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President Towey's Keynote Address at Governor Scott's Inauguration Prayer Breakfast

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

At noon the Governor will place his hand on the Holy Bible and take his oath of office, and utter the words, “So help me God.” In doing so, he follows a tradition first established by George Washington himself. When Washington was sworn in at America’s first presidential inauguration in 1789, he actually bent over and kissed the Bible and added to the prepared oath his own words, “So help me God.”

His invocation of God’s aid had precedent. Two years earlier, 81 year old Benjamin Franklin, stood up and implored fellow delegates at the Constitutional Convention to pray daily for the help of God in drafting the Constitution. He told them that the Continental Congress, too, had prayed for divine help. He reminded them, “Our prayers were heard…and they were graciously answered. All of us…observed the frequent instances of a superintending Providence in our favour…Have we forgotten that powerful Friend?”

Two hundred and twenty five years later, America stands as the world’s preeminent superpower. But this morning it is worth asking that same question: Have we forgotten our “powerful Friend”?

Alexander Solzhenitsyn, the great Russian novelist and Nobel winner, concluded that the principal trait of the entire 20th century, the explanation for two world wars, genocidal madness, the assault on the traditional family, and the abject poverty amidst material abundance, was evident. He said, “Men have forgotten God.”

This morning we gather to pray and remind ourselves of the presence of God, to recognize the divine dimension of life, the sacredness of each and every life; and to pray for our governor and his fellow leaders so that they receive the wisdom that is needed to govern the affairs of men.

This prayer breakfast honors democracy’s high ideal of self-governance. We place our hope in God, not government. The wisdom of our founders in crafting the delicately balanced First Amendment that prevents the establishment of religion and protects the free exercise of religion – this wisdom came from what Franklin called “superintending providence.” This balance allows people of diverse faiths or no faith at all to live in harmony, with mutual respect; and it allows the government to resist a drift toward either a theocracy or another form of state-imposed religion: a secularism which denies Divine Providence and moral truth.

We know that Thomas Jefferson, who many secularists claim as their father, did in fact invent the phrase “a wall of separation between church and state.”

But many may not know that two days after coining this phrase, Jefferson himself attended Sunday worship services in a government building with the Marine band playing the hymns, no less.

It has been said that eternal vigilance is the price of liberty, and that is true. But what is the price for religious liberty? Are we willing to pay it? Today our hearts break as we ponder the plight of Christians in stretches of Syria and Iraq, and in many countries in Africa, where a state religion is ruthlessly imposed and religious liberty ritually extinguished.

But we also see in the West what happens when government neutrality toward religion stealthily becomes government hostility toward religion. Some don’t want freedom of religion. They want freedom from religion. They want to confine the practice of faith to only places of worship and keep faith-based organizations out of the public square. Without our vigilance and willingness to pay the price for religious liberty as Washington and our founders did, it is only a matter of time before our country, too, forgets our “powerful Friend,” and loses God’s “favour.”

That is why it is appropriate for people of diverse faiths to pray together and to implore God’s grace on this very morning when Governor Scott begins his second term. Leaders are led. He needs our prayers. If I may ask forbearance from my non-Christian friends, I want to read the words of Jesus from the Gospel of John, Chapter 15. “Live on in me, as I do in you. No more than a branch can bear fruit of itself apart from the tree can you bear fruit apart from me. I am the vine, you are the branches.”

So it is fair to ask, how will we know that we are connected to the vine, or more precisely, to the Divine? How can we best remember God?

Of course prayer is indispensable. Mother Teresa used to say that if you are too busy to pray, you are too busy.

When I worked at the White House I remember once going into the Oval Office before 7AM to see if President Bush needed anything for a morning event I was staffing, and I found him alone at his desk, reading Oswald Chambers daily devotional, “My Utmost for his Highest.” The President knew his need for God, as busy as he was. Do we? Are we too busy to pray?

And after we bow our heads and pray, what do we do for our neighbors in need? The prophet Ezekiel tells us of our responsibility as shepherds to strengthen the weak, heal the sick, bind up the injured, and bring back the strayed and lost.

Jesus expanded upon the holy prophet’s words by saying that whatever we do to the least of our brothers and sisters, we do to God. Thankfully, in our midst in Florida are people who are following this command to love thy neighbor. My friend Dave Lawrence in Miami gives his life so that little children will be school-ready and have a fair chance in life. The folks at Aging with Dignity help our elders who are lonely and frightened by the complexity of their health care choices. Jean Vanier’s “The Ark” communities are celebrating 50 years of caring for the developmentally disabled all over the world, including in Jacksonville. There are so many fine people doing the humble works of compassion in Florida.

And thank God they do because the need for faith in action is great. Wherever you look, you see Floridians who are struggling, including countless families in search of stable employment and housing, and farmworkers seeking to maintain their God-given dignity in spite of back-breaking work.

And Florida also knows spiritual poverty which is every bit as debilitating, as seen in those hurting souls who are starving for the bread of company or thirsting for tolerance, acceptance, and forgiveness.

So there is plenty of work to be done to honor Florida’s proud history and fulfill its destiny and our Governor can’t do it on his own. He needs the help of God and the prayers and efforts of each of us. Democracy is not a spectator sport.

Governor, we are grateful for your faith in God, your leadership, and your good desires as you begin your second term today. We will pray for you and all of Florida’s leaders. We pledge that we will not forget God, and not forget you.

Related Links
VIDEO: Inaugural Prayer Breakfast (President Towey's address begins at 53:30)
President Towey's blog
Miami Herald
The Tallahassee Democrat

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The Notre Dame Undertones to perform at AMU on Jan. 5

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

AMU welcomes The University of Notre Dame’s premier a capella group, the Undertones, for a performance on January 5 at 7:30 pm in the Bob Thomas Student Union Ballroom on campus. The Undertones visit AMU as part of their 2015 Winter Tour, which includes performances in Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina.

The group's most recent album, "Scenic Route," was released in 2013 and is available for purchase on iTunes

Admission to Monday's concert is free! See you there!

 

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AMU Theology Professor Dr. Susan Waldstein makes guest appearance on EWTN

Monday, December 15, 2014

Ave Maria University theology professor, Dr. Susan Waldstein, was a guest speaker on the EWTN television program, “At Home with Jim and Joy” on December 18th. The show features the husband and wife team Jim and Joy Pinto as they discuss topics surrounding marriage, family and pro-life issues.

Along with her teaching responsibilities at AMU, Dr. Waldstein engages in a variety of research topics, many dealing with the investigation of the intersection of theology, philosophy, and natural science. Dr. Waldstein was a member of the Pontifical Council for the Family, a member of the Vatican commission on Jewish-Christian dialogue about marriage. She has also given public lectures and retreats on marriage, family spirituality, and home education in the U.S., Austria, Slovakia, and the Vatican.

Dr. Waldstein’s appearance on “At Home with Jim and Joy” aired on EWTN on December 18th at 2 p.m. EST.

 

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AMU Launches New Nursing Program with State Approval, $1 Million Gift

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

President Jim Towey announced that the Florida Board of Nursing has approved a new four-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program at Ave Maria University.  A $1 million gift from an anonymous donor will fund the launching of this new major at the University.  This is the first four-year BSN program in Collier County.

“We are thrilled that the state of Florida has approved our new program and excited about what this will mean for our students, the future of Ave Maria, and the fulfillment of founder Tom Monaghan’s vision,” said Towey.  “America needs more caring, ethical and competent nurses as the ‘age wave’ envelops our Nation, and Ave Maria University will now be providing them.”

The first core nursing courses will be offered in the fall of 2015 and will help students meet the demands of a rapidly changing healthcare environment.  Infused throughout the curriculum will be the University’s commitment to its Catholic mission which instills in students an awareness of the importance of administering compassion for the sick and the suffering, and respecting for life, from conception to natural death.

The program will incorporate a “fundamentals and simulation lab” with state-of-the-art equipment and resources to facilitate student learning. A smaller faculty-to-student ratio will help enhance learning and students will be provided with clinical experiences in local healthcare organizations and agencies within the Southwest Florida community. A majority of the faculty teaching in the Nursing program hold doctoral degrees.

The program will operate under the direction of Dr. Denise McNulty, DNP, MSN, RN-BC, ARNP. Originally from Philadelphia, Dr. McNulty has resided in the Naples community for the past fourteen years. She is a graduate of Duquesne University’s Doctor of Nursing Practice Program and obtained her Masters of Science in Nursing from the University of Pennsylvania. She has a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing from Holy Family University, a Post-Masters in Teaching from the University of Pennsylvania, a Post-Masters in Health Administration from St. Joseph’s University, and a Post-Masters in Psychiatric/Mental Health Nursing from Duquesne University. Dr. McNulty is a Florida licensed Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner with more than twenty-five years of experience in various clinical, teaching, and administrative roles.

The University is recruiting existing and prospective students for the fall of 2015. 

Vice President for Academic Affairs Michael Dauphinais said that the Nursing program brings to 30 the number of majors offered at Ave Maria, up from 11 in 2011.  “We have come a long way in a short time, thanks to our faculty and their extraordinary efforts,” he said.

Click here to download press release in PDF form.

Related Articles

Ave Maria Hits ‘Milestone’ in Creation of New Nursing Program (Cardinal Newman Society)

Another Milestone at Ave Maria University! (AMU President Jim Towey's blog)

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Distinguished Visiting Scholar Brother Guy Consolmagno, S.J., to Offer Lecture at AMU

Friday, November 21, 2014

Brother Guy Consolmagno, S.J., Distinguished Visiting Scholar at AMU, will offer a lecture, "The Heavens Proclaim: A Brief History of the Vatican Observatory" on December 8 at 5 p.m. in the Bob Thomas Student Union Ballroom.

Brother Consolmagno is curator of the Vatican meteorite collection in Castel Gandolfo, one of the largest in the world. His research explores the connections between meteorites and asteroids, and the origin and evolution of small bodies in the solar system. In 1996, he spent six weeks collecting meteorites with an NSF-sponsored team on the blue ice of Antarctica, and in 2000 he was honored by the IAU for his contributions to the study of meteorites and asteroids with the naming of asteroid 4597 Consolmagno. On July 2, 2014, he was awarded the Carl Sagan Medal for outstanding communication by an active planetary scientist to the general public by the American Astronomical Society.

He obtained his Bachelor of Science in 1974 and Master of Science in 1975 in Earth and Planetary Sciences from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and his Ph.D. in Planetary Science from the University of Arizona in 1978.

Br. Consolmagno has served on the governing boards of the Meteoritical Society; the International Astronomical Union's (IAU) Division III, Planetary Systems Science (secretary, 2000 - present) and Commission 16, Moons and Planets (president, 2003-2006); and the American Astronomical Society Division for Planetary Sciences (chair, 2006-2007).

He has coauthored five astronomy books: “Turn Left at Orion” (with Dan M. Davis; Cambridge University Press, 1989); “Worlds Apart” (with Martha W. Schaefer; Prentice Hall, 1993); “The Way to the Dwelling of Light” (U of Notre Dame Press, 1998); “Brother Astronomer” (McGraw Hill, 2000); and “God's Mechanics” (Jossey-Bass, 2007). He also edited “The Heavens Proclaim” (Vatican Observatory Publications, 2009).

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Another Milestone for Ave Maria University!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Ave Maria University’s new Nursing major is officially approved! 

 

Today we learned of this milestone achievement from the state of Florida Board of Nursing and so it won’t be long before we have our first Bachelor of Science in Nursing graduate in the 2016-17 academic year! 

 

Classes will begin this fall for juniors interested in pursuing a nursing degree. This official permission allows us to immediately and aggressively recruit students to the Nursing major and I am sure many prospective students and their parents will be attracted to the formation in ethics our curriculum provides and the moral climate our campus offers.

 

Work already is underway on renovating space on the third floor of the Canizaro Library for a first-class nursing instructional laboratory with up to six beds, as well as office space for two full-time faculty.  We have agreements in place with ten local medical facilities that will allow our nursing students to receive their necessary clinical on-site instruction.

 

America needs Ave nurses! If done faithfully health care can be part of the healing work of the Holy Spirit in the world. Too often in American facilities patients are treated as if they simply are a slab of meat on a health care conveyor belt.  In reality patients hunger for more than just tests and tubes and treatments. They want compassion, love, and most of all, their God-given dignity to be preserved and protected. The spiritual and ethical formation which Nursing students at Ave Maria will get in the core courses will prepare them for the professional education necessary to qualify them for employment as nurses. Heart, soul and mind must be devoted to the service of the sick and dying. Our faculty members understand this well. If I may paraphrase Mother Teresa, Ave nursing students will be invited to encounter Jesus in the disguise of the patient seeking medical attention, whether in obstetrics, hospice, or elsewhere.

 

Today’s good news is another step forward in pursuit of our founder Tom Monaghan’s dream of transforming American culture and advancing the Church’s mission. Our graduates are invited to shake the world, not flee it. I am delighted that Ave Maria will be at the forefront of the battle to defend life, comfort the sick, care for the rejected, and promote the rights of patients and their families in the increasingly complex and uncaring environment of American health care.  

-- From President Jim Towey's blog. Click here to visit President Towey's blog.

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AMU Graduates & Professors Involved in Vatican Colloquium

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Leaders and scholars from around the world are gathering in Vatican City this week for an international interreligious colloquium on the complementarity of man and woman. The purpose of the colloquium, according to its website, is “to examine and propose anew the beauty of the relationship between the man and the woman, in order to support and reinvigorate marriage and family life for the flourishing of human society.”

Over the course of the week, a six-part documentary film series sponsored by the Marriage, Life and Leadership Council is being released. The Humanum Series explores themes drawn from the colloquium as lived out and experienced by men, women and children around the world.

Maria Fedoryka, Associate Professor of Philosophy at Ave Maria University, is featured in the second Humanum film, entitled “The Cradle of Life and Love: A Mother & Father for the World’s Children.” 

“Motherhood,” Fedoryka begins, “has traditionally been seen as the nurturing genius where a space is created where a person is allowed to be. So much of the heart of the flourishing of the person is… to be accepted unconditionally and received as he or she is. So we often speak of the mother as the heart of the family.” Fedoryka goes on to explain and describe the masculine genius, how the father is “the solid structure in which a person can flourish,” like a secure “scaffolding” or “compass for the conscience of the child.” The film that features Maria Fedoryka, as well as other parts of the Humanum series, can be viewed here.

Catherine Pakaluk, Assistant Professor of Economics at Ave Maria University, was invited to attend the international colloquium and is currently in Rome.

More details about the event can be found at the Humanum website.

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Becoming Europe: Dr. Samuel Gregg at AMU

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The ISI Society at Ave Maria University invited Samuel Gregg to speak to students on Wednesday, October 29, 2014.

Dr. Samuel Gregg is director of research at the Acton Institute and has written extensively on questions of political economy, economic history, ethics in finance, and natural law theory. His talk was entitled: “Becoming Europe: Cultural and Economic trends in the United States.” Gregg published the book Becoming Europe in January 2013.

Gregg began his lecture at AMU by speaking about what is happening in Europe today—why it is now the “sick man of the global economy.”  What we’re witnessing in Europe, he said, is not an ordinary recession, but “very much the crack-up of an entire way of organizing economic life.”

He went on to show, as his title would suggest, how some of the same trends in Europe have started to manifest themselves in the United States over the last six years. Increasingly like Europe, the U.S. is saddled with enormous debt, high unemployment rates, low economic growth, an overburdened welfare system, high taxation, government overreach, and so forth. Click Here to Read More

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Distinguished Visiting Scholar Dr. Ronald Pestritto to offer lecture at AMU

Monday, November 3, 2014

Dr. Ronald J. Pestritto, Graduate Dean and Associate Professor of Politics at Hillsdale College, offered the lecture, "Government By Consent or By Regulation? How Today's Bureaucracy Threatens Our Constitution and Our Liberty" on Thursday, November 6 on AMU's campus.

Dr. Ronald J. Pestritto is Graduate Dean and Associate Professor of Politics at Hillsdale College, where he teaches political philosophy, American political thought, and American politics, and holds the Charles and Lucia Shipley Chair in the American Constitution. Dr. Pestritto is the author of "Woodrow Wilson and the Roots of Modern Liberalism," the editor of "Woodrow Wilson: The Essential Political Writings," and the co-editor of "American Progressivism: A Reader." In addition to his academic work, has written widely in the public press on progressivism and the administrative state, including articles in the Wall Street Journal and the Claremont Review of Books and has appeared as a commentator on Fox News.



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Cardinal Newman Society highlights AMU's federal court victory

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Cardinal Newman Society highlighted Ave Maria University's recent federal court victory on their website. On Oct. 29, a federal court granted injunctive relief to AMU following the University’s renewed lawsuit against the HHS mandate filed in August.

Click here to read the full article on the Cardinal Newman Society website. Ave Maria University is Ave Maria University is recommended in The Newman Guide for its strong Catholic identity.

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