Three years ago today I was inaugurated as president of Ave Maria University.
The time has flown by as the memories and legion of friendships formed here at Ave Maria amass. My heart overflows with gratitude. From trustees to donors, faculty members to fellow administrators, and alumni and students, I have been overwhelmed by the kindness that Tom Monaghan, who recruited me, first showed.
And you students never cease to amaze me.
My wife Mary and I and our kids went to the Thomas Student Union ballroom on Saturday night for the “Ave’s Got Talent” show.
One student after the next left me slack-jawed as they played the piano masterfully, sang, danced, yodeled (yes, yodeled!), and more. One of our football players, George de los Reyes, played the violin, as did Benjamin Houde. The Pilarksi siblings Kevin and Lucy sang, as did freshmen duo Michaela Cheffers and Victoria Velasquez (both of whom were sick Saturday, but that didn’t stop them from astounding the audience as they sang to ukulele accompaniment). A real crowd please was Jorge Thomas whose silhouetted dancing captivated the standing-room only audience.
The judges had the difficult task of choosing a winner. They selected Marissa Miller, the freshman yodeler, accompanied by Aaron Ockenfels. Marissa is a two-time Iowa State yodeling champion and for those of us unfamiliar with the art, she showed us how why yodeling is indeed an art. The evening was a fresh reminder of our good fortune to be at Ave.
Today is also the three-year anniversary of Bishop Frank Dewane’s declaration of Ave Maria University as an official mission of the Catholic Church.
On this feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, say a prayer of thanksgiving for this privilege, ok? Students are assembling tonight to honor her at 8:00 PM with Fr. McTeigue in the Residence Quad followed by the Rosary Walk at 9:00 PM, and I hope you can join them!