I don’t know if you saw the EWTN show that Colleen Carroll Campbell hosts on Wednesdays that aired last night at 6pm (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MNZMDkEHT40). She was very kind to spotlight Ave Maria’s 22% reduction in the tuition and fees “sticker price” for next fall, and also explore how Ave Maria happily promotes our love of the Catholic Church in so many ways, including through the new Mother Teresa Project. Colleen is a natural and so good at what she does - and if you read her hugely successful “My Sisters the Saints” book she published last year (which is coming out in paperback in 2014) then you know that her talents are many. I have known her for years and her three beautiful children (she is expecting her fourth in February) as well as her wonderful husband (John, a medical doctor who cares for elders). They moved from their comfortable lives in St. Louis to undertake this adventure in Catholic television. The Church needs more voices like Colleen’s in order to harvest the fruits of the feminine genius that Pope Francis recently touted. Mary Ann Glendon, Helen Alvare, Colleen and others have much to offer the Church as it engages the culture and transforms it.
Over the desk in the President’s office of Ave Maria University is an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe and today, throughout the world and very particularly in the Americas, we celebrate a feast day commemorating her miraculous appearance in Tepeyac, Mexico in 1531.
Yesterday’s dedication of the Jack and Rhodora Donahue Plaza at the Oratory of Ave Maria University was yet another milestone in our 10th anniversary year of celebrations.
Jack and Rhodora have been special friends of the University from the time Tom Monaghan first mentioned to them his vision of it – and long before a shovel turned the rich soil of Immokalee tomato fields into what today is the foundation for our beautiful campus. Jack was chairman of the Board of Trustees and has remained a trustee to this very day. Outside of Tom and Marge Monaghan there is no family more responsible for the establishment of Ave Maria than the Donahue family (and daughter Patty Dolan is a trustee, too).
Today the Church celebrates the life of the great missionary St. Francis Xavier, who with St. Ignatius and five others, founded the Society of Jesus (the religious order of our beloved Pope Francis). I thought of him and the hidden role he and his colleagues played in founding the Jesuits when I had the good fortune this week of celebrating the pivotal contributions of the 27 men and women who have been at Ave Maria University from the very beginning. We may have only one founder – Tom Monaghan – but these 27 “mothers and fathers” of Ave Maria University formed a brave band of true believers who instinctively understood the importance and value of Ave Maria University and Tom’s vision, and persevered despite great adversity.
Great news today from the U.S. Supreme Court: The Obamacare regulations which Ave Maria University has fought in Federal Court since 2012 because they violate religious freedom will be decided by the nine justices sometime in June 2014.
It was good to be on campus for the week and not on the road. I enjoyed a wonderful week at Ave (and a hot one, too, with temperatures still in the 80’s!). The highlight was “The Galileo Affair” colloquium on Wednesday where Dr. Paul Baxa, who oversees the Honors Program, convened a forum of three of our professors (Dr. Ricardo Rodriquez – Physics; Dr. Michael Waldstein – Theology; and Dr. Jeffrey Hass – History) who engaged in a spirited discussion of the controversies surrounding the 17th century Church trial of Galileo. The Demetree lecture hall was nearly filled as our honor students and other members of the University community listened to the riveting discussion and presented the panel with questions and comments. Simply fascinating.
I may be heading to the annual meeting of presidents of the Cardinal Newman Society’s colleges and universities as well as the fall meeting of the U.S. Bishops, but I am still savoring the memories from last week at historic Antoine’s restaurant in the French Quarter in New Orleans.
Last week I was in New York for the celebration of the 90th birthday of Alice von Hildebrand, a distinguished Catholic philosopher and theologian, and a friend whom I have admired from afar for decades. Her sister, Marie-Helene Peeters, and her children, most especially Therese Casey (pictured alongside her husband and daughter, Marthe Marie, in a photo I took outside of Gonzaga College in Washington, DC in the late 1980’s), have been close to the Towey family since 1987 when I first met them in France.
"Aunt Lily" bears a striking resemblance to her sister Marie-Helene, who lives with her husband Paul in Belgium.