Sister Anita Holzmer guides University of Saint Francis staff and students to practice cherished Franciscan values

Sister Anita Holzmer guides University of Saint Francis staff and students to practice cherished Franciscan values
By: Curtis Hankins Last Updated: March 22, 2020

Editor’s note: We here at GreatNews.Life wish to thank University of Saint Francis as they keep their staff and students safe during this time of social distancing. Thanks to the work of Sister Anita Holzmer and everyone at University of Saint Francis, their Franciscan values are shining brightly in this difficult time. For updates on University happenings in this respect, please visit their web page.

Since the Sisters of Saint Francis of Perpetual Adoration founded University of Saint Francis in 1890, they have operated on a guiding set of values: revere the unique dignity of each person, encourage a trustful, prayerful community of learners, serve one another, society, and the Church, foster peace and justice, and respect creation.

“You can see these in everything that we do,” said Sister Anita Holzmer, Assistant Vice President for Mission Integration at University of Saint Francis. “It’s not just in our coursework, but in our policymaking for employees, and our interactions with each other. It’s an underlying theme that we weave into every discipline and profession that we teach.”

Holzmer first joined the staff at University of Saint Francis 15 years ago, though she is also an alumna. A major part of her job is understanding the university’s values, how they are reflected at the school, and how they help achieve their mission of engaging a diverse community in learning, leadership, and service.

“I’m kind of the cheerleader, if you will,” she said. “It’s my job to help people understand that it’s all of our responsibilities to carry on the mission through living out the Franciscan values.”

While the values are rooted in the university’s Catholic tradition, they serve as a platform for respecting all students and staff, no matter their demographics or religion.

“These are values that cut across any kind of religious denomination or way of thinking,” Holzmer said. “All kinds of folks can latch on to these and say, ‘yeah, I can do that!’ Integrating these into my work gives me a foundation for what I do, because it’s for the good of all.”

At the core of the Franciscan values is the idea of acting as a positive influence on your community, and that often plays out in the service learning that many University of Saint Francis courses encourage.

“Any instructor in any discipline or program can take part,” Holzmer said. “They hit on a theme or topic, and then have their students go out in the community and find a place where they can put their lessons into action.”

Holzmer said she sees the Franciscan values as much more important than just words in frame, recited at speeches.

“This isn’t pie in the sky, it’s who we are,” she said. “We make these values clear to people in how they’re treated, even as prospective students. It’s about treating people with respect that you might not find anywhere else.”

To learn more about University of Saint Francis, visit