JPII’s Feast Day: A Student’s Reflection

“There is no place for selfishness and no place for fear!”  Saint John Paul II gets right to the point when describing the head-on, Christ-centered life he is calling today’s youth to live.  There is absolutely no room for selfishness or fear anywhere in the world, but this is especially true on college campuses.  It’s easy to be scared of college sometimes, especially as an underclassman. Will I like school? Will I make friends? Will I get good grades? Will they make me to go daily mass?  These are questions most students had running through their mind during orientation at Ave Maria.  Consequently, getting wrapped up in one’s own worries can easily lead to selfishness– it is easy to focus on your concerns, your desires, your preferences.  Thankfully, JPII sees this trend among the youth, and joyfully encourages us to be exactly the opposite!  He wants us to let go of our worries, most famously proclaiming “Do not be afraid!” from the balcony of St. Peter’s.  Although it is easy for universities to become selfish and fearsome places, Ave Maria has certainly not succumbed to this worldliness.

The devotion that the faculty, staff, and students on campus have to JPII is really quite remarkable.  The professors are constantly giving of themselves to the students to make sure that they’re getting the most out of their education.  From staying late in their offices, answering emails at all hours of the night, to meeting up at the pub to talk philosophy, Ave professors have done it all to ensure that each student reaches his or her academic potential.  As a result, the students reciprocate the love of learning they witness in their professors.  The teaching style in most classrooms is discussion based, so that everyone can voice their opinion. The unselfish nature of this education style is immeasurably valuable, for students and teachers work together to achieve the academic excellence cherished by Ave Maria University.

Academia isn’t the only realm on campus affected by Pope John Paul.  He had a great love for sports, particularly skiing and swimming, and his positivity and competitive spirit reverberate with the Gyrenes.  Each team on campus has a marvelous work ethic, and demonstrates sportsmanship in victory and defeat.  The camaraderie on the teams builds a community that John Paul II would be proud of, one that encourages self-discipline as well as pride in Ave athletics.

Not only does Ave Maria embody Pope John Paul’s advice in the classroom and on the sports fields, but also embodies a spirit of service which John Paul II held dear. This was evident in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma. While the 130 mph winds were approaching, students, faculty, staff, and President Towey himself bustled around campus, making sure everything was safe and secure.  The field house was a shelter for residents of surrounding areas whose homes were in danger. After the storm, the community united to clean campus and provide assistance to more severely impacted areas.  Ave Maria is truly blessed to have such serving hearts present on campus.  Whether it’s assisting in hurricane cleanup, working in soup kitchens, or doing mission work in Africa– the students and staff of Ave Maria do not hesitate to give of themselves every day in extraordinary ways, living out John Paul’s command to the fullest: “Wherever people are suffering, wherever they are humiliated by poverty or injustice, and wherever a mockery is made of their rights, make it your task to serve them.”

Saint John Paul II didn’t only preach about courage and love– he lived these messages each and every day.  Born Karol Józef Wojtyla on May 18th, 1920, in Wadowice, Poland, he was destined for greatness right from the start.  After losing his mother and older brother at a young age, he went on to study at Jagiellonian University in Krakow.  During World War II, the Nazi’s closed down the university, so the young John Paul II had to continue his studies in secret with the Archbishop of Krakow.  After the war, he returned to school and was ordained a priest in 1946.

Pope John Paul earned his doctorate in theology after two years of fruitful study in Rome, after which he returned to Poland and served in parishes near Krakow.  His brilliant mind was recognized early on, and after becoming an Archbishop, he was invited to participate in the Second Vatican Council in 1962.  John Paul II’s contributions to this council were immeasurable. In 1967 he became a Cardinal. JPII was elected Pope in 1978- the first non-Italian Pope to succeed Saint Peter in over four hundred years.  He exhibited a great love for the youth throughout his reign as Pope, but it was most evident in his founding of World Youth Day in 1984.  John Paul II invited young people from all over the world to join him in Saint Peter’s square on Palm Sunday for an International Jubilee of youth, and over 300,000 attended.  He smiled on this massive crowd and declared with great joy, “What a fantastic spectacle is presented on this stage by your gathering here today! Who claimed that today’s youth has lost their sense of values? Is it really true that they cannot be counted on?”  JPII would say the same words to the youth of Ave Maria, who are afire with love for Christ and are ready to spread Christ’s love to the world.

From the JPII dorm on campus to the budding St. John Paul the Great leadership program, Ave Maria University embodies Saint John Paul II’s giving spirit, courage, and love.  His presence on campus is very real, and almost tangible– the way in which his spirituality is imitated is part of what makes Ave so unique, and is what makes its students such wonderful witnesses of the Catholic faith. Happy feast of St. John Paul the Great. John Paul II, pray for us!

Kington’s Comedy Makes Ave Laugh

On the evening of October 12th, laughter, uplifting humor, and the scent of buffalo wings filled the ballroom as Kenn Kington engaged students through a comedy performance. At first glance, Kington’s performance was seemingly a typical light-hearted comedic routine–but it came with a deeper message that left the audience with something to chew on–other than the buffalo wings.

In the beginning of his routine, Kington used the example of young children approaching relationships, referencing the good ‘ole days of passing notes and checking that ominous “yes” or “no” box to let one’s desk buddy know of one’s intentions. Bridging into the older years, he talked about navigating through the confusing era of high school relationships. As Kington puts it, the days of “yes” or “no” notes are long gone, but the days of having the “talk” with cheerleaders and the like are far from over, and the friend-zone becomes a home.

Following this amusing–albeit accurate–depiction, Kington started to bridge into his message. He spoke of how sometimes, we don’t get to be what we want to be–and how we can’t be “anything,” unlike what the world tells us. However, the best possible thing we can be is who God made us to be. As St. Catherine of Siena says, “Be who God made you to be, and you will set the world on fire.” God has a plan for who we were meant to be–and He wants to show us His plan, if we trust Him to do it in His time and His way.

Kington enlivened a number of students on what would usually be a somewhat busy night of homework, studying, and countless other activities by providing an opportunity to enjoy an entertaining evening and testimony. Through his use of humor, Kington conveyed the joy that trusting in God brings to our lives. Whether friend-zoned or not, whether that kid in first grade checked the “yes” or “no” box–we are all God’s children, and His vision of who we are meant to be is far greater than we could imagine.

Pro-Life Conference at Yale

A group of our students travelled to New Haven, Connecticut to attend the Vita et Veritas Pro-Life Conference at Yale University. The group attended several talks regarding the pro-life movement, and met many other students from various schools across the country, such as Yale, Harvard, Princeton, and Penn State.

Here is a short reflection from Shelby Mayer, one of the students that attended this conference:

“I had a phenomenal time this past weekend at Yale University! Myself and 5 of my classmates (plus one of our wonderful RDs and her adorable baby) traveled there to represent Ave Maria at a pro-life conference, and it was spectacular. We started our trip bright and early Friday morning, and flew out to Connecticut, where we each stayed with a wonderfully gracious host, all a part of the Yale community. That night we had a semi-formal banquet where we heard from keynote speaker Abby Johnson, a former Planned Parenthood worker and now pro-life activist. Her story was incredibly inspiring, and the talk itself was powerful and moving, with appropriate jokes towards the beginning. We continued the night by meeting our fellow pro-life students, coming from a large (and very impressive) variety of schools, such as Yale, Harvard, Princeton, and Penn State (just to name a few)! It was a blast getting to know everyone, and was certainly an opportunity I don’t think I’ll have again soon! The next day was full of great content, as we had talks from six different speakers, each with a unique perspective to offer the pro-life movement. We were given breaks in between, and during lunch decided to check out a local restaurant (which was delicious by the way), which was super nice because we got to experience the town whilst still having a very informative conference! My personal favorite speakers were Abby Johnson (who spoke Friday night), Christina Bennett, and Kevin Burke. The passion behind their outlooks of the pro-life movement was clear by their talks, and they all had a strong ability to engage the audience; I never wanted their talks to end! After the conference we had the opportunity to experience the town of New Haven, explore the school a bit, and spend time with our newly developed friends before heading out at 3am for a 6am flight back! The entirety of the weekend, though short, was a remarkable experience, almost as much so as the people we met there. I would love to go back next year, however I also want to refrain, so that others could go in my place! I had a wonderful time getting to know my classmates, as well as other students better, and it was very inspirational to hear the testimonies and talks from the speakers, as well as see the strong interest and desire for a pro-life world.”

Faculty Spotlight: Anne Marchetti

“Anybody who knows me knows I love accounting– it’s like magic!”

October 10, 2017 – In the cozy JPII lobby, students snacked on brownies and listened to the first “Professors Are People, Too” Q&A of the year, featuring accounting professor Anne Marchetti. Professor Marchetti has done it all – from motorcycle riding to working with MTV.

After earning an undergraduate degree in economics and a master’s degree in accounting, Professor Marchetti has worked in various roles, including implementation of accounting software, consulting, and teaching. One of her favorite consulting jobs was in California for Nickelodeon at the time SpongeBob was just starting to air – she was even offered original concept art done by the artists! Although Professor Marchetti’s consulting work led her to travels across the globe, she won’t hesitate to tell you that her favorite place is New York City.

Professor Marchetti’s enthusiasm for her field cannot be downplayed. It has driven her to author three books and pursue a doctorate in accounting, for which she is currently writing a dissertation on small business fraud.

She encourages her students to find what they love and pursue it: “Find what you’re passionate about, and do it.  It’s cliché, but it’s true.  Plus, you’ll be a lot better at your job if you love what you do!”


John Paul II First Class Relic Visits Campus

AVE MARIA, FL – On October 3, 2017 the Servants of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary came to Ave Maria University to give a women’s talk titled “Living Out Marian Devotion.” They brought with them the relic of St. John Paul II’s blood.

His blood, still in liquid form, has traveled internationally. From the spiritual graces received in prayer before the relic of St. John Paul II, people may be renewed in their daily striving for holiness of life and obtain the courage and spiritual strength to imitate his saintly life and persevere in their Christian witness to the Gospel.

Learn more about Campus Ministry

WINK News: Habitat for Humanity partners with local university to help hurricane victims

IMMOKALEE, Fla. Habitat for Humanity responds to people devastated by Hurricane Irma in Immokalee today, with the help of a group of students from Ave Maria University.

This neighborhood in Immokalee is completely made up of Habitat homes, which already house 90 families, including Maria Cardenas family.

Cardenas and her husband put in 500 hours of work to help build their Habitat home.

“It’s something to call yours, it’s your own place to raise a family,” Cardenas said.

Even Cardenas daughter is in love with her new home.

“She is so excited when people come over,” Cardenas said. “She’s like, ‘Come see my room, my room!”

When Hurricane Irma was headed directly for Immokalee, everything came into perspective for the first-time homeowner.

“My daughter has a ritual, she says bye to the house,” Cardenas said. “For us, it was hard to not shed a tear at that because we didn’t know what it was gonna be like when we got back.”

Cardenas home didn’t get damaged, but some surrounding houses did.

That’s why the Ave Maria University students with the Mother Teresa Project and Habitat for Humanity broke ground on two new sites today.

Andrew Nussbaum is a Mother Teresa Project scholar who helped build homes in this neighborhood.

“All it takes is a little bit of effort, that’ll go a long way,” Nussbaum.

The new construction will eventually become two homes for people who lost everything from Hurricane Irma.

“They handled it with so much grace, these are some of the happiest people in the world because they love each other,” Cradenas said.

Nussbaum said they are using that kind of spirit to guide them through this project, love and some dirt.

The volunteers and students will begin construction on Oct. 21.

Graduate Theology Alumna has Translation Published

Alumna and former faculty member, Sr. Albert Marie Surmanski, OP, has had her translation of Albert the Great’s On the Body of Our Lord recently published.

According to Sr. Albert Marie’s notes,

Albert the Great wrote On the Body of the Lord in the 1270s, making it his final work of sacramental theology. A companion volume to his commentary on the Mass, On the Body of the Lord is a comprehensive discussion of Eucharistic theology. The treatise is structured around six names for the Eucharist taken from the Mass: grace, gift, food, communion, sacrifice, and sacrament. It emerges from the liturgy and is intended to draw the reader back to worship.


Football Takes Down Edward Waters, 48-35

AVE MARIA, Fla. — The Ave Maria football team emerged victorious in their Mid-South Conference Sun Division opener on Saturday afternoon, defeating the visiting Edward Waters Tigers 48-35. The Gyrenes improve to 2-2 on the season and are 1-0 in MSC play. The game was the first on the new artificial turf field at Gyrene Field.

Ave Maria scored early and often in the blowout win and led 48-14 before three late fourth quarter touchdowns pulled EWC within 13.

Jordan Barrow had a school-record three interceptions on the day, the first of which he returned 19 yards for the game’s first score just 1:40 into the game. Mahlique Booth doubled the score with 6:55 to play in the opening quarter on a 14-yard TD run. After a Brandon Butry 33-yard field goal, Edward Waters scored on an 85-yard touchdown reception to make the score 17-7 after 15 minutes.

Brian Byrd was on the receiving end of Randy Schroeder’s first touchdown pass of the day, a 39-yard reception to make the score 24-7. The Gyrene advantage increased to 24 a few minutes later when Will Ulmer found pay-dirt on a 17-yard run.

AMU made it 21 unanswered point early in the third when Schroeder connected with Anthony Llosa for a 35-yard touchdown pass.

After a score by the Tigers, Butry connected on a 34-yard field goal and Will Tate ran in a 6-yard touchdown run to make the score 48-14 with 8:49 to play in the game.

Edward Water put together three straight one-play scoring drives in the final eight minutes, scoring on play of 64, 60, and 40 yards.

The Gyrene offense finished with 395 yards of total offense, narrowly edged by Edward Waters with 396 yards. Ave Maria used a balanced attack with 207 yards of offense through the air and 188 on the ground. The Blue and Green scored on all five appearances in the red zone.

Schroeder finished 10-of-15 for 151 yards and two touchdowns. Booth led the rushing attack with nine carries for 52 yards and a score. Ulmer and Tate also ran the ball nine times and finished with a touchdown. They had 43 yards and 37 yards rushing, respectively. Joshua Steward also got time in the backfield with eight carries for 49 yards.

Llosa caught two passes for 40 yards and a touchdown while Byrd had the one catch for 39 yards and a touchdown. Traylyn Jackson and Drew Bonner each tallied two receptions. They finished with 50 yards and 28 yards receiving, respectively.

Defensively, AMU was led by Jordan Barrow who finished with three interceptions and a touchdown. Shamori St. Kitts finished with a team-high five tackles. Shar’Quez Hamilton had three tackles, all of which were for a loss. He had one sack.

Butry was 6-for-6 on point after attempts and connected on both his field goal tries. He made field goals from distances of 33 and 34 yards.

Ave Maria returns to action next weekend when they travel to Faulkner (Ala.) University. The game which was rescheduled from Oct. 21 as part of AMU’s reshuffling to make up games cancelled by Hurricane Irma will kick off at 4 p.m. in Montgomery, Ala.

Summer Rome Program: 2017 Photos and 2018 Details

A personal encounter with the beauty of Rome in its classical and Christian monuments is of inestimable worth. The experience of walking deep inside the catacombs or of seeing famous pagan and Christian works of art in the Vatican Museums will not soon be forgotten. Through precious meetings in the Eternal City with scholars, clergy, Vatican officials, and AMU alumni, students will come to see first-hand the enduring importance of Latin not only as a means of accessing past monuments but even of engaging present circumstances.

Hogan Named TSC Runner of the Week

AVE MARIA, Fla.- Ave Maria sophomore Gabriel Hogan was named men’s cross country Runner of the Week by The Sun Conference on Monday. It is the second time in his career that Hogan has been honored as the top runner in the conference. He was named Runner of the Week for the week of September 12 during his freshman season, when he paced the Gyrenes at the Florida Tech Invitational.

Hogan earned the honor for his performance at the Mountain Dew Invitational on the University of Florida campus. The sophomore finished 58th of 200 in Gainesville, and was the top runner from NAIA schools in the meet. Hogan finished the 8k course in a time of 27:20.2, and ran an average 5:30 mile. His time was the eighth fastest in school history, and gave him six of the eight best times in Ave Maria history.

Ave Maria finished in 21st place among the 24 teams competing, but posted the second-highest team score among non-NCAA teams.

The Gyrenes return to action on Friday night, when both the men’s and women’s teams compete in the Invitational at Holloway Park in Lakeland. The women will run first at 5:20 p.m., and the men will follow at 5:50.