Bishop Frank J. Dewane addressed Ave Maria students in his homily at the university’s opening Mass for the new academic year. The Mass of the Holy Spirit, which was celebrated on September 1, 2014, was chosen with the prayer that the Holy Spirit would fill the hearts, minds, and souls of the students throughout the upcoming academic year.
In his homily, Bishop Dewane focused on the virtue of hope; a virtue, he said, which Ave Maria University has a lot to do with. “You are here for an academic quest, and my concern is for your spiritual, but these two are wed here at Ave Maria University.”
The students hope for a successful year. Bishop Dewane urged them to let their hearts be filled with this spirit of hope. They hope, at the end of their education, to secure successful employment that is fulfilling to them both as an individual and as a child of God. They hope to grow and mature to the point in their life when they choose their vocation. “Ask the Holy Spirit,” Bishop Dewane said, “To give you the grace to arrive at that point. Let this hope and prayer be in your life.” The students and members of the Ave Maria University community hope ultimately in the promise of salvation. Obstacles will threaten this hope, the Bishop remarked, but we can use prayer to stay on the journey.
“You are here at Ave Maria University for an education, and you will get a good education,” the Bishop said. But he reminded the students to strive to do well in all areas of their life—academically, physically, and spiritually. That is the only way in which they can truly grow.
Bishop Dewane emphasized that education is not simply about imparting information. He said that it’s about “forming well-rounded human beings,” it’s about “the transmission of what you learn,” and it’s about “opening our minds, in so many ways, to the potential we have, to the talents the Lord has given.”
He recommended that the students ask themselves: “What has the Lord given to me?” They should listen to the Lord in their life, and let the Holy Spirit aid them in picking out their own individual path. “Let it make you ever more; you are called to be more. Let the Holy Spirit fill you, and make you more.”
The Bishop concluded with reiterating a statement that he made to the Ave Maria students a year before: “Jesus Christ is not an optional course; you can’t leave him off your course schedule. You and I must be there with Christ, studying and learning. We need to take to Christ through prayer.” He continued: “Who is Christ? Where is He in your life? Come to know yourself. Come to know who you’re called to be. Come to know who Jesus Christ is.” These are the questions we must ask and the answers we must seek in order to become more and to mature in our faith.
Bishop Frank J. Dewane was appointed the second Bishop of the Diocese of Venice, FL by Pope Benedict XVI in 2006.