The mission of Madonna University, a Catholic institution of higher learning, is to instill in its students Christian humanistic values, intellectual inquiry, a respect for diversity, and a commitment to serving others through a liberal arts education, integrated with career preparation and based on the truths and principles recognized within a Felician Franciscan tradition.

Madonna’s mission receives its spirit from these Franciscan Values:

  • Respect for the Dignity of Each Person
  • Peace and Justice
  • Reverence for Creation
  • Education for Truth and Service

Madonna University History

In 1937, Madonna University (then known as Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary Junior College) was established by Mother Mary DeSales Tocka and her council in the Felician Central Convent in Livonia, with a first year enrollment of 18 Sisters.

Madonna University instituted master's-level programs in 1982 and became a university in 1991. A leader in nursing education at the state, regional, and national levels, Madonna’s College of Nursing and Health launched the University’s first doctoral program – the Doctor of Nursing Practice – in 2009. Through this growth and development, the institution has become one of the nation's largest Franciscan universities with a combined undergraduate and graduate student body of approximately 3,000 students.

Madonna University Seal

Madonna University Official Seal

The Madonna University seal, used on official documents, consists of the shield placed within a circle bearing the name of Madonna University and the founding date, 1937. The shield, designed by Sister Mary Angeline Filipiak, CSSF, consists of two ordinaries (geometric design elements). On the chief (the bar at the top of the shield) of red lies an open book, the symbol of learning, signifying that liberal arts education is the aim of Madonna University. Across the pages of this book are inscribed the words Sapientia Desursum (Wisdom from Above), symbolizing the Holy Spirit, the source of all knowledge. The red of the escutcheon (shield) stands for the love of God, the aim and crown of all learning. The pierced Heart of Mary with a host symbolizes the adoration of the Eucharist through her Immaculate Heart. It is also the emblem of the Felician Sisters who conduct the University. Embedded in the heart is the Franciscan crest consisting of a cross held up by the pierced hand of Christ and the stigmatized hand of St. Francis of Assisi, who also is the patron saint of the Felician community.

The blue and gold are the University colors symbolic of its ideals: blue for loyalty to God through Mary, to country, and Alma Mater; gold for oneness of purpose and unified strength of the University community in perpetuating Catholic humanism.

The emblem of Madonna University portrays the philosophy and ideals that permeate the educational structure of the institution.

Felician Sisters, Founders

The foundation of Madonna University can be traced to 1855 in Warsaw, Poland where a young woman named Sophia Truszkowska, formed a religious order dedicated to caring for the poor, homeless, sick, and the elderly. Known as the Felician Sisters, this small group of women dedicated themselves to helping their community through the teachings of St. Francis of Assisi. The first Felician Sisters arrived in the United States in 1874, settling in a Polish community in Wisconsin to establish schools for the community’s children. By 1880, the Felician Sisters had expanded their efforts into Michigan, administering schools in both Bay City and Detroit. As the Felician community grew, so did the need for an institution of higher education to prepare Felician Sisters as teachers.

Catholic, Franciscan Tradition

Madonna University exemplifies the fine tradition of Catholic and Franciscan scholarship that has contributed significantly to the intellectual and professional development in our society. With alumni on every continent except Antarctica, Madonna University graduates apply their knowledge and skills in meaningful service around the world – improving the lives of others, while excelling in their own professions.

2019-2020 Mission & Heritage Theme:     "Building with Living Stones"

1 Peter 2: 1-6

Rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, insincerity, envy, and all slander; like newborn infants, long for spiritual milk, so that through it, you may grow into salvation, for you have tasted that the Lord is good. Come to him, a living stone, rejected by human beings, but chosen and precious in the sight of God, and, like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it says in scripture:

2019-2020 Mission & Heritage Theme - Living Stones

Growth toward salvation is seen here as two steps: first, stripping away all that is contrary to the new life in Christ; second, the nourishment (pure spiritual milk) that the newly baptized have received and tasted allowed them to see that life in Christ was good.

In a second image Christ is the cornerstone, that is, the foundation of the spiritual edifice of the Christian community. To unbelievers, Christ is an obstacle and a stumbling block on which they are destined to fall. St. Paul is telling St. Peter’s community that they are being built up on a strong foundation and shall be endure and withstand all efforts to try to harm them.

At first glance the notion of a “living stone” makes no sense. To us, this description may seem rough, harsh, and even just plain odd. Yet to the Jews, who placed much of their religion life inside their magnificent temple, and who understood the prophetic style of speaking, which calls the Messiah a stone (Isa. 8:14, Isa. 28:16 ), it would appear very elegant and proper.

This metaphorical description of Jesus Christ connotes his invincible strength and everlasting duration, and it teaches his servants that he is their protection and security, the foundation on which they are built, and a rock of defense against their enemies.

But if the living stones are not built up together, the strength will falter. Individual Christians may not be “dead” stones; but if they are isolated the Church will become a mere shell, an artiface, and not a living community.

This is not all. The new life within us urges us constantly to be built up with other stones. If we do not do this, we will feel useless and diminished. I need to put myself into God’s building. Because of me a gap is filled. When I am being built, I become part of the glory and majesty of this house and his community.

Pioneer Sisters - Stones

Mission & Heritage Week 2019: October 4-10

To view this year's Mission & Heritage Events and to RSVP for the events you'd like to attend, please click the link below:


Links for Further Reading

Living Stones for the Building

1 Peter, Chapter 2

Sister Mary Angela

Sister Mary Angela Stone