Franciscan University of Steubenville in Ohio has named as its next president theology professor and canon lawyer Father Sean O. Sheridan.
“I am honored to serve as the next president of Franciscan University,” Fr. Sheridan said April 19.
“It is inspiring and truly humbling for me to be here at Franciscan University with the students who are pouring their hearts into their education and their prayer life, falling in love with God and the Church, and striving to become saints.”
Fr. Nicholas Polichnowski, TOR, chairman of the university’s Board of Trustees, said Fr. Sheridan brings to the university “an excellent blend of academic, pastoral, legal and business experience.”
He praised the next president’s “strong care and concern” for the university’s mission.
The private Catholic university serves 2,400 undergraduate and graduate students in Ohio. It has had five previous presidents since its founding in 1946.
Fr. Sheridan is a native of Cresson, Pa., a small borough 75 miles east of Pittsburgh. He served on Franciscan University’s Board of Trustees from 2007-2012. He also worked on the student Life Committee and chaired the Academic Affairs Committee from 2011-2012.
The priest joined Franciscan University’s theology department in fall 2012, teaching graduate and undergraduate courses.
He has served at Franciscan University summer conferences and has had parish ministerial duties and has served in hospital and campus ministry and in residence hall chaplaincy.
Fr. Sheridan worked in several careers before entering the Franciscan Third Order Regular. He received a bachelor’s degree in pharmacy from the University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy in 1985 and a law degree from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law in 1990.
He spent a decade practicing law in Sacramento and Pittsburgh, with a focus on healthcare litigation representing hospitals and physicians.
Fr. Sheridan joined the Franciscans in 2000 and made his solemn profession in 2005 and was ordained a priest in December 2006. Soon after, he graduated from Washington Theological Union with a master in divinity.
He received a doctorate in canon law from the Catholic University of America School of Canon Law in 2009. His dissertation was a canonical commentary on John Paul II’s 1990 apostolic constitution “Ex Corde Ecclesiae,” which deals with the role of the Catholic university in the Church’s mission. Fr. Sheridan then became an assistant professor in canon law at Catholic University.
He has also served on the editorial board and as book review editor for the canon law journal The Jurist.
He is a member of the Board of Trustees of Saint Francis University in Loretto, Pa. and has been a canonical consultant to religious communities and Catholic universities. He has also served as a judge on the tribunal of the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown.
Fr. Sheridan will succeed Fr. Terence Henry, TOR. He said his predecessor helped grow the university and increase its reputation for “excellent academics and faithful Catholicism.”
“I will build on that strong foundation, always with a view to serving the Church and the new evangelization,” Fr. Sheridan said.
Fr. Henry will stay at Franciscan University to help Fr. Sheridan’s transition. He said he has “the utmost respect” for his successor.
“I’m happy to be leaving the University to his leadership, and I am certain he will continue to raise the bar of excellence,” Fr. Henry said.
Fr. Sheridan will take over as president on June 1. His formal installation will take place at the university’s inauguration ceremony on Oct. 10.