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STEUBENVILLE, Ohio (LifeSiteNews) — One of America’s most prominent faithful Catholic universities this year admitted its largest ever freshman class even while other colleges in the state have seen their numbers decline.

On Tuesday, The Ohio Newsroom reported that Franciscan University of Steubenville welcomed 772 freshmen, the largest cohort of new students the college has seen since its founding in 1946.

John Herrmann, Franciscan’s vice president for enrollment management, told the outlet the college had “just purchased a hotel, and renovated it in about six weeks to make it into a dormitory-style residence hall” to accommodate the new growth. 

According to the report, that new building is already full.

Nestled in eastern Ohio, Franciscan University underwent a major spiritual overhaul in the 1970s when Father Michael Scanlan recognized that students desperately needed a solid Catholic community to combat the pervasive errors of modern society. The institution was renamed “Franciscan University” from its original “College of Steubenville” in 1985 to highlight its Franciscan founding and identity.

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Known for its central involvement in the Catholic Charismatic Renewal movement, the college has since become a major hub for Catholic culture and identity, with strong ties to numerous high-profile writers, apologists, and speakers.

For a small sampling of those Catholics with ties to Steubenville, writer and evangelist Dr. Ralph Martin was instrumental in transforming the culture of the school along with Scanlan. Dr. Scott Hahn teaches Biblical Theology and the New Evangelization at the university. Catholic chastity speaker Jason Evert graduated from Franciscan in 1997. Australian Catholic podcaster Matt Fradd has given several talks at Franciscan and moved to Steubenville with his family in 2021 to become part of the small Ohio town’s dynamic Catholic culture.

And Franciscan’s popularity for Catholic students is only growing.

The Ohio Newsroom reported that the Catholic college’s enrollment has been rising over the past seven years even while other universities in Ohio are seeing their numbers slump.

“My only complaint about the two times I have gone to Mass at Franciscan University is that there was [nowhere] to sit. It was that packed with students,” commented Jeremy Wayne Tate, co-founder and president of the Classic Learning Test (CLT), according to Catholic journalist Sachin Jose. 

“And that was just a daily Mass,” Tate said. “Truly beautiful.” 

Herrmann told The Ohio Newsroom the college continues “to exceed all of our goals.”

Interest in education based on a solid foundation of faith and time-tested philosophy has grown in recent years as the quality of public schools and colleges has declined and woke ideology has replaced traditional teaching.

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Franciscan University states that its “core curriculum is based on the Western intellectual tradition, our Franciscan educational heritage, and the Catholic mission of Franciscan University.”

And the growth of Catholic colleges isn’t isolated to the prairies of Ohio. In Virginia, Christendom College has similarly seen its growth continue unabated despite declining enrollment rates at secular colleges across the country.

“Catholic families are eager to find a college where their children can learn the Truth, live the Faith, and thrive as Catholics,” the liberal arts university’s vice president for enrollment Tom McFadden said last year. 

“The students who choose Christendom as their college of choice want to not only survive college, but actually thrive, and be able to help restore the culture and to re-Christianize society – so desperately needed today,” he said.