Archbishop William Lori’s ringing defense of the right of religious liberty which he delivered in his Convocation address to a rapt Ave Maria University community gathered in a jam-packed ballroom this afternoon, capped a remarkable week of activities to start the new academic year.
What an honor to have him on our campus and with our students! And his timing could not have been more providential as Ave Maria is in discussions with our lawyers regarding our continued fight against the Obamacare mandate. Archbishop Lori praised our University’s efforts and pointed out what was at stake for the Church in this battle with the federal government. He warned of the dangers facing those in any Catholic organization who formally cooperate with a mandate so immoral, mean-spirited, and hostile to religious autonomy and Church teaching.
After his talk he met with honors students at a reception. His morning began with – you guessed it – Ave students.
He capped off his visit to Ave Maria University with a tour of the Mother Teresa Project Exhibition Hall , accompanying the Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Michael Timmis, and me.
His visit came on a day special to him and special to us. Mother Teresa of Calcutta went home to God on this day in 1997, when our freshmen were learning how to walk (as they are now!). Today is a First Friday, just like then.
And now the Archbishop knows just how true it is that Ave Maria University’s devotion to, and identification with, this saintly woman are unmatched in academia.
There simply is no campus that honors her the way Ave Maria does, and when Archbishop Lori celebrated Mass at noon today to over 500 attendees, he had his dear friend in mind. In his capacity as secretary to James Cardinal Hickey in Washington, D.C. in the 1980’s, and as a young monsignor, he worked closely with Mother and her nuns as they opened numerous homes in the area, including a home for people with AIDS.
He told me this morning that when he and Mother were looking for such a home, he drove by one of the Archdiocesan properties that housed their Catholic Charities offices and some day care programming. The building had previously been used as an orphanage. The Archbishop recalled that Mother looked at the building, prayed, and then placed a blessed medal on the wall, and how he instantly realized that the Archdiocese wasn’t going to own that property for much longer!
What a joy to have Archbishop Lori with us and what a great way to start the academic year! Ave has its largest entering class ever – just under 400. The total enrollment of undergraduate students on our campus now exceeds 1,000 – also a milestone. The academic excellence of our new students continues to improve, too.
It is going to be another great year at Ave Maria University. I’ll try to post as regularly as I can.
Have a great weekend!
Blessed Mother Teresa – pray for us!
– President Jim Towey
Click here to view an archive of President Towey's blog posts.