Thanksgiving gives us an opportunity to count our blessings at Ave Maria, and this year, our cup runneth over with gratitude. Our Lady says it best: God who is mighty has done great things for us!
We are thankful for all the graces that flow to and through us from the Catholic Church. One out of six of the earth’s inhabitants is Catholic. We have our work cut out for us to live evangelical Catholicism and renew the Great Commission – priests, religious and laity alike. We must invite, encourage and attract new faithful, starting on our own campus.
We are grateful for the victory that is ours after eight years of hostility by the Obama administration who challenged our religious liberty and rights of conscience on so many fronts. With the loss by Mrs. Clinton and the election of a Congress that finally will be disposed toward fairness toward faith-based institutions like ours, Ave Maria will soon be able to drop its lawsuit against the Federal government and continue our liberal arts educational offering without interference. We fought for four and a half years the unjust HHS mandate. Some Catholic colleges caved and changed their health plans. We didn’t. So now the end of this nightmare is in sight and after January 20, we can expect a religious exemption like those granted faith-based groups prior to the Obama years. Also, the indoctrination efforts of the U.S. Department of Education and its office of civil rights, too, will cease. We will stay vigilant in any case.
We are thankful that we broke ground on a new $11 million building dedicated to the legacy of Saint Teresa of Calcutta, house a museum in her honor and also our Shakespeare performances, and accelerate the growth of our nursing program (among prospective students our pre-nursing program is the top inquiry). And speaking of Mother Teresa, we are thankful that she was canonized during the Jubilee of Mercy that just ended, and that dozens of AMU students could attend. Now the real work of living what we learned from Pope Francis is before us. He invites us to go to the heart of the Gospel which is mercy.
We are thankful that we have such an incredible and dedicated faculty. They could teach anywhere and they chose to be at Ave Maria because they believe in our mission. I am in my sixth year and I still am awed by these men and women and their brilliance. Our students are lucky to have them in their lives.
And I am thankful for our 1,100 students – each and every one of them. What a gift they are to us! At a time when America’s college campuses are coddling, trigger-warning, and safe-spacing students, our co-eds are being trained in the art of critical thinking and fearlessly discussing eternal truths and their application to modern life, and in the process, equipping themselves to go and change a culture so often characterized by entitlement, whining, and reckless political correctness (think of the cast of “Hamilton” and the gentleman who decided to lecture the vice president-elect when not one of them has served in uniform, or get this, even voted in the election).
Saturday night Mary and I and our kids went to the Thomas Student Union ballroom (God willing in 2018 we will be able to watch shows like this in our new 400-seat performance hall once the final $4.5 million is raised) to watch “A Night on Broadway.”
Student directors Katie Driscoll and Rachael Wisely, choreographer Erin Koehler, piano accompanist Zach Rappelly and the magnificent AMU student orchestra, and a cast of dozens of students and a host of others who made the production possible, delivered a performance for the ages. Rather than write more about it, let these photos I shot from my iPhone give you a glimpse of the glory that the sellout, standing-room only crowds witnessed.
Indeed, we have so much to thank God for this Thanksgiving! Have a happy one!