By Elyse Baron | Echo
Standing on the Rediger Auditorium stage in sandals and a long black robe, he is not dressed as a typical Taylor chapel speaker.
A Franciscan priest, the Rev. Dave Pivonka visited Taylor as part of the Ray Fitzgerald Lectureship. Pivonka was aware his robes would mark him as someone different, asking faculty and students throughout the day what they thought about his clothes. For the Catholic students and faculty on campus, such a sight might not have been as unexpected as it was for the Protestants.
"Before Father Dave came, I said to some students, and I said to my faculty colleagues, 'Going into chapel, close your eyes and just listen,'" said Tom Jones, department chair of history, global and political studies. "What you will hear is a sermon, or a lecture, that will sound very familiar and will sound as though it is a sermon being given by a very effective minister in the Evangelical Protestant church.'"
While Pivonka illustrated the numerous similarities between Catholic and Protestant traditions, he also felt privileged to be a public representative of the Catholic faith. For himself, Pivonka had not interacted greatly with non-Catholic Christians until when he was around 23 years old, which made the opportunity to introduce Protestant Christians to his faith even more appealing.
In chapel, Pivonka focused on how every person has a backpack to carry. In a later talkback session, he continued the idea of respecting people's individual stories, while also going into more depth about the Catholic faith. Uniting humor with theological truth and Catholic tradition, Pivonka answered questions about saints, Mary, communion and his own personal journey to becoming a Franciscan. To Pivonka, saints are a mosaic of examples for people to follow on their own journeys of faith.
"What we're asking is for the particular saint to intercede for us," Pivonka said. ". . . So, saints are examples of faith. They are men and women who have gone before us that have done it right. And we can learn from looking at their life. And we believe as Catholics that they can intercede for us. . . . How is it that St. Anthony always knows where people's keys are? I don't know, but he does. I don't know how you find your keys without his help."
To Pivonka, the platform provided by the Fitzgerald Lectureship was not one for him to attempt to convince people to move from Protestant to Catholic faith but an opportunity for him to share his story and his love for God.