Sunday, January 13, 2008

Crowds Pack Ave Maria Oratory and Prep School Events

Two events were held today in Ave Maria, Florida, for the "friends" of all things Ave Maria.

The Ave Maria Grammar & Preparatory School held a Mass, tour and picnic with a capacity crowd of several hundred. Plenty of smiling faces basking in the glow of such a wonderful accomplishment: the founding of this wonderful school under the helm of headmaster Dr. Dan Guernsey.

Later on, town and university founder Tom Monaghan keynoted a presentation inside the new oratory located in the center of town. The building is amazing, inside and out. The tabernacle is one of the few interior appointments that is complete, other than the pews. As with most large churches through the ages, the rest will come over time as donors come forward. [On the right of this page you can click to view a virtual video tour of the finished oratory.]

Of particular note, Tom told the capacity crowd of over 1000 that prior to construction Bishop Nevins (now retired) approved construction of the large oratory in the center of the new town - and the bishop considered it a welcome addition to the diocese because he would not have to staff a parish church or pay for its construction. The town and university community continue to pray that his successor bishop and the university administration will hammer out the details on making optimum use of this wonderful house of prayer. Meanwhile the town continues to enjoy Mass several times a day, seven days a week, just a few hundred feet away on campus.

Another anecdote indicating God's providence is at work: a visitor on Friday who happens to be a professional opera singer visited the oratory and wandered inside. He asked the work crew inside if he could test the acoustics. He began singing near the ambo area - Panis Angelicus - as a crowd formed inside to listen. Unbeknownst to the singer, the work crew continued in their work just behind him while he sang: installation of the beautiful new tabernacle. The tabernacle itself has a providential story behind it, but we can save that for another day.

Ave Maria continues to bask in God's abundant blessings.