Sisters
L-R: Sisters Nathalee Bryant, Monica Loughlin, Jean Marie Craig, Donna Gould, Juliana Haynes, Grace Mary Flickinger, Rita Radloff, and Mary Ann Stachow, inset photograph.

While students, faculty, and staff say their goodbyes to Dr.
Norman C. Francis, the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament are glad he can finally rest.

“I’m happy for him, but it’s a huge loss not to have him as a
president. He deserves a break,” said Sister Monica Loughlin, assistant to
the president for Catholic identity and integration, as she glanced at an
aged photo of her and Francis.

The Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament have been part of Francis’ life since he entered Xavier University as a freshman in 1948. While he did not meet St. Katharine Drexel who founded the order in
1891 and Xavier in 1925, Loughlin said he embodied the ideals St.
Katharine set forth in the university’s mission: to empower under served
African American and Native American children through education
and help them become leaders.

When Francis returned to Xavier in 1955 as the dean of men, he began
“giving back” to the university and the sisters he felt had nourished him
spiritually and educationally.

Loughlin said when the SBS decided in 1968 to name Francis
the first lay president in Xavier’s history, it was because they saw the
attributes they wanted in a president: a leader dedicated to the SBS
mission.

“He walked the walk and talked the talk,” said Sister Juliana Haynes,
an assistant professor of music. “He is a thoroughly good man, smart,
charismatic. I couldn’t say enough good things about him.”
The sisters said what they admire most about Francis is his
commitment to and practice of the Roman Catholic Church and his
loyalty to Xavier. Loughlin lauded Francis for being a mentor to not
only students but faculty and staff as well.

“It’s been an honor for him to run Xavier,” Loughlin said, “The
values he holds and the integrity— I’ve known him as a leader for
47 years and he’s always been consistent.”

Francis’ accomplishments at Xavier surpassed the sisters’
expectations.

“The growth of the university and consistency were far exceeded,”
Loughlin said, “We are as grateful for his wife, Blanche Francis as
we are Dr. Francis, for all of their sacrifices.”

While the search for the next president has been narrowed to three
candidates, the sisters said Francis is irreplaceable. When a new president
is announced in the upcoming weeks, he or she will begin their own
service to Xavier.

“We’ll never have another Norman Francis, but we’ll have someone who has the same type of spirit and courage as he has,”
Haynes said. As they look to the future, Haynes said the Sisters of the
Blessed Sacrament hope Francis’ successor will be a leader who will
“keep the mission and spirit of Xavier alive.”

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