Saturday, February 23, 2008

Pediatrician to Immokalee's Poor Finds Support at Ave Maria University

God has big plans for Ave Maria, Florida, and one of them is close ties to the people of Immokalee. AMU's support of the work of pediatrician Dr. Melanio Villarosa with the people of Immokalee is but one example of those ties. Pray God, both communities will benefit from further interaction and mutual support.

He’s the male Mother Teresa, Garcia says....At times, he relies on nurses Garcia and Lisa Gomez to translate the medication treatment for patients. Villarosa takes Jesus over to the wall of the exam room, pointing to an article hanging on the wall. The headline is “Ave Maria, a Town Built by Faith.” That’s faith, but it’s also education. The university supports his mission because it’s in line with Ave Maria’s mission, including pro-education and pro-life agendas, says Carole Carpenter, Ave Maria president of university relations. Ave Maria plans to honor him with an honorary doctoral degree during its commencement ceremony in May. Villarosa encourages parents to read to their children and tells parents to be serious about their education, so that one day their children can attend Ave Maria University or any other higher education institute. He hopes they listen to him. “Education is very important to help them get out of their poverty level.”

Ave Maria's Incense Welcomes Naples News Readers

The Editors wish to thank the Naples News for linking to us on their main “Ave Maria” page. Welcome! We thought it appropriate to introduce our perspective to new readers, so here is a start with more to come in the weeks that follow.

1. What is Ave Maria? Well, there is no official definition, but as people who have been associated with Ave Maria for a long while (some for almost a decade), we do have opinions on the matter. The group of entities started by, supported by, or funded by the Ave Maria Foundation (see the "links" section of this blog for a listing) all exist to further the goals of the Catholic church, primary of which is to advance the Gospel and assist people in obtaining salvation. Education, and specifically higher education, has become the primary focus of Ave Maria. The town in Florida is a pleasant side-benefit that manifested providentially as the university came into being in Florida.

2. Is the town Catholic? Anyone is free to move to the town, visit, study, work, or buy property there. Religion is not a criteria for any of that. But logically, one asks who would want to live in a town where the main institution in the town is geared toward advancing the Catholic faith? Where a Catholic church building is so obviously the epicenter of the town? Where the town and the streets are named after Catholic landmarks and heroes? Those who know well-informed and practicing Catholics will understand that we are kind and generous to our neighbors regardless of who or what they are, do or say. That is why a rabbi feels comfortable teaching at the university and a man who practices the Bahá'í faith is a regent of the university.

3. What about laws in the town? Government actions affecting the town can never discriminate based on religion or impose religious laws as civil laws. Property owners are also forbidden to discriminate in that way. But property owners can impose limits on what activities happen on the property they own. For example, a business lease can lawfully contain a provision that prohibits the business from selling pornography, condoms or cigarettes. (As of now the private company that owns most all commercial property in the town indicates that no such lease prohibitions exist, so perhaps the town residents should weigh in on what sort of businesses they don't want in town!) Word has it that murder and false swearing are unlawful in Ave Maria, despite being violations of the Ten Commandments. Don’t let the sensationalized reporting fool you: the ACLU loves to make headlines and imagine constitutional violations where none exist. Catholics (and other groups) have a right to develop institutions that advance their beliefs and to live in close proximity to those institutions and each other. Finally, the only laws that apply to people in Ave Maria, Florida, are the same laws that apply to those who live in Golden Gate.

Up next: stay tuned and be surprised.

Father Fessio Loves Ave Maria University

Father Joseph Fessio, SJ, is to be commended for his charity, among other things, which shines through in this exchange excerpted from an interview by Sober Inebriation:

Q: The university you are in residence at, Ave Maria, has taken a lot heat publicly for difficult situations such as the university in Naples. I remember back when you were released from your former position at the university and then brought back in again after mass student protest. What if anything can you tell us about what transpired in your relationship with the university before and after that incident and do you see the university as having changed course at all in the past 5-7 years?

Father Fessio: There's no question in my mind that the mission of the university has remained what it has always been, We want to be faithful to the Magisterium, we want to be united in faith and reason, we want to offer a solid education in the liberal arts as a core, and professional training in certain areas. As we grow, we want people who are faithful to the Church, we want students who are eager to deepen their faith. For reasons I have still not been given, I was asked to resign as provost. I refused to resign, so I was fired. I was asked to come back the next day in a different position. I came back because I believe the university is bigger than one person, me, or anybody else, and I think that we have a tremendous opportunity for the truth and for the faith. So, if I refused to come back, there would be some people who would be very skeptical of the university; donors, parents, and students. I didn't want that to happen.

Q: You certainly have a direct relationship with Tom Monaghan- do you still see him as the right fit as CEO and director of that university?

Father Fessio: Well, I think he's the right fit in the historical circumstances. He was not only very wealthy because he was a successful businessman, but he became wealthy by learning how to organize groups of people, achieving goals and so on. So, he believes, and he's right in this, that his contribution to the university is not only in the hundreds of millions of dollars he's given--and he's almost out now because basically he's spent his fortune on this university--but his ability to achieve goals and to organize, and that's good. I think it's possible to find someone who has a fuller set of skills better adapted to the university environment, and if you asked Tom Monaghan, I think he'd be the first one to say that himself. But it would not be reasonable for him to say "I'm just going to give you this money and let you run things". he wants to make sure that the university has the highest quality programs, and that we're going to achieve the goals, and have spiritual enrichment and growth, and that's his perogative.

Q: I appreciate your candor and your honesty on that subject- Do you see yourself at Ave Maria in five years?

Father Fessio: I don't see any need to go anywhere else. Ignatius Press just bought a house here, and we're moving our textbook activities here, and then we're partnering with a group in St. Louis called "Theater of the Word Incorporated" and we have a branch out here at Ave Maria called "Morning Star Players". The idea is to put on Catholic and Family-friendly plays and dramas around the country. Morning Star Players specializes in doing that for young people. They've got some wonderful pro-life, pro-family- pro-chastity plays that they put on for youth groups and high school groups and they're amazingly effective. We want to encourage students to take part in that. We are hoping to construct a small community theater here in town for students to put on their plays and their concerts, so I have a lot of things I'm doing here.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Esprit de Corps at Ave Maria University

Ave Maria University offers full four-year tuition at the school for Marines, special forces from other branches of the armed forces and all combat veterans. The annual black-tie “Gyrene Gala” benefit to honor veterans and raise scholarship funds will be tonight at 6 p.m. at the Naples Grande Resort. Attendees at the 2008 Gyrene Gala will have the opportunity to commemorate posthumously two extraordinary military chaplains: Father Vincent Robert Capodanno and Cardinal John O'Connor. Both are models of strength, courage, and Christian love. Both served in Vietnam and received medals for their military service.

What's the link between military service and Ave Maria? This is what Naples News found out:

On the surface, the association between the Marines and Ave Maria isn’t readily apparent. But [AMU founder Tom] Monaghan said the connection strikes to the university’s core mission. The role of the Marines on campus, Monaghan said, is like a “leavening” agent, a group whose leadership raises the level of the general student body. “We did this university because we want to change the world,” he said. “I’ve always felt that Marine Corps training is the best leadership training there is. It just made sense to me that we bring in students who have this kind of experience, which is unavailable anywhere else. “Marines typically are idealistic, and if they aren’t they become that way. They rise to a higher level of being human beings. The environment that we promote here, with the strong spiritual and strong academics and strong student life, we create great leaders to go out in the world.” [Retired Maj. Gen. J.T. Coyne, a member of the school’s board of regents] added there was a “natural marriage” between the values of honor, courage and commitment promoted by the Marines and Ave Maria’s theological values. “You bring in someone even if he considers himself non-religious; if he comes from the Marine Corps he has maybe a secular religion,” Coyne said. “He’s got a belief that there are enduring values that are meaningful, that are essential not only to a good Marine Corps, but a good society.”...The Marines currently at the school already see themselves as leaders. “Everybody is fully active at all times,” Henley said. “That’s a parallel I see with the Marine Corps. There’s always something to do, there’s always a little further you can go with your education and your spiritual life in all aspects.”
Click these links if you want more information about cathlolics in the armed forces or the Archdiocese for the Military Services.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Local journalists document thriving Ave Maria Florida (the new university community)

For those considering Ave Maria Florida as a place to live or start a business, it is now clear that Ave Maria offers both a great atmosphere and a sound investment.

The recent spate of articles about the town - and swirl of development in the immediate area surrounding Ave Maria - speaks for itself, and the Incense editors especially invite polite comments from those living in Ave Maria or seriously considering doing so.

Ave Maria bucks trend with fast growth - It seems immune from slump - The new town of Ave Maria in Collier County is defying the real estate crash that has sent Southwest Florida and the country into the economic doldrums. Homes are being built, residents are moving in and commercial construction is robust....“That community was not built for speculators,” said Michael Timmerman, a real estate analyst with 25 years working in residential and commercial real estate.“That community was built for people who want to live and work and be part of an educational city. The rest of the market was influenced by speculators.”

Publix is coming to town of Ave Maria - Ave Maria’s developer has announced plans for a Publix supermarket to open in the new town as soon as the last quarter of this year.

About 170 have closed on homes in Ave Maria

Plans for town of Big Cypress submitted to reviewing agencies - Big Cypress would be the second new town to rise in eastern Collier County, the first being Ave Maria and Ave Maria University.

It's new, it's clean ... and it's affordable - Residents sing praises Ave Maria and its amenities - Ave Maria is affordable, new, clean and safe and next to a good school for her kids, she said.

New businesses in Ave Maria - Ave Maria Business Update
Already open: •The Secret Ingredient•Island Bike Shop•Pulte Homes Corporation•Lutgert Insurance•The Bean at Ave Maria•Quik Pack-N-Ship•Ave Maria Utility Company•Beckner Jewelry & Repairs•By Way of the Family •Ave Maria University's Follett Bookstore•Legatus Opening this month: •Emergency Physicians Network•Florida Community Bank Summer: Wilson Miller Inc.•Ave Maria Development•Cilantro Tamales•DHM Inc. dentist office•Salon D'Maria Spa•Cheffy, Passidomo, Wilson & Johnson•Club Car•Milano’s Pizzeria•Smoothie shop August: •BP gas station/Red Rabbit convenience store plus retail center tenants:•Lozano's Mexican Restaurant•China Gourmet•Pizza Shack•Pack & Ship•City Nails•Subway•Hair salon to be named•Mortgage and insurance office to be named 2009:•Publix (January 09)•Arthrex Manufacturing Inc.•Fifth Third Bank