The Mother Teresa and the Mystics Conference: A Time for Spiritual Growth

There are many academic conferences that one might attend throughout the course of an academic career. These may often be interesting, and important and weighty matters can be discussed and considered. Few conferences, however, are like that had over the course of this past weekend at Ave Maria University. The Aquinas Center’s conference Mother Teresa and the Mystics: Toward a Renewal of Spiritual Theology, lived up to its title and seemingly began the renewal right away in the very attendees at the conference. If one had been fortunate enough to hear all of the plenary speakers, a wonderful kind of whole was revealed that both instructed and inspired.

Dr. Ralph Martin began the conference with a stirring reflection on the depth of the Spiritual Darkness of Mother Teresa. However, this account was couched in terms where we were not simply left in awe of the great suffering and holiness of the little saint from Albania, but we were encouraged to carry on in our own respective spiritual lives, and trust ourselves to God’s providential and loving guidance.

The theme of providential ordering was taken up by Fr. Matthew Lamb on the following day, where he showed how St. Teresa’s dedication to the poor in all circumstances gave witness to the natural law’s testimony of the inherent dignity of all men. This was followed by an illuminating lecture from Dr. Michael Waldstein, commending the place of St. Teresa and Pope St. John Paul II as the spiritual mother and father of Ave Maria University. These talks helped those listening to reflect both on the very concrete example that Mother Teresa provided, and also how her life still is touching ours.

Then her motherhood was taken up again, and this time in relation to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Mother Teresa’s continual devotion to the Blessed Virgin was so much a part of her, that one can almost lose sight of it. Dr. Mark Miravalle highlighted this connection and showed how Mother Teresa participated in the mystical motherhood of Mary in her incessant love all of those whom she encountered, especially the poor.

Finally, Fr. Meconi seemingly brought all of these elements together, emphasizing how Mother Teresa taught us about how we are able to contact Christ in His “distressing disguise,” as Mother Teresa was wont to call it, in the poor. Mother Teresa’s witness of service and love emphasized not only the dignity of the poor, but also the sanctity that is to be had through suffering. By tending to the poor, Mother saw herself tending to Christ himself. The Body of Christ, that potentially contains all mankind, was always present to her in her administrations to the poor. As Christ says to the righteous, “you did it for me.”

Augmented by a strong cohort of other speakers heard during the concurrent sessions, the lesson of the conference, just as in Mother Teresa’s own life, was clear: that the work of God in us is to bring us closer to Himself as well as all those we encounter.

Latest Library Exhibit Features Work of Local Florida Artists

The newest display at the Ave Maria University Canizaro Exhibit Gallery features a selection of pieces—both painting and sculpture—by members of the Florida Artists Group (FLAG). The exhibit opened on January 19th with a reception, including public remarks offered by some of the featured artists present, and it will close after an artist gallery talk on March 16th.

The twenty works now on display span the gamut between realism and abstraction, organic and synthetic, the natural and the fanciful. The media used include watercolor, acrylic, alabaster, marble, canvas, silk, wood, oil and dye. The subject matter ranges from snapshots of daily life (Sonnenberg’s “Please Don’t Eat the Shoes” or Costa’s “Three Men in a Boat”), to images of the aquatic (Blanchard’s “Koi Pond,” Gill’s “Baby Bowl,” or Spry’s “Alone”), to thoughtful compositions that beg the viewer to think more deeply on what they see (take, for instance, Cullen’s “Guarding the Dream,” or Fausel’s “Reflections of Zurich,” or Shapses’ “Ethereality”). Then, of course, there are Pat Zalisko’s two wall canvases that seethe with color, shape and dynamic lines.

“I’m an action artist,” Zalisko explained at the exhibit’s opening reception. She works quickly, with high quality paints, inspired by graffiti, and often in response to music or text. Zalisko is Chair of Region VII Chapter of FLAG, which spans Henry, Lee, Collier, Charlotte and Glades Counties (AMU is located within Collier County). Florida Artists Group, Inc. (FLAG) was founded in 1949 as an organization of professional artists. The organization holds an annual symposium and regional exhibits through the year. Zalisko remarked with gratitude that it is a “God-send” when curators such as Jennifer Nodes, Director of Library Services and Curator at AMU, offer the group an opportunity to share their art. Works by nine of Area VII’s fifteen listed artists are currently on display at the Canizaro Library exhibit.

Besides the chance to view the work of local artists, members of the AMU community may find something more to pique their interest in the latest library exhibit. One artist in particular is no stranger to AMU—her big and bold canvases were stretched across the library halls for two months last spring in the exhibit “Boundless” (March 11-May 9, 2016). “I really enjoy working large because I’m short,” Joan Brechin Sonnenberg shared with those gathered for the opening reception. “I feel more comfortable on a large scale.” Sonnenberg’s primary interest as an artist is the relationship between realism and abstraction—how they interact and overlap. In her last exhibit at AMU, most of the works on display were abstract pieces; for the library’s current exhibit, Sonnenberg decided to display two of her more realistic works.

Another artist’s work is of particular interest to the AMU community. Sculptor Joel Shapses, at the exhibit’s opening reception, shared how one of his featured pieces, “Ode to Russ,” is carved from a piece of Carrara marble leftover from the Annunciation Sculpture on Ave Maria Church. The sculpture is imbued with a strong vitality, which is not surprising given its history. Shapses carved the marble in honor of his colleague, Russ Rubin, who had originally procured the piece of scrap marble from the Annunciation sculptor, Marton Varo. The chunk was large, so Shapses agreed to buy half of it if Rubin would split it. That afternoon, Rubin suffered a heart attack and subsequently died. Shapses picked up the piece of marble at a later date. “As I…started working,” he recalls, “I felt the spirit of Russ in the stone [and] I let [it] flow into the work.”

There are many more pieces of art that capture and inspire the imagination now on display in the Canizaro Library exhibit. Don’t miss this opportunity to view them!

2017 Commencement Speaker

AVE MARIA, Fla. (February 14, 2017) — Ave Maria University announced today that Mr. Daniel A. D’Aniello, co-founder and Chairman of The Carlyle Group, will be its commencement speaker at this year’s graduation exercises.  The University also announced that it will confer an honorary degree on D’Aniello in recognition of his exemplary life as an entrepreneur, corporate executive, philanthropist, and Catholic layman.

Dan D’Aniello was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, raised by a single mother, and started working at the age of nine as a stock boy at his uncle’s produce market.  He subsequently worked his way through college at Syracuse University where he graduated at the top of the Business School.  He enlisted in the U.S. Navy during the time of the Vietnam War, served on the U.S.S. Wasp, and had four major deployments during his time of service.  Last year, D’Aniello received the Lone Sailor Award from the U.S. Navy Memorial Foundation.

D’Aniello placed his MBA from Harvard Business School in the service of successful stints at TWA, Pepsico, and Marriott International before co-founding The Carlyle Group, a global alternative asset management firm, in 1987.  Carlyle currently has offices in 20 countries spanning six continents and manages $169 billion of assets across its portfolio of funds.

D’Aniello also serves as Chairman of the Board of the Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts Foundation in Vienna, Virginia, and is Co-Chairman of the Board of the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, DC.   He and his wife Gayle have been married for  40 years and have two adult children.

“We are thrilled to have a role model like Dan D’Aniello as our commencement speaker,” said Jim Towey, president of Ave Maria University.  “He has succeeded at the highest levels without compromising his Catholic faith.  The Board of Trustees is delighted to confer the University’s highest honorary recognition on him,” he added.  “Our students will benefit greatly from his words of wisdom.”

Ave Maria University’s commencement takes place on May 6, 2017 at 10 a.m. in the Tom Golisano Field House.  Over 200 men and women are expected to receive degrees at this year’s ceremony.   This will be the institution’s 13th graduation exercises and the 10th on its permanent campus.  Recent commencement speakers have included former Florida Governor Jeb Bush; Florida Governor Rick Scott; Librarian of Congress Dr. James Billington; President of the American Enterprise Institute, Dr. Arthur Brooks; and His Eminence Sean Cardinal O’Malley, Archbishop of Boston and AMU trustee.

Lady Gyrenes Take Down St. Thomas

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — The Ave Maria University women’s basketball team pulled out a resilient victory on Thursday night, rallying for a 64-57 triumph over St. Thomas University on the road. The win moved Ave Maria to 7-7 in Sun Conference play, and greatly improved the Gyrenes’ prospects for a Sun Conference Tournament berth, and for a higher seed.

A majority of the first half was played with the game within one possession either way. The first team to break through with a substantial lead was Ave Maria, who went on a 9-0 run that lasted for over half of the second quarter. The spurt proved key, as the Gyrenes took a 26-22 lead into the locker room.

The Gyrenes stormed out of the break with another run, this one a 9-3 surge that put the Gyrenes up ten, 35-25, with 7:05 to go in the third. However, St. Thomas would dominate most of the final seven minutes, going on a 15-2 run to take a 40-37 lead. The Bobcats led 45-43 at the end of the third quarter.

St. Thomas did not surrender the lead in the first seven minutes of the fourth quarter, leading by as much as five. Trailing 53-49 with 3:44 to play, the Gyrenes took control. A pair of Sarah Miller buckets gave Ave leads of 54-53 and 56-55. In the final two minutes, freshmen Macarena Corral and Emily Acosta both hit jumpers, and free throws from Acosta and Lauren Gillingham completed a game-ending 15-4 run.

Gillingham came up with a massive 22 pointers for the Gyrenes, and finished one rebound short of a double-double. Miller recorded her usual double-double, scoring 13 points and pulling down 10 rebounds. Acosta had ten points, including seven crucial points in the fourth quarter. The Gyrenes made the most of their opportunities on the offensive glass, scoring 13 second chance points on 13 offensive rebounds.

Desanta’ Jordan led all scorers in the game with 22 points, and added 12 rebounds. Samara Auguste was also in double figures with 16 points.

The Gyrenes remain on the road on Saturday for another Sun Conference contest, this time in Lake Wales against the Royals of Warner University. Tipoff is scheduled for 2:00 p.m. The regular season finale will see the Gyrenes host Keiser University at the Tom Golisano Field House on February 18.

Student Spotlight: Josie Hartney

Josie Hartney, a senior at Ave Maria, is the definition of southern belle. With her contagious laugh and sweet drawl, Josie is a joy to be around. During her time at Ave Maria, Josie has taken the most difficult science classes that are offered, played many intramural sports, participated in a variety of clubs, and devoted her time and talents to the students as a Resident Assistant. This past December, Josie was accepted into Augusta University’s occupational therapy program and plans to begin her studies there, in her home state of Georgia, this fall. 

Advice for juniors/seniors applying to graduate school?

For me, getting experience in the field that I was interested in was invaluable in helping me figure out what type of graduate school I wanted to attend. When I was a freshman, I started exploring what was available in the medical field. A family friend advised me to create a master document to keep track of all of the experiences I would have over the upcoming years, both shadowing and working. She told me to note how I felt after each experience, so that a few years down the road, I could remember what I did or did not like about it and the different things I saw. It was really nice to have that record, especially when I was applying for graduate schools and determining my vocation. As someone going into healthcare, it was really important for me to be able to log all of my experience and count the patient care hours that I had completed. Employers and graduate schools want to know if you have seen the broad spectrum of the field that you are going into. By having accumulated experience, it shows them that you have been thinking about your future for a long time.

How did you make the decision that you wanted to go on to graduate school?

I think my field is unique because I knew even before I got to Ave that I wasn’t going to stop learning when I got my bachelor’s in Biology. I knew that it wouldn’t be the finish line, because it is just a stepping stone that is going to get me to where I want to go. I looked at juniors and seniors in my major and got as much as advice from them as I could. I also weighed the options of what I could do with a bachelors degree, versus what I could do if I furthered my degree. The classes you take greatly impact what you are able to do in my particular field, so that had to be thought out. There are so many prerequisites to fulfill if you want to go on in the sciences, and many may not be included in what your major requires that you take. Early on, I looked at the prerequisites required for all of the graduate programs that I was interested in, and took those classes. That is really important to do, otherwise you will graduate and have to enroll in a community college to take a few more courses before being able to start grad school.

What We Learned: Catholic Identity, Ex Corde Ecclesiae, and Academics

Student Government leaders from Benedictine College, University of Mary, and University of Dallas joined us last weekend for a conference and we couldn’t be happier with the outcome.

Not only did we build friendships, but we also exchanged ideas that will lead toward the improvement of our institutions and, hopefully, higher Catholic education.

Here are some of the things we learned in our discussion with Dr. Seana Sugrue, Dean of Faculty and Vice President of Academic Affairs at Ave Maria University. Our discussion focused on three questions, and here we’ve included the questions and many of our notes.

What challenges do we face as Catholic leaders, as students and beyond, and how can we help to solve them?

  1. We need inspiration rooted in faith. Our inspiration often comes from others, who support and encourage us. Most importantly, it comes from God, and through the sacraments, spiritual direction, coming to terms with our imperfection and dependence, and getting back to the basic realization that Christ is with us, we are able to stay inspired.
  2. We need to be reflective on truth and knowledge. We need to have a connection with the deepest truths of the faith and truth in general – this is a university, after all. Reality is much larger than us. However, looking at different areas of knowledge (such as our majors and programs), we can get a glimpse of the unity of truth.
  3. We need to be faithful and serve others. As Christians, we are called to bring the light of our faith into our vocations, with a humble spirit and joyful attitude.


How can we help our respective schools stay true to our Catholic identity?

  1. When we are excellent versions of ourselves, we can help others be the best versions of themselvesWe can use our gifts to serve our schools, even after graduation. As government leaders, we should be open and practical, test each other’s ideas, and maintain a spirit of awe for truth.


How can we promote academic research and ideas on campus?

  1. Discovery Day.  Benedictine College brought a unique idea to the table. At BC, Student Government helps facilitate “Discovery Day,” where students are encouraged to share about their most fascinating discovery from the year.
  2. Books.  At the University of Dallas, the Student Government Executive Board reads different books throughout the year to instigate discussion. We think this is an interesting idea worth exploring.

While the notes on this page give a good overview, unfortunately we can’t encapsulate our entire discussion on the web. There’s still much more to be said, and as The Network develops, we are optimistic about the future development of these ideas.

Baseball Rolls Past Barry

Miami, FL — The Ave Maria University baseball team moved to 6-1 on the season with a dominant 11-3 victory over Barry University in Miami Shores on Wednesday. The Gyrenes used eight pitchers in the victory, and recorded 14 hits against Buccaneer pitching.

Ave Maria scored the opening run of the game after loading the bases to begin the game. Ryan Keegan drove in that first run with a sacrifice fly to plate Justin Hartshorne, but a double play ball stymied any further offense. Barry also loaded the bases in the first inning, and tied the game at one after a single, a walk, and back to back hit batsmen.

The Gyrenes took the lead for good in the second inning with a four-run frame. An error and two singles again loaded the bases with no outs. This time, Matt Wiles came through with the big hit, a bases-clearing double into left center. Wiles would come home on a Hartshorne double that gave Ave Maria a 5-1 advantage.

An RBI single from Ryan Baldwin pulled Barry within 5-2 in the bottom of the second, but the Gyrenes would allow just one Buccaneer run in the final seven innings.

One run crossed the plate for Ave Maria in both the fourth and fifth innings. Ryan Cook drilled an RBI single to plate Hartshorne in the fourth, and Hartshorne added another RBI single in the top of the fifth, scoring Steven Valentine.

Barry’s final run of the game was scored in the bottom of the fifth, when Reuben Pino singled through the left side to bring home Paul Salata.

Four more runs scored for Ave Maria in the final two innings, starting with a three-run eighth. Andy Hernandez, Miles Stevens, and Valentine drove in the runs in the eighth. Hernandez’s RBI came on a two-out single, as did Valentine’s. Stevens brought the third run of the inning across when he was hit by a pitch. A Rico Soto single, which again allowed Hartshorne to cross the plate, closed the scoring in the top of the ninth.

Valentine led Ave Maria’s offense with four hits, scoring two runs and driving in another. Cook added three hits, and Hartshorne reached base five times on a single, a double, and three walks. Wiles’ double in the second inning accounted for his team-best three RBIs.

Starting pitcher Zack Rose picked up the victory, pitching the game’s first two innings. Ave’s most effective reliever of the seven that saw action was CJ Bottiglieri, who worked a hitless, scoreless inning and
Tommy Craparo, Jesse Crosno, Matt Leslie and Justin Bureau each tossed scoreless innings in the victory, and both Leslie and Bureau struck out two hitters in perfect innings. The losing pitcher for Barry was Pablo Arevalo.

Ave Maria returns home to Bowie’s Ballpark on Friday afternoon, when the Gyrenes host St. Thomas University for the first of a three-game conference series. The opening pitch of the contest is scheduled for 2:00 p.m.

Dr. Mark Miravalle to Speak at the Aquinas Center’s Conference on Mother Teresa

Renowned theologian Dr. Mark Miravalle will speak about an often overlooked aspect of St. Teresa of Calcutta’s life, her relationship with the Blessed Virgin Mary. His talk is entitled “Mother to Mother: The Mystical Intimacy of Mother Teresa with the Mother of God.” According to Dr. Miravalle, “The level of Marian ‘embodiment’ by St. Teresa of Calcutta could only be achieved as the result of a profound mystical interior intimacy between her and Our Lady. This presentation will thereby explore the 7 foundations of the mystical intimacy between Mother Teresa and the Mother of God.”

Dr. Miravalle will speak on Saturday, February 11 at 1:30pm.

For more on the conference click here!

Ringdahl Named To 2017 WBCA Allstate Good Works Team

INDIANAPOLIS  Feb. 7, 2017 – Ave Maria women’s basketball sophomore Katie Ringdahl is one of 20 student-athletes named to the 2017 Allstate WBCA and NABC Good Works Teams® announced today by Allstate Insurance Company, the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA), and the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC).

Ringdahl, a native of Gainesville, Fla., leads the Young Life program at Immokalee High School and is the only volunteer in the school and ministers to 1,300 high school students. Ringdahl is also an integral part of ReRun Sneakers, a non-profit organization started in Gainesville in 2012. Their mission is to give used sneakers to children and adults who are less fortunate.

She was named the Sun Conference’s Champion of Character award winner for the sport of women’s basketball as a freshman last season.

Since the awards inception in 2012-13, Ave Maria has placed two on the list with women’s basketball’s Emily Huber being named to the list in its inaugural year.

While exceptional student-athletes are often rewarded for their competitive achievements, this award shines a light on 20 young men and women for the things they accomplish off the court. From contributing to those affected by the Flint water crisis to visiting Nigeria to educate girls about how to succeed on and off the basketball court, this year’s teams made a positive, lasting impact.

The Allstate WBCA and NABC Good Works Teams® are each comprised of 10 student-athletes – five from NCAA®Division I, and five from NCAA Divisions II, III and the NAIA. This year, sports information directors and coaches at colleges and universities across the country submitted a record 278 nominations, and in December 2016, 97 nominees from the WBCA and 181 nominees from the NABC were announced.

The nominees were narrowed down to the final 20 players by voting panels led by former Notre Dame star, three-time NCAA All-American and two-time WNBA All-Star Skylar Diggins of the Dallas Wings and former Duke University guard, two-time NCAA champion and seven-time NBA All-Star Grant Hill. Both Diggins and Hill are making positive contributions that extend far beyond the basketball court, dedicating their time to various philanthropic initiatives, including teaching youth the importance of nutrition and physical activity. Each panel is comprised of a select group of former and current college basketball coaches and players as well as various members of the media.

“Allstate is thrilled to be joining the NABC and WBCA for a fifth consecutive year to highlight the remarkable displays of character demonstrated by student-athletes around the country,” said Thomas Clarkson, president of the west territory for Allstate Insurance Company and a member of the 2017 NABC and WBCA Good Works Teams® selection panels. “We are proud to be a part of a program that places such high value on altruism and community service, both of which are intrinsic to Allstate’s mission.”

In addition to dedicating countless hours to their studies and athletics, the members of this year’s team have spent their limited free time bettering communities all over the world and demonstrating a strong commitment to improving the lives of others.

“The WBCA is proud of the 10 young women and 10 young men selected to this year’s Allstate Good Works Teams from the 278 student-athletes who were nominated for the honor,” said WBCA Executive Director Danielle M. Donehew. “We are inspired by their commitment and dedication to serving others. And we are most grateful to Allstate for sponsoring this wonderful program through which we all can recognize our young leaders and celebrate their lasting contributions of love, kindness, and hope.”

Since 2013, members of the Allstate WBCA and NABC Good Works Teams® have given back to the host cities of the NCAA® Final Fours® through a community service initiative and monetary donation. This year, the members of the Allstate WBCA Good Works Team® will be recognized during the 2017 WBCA Convention and at the 2017 NCAA Women’s Final Four® in Dallas, and will also participate in a local community project in Dallas community. Additionally, members of the Allstate NABC Good Works Team® will be invited by Allstate to be recognized at the 2017 NABC Convention and 2017 NCAA Men’s Final Four® and will participate in a community service project to benefit Phoenix. Allstate is an official corporate partner of the WBCA, NABC and NCAA.

“For five years, the Allstate Good Works Team program has showcased men’s and women’s basketball collegiate athletes for their extraordinary benevolent actions performed away from the court,” said Jim Haney, NABC executive director. “We applaud the group of 20 selected for this year’s teams whose humanitarian efforts have helped raise the human spirit locally, nationally and globally.”

10 Tips to Stand Out at the Career Expo

With Ave’s Career Expo quickly approaching, it is important to be preparing for the possibility of meeting your future employer. Career fairs are a gold mine of networking opportunities, and it is important to plan for them in a way that will set you apart from the rest. Internship and job seeking can be daunting, so here are some tips that will help you to catch the eye of the recruiters and put your best self forward. Remember, preparation is key!

1. Review the list of employers that will be attending, along with the job opportunities that they provide, to allow yourself to prioritize the booths that you plan on visiting. Visit the booth you have the least interest in first to allow your confidence to build as you go along, reaching its peak when you visit the booth you are most interested in.

2. Thoroughly research the companies that will be attending the fair. By doing this, you can formulate specific questions focused on positions that interest you, and impress them with your initiative to learn about their company’s mission and purpose.

3. Perfect your resume and tailor it according to the booths that you will be visiting at the expo. Your resume should showcase your entire professional life and highlight your talents. Talk about past accomplishments, rather than duties. Employers care more about what you took away from experiences, rather than what your job title says you did. Make sure to bring more than enough copies to give to each booth you plan to visit!

4. Dress appropriately for the occasion. Conservative business wear will allow you to make a good first impression. In addition, knowing you look sharp will give you confidence!

5. Formulate an introduction that will catch the recruiter’s attention, while showcasing your personal brand. Begin with a handshake, state your name, welcome them, and explain why you are interested in their organization. You may only have a few minutes to market yourself, so make the most of your time!

6. Stand out by going the extra mile. So many job candidates do only what is expected, making it easy for you to rise above mediocrity. For example, print your resume on linen paper so it feels differently than all the rest that the recruiter will have been given, showcase your personal brand by having business cards of your own to hand out, or wear a bold colored pant suit. Be yourself, and own it.

7. Take notes when you inquire about the next steps to be taken in order to move forward. Be sure to write down names, phone numbers, and email addresses of additional managers or contacts that they recommend that you get in touch with.

8. Ask for a business card before you leave the booth. Promptly send a thank you note or leave a voicemail, using this as an opportunity to reiterate that you have interest in a second interview. This will show the representative that you appreciate their time and have genuine interest in moving forward.

9. Follow up with companies that you are interested in moving forward with, using the information on their business card to set up appointments or interviews.

10. Create a database on your computer of all of the contacts you have acquired by entering business card information. You never know when one may be exactly what you are looking for to land your dream job, or even help out a friend!

Colossians 3:23-24 “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.”