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Saint Francis receives $1 million endowment gift to support Franciscan Studies & Roman Catholic Theology

July 1, 2013

DiCerbo Franciscan Endowment Donor

Saint Francis University is proud to announce the creation of a new endowment fund, The Rev. Gabriel J. Zeis, T.O.R. Endowment in Franciscan Studies and Roman Catholic Theology, thanks to the generous commitment of a university alumnus.

Lou DiCerbo, CLU, ChFC, of Manhasset, New York, a graduate of the class of 1959, and a member of the Financial Services Management Hall of Fame, made the $1 million commitment to support his alma mater's Catholic Franciscan mission in honor of outgoing president, Fr. Zeis.

When asked about why he chose to make this gift, Mr. DiCerbo stated, "Fr. Gabe has been an outstanding leader to the university and he encourages alumni to give back to their alma mater in a way that has personal meaning for them. For me, the message of St. Francis, and especially his Peace Prayer, has carried with me throughout my life and career. This endowment is a way for me to help the university share the Franciscan teachings through various initiatives."

Activities supported by the fund will be used to reach out to those who share affinity with the distinct mission of the university's patron saints, St. Francis of Assisi and St. Clare, as well as Dorothy Day (a Catholic social activist whose name adorns the university's peace and justice center.) Their works will serve as guiding principles in deciding how the endowment will be used to support ongoing development of a solid foundation in Roman Catholic theology.

According to Dr. Wayne Powel, university provost, the funds generated by the endowment earnings could be used in a number of ways to enhance student learning. "Our university has a very robust core curriculum, Ethical Citizenship for the 21st Century, centered on our Franciscan values. We are extremely excited about the possibility of using this endowment to be able to enhance our work in this area. "

Funds will be used to attract national Franciscan and Roman Catholic scholars to campus either as speakers or even as part of a professor-in-residence program. Other options for using the funds will include developing workshops for faculty, staff and students, and encourage faculty, staff and students to journey to Assisi, Italy for a guided program to further enhance their understanding of the University's mission through exposure to the roots and sources of Franciscan tradition.

The impact of DiCerbo's gift will be further enhanced by the formation of  the Saint Francis Forum which will be chaired by DiCerbo with activities centered around the Feast of St. Francis (October 4).

Each year the university, through the Saint Francis Forum, will recognize a male and female whose acts of charity, love and care for all of creation, along with service to the needy, exemplifies the Peace Prayer of St. Francis. This recognition, which will enhance the existing Assisi Award, honors those whose lives follow the example of St. Francis, St. Clare and Dorothy Day.

"The Peace Prayer is truly a prayer for all times and all people. It is full of love, forgiveness, faith, hope, light, and joy. We hope to share the spirit of this prayer with all people of goodwill through the St. Francis Forum and the recognition of the award recipients who live out this prayer of peace in their daily lives," said DiCerbo.

To learn more about the University's Franciscan heritage, visit http://francis.edu/faith-and-franciscanism/