Schmiesing in hallway

Marianna Schmiesing

Austria Correspondent
Household Blogger


Gruß Gott! My name is Marianna Schmiesing, and I just graduated from Franciscan in May 2018. Deciding to “postpone reality,” I’m spending a year in Gaming, Austria, at Franciscan’s European campus, the Kartause Maria Thronus Iesu.

Here, I help students plan their international adventures, and when that doesn’t keep me busy, I attend a couple classes, write a blog post or two, and go on a few adventures of my own.

My favorite destinations are Vienna, Assisi, Croatia, Pollone, and the Spar grocery store right down the street. When I’m not giving detailed directions on how to get to the airport (“the bus pulls up on the right, but the train station is on the left”), or trying to figure out how to fit 12 outfits in a small travel bag, I like to play over-played songs on my ukulele and day-dream about owning honey bees.  

Summer at the Kartause

“Fullness of life at the Kartause certainly centers around the Franciscan University student body,” says Tom Wolter, director of the Austrian Program. “But in the summer, this is when we really start focusing on the renovations, the improvements, and looking into different projects to bring in new life.”


Adoring the Infant of Prague

The Nativity scene is a very important Christmas tradition in my family. We assemble one of our sets (we have several) in the living room, constructing a full backdrop for it in a little nook under a prayer table. Fabric draped over boxes become hills, and pine tree trimmings become trees.


A Stroll Through the Kartause Weihnachtsmarkt

The smoky scent of a wood fire drifts up and through the open-air walkways of the Kartause, mingling with puffs of mint, eucalyptus, and clove billowing up from a vendor’s essential oil diffuser. Both warm smells are sliced by the cold.


To the Top

As I look up at the mountain, my legs heavy, my face cold, I realize my hike is also a time of waiting. How much longer? Where is the summit? When can I sit down, out of the cold, and change my socks? As much as I want a sign around each corner or ridge telling me where to turn, I have to walk on, confident the summit is ahead.


Schmiesing: Like Mother Teresa

Mother Teresa is a favorite saint for many young Catholics, myself included. She moved mountains with her quiet, steady, and loving presence. She answered a call that was extremely difficult, trusting in God even when she falt utterly abandoned and alone. And this great saint, a leader of service and love, a spiritual giant among mankind, started simple.


Schmiesing: Praying with Strangers

Standing in the middle of the hallway of Franciscan University’s academic building, Egan Hall, I found myself with eyes closed, hands folded, and praying with a complete stranger. Two of my household sisters were next to me, but I still couldn’t get past the fact that it was normal to pray in public with someone I didn’t know.


Schmiesing: Households are Families

Here at Franciscan University, we have a unique system called “Households.” Commonly explained as a “Catholic fraternity,” these small groups of men or women are united by more than just a banner, color, or t-shirt. Households are families.


Schmiesing: We Continue to March for Life

Sometimes it seems that the March for Life is the Catholic/Pro-Life thing to do mid-January. We make our signs, try to sleep on a bus, stand for a few hours in the cold, catch up with old friends, shuffle along Constitution Avenue, say a rosary, pack up our things, and leave.


Schmiesing: Coming Home

Most students returning from Austria will tell you similar things: “It was a great semester.” “It feels so weird being back.” “I’m still processing.” It was no different for me. As soon as I was home and waking up in my bed, the whole experience felt like a dream. Had I even left?


Schmiesing: Remembering Father Mike

Even though I grew up in Steubenville and visited Franciscan frequently, I don’t have any vivid memories of Father Michael Scanlan. But he was always there, usually as one of the many priests at the altar during mass at Christ the King or in the Field House for Household Life.


Schmiesing: “Wine Tasting in Assisi”

I do not recommend wine tasting when you have a cold. However, like in matters, I did not heed my own advice, and went to a wine tasting in Assisi with a cold.
There were about 30 of us packed into a little basement, wine bottles stacked in rows on the wall, and the door propped open to let in air. On the table, meats and cheeses were spilling off of wooden platters, a basket of bread and a cup of small forks in between. Each person was given two wine glasses.


Schmiesing: Venice Photoblog

The roads only go so far into Venice (meaning not at all), so we had to take a boat into the city. It was fascinating to drift along the wide canal with churches and buildings right on the water’s edge on either side.


Schmiesing: Padua and Venice

I had signed up to go on the school trip to Padua and Venice, partly because I always wanted to see Venice, but also because I still don’t want the responsibility of planning my own trip.


Schmiesing: Mother Teresa’s Canonization

We have a list of things we never think we’ll do: climb Mount Everest, invent the next best thing to sliced bread, open a tuna-canning factory in Oregon (although, that last one sounds somewhat tempting…) For me, it was sleeping on the cobblestone of St. Peter’s Square.


Schmiesing: Hiking around Gaming

dscn4647If you ever have the chance to hike up some of the mountains around Gaming at 5 A.M., I suggest you do it. Even though it’s very dark at 5 A.M. and only gets darker the further you walk into the trees. Even though the narrow trail is criss-crossed with roots and snakes back and forth at sharp angles. Even though you thought it was just a 45 minute hike, but then you realize that you’re only half-way up the mountain 45 minutes in


Schmiesing: Melk Abbey and Dürnstein

On Sunday, most of the Gaming campus traveled down to Melk Abbey, a Benedictine Abbey that also served as a palace for the traveling Imperial Austrian family. It’s bright yellow walls help it stand out on the cliffs overlooking the Danube River.


Schmiesing: Departure

Growing up in Steubenville only a few blocks from Franciscan, I never really left for college. True, I did pack up most of my belongings and cart boxes and boxes into my dorm room, but I never left “home.” Franciscan was as familiar to me as my backyard.