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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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Governor Scott Visits Ave Maria University

Friday, October 14, 2011

Governor Rick Scott visited AMU today and met with President Towey and discussed his agenda for higher education and the University’s record enrollment and growth. Governor Scott toured the campus and met with students, including Student Government President Alex Pince, and other members of the Ave Maria community. In addition, he visited Professor Joseph Burke’s Econometrics class and visited briefly with his students. Earlier in the day the Governor toured the Rhodora J. Donahue Academy, the K-12 school adjacent to the campus, and spoke with students there. On the visit, President Towey said, “It was great having the Governor on our campus and wonderful to see how interested he is in Ave Maria University and our students. I told him how important it was for the state to support private institutions like Ave Maria and I think today is the beginning of a wonderful dialogue with the Governor on the pressing issues in higher education in our state.


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Ave Maria Officially Recognized as a “Catholic University”

Friday, October 7, 2011

AVE MARIA – Today, Most Reverend Frank J. Dewane, Bishop of the Diocese of Venice in
Florida, made perhaps the most significant announcement in the history of Ave Maria
University. During the investiture ceremony for new Ave Maria University President H. James
Towey, Bishop Dewane announced that he grants recognition of Ave Maria University as a
Catholic University.

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Ave Maria University Officially Recognized as a 'Catholic University'

The recognition of Ave Maria University as a Catholic University recognizes their commitment to continue to be guided by the teachings of the Catholic Church and faithfulness to the Apostolic Constitution Ex Corde Ecclesiae. (Catholic Online)

CLICK HERE to read more!!!!

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Ave Maria Receives Official Recognition as a Catholic University

During the investiture ceremony for new Ave Maria University president H. James Towey, Bishop Dewane announced that he grants recognition of Ave Maria University as a Catholic university. (National Catholic Register)

CLICK HERE to read more!!!

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AMU Football

Monday, September 12, 2011

College football: Ave Maria takes field for first time in loss to Faulkner (Naples News)

College football: Ave Maria begins quest of first season (Naples News)

Wiregrass Ranch grad Prince commits to Ave Maria (Tampabay.com)

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President Towey’s Inauguration

Thursday, September 8, 2011


On October 7, 2011 H. James Towey will be inaugurated as the second president of Ave Maria University.

The Inaugural Liturgy will take place in the Ave Maria Oratory in Ave Maria, Florida at 10:00 AM.

The Investiture ceremony will begin at approximately 11:30 AM. H. James Towey's appointment as the new president of AMU was announced by the AMU Board of Trustees in February 2011.

His experience as president of St. Vincent College, Director of Faith-based and Community Initiatives for President George W. Bush, founder of the not-for-profit Aging with Dignity and attorney for Mother Teresa of Calcutta made him a superior choice for the post. The inauguration will maintain the reverence and modest environment typical of President Towey. The homilist for the Inaugural Liturgy will be Archbishop Wenski of Miami.

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Dr. Pakaluk’s new book

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

New Book, "Accounting Ethics... and the Near Collapse of the World's Financial System," Provides Deep and Timely Insight into Business Ethics and the Financial Crisis (Bezinga)

Michael Pakaluk, Ph.D., is a professor of philosophy and currently is the Chairman of the philosophy department at Ave Maria University in Naples, Florida.

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Pearce Article

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Vision of E.F. Schumacher (National Catholic Register)

Church social doctrine played a major role in the development of Small Is Beautiful. The Register takes a look at the work and the author 100 years after his birth.

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Missionary Alumni

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Griswold finds missionary work in campus program (The Catholic Miscellany)

Griswold, a member of St. Francis by the Sea Church and recent graduate of Ave Maria University, will work as a missionary at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with the Fellowship of Catholic University Students.

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Gifts of Priests

Monday, August 1, 2011

Charisma, conservatism gifts of newest priests (savannahnow.com)

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