If you have wondered why I haven’t posted recently, let these photos tell the story of what I’ve been up to since spring break.
As some students headed out of town for the mid-term break, others left the country to go and serve the poorest of the poor with Mother Teresa’s nuns in the Dominican Republic and Mexico. Here they are at a dessert Mary and I hosted at our home the night before they departed.
March was filled with huge University events. Principal among them was the joint celebration of the Annunciation and our founder Tom Monaghan’s birthday. I had a lot of preparatory work to do so that meant early mornings in the office. As I worked at my desk the week before the big day, I looked out my window and saw this gorgeous sunrise above the Oratory, with the shining cross at its highest point.
The events could not have gone better and Tom could not have been happier.
The Sunday after the big weekend, Governor Rick Scott of Florida contacted me and asked if he could join Mary, my kids and me for Mass on Sunday. He could not have been more gracious. He met with numerous students and other Ave Maria parishioners after Mass. He was joined by the vice-chairwoman of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Liesa Priddy, here pictured after Mass with the Governor and my family. If you ever wanted to know who owns all of the land on the other side of Oil Well Road, and has a huge ranch nearby, you now do. She is a great neighbor and friend of AMU.
That same Sunday an even more significant event took place: the official opening of the “Mary and Mercy Center” on the Piazza, next to the Mother Teresa Museum. AMU trustee Donna Bradt and her husband, Bill, invited Fr. Michael Gaitley to come to our community for a parish retreat and other activities. We are so very blessed to have this new resource in our community – go visit! An “ocean of Mercy” awaits!
As you watch the Masters Golf tournament this weekend, you will hear a lot about Arnie Palmer. He was one of my childhood heroes, and one of America’s most beloved sports figures. His sister, Sandy, and her husband, Vin Sarni, came for a campus visit, and a lunch in my office. They have been longtime supporters of AMU, as well as friends of Mary and me for over a decade. Great people. Ave’s Army!
The “engine room” of Ave Maria University and parish is the Martha J. Burke Adoration Chapel where there is 24/7 exposition of the Eucharist. Every year Mary and I look forward to the reception we host for the adorers – we have over 150 students who sign up for a specific hour each week, and many more who are regulars. Their prayers are transformative for AMU.
Mary not only enjoys being a hostess at the house for student receptions, she also loves to play intramural basketball on an AMU women’s team. I won’t say how old Mary is, but I will say that in the game I watched her play last week she scored 8 points! Her team is undefeated so far, and if any student referee calls a foul on her, I am going to have to convene a disciplinary committee!
Governor Scott was kind enough to invite me to sit next to him and Florida’s First Lady for the annual Red Mass in Tallahassee. This Eucharistic celebration brings Florida’s leading executive, judicial and legislative branch members together, as well as all of Florida’s Bishops. The photo after Mass shows our own bishop, His Excellency Frank Dewane, greeting the Scotts. After two Catholic services in three weeks, Governor Scott just might have earned the title of honorary Catholic!
Our Church now heads into Holy Week and the holiest days of the year, the Triduum. Today in the Ave Maria Church we had a unique presentation of the Stations of the Cross by Dr. Anthony Valle and a dozen of AMU student readers. Each individual station included a brief meditation in Mother Teresa’s own words. Dr. Valle deserves praise for his editing touch and inspired choices. I close this post with Mother Teresa’s final meditation addressed to Jesus:
You accepted patiently and humbly the rebuffs of human life, as well as the tortures of Your crucifixion and Passion. Help us to accept the pains and conflicts that come to us each day as opportunities to grow as people and become more like You. Enable us to go through them patiently and bravely, trusting that You will support us. Make us realize that it is only by frequent deaths of ourselves and our self-centred desires that we can come to live more fully; for it is only by dying with You that we can rise with You.
Have a blessed Holy Week and a triumphantly glorious Easter!