The student life community at Franciscan University has a unique element that saturates the residence halls, the cafeteria, Christ the King Chapel, and even the sports fields. This one-of-a-kind element is households. You see signs of households everywhere–a group of young men or women wearing the same color sweatshirt at Mass or getting a meal. Many of them live on the same floor, and often gather in their common room to talk, study, and pray. But what draws them together? What makes one different from another? And what does it mean to ‘intent’?

Here, several Franciscan University students share the adventures, blessings, and lessons learned during their time in one of Franciscan’s 53 households. Uniting authentic voices with honest stories, these students reflect on both the joys and challenges of a faith-centered college experience.

Household Student Bloggers
Marianna Schmiesing

Gruß Gott! My name is Marianna Schmiesing, and I am a junior English major at Franciscan. I was born and raised in Steubenville, Ohio, just a few blocks from the University, and it has always felt like home to me.

Jacob Watson

Raised in southeast Massachusetts and having moved to Tampa in 2014, I find myself in Steubenville, converting to Catholicism along the way. I’m a sophomore in the Living Stones household, majoring in philosophy and theology. I’m a student by day, and I swing dance by night.

Conall Hughes

Cheers! I’m Conall, a Sophomore Economics major from Simsbury, CT. I was raised in what is, for many, the desert of all things spiritual and warm called the Northeast.

Rebecca Vodola

Rebecca Vodola is a senior English major with a writing concentration from southwestern Connecticut. The second of five girls, Rebecca enjoys hiking (especially on the Appalachian Trail), hanging out with her household sisters in Totus Tuus Maria, reading, and carrying on her family’s Italian traditions.

Kateri Schmiesing

Hello, I’m Kateri, and I have lived in Steubenville my whole life. I am currently a freshman studying Communication Arts here at Franciscan University. I am a member of the household Handmaids of the Lord, and enjoy drawing, painting, and graphic design in my free time.

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: Born in the Spirit

I grew up number three in a family of seven children. My parents met as students at Franciscan, married, and never left. I’ve always thought of myself as a ‘traditional Catholic”—no hand-raising, speaking in tongues, etc. All that was somewhat foreign, even though, as kids, we saw a great deal of charismatic worship on campus.


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.


Hughes: Forming a ‘Disciple’

In casual conversations with friends at Franciscan, you’ll often hear stories about saints with crazy heroic virtue. Francis of Assisi threw himself into thorns at the first inkling of temptation. Teresa of Avila levitated during her deep conversations and unions with the Lord. Padre Pio, well, Padre Pio once woke up…


Watson: Fitting In

Whenever you enter a new environment or a new culture, it can take time to adjust. Thankfully, one of Franciscan University’s households helped me to navigate this time of adjustment.


Vodola: Relearning the Power of Prayer

A few days after my eleventh birthday, I was admitted to the hospital with a ruptured appendix. It felt like someone had spilled boiling soup all over my insides, and it landed me in the pediatric ward for more than three weeks.


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.


Prosser: Anchored in Christ

Life is continuously changing. Human persons have a natural disposition to fight life’s changes. It always seems that just as we become settled and comfortable, life draws us out of our complacency and uproots us from all that we know, love and are familiar with. We scream and yell at life for doing this. We stubbornly resist with every fiber of our being even though we know that despite our best efforts life will change.


Fiascone: Residence Hall Living

To some outsiders (mostly my mother, and probably most mothers) a men’s college dorm may appear to be a smelly, dirty, loud environment that someone should avoid if at all possible. But until you’ve lived in the dorm, you may not be able to fully grasp how that seemingly putrid smell is the smell of a…


Fiascone: The Blessings of Returning from Austria

For those of you who don’t know, I recently returned from a semester abroad in Gaming, Austria – Franciscan University’s study abroad program. I also blogged about it here if you are interested in reading more about that experience. To sum it up, it was the semester of a lifetime.


It Is Not Good for Man to Be Alone

For those of you who are not aware of Franciscan University’s households, a household is similar to our version of fraternity or sorority. It is a group of men or women who gather together to worship God. Each household has its own covenant that it is based upon and which describes the charisms of the household. Each household meets several times a week for different activities, such as rosary, Mass, or Lord’s Day. Lord’s Day is a setting aside of the sabbath day. It takes place around 4 PM on Saturdays.


Cohagan: “Walk very simply.”

It’s almost time to be heading home for Thanksgiving break. That is just so crazy. I think I’ve mentioned in all of my blog posts so far this semester how fast it feels like time is passing these days, and it continues to press on at an unnatural rate. But life is good! Even with all the craziness. As I begin to approach these final weeks of the fall semester, and it seems like there’s so much to do and finish before finals, I’ve been consoled by the words of St. Francis de Sales.


Cohagan: Where the Beauty is Found.

Where is the beauty? Where is the beauty in the all-nighters and the papers and the meetings and the job-searching and the stress that seem to have become the all too typical aspects of my life as of late? I’d been having a hard time finding it, to be honest. This semester has continued at a rapid pace, feeling more like a string of project after project than anything else. It’s been a bit exhausting. It even just sounds exhausting re-reading it typed out in this blog post. It doesn’t really sound beautiful. Right?


Prosser: Choose Joy

Midterms week is in full swing here at Franciscan. The library is overflowing with students attempting to cram knowledge into every nook and cranny of their brains. Nights of adequate amounts of sleep are a distant memory of the past.


Cohagan: “For My Power is Made Perfect in Weakness”

I’m back. Back at Franciscan after a wild and wonderful adventure that took me all over Europe for a whole semester. And life hasn’t ceased to be adventurous since. It’s funny being back though, there’s a beautiful kind of fullness that I almost wasn’t expecting. I’m not sure what I was expecting it to be like after Austria, but still.


Clarahan: Abandoned in China but with Hope for a Better Life

I was asked to give a testimony at this past summer’s Defending the Faith Conference on the way that Franciscan University has helped me grow in my faith and as a person. While preparing for this talk, I thought I’d like to share with you the same. Because this school certainly has changed my life!


Prosser: The Adventure Called Austria

In 17 very short days, my feet will land on American soil for the first time in 4 months. I hate to be that person who’s all sappy and sentimental at the end of the semester, but I ‘m going to be. My semester in Austria has been the hardest and the best semester of my life all at the same time. I haven’t quite nailed down all the details of how I’ve changed, but I’m not the same woman I was when I stepped through the doors of the Pittsburgh airport in January.


Dudenhoefer: Love and Lent

Hello again everyone! I hope your Lent has been truly blessed so far. The semester continues to fly by, and it is finally beginning to feel like Spring! Franciscan had our Spring Break a couple weeks ago, and it has been fun to hear everyone’s stories ranging from crazy mission trip experiences to fun road trips and relaxing at home.


Dudenhoefer: Living Life to the Fullest

With the recent warm weather, it is hard to believe that there is only one more week in February and Spring Break is on its way! February has definitely been full of activity, both fun and academic related. My friends and I have had our first few tests and major assignments due, so that has kept us busy with studying. To prevent stress though, I have been doing multiple fun and spontaneous things with my friends.


Cohagan: Unexpected Gifts.

It’s been about three weeks now since stepping off of the bus and feeling the gravel of the Kartause courtyard under my boots for the first time. But the feeling of those little pebbles underfoot is becoming more and more familiar now with each walk to class, or Mass, or off for an adventure.


Stewart: We’ve Got New Disciples!

I’m a part of the Disciples of the Word household here on campus, and I must say that being a part of it has been one of the biggest gifts I have been blessed with while studying here at Franciscan.


Dudenhoefer: Back in the saddle again!

After a wonderfully crazy semester in Austria and a beautifully relaxing Christmas break, it is definitely great to be back on main campus here in Steubenville again! I definitely have a lot to look forward to and to accomplish this semester, but so far it has been a great start. Living on the same floor as my household sisters has been wonderful, and I have enjoyed reconnecting with them and my other friends, some of whom I have not seen in over a year.


Prosser: We Only Part to Meet Again

Phew. After the most intense semester of my college career to date, I have finally been able to relax in the comfort of my home in the cozy mountains of central Pennsylvania. I can’t believe that Christmas break came already. It feels like weeks ago that I was moving into my room in St. Thomas More Hall, but I am all moved out and preparing for spending the spring semester abroad in Gaming, Austria.


Finals Done and Goodbyes

It has been one crazy semester, that is for sure! Wow! Today, I took my last cell physiology exam and I’ll be honest: it feels very good to be done. I absolutely loved that class, but it is time for a break. I think I performed well on all my examinations. In the past week and a half, I’ve also turned in five lab reports. I am thoroughly exhausted… but it is good exhaustion. I feel accomplished and I know that I performed the best I could… and my best will be enough!


Stewart: Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving, all! A little late, but still heartfelt!

It’s been a wonderful week celebrating the holidays with family and friends. After a cell physiology and quite a challenging microbiology exam nearly back to back, my 9-hour drive home to the Chicago area was challenging but worth it.


Robau: Senior Year!

It is senior year and nothing is more exciting or more bittersweet than starting your last-first-day of fall semester classes. I can say with all certainty that I will miss greeting friends excitedly after not seeing them all summer and the hustle and bustle of students moving into dorms and saying goodbye to their families. It is funny to think that freshman year it was all so new and overwhelming, but now it just feels like home.


Stewart: Taking a break… Household Retreat!

After a challenging week filled with long lab reports, spearheading research, and taking 400 level biology exams, it was time to take a breather from science. Thankfully, my household, the Disciples of the Word, went on retreat and I had the opportunity to lead the guys for the weekend.


Roggensack: A Fun Kind of Busy

Happy March! It’ been a fast two months since I last posted. I have been pretty busy, but in different ways than I have been in the past semesters. In the past semesters, I was very busy with school work, clinicals, and just nursing in general. This semester is definitely less intensive than the other nursing semesters, so I have more free time. But the problem is that I get so excited that I have free time, I fill it all immediately with other things because I can! So, I’m busy, but in the best way possible.


Roggensack: Theotokos – What a Household!

Like many seniors, I have found myself reminiscing and reflecting more and more as my time at Franciscan comes to a close. Although there is a lot to remember and find joy in – Austria memories, fall breaks, dances, etc. – one thing that my mind keeps going back to is my household, Theotokos. I joined the household as a sophomore coming back from Austria, and it has been such a stable source of prayer, love, and sisterhood for me here.