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DeSales University Celebrating 50th Anniversary

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*Note: The following is a press release.

Center Valley, Pa., July 8, 2015 – DeSales University is celebrating its 50th anniversary and will be holding a series of special events over the next year to commemorate the milestone. The festivities will feature speakers (including Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York and Fox News’ Michelle Malkin), participation from graduates of previous classes, educational lectures and more.

“Our year-long 50th anniversary celebration will provide the local community and current students with an understanding of DeSales’ past and allow us to share our vision for the future of higher education,” said DeSales University President Father Bernard F. O’Connor, OSFS.

DeSales University traces its history to 1961, when Bishop Joseph McShea sought to fill the void of a Catholic college in the Lehigh Valley in the new Diocese of Allentown. In 1965, at the request of the Bishop, the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales established a liberal arts college (originally Allentown College of St. Francis de Sales) to serve this need. It joined five other colleges and universities of distinction.

Today, DeSales has more than 3,100 students enrolled in undergraduate, graduate and an adult bachelor’s degree program (ACCESS). The university has provided the highest level of education to thousands before them, influenced generations of families and positively impacted surrounding communities.

“The 50th anniversary events will honor past and current students and serve as a celebration of the proud history and tradition that we have built at DeSales over the past half a century,” said Father O’Connor.

Some of the events planned for the year-long anniversary include:

September 2: the Salesian Center for Faith and Culture will host a symposium concerning Ex Corde Ecclesiae (John Paul II’s vision for Catholic universities) on its 25th anniversary.

September 10: A statue, entitled Jesus the Teacher, will be dedicated to honor the bishops, clergy and people of the Diocese of Allentown. Speakers will include Father O’Connor, Ben Marcune (Bethlehem-based nationally acclaimed sculptor and painter) and the Most Reverend John O. Barres, D.D., bishop of Allentown.

September 25-26: Homecoming weekend, where academic departments will have cocktail receptions and retired faculty/staff will attend.

November 11: The Rev. Thomas Furphy Lecture Series, featuring Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York.

January 24-28, 2016: A special Heritage Week celebration will be hosted by the Salesian Center for Faith and Culture. Events include:

  • Sunday, January 24: Mass of Saint Francis de Sales – Celebrant, Bishop Barres
  • Monday, January 25: Forum on Biomedical Ethics – CEOs from local hospital networks
  • Tuesday, January 26: Seminar on Law & Society – Prof. Robert P. George J.D., PhD of Philosophy, Princeton University
  • Wednesday, January 27: Town Hall on Social Communications – Rev. Thomas Rosica, CEO of Salt & Light Media and liaison at the Vatican Press Office.
  • Thursday, January 28: R. Wayne Kraft Memorial Lecture – Fr. Antonio Spadaro, S. J., Gregorian University, Rome, editor of Civilta Cattolica and papal interviewer

April 6, 2016: The Marcon Lecturer is Michelle Malkin, Fox News journalist, nationally syndicated columnist and Journalism Fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C.

May 21, 2016: Commencement will feature a parade of flags carried by alumni for each of the 50 years. Joseph Kurtz, D.D., Archbishop of Louisville, Ky., a Lehigh Valley native and President of the American Bishop’s Conference will receive an honorary degree and offer the address at the graduation ceremony. Archbishop Kurtz is also a former member of the Board of Trustees at DeSales.

For more information on the 50th anniversary celebration and events,


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About the author

Josh Popichak

Josh Popichak is the owner, publisher and editor of Saucon Source. A Lehigh Valley native, he's covered local news since 2005 and previously worked for Berks-Mont News and AOL/Patch. Contact him at

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