What a week at Ave Maria!
We had our annual scholarship dinner last Thursday and it was a huge success! Four hundred people crowded into the ballroom of the Ritz Carlton on Naples beach and the dinner probably was our best yet. Fittingly enough for our tenth anniversary as a University, Ave Maria conferred an honorary doctorate on our founder, Tom Monaghan. It came as a complete surprise to him and we were thrilled that his wife of 51 years, Marge, was there by his side as Chairman of the Board of Trustees Michael Timmis hooded Tom. The photo below says it all.
You would think that such an emotional moment would be the highlight of the evening, but it was simply the beginning of unforgettable moments as our students later performed to the delight of everyone in attendance. First, our Shakespeare troupe, directed by Dr. Travis Curtright, serenaded our special guest, Myra Daniels, the mother of the arts in Naples and founder of the Phil, and great friend of Ave Maria. They sang – and she seemed to swoon! She was in heaven.
Myra has agreed to spearhead our effort to raise $10 million to build a performing arts center on our campus, and if anyone can do it, Myra can.
The performance by the Shakespeare troupe was followed by a riveting display of talent by Jensine Caranto, a senior Music major, who, under the direction of Dr. Tim McDonnell, both played the violin and sang an operatic piece.
We will have a short video up soon of the dinner highlights, and yes, if you heard rumors that your president was seen giving a speech while the amazing John and Chris Audino whizzed bowling pins past my head during a juggling act, you heard correctly. I was explaining to the attendees what life as a college president is like, and the Audinos helped make the presentation both dramatic and hilarious.
As great as the evening was, the day after the scholarship dinner was every bit as memorable and historic. On Friday we dedicated the Mother Teresa Project Exhibition Hall. Our Oratory pastor Fr. Corey Mayer blessed the premises.
He was accompanied by two of Mother Teresa’s nuns who had come to our campus for the occasion at the expense of their missionary work with the homeless in their soup kitchen in Miami.
Sister Lima Marie, the superior of the home, gave a beautiful talk that touched the hearts of everyone in attendance.
We’ll get a tape of her talk up on the web, too. Sister Lima Marie was accompanied by Sister David, a nun of Mother Teresa’s who joined her 40 years ago. It was great having them on our campus. It is a distinct privilege to have the permission of the Missionaries of Charity in Calcutta to have this project and exhibition – the first of its kind in America - and you’ll be hearing more and more about them in the years ahead.
The University plans to open the museum to the public on the feast of St. Joseph, March 19th, if the county gives us all of the necessary permit approvals. We’ll make sure to have a private opening for students and all members of the Ave Maria University community before then, so stay tuned for the announcement, ok?
Yet with even all of this activity, Ave Maria never rests. Capping out these momentous days is an international workshop on Aristotle that begins on Friday and runs over the weekend. The workshop is entitled, “Courage and Moderation in the Nicomachean Ethics” and it is being organized Philosophy Department Chairman Dr. Michael Pakaluk.
He will assisted by professors Blanford Parker, Bradley Ritter, and Andrew Dinan over the course of the workshop’s two days.
Participants from as far away as Brazil, Norway, Belgium, Germany and Canada will be joining their peers from America’s leading institutions, such as Harvard, Princeton, and the University of Chicago, among others, to explore this exciting topic. Here’s a link on our web site for more details on the conference.
As you can see, there is a full slate of presentations on Friday and Saturday and you will be grateful if you attend one or more of these lectures.
That’s Ave Maria! A journey from the Ritz Carlton to the Mother Teresa museum to Nicomachean Ethics – all in a week!