Dr. Faggen Lecture: Mar. 12

Dr. Faggen will participate in a panel discussing the great twentieth-century Catholic Polish poet Czeslaw Milosz, who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1980. Dr. Faggen knew Milosz personally and interviewed him on several occasions; this discussion will center on Milosz`s poetry and his letters to the American Catholic mystic and writer Thomas Merton. Dr. Faggen will be joined by Fr. Piotr Paciorek, Dr. Anthony Valle, and Dr. Blanford Parker. Refreshments provided.
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Dr. Faggen Lecture: Mar. 11

 Dr. Faggen will talk about Ken Kesey, author of One Flew Over the Cuckoo`s Nest and Sometimes a Great Notion, and the subject of a forthcoming biography by Dr. Faggen. This event will be held in interview format, moderated by Dr. Blanford Parker. Refreshments provided
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Cardinal O’Malley of Boston to Speak at 2016 Commencement

AVE MARIA, FL (February 18, 2016) – Ave Maria University President Jim Towey announced today that His Eminence, Seán Cardinal O’Malley, O.F.M. Cap., will be the commencement speaker for this year’s exercises in May.

“We are thrilled that Cardinal O’Malley is able to be with us on this special day and I know our graduates will be eager to hear his remarks,” Towey said. “His life experiences, his close friendship with Pope Francis, and his consistent advocacy for the sanctity of life, the dignity of the poor, and the need for joy and mercy in the lives of Christians, make him the ideal speaker in this Jubilee of Mercy the Holy Father has instituted this year.”

Cardinal O’Malley is in his 13th year as Bishop of the Archdiocese of Boston, and 46th as an ordained priest. He was elevated to the rank of Cardinal-Priest in 2006 and is a key advisor to Pope Francis, serving as a member of the group of eight Cardinals assisting the Holy Father on reforming the Church’s governance and central administration. His Eminence holds both Master’s and Doctoral degrees from The Catholic University of America, and was a professor there for four years. He currently is the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of his alma mater. He also is no stranger to Florida, having served as Bishop of the Diocese of Palm Beach prior to his appointment in Boston.

Ave Maria University will hold its 13th commencement exercises on May 7, 2016 in the Tom Golisano Field House. A record 211 undergraduate students are expected to receive diplomas, as well as 10 Master’s and 2 Ph.D. candidates. Recent commencement speakers at Ave Maria University include former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, Governor Rick Scott, Librarian of Congress James Billington, and Dr. Arthur Brooks, president of the American Enterprise Institute.

Ave Maria University is a Catholic, liberal arts institution of higher learning dedicated to the formation of joyful, intentional followers of Jesus Christ through Word and Sacrament, scholarship and service, inspired by Saint John Paul II and Blessed Teresa of Calcutta and devoted to Mary, the Mother of God.

Press release

Richard Sternberg Lecture: Feb. 18

Dr. Richard Sternberg, Research Scientist at the Biologic Institute, will host a lecture on Thursday, February 18 at 5 pm in the Demetree Auditorium in the Henkels Academic Building. Dr. Sternberg’s lecture, titled “What is a gene? Not a particle but a process” is open to the public.

Richard Sternberg is an evolutionary biologist with interests in the relation between genes and morphological homologies, and the nature of genomic “information.” He holds two Ph.D.’s: one in Biology (Molecular Evolution) from Florida International University and another in Systems Science (Theoretical Biology) from Binghamton University. Dr. Sternberg is presently a research scientist at the Biologic Institute, supported by a research fellowship from the Center for Science and Culture at Discovery Institute. He is also a Research Collaborator at the National Museum of Natural History.

AMU Welcomes New Head Football Coach

February 5, 2016 – Ave Maria, FL – Ave Maria University is pleased to announce the hiring of Joe Patterson as the next Head Football coach for the Gyrenes. Coach Patterson is entering his 20th season as a football coach. Patterson is concluding his 12-year tenure as head football coach at St. John’s College High School in Washington, D.C. During that time, his teams made the playoffs 10 times. The Cadets recorded several wins against nationally ranked opponents, including a 35-2 win against the IMG Academy in 2014.

“Joe is a great addition,” said Kimberly King, Director of Athletics, “He is a proven leader and brings with him both a passion for football and excitement for advancing the Catholic Mission of the University. He is the perfect fit for what we are trying to do here.”

Coach Patterson has a reputation for developing great talent. During his time as the varsity head coach, 79 of his players went on to play Division I-A or I-AA football. He also coached eight All-Americans, including five Under Armour All-Americans.

Patterson’s academic track record also stands out as his football program posted a 3.00 GPA or higher in nine out of the 12 seasons. Coach Patterson, who graduated Summa Cum Laude from Villanova University, taught in the Honors Program at St. John’s.

Patterson and his wife, Jana, are the parents of six children: Anne, Tommy, Patrick, Edward, Bernadette, and Maximilian.

Coach Patterson is replacing Marty Quinn, who resigned for personal reasons after four seasons at AMU, three as Head Coach.

The Athletic Department at Ave Maria has grown from sponsoring six varsity level sports in 2008-09, to boasting 16 varsity-level programs for the 2015-16 season, with over 400 student athletes. The Athletic Department staff has grown to include six administrative and athletic support positions, 13 head coaches, and 17 assistant coaches. The athletics program had a budget this year of $1.8 million.

Ave Maria University is a Catholic, liberal arts institution of higher learning devoted to Mary the Mother of God, inspired by St. John Paul II and Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, and dedicated to the formation of joyful, intentional followers of Jesus Christ through Word and Sacrament, scholarship and service.

Press Release

Dr. John Crosby Lecture: Feb. 12

Dr. John Crosby, Professor of Philosophy at Franciscan University, will host a lecture on Friday, February 12 at 5 pm in the Demetree Auditorium in the Henkels Academic Building. Dr. Crosby’s lecture, titled “Thine Own Self: Edith Stein’s Philosophy of Personal Individuality” is open to the public.

Dr. Crosby was born in Washington, D.C., and grew up in Mobile, AL. He received his B.A. from Georgetown University in 1966 and his Ph.D. from the University of Salzburg, Austria, in 1970. His teacher in philosophy was Dietrich von Hildebrand. He has taught at the University of Dallas, the University of Salzburg, the Lateran University in Rome, and at the International Academy of Philosophy in Liechtenstein; since 1990 he has been serving as Professor of Philosophy at Franciscan University of Steubenville. He has published extensively on the thought of John Henry Newman as well as on the thought of Karol Wojtyla/Pope John Paul II. His work has centered around Christian personalism, as one can see from the titles of his books: The Selfhood of the Human Person (1996), Personalist Papers (2003), and The Personalism of John Henry Newman (2014).

The Parable of the Prodigal Son: The Animal Self, the Diabolical Self, and the Good and Merciful Father

AMU President Jim Towey posted his first blog of the spring 2016 semester on January 19th, “The Parable of the Prodigal Son: The Animal Self, the Diabolical Self, and the Good and Merciful Father.” Visit President Towey’s Blog for more!

Last night dozens of students kicked off the new semester and the Church’s “Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy” by joining me for a study of the powerful parable Jesus told of the Prodigal Son.

As familiar as this tale is, students at Catholic colleges and universities should examine it closely.  The story of young adults taking their parents’ money and going off to a “distant land” to binge drink, party hard and engage in casual sex is all too common on American campuses.  Some institutions seem indifferent to, or even willing to facilitate, this so-called rite of passage.  Unenforced dorm visitation rules, co-ed dorms, readily available birth control, and well-established party cultures communicate very clearly that when it comes to student moral behavior, almost anything goes.

As Jesus’ parable recounts, such lives bring consequences that take their toll on a soul.  The prodigal son’s rite of passage led him to rebel against his father and renounce his son ship.  He squandered his father’s money “on dissolute living” and ultimately found himself in the company of pigs, starving for the restoration of his human dignity.  (Spoiler alert)  Fortunately, he came to his senses and returned home to the warm embrace of his loving father, who rejoiced that his son who was dead had come back to life.

It is fair to ask why the father gave his son all that money knowing that he would go on a sin-binge.  The answer is simple:  God endows us with freedom, and true virtue can be grown only through the proper exercise of it.  It can’t be imposed.  Virtuous conduct has to be freely chosen or else it is simply an appearance of virtue.  God loves us enough to give us our freedom.

The prodigal chose sin.  Blaise Pascal once described sin as “licking the earth,” and the young man abused his freedom and chose base pleasures.  He had licked the earth.  As was the case with Saint Augustine, whose own journey was hauntingly similar, he sought fulfillment through pursuits that failed to satisfy his innermost longings.  The hook-up, binge-drinking culture failed him miserably, as it unfailingly does.

A great 20th century Christian apologist and author, C.S. Lewis, is special to Ave Maria University because one of his important works, Mere Christianity, was the instrument the Lord used to inspire our founder, Tom Monaghan, to devote his wealth to our campus.  Mere Christianity is worth reading, and includes this passage:

Though I have had to speak at some length about sex, I want to make it as clear as I possibly can that the centre of Christian morality is not here.  If anyone thinks that Christians regard unchastity as the supreme vice, he is quite wrong.  The sins of the flesh are bad, but they are the least bad of all sins.  All the worst pleasures are purely spiritual: the pleasure of putting other people in the wrong, of bossing and patronizing and spoiling sport, and backbiting: the pleasure of power, of hatred.  For there are two things inside me, competing with the human self which I must try to become.  They are the Animal self, and the Diabolical self.  The Diabolical self is the worse of the two.  That is why a cold, self-righteous prig who goes regularly to church may be far nearer to hell than a prostitute.  But, of course, it is better to be neither.

These insights of Lewis bring me to the elder son in the parable.  He had lived in the father’s house but was just as lost as his little brother.  His form of rebellion was simply different.  He was a slave to sin in a different way – he indulged in the pleasure of “putting other people in the wrong.”  He saw his time in the father’s house as captivity, and his obedience, involuntary.  He was no more like his father than his younger brother.   In short, the elder son was the “self-righteous prig” that Lewis described.  When his kid brother came back humbled by his moral failures and longing for repentance, the elder son was not moved with compassion and joy like his father, but instead was angry, resentful, and bitter.  He was like those Jesus unflatteringly described later in Luke’s Gospel “who believed in their own self-righteousness while holding everyone else in contempt.”

Luke’s parable makes clear that the father’s arms were wide open for both of his sons.  Indeed, he “ran out to meet” the prodigal son and “went out and began to plead” with the elder.  He, like the poet Francis Thompson’s “Hound of Heaven,” went in search of both of his lost sons.  His message to each was the same:  Everything I have is yours.  Come back home.

I asked the students at the end of our Bible study to describe the father.  They responded with these adjectives:  loving, forgiving, merciful, patient, wise, compassionate, and accepting.

They came to understand that the parable was as much a story about the heart of the father as it was the plight of the sons.  They discovered anew that their God was not some distant deity but a living, seeking, merciful Father who invites them to rejoice because everything He has is theirs.

God wants us to have the fullness of life appropriate to our splendid human dignity.  The Jubilee Year waits for us.  Pope Francis invites us to recognize our need to seek Divine Mercy, and to ask the Mother of Mercy to help us each day find our way to the glorious confines of the Father’s house.  On the first day of the New Year, the Holy Father invoked our University’s patroness with these words we can take to heart:

“Mary is an icon of how the Church must offer forgiveness to those who seek it.  The Mother of forgiveness teaches the Church that the forgiveness granted on Golgotha knows no limits.  Neither the law with its quibbles, nor the wisdom of this world with its distinctions, can hold it back.  The Church’s forgiveness must be every bit as broad as that offered by Jesus on the Cross and by Mary at his feet.”

I firmly believe that Ave Maria University will thrive and prosper to the extent we grow together in humility and mercy.   As this New Year begins, may we renew our commitment to the University’s Catholic identity and become “joyful, intentional followers of Jesus Christ through Word and Sacrament, scholarship and service.”

Have a great semester!

Jim Towey


Finding Calcutta: Marie Constantin’s photos of Mother Teresa

Finding Calcutta is an exhibit of photographs of Mother Teresa, taken by Marie Constantin. Ave Maria University is hosting the gallery on the second floor of the Canizaro Library until February 29th.

About the Photographer: Marie Constantin

Unbridled joy. Fierce determination. Unspeakable sadness. Life is a series of small, distinct moments during which anything can happen. And capturing these moments, one honest and revealing frame at a time, is the passion of Marie Bissell Constantin.

A native of Hartford, Connecticut, Marie attended Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, graduating with a journalism degree — yet she did not own a camera until age 32. Today she is an internationally known, award-winning photographer in high demand for commercial, corporate, editorial and humanitarian assignments.  But she is best known for more than a decade of association with one of the twentieth century’s most respected and inspiring figures.

At a time when most young photographers would be struggling to build a portfolio, Marie accepted the opportunity of a lifetime: an invitation extended to only two American photographers to document the late Mother Teresa of Calcutta’s travels and work in the Eastern United States and Calcutta. Quickly gaining her subject’s trust and friendship, Marie captured Mother Teresa in rare private moments seldom seen by others. Upon Mother Teresa’s beatification by Pope John Paul II in 2003, one of Marie’s photos was chosen to hang in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican — the official photo for the Beatification Ceremony.  Today, Marie is completing a book of images and personal reflections from 13 years with Mother Teresa, and also speaks publicly about their time together.

Work with Marie only once and you’ll be convinced that she always gets the shot. “I’m very sure of my creative process and where to put myself to take a good picture,” she explains. “There seems to be a place in my brain that I can go to for inspiration … it’s not always easy, but once I’m there, I know it.” And this dedication to her art is equaled by her interest in the craft of photography: She recently studied with the pioneering black-and-white digital printmaker Jon Cone and is applying her advanced knowledge to the fine art prints she produces, shows and sells.

Camera in hand, one gets the impression that Marie Constantin’s passion could take her anywhere at any given time. If there’s an extraordinary moment to be recorded, it surely will.

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AMU Hosts Religious Liberty Conference

Ave Maria University hosted an all-day conference in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of Dignitatis Humanae, Vatican II’s document on religious liberty. The event featured internationally known academic scholars, including Thomas Pink (King’s College London), David L. Schindler (Pontifical John Paul II Institute), William McCormick, S.J. (Fordham),  Gabrielle Girgis (Princeton), Michael Breidenbach (Ave Maria), Joseph Trabbic (Ave Maria), and Steven Long (Ave Maria). Commentators included Ave Maria University faculty Michael Pakaluk, Fr. Matthew Lamb, Michael Novak and Seana Sugrue. The conference provided an opportunity for students, faculty, and scholars to discuss Dignitatis Humanae (“Of the Dignity of the Human Person”) and to learn more about the Church’s role with the State.

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