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.
In honor of our 10th anniversary, and in light of today’s 35th anniversary of the election of Pope John Paul II, I am inaugurating a presidential blog with the hope that I can contribute to the creative process that is discovering who Ave Maria University is and what our role in the New Evangelization must be.
When I signed up to do O-Team at the end of the semester last year, I thought that it was just going to be like “Here’s your t-shirt, let’s move the freshmen in!” (more or less). I didn’t realize how much planning and work the O-Team did for my orientation last year, and now that I’m experiencing it first hand, I definitely am grateful. Working with my fellow O-Team members has been a blast and I can’t wait to meet the freshmen and get them through this orientation weekend!
This past weekend, I returned to Ave for the Open House held on Saturday. I was the MC for the event, and I had a great time welcoming our prospective students to Ave! One of my favorite parts about Open House events is the Q&A session with the student panel. Students agree to share their experiences and answer some of the visitors’ questions, as well as some of the more frequent questions that the admissions office receives. Each student is involved in different activities on campus, and each brings a different point of view to the table. This way, visiting students can see the many wonderful facets of Ave as well as the various possibilities that await them if they attend Ave. Another reason I love the student panel is because it is so evident how much the students love Ave. We all love sharing our favorite things about Ave, and it really shows how students view Ave as their home and enjoy the faith community, academics, and social activities.
Now that I’m back, I’m ready to get back into the swing of things. Currently, all of my belongings are strewn about my room and cover just about every inch of surface area. So unpacking and organizing is definitely at the top of my list before my wonderful roomies get back. I also almost forgot about Florida’s lovely rainy season, and have somehow managed to get caught in the rain way too many times already without an umbrella. When it’s not raining, the temperatures climb, and I am once again enjoying acclimating myself to the Florida sun (my hat is off to all the athletes who practice outside in this). In order to get such perfect weather in January and February, I guess you have to pay for it sometime.Regardless, I am beyond excited to be back at Ave and look forward to getting ready for the coming school year.
I always tell people that when I first visited Ave, that as soon as I stepped on campus, I knew that Ave was the place God was calling me to. I cannot say enough about how much I love Ave and everyone and everything I’ve experienced here so far. I’m excited to welcome our new freshman class next week at orientation and can’t wait to see what amazing things this year has in store for us all!!
Let me start off by saying that when you come to Ave, not only are you getting a great education in a faith filled community set in gorgeous Florida, but you are going to meet some absolutely amazing people. I figured I would give you guys a little break from me, and let some of my fantabulous classmates take the spotlight. I asked them for any tips they had for incoming freshmen, what they like about Ave, or anything they would go back and tell their freshmen selves. I got great responses with great advice, so enjoy their words of wisdom!