Annunciation Feast 2017

Annunciation Feast 2017

By Pauline Gilmore

There are some rare and beautiful moments in life when one stops, feeling perfectly content, and thinks, “I am right where I am meant to be.”  This was my experience at Ave Maria University’s Feast of the Annunciation on Saturday, March 25th.

This feast day was an unprecedented, all-day celebration, firstly commemorating Mary’s “yes” to the Angel Gabriel. It was also the 10-year anniversary of the establishment of Ave Maria, and our founder, Tom Monaghan’s 80th birthday. Starting off the celebration was Mass celebrated by Bishop Dewane.  The afternoon consisted of a barbeque lunch sponsored by the Knights of Columbus, cake in celebration of Tom Monaghan’s birthday, live music by several students and alumni, an outdoor art exhibit, inflatables, and several other booths and festivities by student and town member organizations.

Evening came and the live music continued, featuring two of our student bands, and the beloved band from Virginia, Scythian. Students, townsfolk, and friends of Ave enjoyed a steak dinner and ice cream sundaes on the lawn underneath hanging lights and the setting sun.  After dancing all evening to Scythian’s energetic, down-home, Irish-American music, the evening concluded with a spectacular firework display.

Being a student at Ave Maria University means being a part of the Ave family.  What was most memorable for me about this feast day was the happiness I felt to belong to such an amazing community.  Amid some other concerts or celebration events outside of Ave, there is a hard-to-pinpoint but tangible, pervading feeling of emptiness.  When the music ends and it is all over, what remains is a feeling of desolation. But at last Saturday’s Annunciation celebration—and the culture we are creating here at Ave in general—there was not an emptiness at the end of it, but love, belonging, and goodness, rooted in the truth of Christ and His Church.

Where else, at the end of a concert, would you hear the thundering voices of college men (who had, perhaps, enjoyed a drink or two) yelling, “Salve Regina!” demanding that the final song to close the concert be a hymn to Our Lady?  Or where else, during an awe-inspiring firework show, would you hear the soaring symphony of “O God Beyond All Praising,” turning your heart, mind, and soul to praise Almighty God? It is far better than Disney World or any celebration you would find on another college campus, I would go so far as to say, anywhere!  Because at the end of it all, what remains is something lasting: the understanding that we, as students and members of the family of Ave Maria University, are a part of something greater than ourselves.

The fact that this place exists, and we can celebrate its 10-year anniversary, is because this University has been ordained by God and is blessed by the continual intercession of Our Lady.  As Student Government Treasurer, Stephen Akers put it in his tribute speech, to be “simply Ave” means to be striving towards excellence in all aspects of life, academically, and spiritually.  As the family of Ave, we celebrate the accomplishments of one another, because we are all striving towards the same goal: Heaven.  Ultimately, the experience we share here during our short time together as students doesn’t end when we graduate, because we place our hope in the assurance that the entire Ave family—past, present, and future students, faculty, supporters, and benefactors—will be united in Heaven someday, along with all of those we have impacted by living out the mission of this University.  That is the ultimate fulfillment of Ave’s mission, and that is what we are proud to celebrate at our Annunciation Feast Day.