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A Presidential Reunion

Sunday, December 11, 2011

AMU President H. J. Towey Visits with President Bush in Texas

November 18, 2011 – Ave Maria University President H. James Towey poses for a picture with his friend and former employer, United States President George W. Bush, moments before the former President addressed a faith-based gathering in Dallas, Texas.  America’s 43rd president and Towey visited at the Bush’s Dallas home and later traveled together to the speech – although, as President Towey observed, “his motorcade is smaller and it stops at red lights.”  President Towey was grateful for the opportunity to share with the President all of the good news coming from Ave Maria.  “It was great to be with President Bush and it was just like old times, except that now he is a little more laid back and there isn’t the constant pressure.  He looked great and was getting ready to go on a family trip to Africa, and his speech to the folks supporting a local pregnancy center that helps moms choose life, was fascinating, and at times, hilarious.  He definitely is comfortable in his role away from the spotlight.”  At their meeting, President Bush told Towey that he would meet with a group of Ave Maria University supporters when he comes to Naples on February 3, 2012. 

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Thomas S. Monaghan Honored for Catholic Leadership

Monday, December 5, 2011

Catholic Leadership Institute and over 600 individuals from around the country gathered to honor Sr. Pauline McShain, SHCJ, Thomas Monaghan, Cardinal Seán O’Malley, OFM, Cap. and Terry Polakovic on Friday, November 11 at the 2011 Awards for Outstanding Catholic Leadership in Philadelphia, PA.  

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Immokalee Parish benefits from SGA Breakfast with St. Nick!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Families enjoyed the annual Ave Maria University Breakfast with St. Nick Sunday morning, sponsored by the AMU student government and the Knights of Columbus. 

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Marine Corp Ball Celebrated with Cake and Gyrene Burgers

Monday, November 21, 2011

Chancellor Monaghan honored at the Annual Marine Corp Birthday Ball. Gyrene Burgers served for the first time.  Gyrene Burger is a venture created by Chancellor Tom Monaghan to benefit scholarships for students of AMU.

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2011 Awards for Outstanding Catholic Leadership

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

"Catholic Leadership Institute (CLI) will present the 2011 Awards for Outstanding Catholic Leadership to four national Catholic leaders at a reception and dinner to be held Friday, November 11 at the Drexelbrook, in Philadelphia, PA."

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Ave Maria to offer 13 new programs

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Ave Maria University plans to nearly double its program offerings next year in an effort to attract more students and continue expansion of the still-young school.

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Naples Daily NewsMakers with Jeff Lytle interviews Jim Towey

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

President Jim Towey discusses formal Catholic recognition for AMU and the future role of Tom Monaghan

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Annual Aquinas Lecture a Success

Monday, October 31, 2011

Fr. John Baptist Ku, O.P., of the Pontifical Faculty of the Immaculate Conception at the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, D.C., delivered the annual Aquinas Lecture on Friday, October 28 in the Paul M. Henkels Academic Building. The Aquinas Lecture is sponsored by the Aquinas Center for Theological Renewal of Ave Maria University. An overflow crowd of students and faculty attended the lecture, which was entitled "God the Father in the Theology of St. Thomas Aquinas."

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Rabbi David G. Dalin speaks about his most recent book, The Myth of Hitler’s Pope

Sunday, October 23, 2011

"Rabbi Dalin will focus on the efforts of Pope Pius XII to save the Jews in Europe during the Holocaust."

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Jon Scharfenberger remembered in the National Review Online

Friday, October 21, 2011

“As I stood waiting for the train back to Manhattan, I got word that Jon Scharfenberger, coordinator of Pregnant on Campus and campus-support coordinator for Students for Life of America, had died from injuries suffered in a car accident. He was born in 1989.”

This past week, I went to the wake of a woman who was born in 1925. As her son, Ed Mechmann, a New York lawyer who is active in the pro-life movement, wrote to friends, “Her family was with her at the end. It was a peaceful, holy death, of a good Christian woman.” On such occasions, at the passing of someone who lived a good and long life, you wish you could have present during her last days to ask questions — to download the wisdom of 86 years. But she leaves us her legacy in the dedication of her family, who cared for her in her final years, and who work tirelessly for church and community.

 s I stood waiting for the train back to Manhattan, I got word that Jon Scharfenberger, coordinator of Pregnant on Campus and campus-support coordinator for Students for Life of America, had died from injuries suffered in a car accident. He was born in 1989.

I still can hear Kristan Hawkins, executive director at Students for Life: “You’ve got to meet Jon, K-Lo. He’s awesome.” And when Kristan says “awesome,” she actually means the word seriously: self-sacrificial, a leader, tenacious in the cause of saving lives and helping others lead good ones. 

I never did manage to meet Jon, although I had connected a person or two to him during his short tenure at Students for Life. 

 Jon’s job was to be a conduit for support and healing, and he was part of a generation of builders. As one missionary (that’s the official title) with the Fellowship of Catholic University Students at New York University put it to me recently, “We’re like the Early Church.” Shining a light, being beacons. Building. Educating. Not only walking the walk, but walking with their brothers and sisters — walking with people who may be lost without solid examples of successful marriages that make them feel capable of the same. 

Shunned and feeling totally alone when an unexpected pregnancy brings with it only the lie of the rhetoric of choice, young women — abandoned by boyfriend or husband, abandoned by family and friends — often see only one option. For these women, in pain and confusion, Jon and so many like him in this life-filled generation are offering good news, support, and their own witness. 

“One of the first nights after we had moved in,” Charles Atkinson tells me, “we stayed up late into the night discussing what the nature of the good life is.” Charles was Jon’s roommate last year at Ave Maria University in Florida. “This was the first of many conversations I had with Jon about finding happiness, what real success consists of, and following the will of God. Jon was dogged when it came to finding the right path and following it. He had a healthy discontent with the state of things both in his own life and in the culture around him, which led him to always search for more.” 

Explaining the position Jon would take with Students for Life of America — a non-lucrative and exhausting one, requiring hours of travel most weeks — Charles tells me that Jon wanted to “change the culture.” His job was dedicated to achieving a world without abortion, one campus at a time. 

According to the Guttmacher Institute, 46 percent of abortions are performed on women in college. During his short tenure at SFLA, Jon helped establish a pro-life group at Florida International University that had already kept one mother and child from joining that statistic. 

In addition to the Pregnant on Campus Initiative Jon was spearheading, SFLA and Feminists for Life have been working together to create a Pregnancy Resource Guide that will cover campuses nationwide. The aim is that no young woman will ever find herself alone on campus with no alternative but abortion. Child care, money — you name the obstacle, these groups seek to help in one way or another. 

Jon’s death came as the result of injuries sustained when his car was hit by another during a working weekend earlier this month. His colleague Kortney Blythe Gordon and her unborn child, Sophy, died that night. 

I met Kortney this summer, during a training weekend for SFLA Wilberforce fellows, named for the British parliamentarian and abolitionist leader. “Fellows” are college students who make a commitment and are given leadership training, mentors, and resources to be campus pro-life leaders. 

Mrs. Mechmann, living to age 86, saw a great deal — including years of cultural tumult. Jon and Kortney are two faces of a generation that I keep encountering throughout the country. They are occupying fully human lives, not forgetting their brothers and sisters, and not letting injustice go unaddressed. Jon and Kortney did not believe what young people of the Woodstock generation did, about radical individualism and wars of the sexes and entitlement. They, and those who survive them, want to live lives of responsibility, gratitude, and service — lives more rooted than endlessly searching. Many of them want God. They at least want to know there is truth. 

Jon didn’t embark on this “abortion abolition” business alone though — Charles is insistent on pointing that out. This gets to the heart of what motivated him and Kortney and others of this generation I’m talking about, and it is also what makes it possible for their family and friends to go on. “When Jon got up out of bed in the morning,” Charles tells me, he prayed. “Even if his body was barely awake, his spirit was pushing forward, drawing strength from his Lord.” The day ended in prayer, as well. 

Charles remembers Jon with the words from John 10:10, in which Jesus says, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” “He always wanted more,” Charles tells me. “And wherever he went he carried a particular joy in his characteristic half smile, half smirk.” 

The long and the short of it is this: Jon’s, Kortney’s, and Mrs. Mechmann’s were three rich lives. We don’t know the day or the hour, but we don’t have to. As we get caught up in the headlines and all our daily challenges, these three lives can be an inspiration to a rededication, to living each coming moment to its fullest, with joy in service to one another.

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