Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees of Ave Maria University vote unanimously to revoke honorary degree awarded to Jean Vanier

Office of the President

February 27, 2020

To: Ave Maria University Community

From: Office of Christopher P. Ice

Re: Jean Vanier, Honorary Doctorate Revocation

For Immediate Release:

On February 22nd, 2020, the leaders of L”Arche International sent a letter to the Federation of L’Arche Communities publishing the findings of an Inquiry that had been commissioned from an independent organization. The published results include testimony implicating the organization’s founder, Jean Vanier initiated sexual relations with them, usually in the context of spiritual accompaniment. Although they had no prior knowledge of each other’s experiences, these women reported similar facts associated with highly unusual spiritual or mystical explanations used to justify these behaviors. The relationships were found to be manipulative and emotionally abusive, and had a significant negative impact on their personal lives and subsequent relationships. These actions are indicative of a deep psychological and spiritual hold Jean Vanier had on these women and confirm his own adoption of some of Father Thomas Philippe’s deviant theories and practices.”

In light of these tragic and disappointing findings, the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees of Ave Maria University has voted unanimously to revoke the honorary degree awarded to Vanier in 2017 prior to his death. The University expresses its deepest sympathies to all of the victims and assures them of its prayers. This is the first degree revoked by Ave Maria University.

Please direct all media inquiries to Bryant Morin at Bryant.Morin@avemaria.edu

5050 Ave Maria Boulevard | Ave Maria, FL 34142-9505 | 239-280-2511 | www.avemaria.edu

Winter Mission Trips: Peru and the Puerto Rican Earthquakes

This January, fourteen AMU students volunteered the last week of their Christmas break to serve alongside the Missionaries of Charity at locations domestic and abroad. While assisting Mother Teresa’s congregation of sisters, students at each location were given the opportunity to experience the transforming power of service, realize the dignity of every person, and deepen their faith life. In addition to offering the annual winter mission trips to Washington D.C., Brazil, and Puerto Rico, for the first time this year, the Mother Teresa Project sent a group of students to Cuzco, Peru.


Monica Williams, a senior history major, was one of the four girls who served in Cuzco, a town located in the Peruvian Andes at an elevation of 11,200ft. The Incan culture is deeply rooted in Cuzco, with the elderly still speaking Quechua, an Incan derived language. While most of the week the girls served the elderly and disabled who lived the MC’s walled-in compound, one day, they drove two hours up the mountain to a secluded village. Monica described the town as untouched by time, recalling the thatched roofs, adobe looking mud walls, and distinctive colorful garb of the Peruvian people. As they drove into the town, children congregated at the church where the Missionaries of Charity and AMU students handed out donated clothing. Monica recalled that among the donated items, the Peruvian boys found a batman costume. “They were all holding it up — just glowing. It was one of those costumes that’s padded with muscles and everything. We were all like, ‘oh my gosh, now there is some five-year-old boy in Peru running around the mountains in a batman costume.’” Monica expressed how important the mission trip was for her, especially while in college, where the faith can easily become very intellectual. Through mission work, she was given the opportunity to step outside herself and put her faith into action. 

Puerto Rico

During their mission trip to Puerto Rico, AMU students Therese Brown, Irene Defelice, and Maria Halecky also experienced the challenge of living out their Catholic faith. Three days into the mission trip, they woke up to an earthquake of 5.8 magnitude, one of the biggest earthquakes to have struck Puerto Rico in over a hundred years. This earthquake soon caused the city to lose power. Maria Halecky shared her fears following the earthquake and how she strongly considered leaving Puerto Rico early. “I had the choice to go home the next day, but I also had the choice to stay there and do what I was supposed to do. I chose to stay because I was meant to be there. I feel like that was a big thing for me spiritually.” On the morning of January seventh, a 6.6 magnitude earthquake shook the town of Yauco, stranding the three girls and chaperone in Puerto Rico until the ninth. During these days of uncertainty and changing plans, the girls experienced a sense of peace. “I feel like I really grew in my trust in God,” Therese remarked. “Knowing that no matter what happens, even if your plans change a hundred times, He’s still there. He’s still leading, and you just got to trust Him because He’s good.” After the earthquakes, the girls spent their time praying and simply being present to the locals. 


Ave Maria University strongly encourages students to give of themselves through service. In addition to the mission trips organized through the Mother Teresa Project, the MTP also provides occasions for service throughout the whole year. To learn more about local service opportunities and upcoming mission trips visit motherteresaproject.org

Written by: Madeleine O’Rourke

Ave Maria University Scholarship Dinner: A Salute to Our Past, Present, and Future

         The ninth annual Scholarship Dinner unfolded in the evening hours of February 13th, 2020, right on the ocean at the beautiful Ritz Carlton Beach Resort in Naples, Florida. Beginning with a cocktail hour and followed by a dinner program emceed by Andrea Serrani, class of 2012, and Colin Stroud, class of 2022, the theme of the night was  “A Salute to Our Past, Present, and Future.” This was beautifully conveyed through the performances and presence of many current students and alumni. Additionally, all three of Ave’s presidents — Nick Healy, James Towey, and current president, Christopher Ice — were in attendance. Founder and Chancellor Tom Monaghan also attended the evening.

         The night featured an invocation from board member Bishop Kevin Rhoades, from the diocese of Fort Wayne – South Bend, and remarks from Mr. Monaghan, Mr. Towey, and President Ice about their own Ave experience.

         Monaghan spoke on the founding of Ave Maria and the transition to the current campus, addressing some of the challenges that have taken place over the years. He recalled that when Jim Towey came to Ave, “He was looking at everything with fresh eyes. He added a lot of new majors and many good projects, especially the fantastic Mother Teresa Project.” Monaghan stated that after Towey’s nine-year term, “God sent us a man by the name of Chris Ice. I think he is just what the doctor ordered for this university at this time.” Monaghan concluded by asking those present to “think of Ave Maria in your prayers, and say an ‘Ave’ every day for Ave.”

         Towey began his remarks by thanking Monaghan and the Board of Trustees for the transformational privilege of serving the University for nine years. He said, “When I look back, I take a great deal of satisfaction in what we did in the Blessed Mother’s name on this campus.” He went on to speak of the growth of Ave over those nine years, saying that, “All of the success is not mine to claim because it owes to the foundational efforts of all who joined Tom at the beginning and all those who joined since then, and most, of all, by God’s grace.”

         President Ice shared stories about his experiences with students, remarking how impressed he is by the maturity of their Catholic faith and the genuine joy they have expressed to him and various visitors to campus over the past weeks. He spoke about vocations to the priesthood, religious life, and marriage blossoming at Ave. Leading up to the Feast of the Annunciation and his inauguration, he invited the entirety of the Ave Maria family to join him in Marian consecration, using Fr. Gaitley’s “33 Days to Morning Glory.” He said, “As I stated in my acceptance remarks in November concerning the state of affairs at numerous Catholic universities today; I commit to you again here tonight at Ave Maria University, we’re going to run to our Catholic faith, not away from it. Please pray for me, that I will lead with wisdom, prudence, and clear vision.”

         “Everything about who I am today has been shaped by Mary’s little nudge that got me to Ave,” Andrea said in her alumna testimony, as she talked about how Ave taught her how to really love. Colin Stroud talked about how the scholarships are what originally piqued his interest in Ave. The theme of generosity characterized Ave for him, from the original scholarships he received, to going to Uganda with the Mother Theresa Project and preaching the truth of God’s love to prisoners. He said, “My education prepared me for my mission. So, whether it be summer camps, mission trips, parishes, nonprofits, radio stations, in Andrea’s case, Fortune Five Hundred companies, or just the domestic church at home, Ave students, current and alumni, are all over the world during exceptional things thanks to generosity.”

         In addition to these profound remarks and testimonials, the evening featured incredible student performances, from the AMU Chamber Choir to a beautiful rendition of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” by freshman Teresa Thompkins, as well as student-led Irish folk band called Jimmy and the Spud Guns. Matthew Resin, class of 2019, concluded the night in grandeur, singing Ave Maria as a parting gift to Mr. Towey.

         It was a night filled with tributes to Ave’s past, excitement for all of the goodness presently happening at Ave, and hopeful anticipation for all that is to come. The scholarship dinner attendees generously gave a total of $585,000, which will be used to enable future Ave students to attend the university with financial aid.

Written by: Anne-Marie Schlueter
Edited by: Madeleine O’Rourke

*Postponed: New Date to be Determined* The Inauguration of Christopher P. Ice as 3rd President of Ave Maria University

POSTPONED: New Date to be Determined



AVE MARIA, FL (February 3, 2020) – The Inauguration of Mr. Christopher P. Ice as the third president of Ave Maria University will take place on Saturday, March 28, 2020.

The occasion will be marked by four major events open to the general public:

Friday, March 27th:

Opening Presentation

Ex Corde Ecclesiae at Thirty: A Call for Renewal in Catholic Universities – Dr. Michael Dauphinais

6:30pm ·   O’Bryan Performance Hall, Thomas and Selby Prince Bldg.

Saturday, March 28th:

Inauguration Mass

Mass with Most Reverend Frank J. Dewane, Bishop of the Diocese of Venice

10:00am · Ave Maria Catholic Church

Inauguration Ceremony

11:30am · Ave Maria Catholic Church

Inauguration Keynote Address

Ego Sapientia: Our Lady and Catholic Higher Education – Fr. Romanus Cessario, O.P.

2:30pm · O’Bryan Performance Hall, Thomas and Selby Prince Bldg.

Annunciation Celebration

6:00pm · Ave Maria University Academic Mall

President Ice comes to Ave Maria University after serving as the Chief Executive Officer of Catholic Charities of Kansas City-St. Joseph.

“I am excited to begin my presidency at Ave Maria University and lead this authentic, orthodox Catholic university into the future,” President Ice, said. “As our motto of Veritatis Splendor suggests, students at Ave Maria will continue to develop the critical thinking and reasoning skills necessary to distinguishing truth from falsehoods, especially in a culture that blurs the lines of truth. ­­We have outstanding faculty, who are dedicated to academic excellence and preparing our students for the rigors of life after college.”

President Ice continued, “My main goal as the President of Ave Maria is to help form joyful, intentional followers of Jesus Christ through Word and Sacrament, scholarship and service. My desire is for our students to become great leaders in our society and ultimately, saints.  At Ave Maria University, we won’t run away from our Catholic faith, we will continue to run to it.”

The public is invited to all the inaugural events and tickets are not required*. The Mass and inauguration ceremony will be livestreamed for those who are unable to attend.

*Tickets will be required for the dinner portion of the Annunciation Celebration.


Bryant Morin
Director of Marketing and Communications