare Hall 140

Education: M.A., Wayne State University; M.A., St. Bonaventure University

Sister Barbara Vano is dedicated to the University mission. As Vice President for Mission and Ministry, she oversees the Campus Ministry and Service Learning departments.

Mission and Ministry strengthens awareness of our Catholic and Franciscan traditions and ensures they are integrated throughout the University Community. Sister Barb previously served as the Director of Campus Ministry and is pleased to continue her role as Director of Service Learning.

A Franciscan Pilgrimage Programs staff member, she has led several pilgrimages in Assisi and Rome, Italy. Sister Barb also serves on the Advisory Council of St. Leonard, a senior residential community in Centerville, Ohio, and is active with the Manahan in Toledo. A Sister of St. Francis of Sylvania, Ohio, she volunteers as a member of the Chapel ministry team and serves as a member of the Sisters’ Charism Committee and Vocation Awareness Team.

Originally from Detroit, Michigan, Sister Barb’s previous ministry experiences have included teaching math at the high school and college level, serving as director of Helping Hands of St. Louis (a Toledo area soup kitchen), and digging around in computer data with the department of Information Systems at Lourdes.

Enjoying every opportunity to share the spirit of Francis and Clare, her favorite topics include Franciscan spirituality, leadership from a Franciscan perspective, and the history of the Third Order Regular.

Sister Barb holds an M.A. degree in Mathematics from Wayne State University and an M.A. degree in Franciscan Studies from the Franciscan Institute of St. Bonaventure University.

Meet Our Staff

Jason Salisbury

Jason Salisbury
Director of Campus Ministry

Office: San Damiano Campus Ministry House

Nickolas Dietrich

Nickolas Dietrich

Office: San Damiano Campus Ministry House

Father Marty Lukas

Father Marty Lukas

Campus Mini-Tour


The year was 1206 and the place was Assisi, a little town in northern Italy. A young man named Francis had just decided to leave home and family because he sensed that God was calling him to a different way of life. Francis found himself in a position that may sound all too familiar to many of us: he knew that God was calling him to something but he didn’t know what that something was.

While praying one day, Francis heard the voice of God asking him to, “Rebuild my house.” He took the message quite literally and began to repair some of the little village churches that had been neglected. The church of St. Mary of the Angels, also known as the Portiuncula (the little portion), was one that he rebuilt.

Francis approached this project with boundless energy and passion, but he soon came to learn that God was calling him to ”rebuild” the people of God.

The chapel remained dear to the heart of Francis and his companions. The brothers came here to find some peace after spending time amid the hustle and bustle of the marketplace. Here, Francis called his brothers together to renew their bond of community and to tell one another of the marvels that God was working in them and through them. This was truly their own little portion in the world.

As Francis neared the end of his life, he asked to be brought back to the Portiuncula. It was in this place that he had first learned of God’s ways, and it was in this place that he wished to give his soul back to his Creator. Francis had found such peace throughout his life that he could welcome even death as a dear sister.

Our own Sylvania Franciscan Portiuncula was modeled after this chapel in Assisi. Built in 1936, it was commissioned by our founder, Mother Mary Adelaide, in gratitude to God after the Sisters had survived a serious financial crisis which almost resulted in the loss of our home here in Sylvania. It remains a sacred space set aside for quiet reflection. Here you are invited to come away from the noise and confusion of your own “marketplace” and reflect on the marvels God has accomplished in your life.

You are invited to spend quiet time in this chapel which is open daily for private prayer from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Lourdes campus.


Francis of Assisi saw himself as a messenger of God’s peace. He greeted all those whom he met with the simple phrase, “May the Lord give you peace” (1 Cel 23b). Yet Francis knew that peace was more than a matter of words. He used to tell his brothers, “As you announce peace with your words, make sure that greater peace is in your hearts…for we have been called to heal the wounded, to bind up the broken, and to recall the erring” (L3C 58).

According to the accounts told by his companions, one time Francis was staying near the village of Gubbio when a large wolf approached the city and began to terrorize the people. The men of the village had planned to hunt for the wolf and to kill him when Francis offered to mediate the situation. Francis and his companions, armed only with their trust in God, went in search of the animal. When they found him, Francis rebuked the wolf for harming the townspeople. Francis, however, also realized that the wolf was hungry and looking for food.

Having made peace with the creature, Francis took the wolf back to the townspeople and struck a pact with them. At the urging of Francis, the people of the village agreed to feed and care for the wolf and the wolf agreed to make peace with the village. As a sign of his consent, “the wolf knelt down and bowed his head and with gentle movements of his body and tail and ears showed, as much as possible, that he wished to observe every part of the pact with them…lifting his right paw, he placed it in the hand of Saint Francis.”

The wolf continued to live in Gubbio for two years and the people fed him and kindly received him in their homes. When the wolf finally died of old age, the people of Gubbio mourned for him because he had served as a reminder of the holiness and gentleness of the saintly man from Assisi (Fior 21).

You can find several images of Francis and the wolf on these Sylvania Franciscan grounds. Perhaps the most noteworthy is the statue along the road on the west side of the grounds. While in Florence in 1938 Mother Mary Adelaide, founder of the Sylvania Franciscans, arranged to have the artist Antonelli sculpt the statue in bronze. It is said that Mother Adelaide was always fascinated by the account of Francis and the Wolf of Gubbio. May this image continue to inspire us as we pray with centuries of Franciscans who have gone before us, “Lord, make us instruments of your peace.”



People often ask about the origin of the name of Lourdes. Well it all began with the community of women religious who sponsor the institution, the Sisters of St. Francis of the Congregation of Our Lady of Lourdes, Sylvania, Ohio. Founded in 1916 as a province of the Rochester Franciscans (whose official name is the Sisters of St. Francis of the Congregation of Our Lady of Lourdes, Rochester, MN), the Sylvania Franciscans became an independent Congregation in the 1940’s. They chose, however, to remain under the patronage of Our Lady of Lourdes.

Mary, the mother of Jesus, has always held a special place in the hearts of all Franciscans. For Francis of Assisi the Incarnation, God’s willingness to share our human existence in the person of Jesus, was one of the most moving examples of God’s unconditional love for us. Mary’s willingness to say “Yes” to God and to be a part of that plan made her a model, then, for all of us to imitate. In fact, Francis placed the entire Franciscan family under the patronage and protection of Mary.

The Sylvania Franciscans have continued this tradition as well, especially under the title of Mary, Our Lady of Lourdes. The image of Mary as she appeared in 1858 to Bernadette, a young French girl, is found in many places on these grounds. One of the first projects on these 89 acres was undertaken in 1921 with the building of the Lourdes Grotto that can be found on the west side of Campus beyond Assisi Hall.

This shrine was truly a community-wide effort. Largely planned by Mother Adelaide, the novices and postulants (young women in formation to be Sisters of St. Francis) carried the rocks from St. Francis River (the Sisters’ name for Ten Mile Creek) that would be used in the building of the shrine.

When the Franciscan Center was built in the 1980’s, the Sisters asked community artists, Sisters Agneta Ganzel, Helen Chmura, and Jane Mary Sorosiak, to design large ceramic murals to grace the façade of the building. This was again a community-wide effort as numerous Sisters assisted with glazing and other tasks. The first mural, which was placed on the east side of the building, is a depiction of Our Lady of Lourdes.

When Lourdes was founded in 1958, one hundred years after the apparitions at Lourdes, France, it seemed appropriate that the institution should bear the name Lourdes. The healing spirit of Lourdes, France continues to make Lourdes a place where education transforms lives.



Mother Adelaide, the founder of the Sylvania Franciscans, believed that if you surrounded people with beauty, they would grow to appreciate the beauty of their surroundings and the beauty within themselves. Some of the most stunning examples of beauty on campus are the stoneware murals that grace the façade of the Franciscan Center. When the Center was built in the 1980’s, Sister Patrice Kerin asked community artists, Sisters Agneta Ganzel, Helen Chmura, and Jane Mary Sorosiak, to design large ceramic murals that would convey the spirit of the Congregation.

Numerous Sisters in the Congregation assisted with glazing and other tasks. The artwork that adorns the building includes a triptych mural on the east façade dedicated to Our Lady of Lourdes, several smaller roundels and tiles on the lower portion of the building commemorating significant women in the history of the church and of education, ceramic tiles that reflect the Franciscan call to be people of peace, and a monumental ceramic mosaic that spans three sides of the building on the theater flyspace. The murals remind us, in the words of Francis of Assisi, to “See the miracles of life everywhere, and praise God.” The spirit of Francis calls us to be mindful of the beauty that surrounds us in all of creation.

The Canticle of Creation
Francis recognized that creation bears the image of God and that each creature reveals God to us. We are in a sacred relationship with every human, every animal and plant, and every created object for we are all brothers and sisters — children of the One God who loved us into being. At the end of his life, Francis became even more deeply conscious of this reality. Despite being almost blind and in failing health, he composed his Canticle of Creation, a song giving praise and thanks to God through every facet of creation. With Francis we pray, “Most High, all powerful, good Lord; Yours are the praises, the glory, the honor, and all blessing; To You alone, Most High,

The Canticle of Creation
Lourdes Triptych


Our Lady Queen of Peace Chapel, the main chapel of the Sisters of St. Francis, also serves as the chapel for Lourdes University. Dedicated in 1961 it captures the spirit of the Sylvania Franciscans called like Francis of Assisi to live the Gospel in joyful servanthood among all people and to be messengers of peace.

The chapel, modeled after the Santa Barbara mission in California, was designed and built under the direction of Mother Mary Adelaide, founder of the Sylvania Franciscan community. The windows were designed by Stephen Bridges and created in the Rambusch Studios in New York.

Upon entering the chapel, you cannot help but be drawn to the large, stained glass window at the north end. It depicts Our Lady Queen of Peace. Francis always held a special devotion for Mary, the mother of Jesus. She was the means by which God became a flesh-and-blood human being. As depicted here, Mary makes no attempt to draw attention to herself, rather, she points always to her son, the Prince of Peace.

Hanging beneath this window is a Sylvania Franciscan version of the Crucifix of San Damiano, an image that was dear to the heart of Francis and that holds a place of honor wherever Franciscans live and minister. This is the cross that Francis, then a young cloth merchant, was praying before in the church of San Damiano. This is the cross that spoke those life-changing words to him, “Francis, go and rebuild my house, which as you see is falling into ruins.” This particular rendition of the icon was painted by Sister Ruth Marie Kachelek using egg tempera on gessoed wood.

Sister Michaeline Lesiak designed the ceiling. It consists of over 10,000 acoustical tiles and represents a true community effort. Art students and professed sisters shared in the 13-month evolution from drawing to stenciled masterpiece. The chapel was renovated and rededicated in 1986. Welcomed by Mary, Queen of Peace, we go forth missioned as witnesses of Jesus, Prince of Peace.

This beautiful chapel is reserved for use by the Sisters and their sponsored ministries. It is not available for weddings.

You are always welcome to join the Sisters of St. Francis and the Lourdes community for liturgies and prayer services at Queen of Peace Chapel.



Mother Mary Adelaide Sandusky, the founder of the Sylvania Franciscans, was a woman of vision and a lover of beauty. When these 89 acres contained little more than yellow sand and a few temporary buildings, Mother Adelaide was already making plans.

Basic to her design for the campus was the Franciscan mission style of architecture. In 1927 she traveled to California to study the architectural features of this style. In addition to the distinctive red tile roofs, light brick buildings, arches, and cloister walks, the campus buildings include several bell towers.

Bells have been used in many cultures throughout history to call people to prayer and to announce both sad and joyful news. If you find yourself on campus either at noon or 6 p.m. you will hear the carillon ringing out from Umbria Hall. The sound of these bells encourages the listener to take a moment and to be mindful of the presence of God in our lives.

Bell Towers
Lourdes Campus

Franciscan Events and Celebrations

St. Francis Week and the Feast of St. Francis (October 4)
Each year Franciscans throughout the world celebrate the life and example of Francis of Assisi, a man of peace who spent his life preaching the simple yet powerful message that we are all children of a loving God and that we are called to respect and to reverence one another and all of creation.

Here at Lourdes we usually manage to schedule enough events to fill an entire week as we celebrate the places and stories that were significant in the life of Francis and that tie into our Franciscan Heritage. The week concludes with an opportunity to join the Sisters of St. Francis as they celebrate the Transitus (a centuries-old Franciscan tradition of gathering on the evening of October 3 to prayerfully recall Francis’s passing, or transitus, from this world to a new life in Christ) and a special Liturgy for the Feast of Francis on October 4.

Feast of the Immaculate Conception (December 8)
In addition to being one of the significant days in the Catholic tradition when the church honors Mary, the mother of Jesus, this day holds a special meaning for Sylvania Franciscans since it is the anniversary of our founding in 1916.

Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes (February 11)

Founders Day (July 16)
In the earlier days of the community, the Sylvania Franciscans gathered on this day to celebrate the anniversary of their founder Mother Mary Adelaide’s profession of vows as a Sister of St. Francis. The Sisters held a picnic and shared stories of their lives and ministries. Lourdes continues to celebrate this day by bringing together Lourdes, the Sisters, and all who share this Sylvania Franciscan campus for a summer celebration.

Feast of St. Mary of the Angels – the Portiuncula (August 2)

Service and Civic Engagement

Lourdes University is steeped in its Catholic and Franciscan heritage. Our decisions, ranging from academic program offerings to student life policies, are measured against the institution’s core values of community, learning, reverence and service.

At the heart of our Franciscan tradition is a belief that learning must extend beyond the textbook into action that benefits the human family. We encourage each other to be mindful of those who are unconnected and to share our gifts with the broader community.

Service at Lourdes is not about “doing for,” it’s about “working with.” We know that we have as much to learn from others as they have from us.

Our commitment to service has been recognized by the Corporation for National and Community Service, which has named Lourdes University to the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll each year since 2012.


Opportunities to connect with the community abound for students, faculty and staff. Student organizations are challenged to incorporate community outreach into their annual activiites and athletic teams regularly participate in service projects. Campus Ministry offers weekly and monthly outreach projects, such as the Labre Project, as well as mission trips over spring and summer break.

In the 1990s, faculty began incorporating service learning opportunities within their coursework. Since 2012 all students been required to participate in service learning experiences as part of a Core Curriculum requirement.

It’s the Franciscan Factor!

We Remember

All Saints Day, All Souls Day, Dia de los Muertos. Each November, we traditionally make time to remember those who have gone before us. We honor those who have been heroes and mentors to us; those who have modeled what it means to be faith-filled people of integrity. We particularly remember those who have left us in the past year and who touched our lives while they were among us.

We Remember (2023)

Clay Ryan Wenzlick
Sister LaDonna Pinkelman
Daniel Holup
Gary L. Rushford
Mary Frances DeLeon
Gloria Kneser
Father Richard Wurzel
Walter Rutkowski
Anne Barshel
Sister Marie Andree Chorzempa
Frank Kleshinski
Sister Rebecca LaPoint
Mike Waggoner
Sister Thomas More Ruffing
John Schuster
Sister Gervase Lochotzki
Kelly Arquette
Joseph W. Lehman, Jr.


All who have died from natural disasters
All who have died in wars and acts of terrorism
All who have died through acts of violence, particularly gun violence

May their souls rest in peace!

If you wish to add other names to this Remembrance Page, contact Sister Barbara Vano (

Visit our Campus Ministry page.

Offering Lourdes community members ways to celebrate and share God’s blessings.

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