Tuesday, July 17, 2007

In Appreciation of a Priest

The date was May 17, 2003 and the community of Ave Maria School of Law gathered at Christ the King Catholic Church for a landmark event in the history of the nascent institution: the first Baccalaureate Mass. The inaugural Class of 2003 was on hand in all its glory and the occasion was marked by numerous con-celebrating priests. One priest was an obvious choice to serve as the homilist, but as he addressed the assembled faithful, he could hardly hold back his tears.

The homilist was Fr. Michael Orsi, then as now the Chaplain of Ave Maria. His tears were genuine; they were tears of love. During my three years in Ann Arbor, I saw Fr. Orsi devote himself to the service of all members of the Ave Maria community: students, staff, and faculty. He baptized their babies and occasionally presided at their weddings. And even when no monumental occasion was at hand, he was there for daily Mass, caring for his flock and pointing us in the right direction. He cared about each and every member of the community.

Fr. Orsi's love of the school's pro-life club, Lex Vitae, was emblematic of his commitment to the mission of the school. Father was also a scholar who regularly published articles. While his scholarship never devolved into an ivory-tower mentality, it made him a good fit for a community engaged in scholarly pursuits and intellectual understanding. These things, i.e., Father's scholarship and his love of the mission and those who were pursuing it at Ave Maria, aided him in the monumental task of standing at the spiritual and sacramental center of the law school. A spiritual leader is of paramount importance in a community founded to serve God in the world. We can thank the Lord that He provided an able figure to fill this role. I pray that we may never lose sight of our gratitude.