A Reflection on Father Frassati’s Time on Campus


Image Courtesy of the Dominican Friars Foundation

By Zachary Lichter

On Tuesday, April 11, 2023, Father Frassati Davis announced in the Chaplains Corner of the Campus Ministry Weekly Update that he had been reassigned to St. Dominic’s in Youngstown, Ohio. Father Bernard Knapke, who is a Dominican friar from Saint Henry, Ohio, will take his place as one of the associate chaplains on campus.

During Fr. Frassati’s time on campus, he celebrated Mass and did Confessions. During the fall semester, he and Father Teodosio Brea would rotate between celebrating the Spanish Mass at 12:00 p.m. at St. Paul’s Chapel in Caldwell Hall. He also ran the Men’s Ministry, helped Father Joseph Hagan with the Freshman Retreat Team, and went on an immersion trip through Campus Ministry to the Dominican Republic during spring break. He was a judge at a beauty pageant called “Mr. CUA.” Whenever Fr. Frassati is not busy, he would either be in the Pryzbla Center or Garvey Hall talking to students, getting to know them, and of course, making them laugh.

Sophomore philosophy major and theology minor Michael Ellison gave his comments about what he liked about Father Frassati.

“I love how genuine Fr. Frassati is with people,” Ellison said. “His smile and jokes always make me feel comfortable, and I appreciate how he takes time to listen to people. He’s a very open and honest person, and I think his down-to-earth nature is very appealing to students. Working with Fr. Frassati on the freshman retreat team (FRT) last year was an absolute blast! He brought a lot of vision and spirit to the team, which helped us work hard and put on a great retreat, but also helped us grow closer together and really bond. I have so many fun memories with him and the rest of the team.”

Fr. Frassati grew up in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and received a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from St. Mary’s University. He then worked as a religion teacher in a high school. In an interview, when Fr. Frassati said he chose the name Frassati as his religious name after he had a conversation with a student who wanted to convert to Catholicism. The student chose Blessed Piere Giorgio Frassati as his confirmation name and wanted to know everything about him. So, Fr. Frassati read all of Frassati’s books and was drawn to how social, extroverted, and he was a model of holiness for his peers. 

When Fr. Frassati decided to become a Dominican friar, he went to the Dominican House of Studies for graduate school. He chose the Dominican order because of the charisms of preaching and teaching. He wanted to take the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience and live in a community with other priests. He felt that making those sacrifices would make him feel much holier. Fr. Frassati was ordained at the Dominican House of Studies on May 21, 2021. 

Fr. Frassati gave his comments about first receiving his assignment at CUA.

“I was very surprised that the Province of St. Joseph assigned me to Catholic University because we haven’t been chaplains here,” Davis said. “So it was a new opportunity, new work. So there’s a new element of mystery, but of course I’ve been a college student and I’ve walked around campus so there is enough familiarity. I wasn’t nervous thinking that the Lord would not be able to use me as a chaplain. I didn’t feel that there was a sense of imminent failure. But I was very excited to get involved and see what the needs of the students are at a place like Catholic University.”

As the spring semester comes to a close, many students will be looking forward to their last meal, last conversation, last joke, and last Mass with Fr. Frassati celebrating as they prepare to say their goodbyes. Fr. Frassati’s presence will be missed on campus, but many people will continue to keep him in their prayers and pray for what the Lord has in store for him. The students are excited to welcome Fr. Bernard to campus as they will look to make new memories with him.

Fr. Frassati has a final message he wants to give the students.

“There might be an opportunity to think that what you need for success is not right in front of you,” Davis said. “That it has to be chased, that it has to be sought out. That you have to search every corner of the world for happiness. But you know the life you save may be your own when you’re able to just open your eyes and see that what’s needed for your sanctity, what’s needed for your sanity has probably been here the entire time. So pay attention to all of the opportunities you have here on campus in the Brookland area, to your friends, to your teachers, to your chaplains because they are here for you to help you find that happiness that the Lord wants you to have.”

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