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Contents 03 Letter from the President 04 News 08 Academic Update 24 Alumni Highlights 26 Student Highlights 28 Student Life 30 Athletics 35 Advancement


Mother Teresa of Calcutta’s canonization returned the attention of the world to arguably the most Mary-like person since Mary of Nazareth. Learn more about AMU’s pilgrimage to Rome for the canonization.


AMU students are bringing hope and healing to the Archdiocese of Kolkata by donating funds for solar panels to Seva Kendra, the official social service center of the Archdiocese.


Alumnae Jill Riordan (‘15), Katie Ely (‘16), and Mary Eckard (‘15) are making a difference in the classroom in nearby Immokalee, Florida.


Get to know the University’s Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of Faculty, Dr. Seana Sugrue.






Ave Maria University welcomed Missionaries of Charity Sisters from Miami to celebrate Mother’s feast day on campus.



a v e m a r i a m a g a z i n e | f a l l 2016

Be sure to connect with AMU on social media! Whether it’s staying up-to-date with events on our Facebook feed, seeing life from a student perspective on Snapchat, or watching an academic conference on our YouTube page, be sure to follow us to keep up with what’s happening on campus!



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Ave Maria University Magazine is published by Ave Maria University, Ave Maria, Florida for alumni, parents and friends. Third class postage paid at Ave Maria, Florida. Postmaster: Send address changes to the Office of Institutional Advancement, Ave Maria University, 5050 Ave Maria Blvd., Ave Maria, FL 34142. Ave Maria University is a Catholic, liberal arts institution of higher learning devoted to Mary the Mother of God, inspired by St. John Paul II and Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, and dedicated to the formation of joyful, intentional followers of Jesus Christ through Word and Sacrament, scholarship and service.

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Letter from President Towey


President Towey joined new students for the Class of 2020 photo during orientation weekend in August.

liberal arts education under the skilled direction of Dr. Seana Sugrue, our new Academic Dean; graduates taking their faith and degrees into one of the poorest neighborhoods in America to guide the farmworker children of Immokalee; and AMU shining a light on similarly disadvantaged youth in West Bengal, India. It is significant that our founder, Tom Monaghan, who will turn 80 in March, already can see the first fruits of his vision harvested. The Jubilee of Mercy comes to an end soon. Our works of mercy now must multiply like never before. The Holy Father at the Mass of Canonization called us to “translate into concrete acts that which we invoke in prayer and profess in faith. There is no alternative to charity: those who put themselves at the service of

others, even when they don’t know it, are those who love God.” He went on to say, “Mother Teresa, in all aspects of her life, was a generous dispenser of divine mercy…Let us carry her smile in our hearts and give it to those whom we meet along our journey, especially those who suffer.” Saint Teresa of Calcutta, please pray for your Ave Maria University!

Jim Towey President

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did not deserve to be chosen by the Missionaries of Charity in Calcutta to do the first reading at the Mass of Canonization of Mother Teresa. But then again, I did not deserve to know her for 12 years either. Such are God’s ways. As I stood at the lectern and looked out at the crowd in St. Peter’s Square (which the Vatican estimated at 250,000), I saw the large group of Ave Maria University students, dressed in their distinctive royal blue T-shirts, and thanked God for the privilege of representing them on this historic occasion. Not far away from the students was Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Michael Timmis, and the other trustees and friends of the University who, too, had made the pilgrimage to Rome. The sun shone upon us all, bringing a withering wave of heat reminiscent of Calcutta. I was feeling tremendously nervous and so my goal for the reading was to get through it without embarrassing the University. It surely was a moment of excitement and wonder. The reading assigned to me was from the Book of Wisdom, Chapter 9. It began, “What man can know the intentions of God? Who can divine the will of the Lord?” Indeed the improbability of a humble Albanian 18 year-old leaving her home to be a missionary and teacher in a boarding school in Calcutta, and becoming a saint only 19 years after her death, seemed to fulfill these words of Sacred Scripture. This issue of our magazine highlights how AMU is following the “divine will of the Lord”: students receiving a first-class



a v e m a r i a m a g a z i n e | f a l l 2016



n May 7, 2016, Ave Maria University welcomed His Eminence, Seán Cardinal O’Malley, O.F.M. Cap, as the commencement speaker for the University’s 13th Commencement Ceremony. Cardinal O’Malley began his speech commending the students and alumni of Ave Maria for their corporal and spiritual works of mercy performed through missionary work, especially during this Jubilee Year of Mercy. Cardinal O’Malley recognized Ave Maria as, “indeed, Mother Teresa’s University.” His Eminence expressed gratitude for Tom Monaghan’s witness as an “extraordinary apostle of our day.” His speech focused on issues of the privatization of religion in the new age culture and renounced them as, “poison-ness to the Gospel message of community and connectedness in the body of Christ.” He stressed the importance of being a disciple in today’s age and affirmed that to be a disciple one must take part in a community that speaks that language

Mary Catherine Beller, the 2016 President’s Award winner.

of discipleship. He affirmed, “That language (of discipleship) is spoken here at Ave Maria.” He encouraged the graduates to move from maintenance mode to missionary mode. Cardinal O’Malley said that we must ask ourselves, “What does it mean to live in a culture of unbelief, in a culture that doesn’t even know it doesn’t believe?” His solution lies within the University itself, saying that “we need mentors to pass on the faith, and here at Ave Maria we have those mentors.” President Towey announced the Presidents Award winner,

Mary Catherine Beller, at the 2016 President’s Dinner prior to commencement. Mary was a leading actress in the Shakespeare Troupe, a two-year Residential Hall Assistant, a frequent volunteer with the Mother Teresa Project, leader of a Household, and Biology Club member during her time at AMU. She is currently teaching at Holy Family Academy in Virginia. —Veronica Macias (‘19)

SENIOR AWARDS NIGHT 2016 At the close of each academic year, the graduating class is honored at Senior Awards Night for the contributions they made to the University community during their time at AMU. Faculty, staff and students nominate seniors for these time-honored awards, which recognize achievements in sportsmanship (Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati Sportsmanship Award), service (Saint Teresa of Calcutta Service Award), balance (St. Thomas Aquinas Award for Balance and Eutrapelia), and a joyful participation in and significant contribution to University life (St. John Paul the Second Culture Award). Over the course of the night, the Department of Student Affairs also recognizes the Club of the Year, the Male and Female Households of the Year, and the Advisor of the Year. The event closes with the tongue-in-cheek “Senior Superlatives,” gathered and presented by the Student Government Association.

A R E C O R D 2 1 1 U N D E R G R A D U AT E S R E C E I V E D T H E I R D I P L O M A S O N C O M M E N C E M E N T D AY




Exhibit Open Until December 16, 2016 Second Floor, Ave Maria University Canizaro Library “glamor.” Although these adjectives are potentially applicable, the most intriguing thing about the portraits is the stories that surround them. These stories involve emotional exhaustion, broken fingernails, and sweat. Service is messy and it requires taking off the high heels and loosening the tie. It is oftentimes uncomfortable. What is so beautiful about the exhibit is that it captures people who allowed empathy for others to drive them. This desire overpowered any other self-concern and lead radical betterment of the world.

What makes Collopy’s subjects so extraordinary is that not only did they recognize specific needs, they did everything in their power to fulfill them. The exhibit stands as a testament to the power of an individual. It reminds the Ave Maria University community to recognize needs and seek to fulfill them. “Humanity of Service” empowers students to embrace service now, whether that involves helping a classmate with homework or serving our neighbors in Immokalee. —Annie Schlueter (‘20)

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he photographs that make up the “Humanity of Service” exhibit in the Canizaro Library are seemingly unrelated. From Mother Teresa to Matt Damon, the pictures portray people that perhaps have more differences than similarities. Despite all being renowned public figures, these individuals have led diverse lives. However, the overarching theme of service is what binds them together. These pictures are a part of the “Architects of Peace” project, created by Michael Collopy. Forty portraits are featured in the exhibit, which is displayed permanently in a variety of schools and museums across the country. Collopy has an impressive resume, which includes having photographed a wide array of world leaders and entertainers. Additionally, he created the Architects of Peace Foundation, which strives to educate about peace. Because of the quality of Collopy’s gorgeous black and white photography, it is easy to look at the portraits and think “power” or



a v e m a r i a m a g a z i n e | f a l l 2016



The sixth annual Napa Institute Conference was held in July at the Meritage Resort and Spa in Napa, California. The Napa Institute formed in order to assist Catholic leaders to continue to live out Christ’s call for on-going evangelization in the midst of challenges posed by the twenty-first century. President Jim Towey represented Ave Maria University at this year’s Napa Conference, pictured above with friends Dr. Robby George, Pastor Rick Warren, and Reverend Dr. Eugene Rivers. Topics covered included redemptive suffering, human ecology, and morality and neo-Gnosticism, just to name a few. The conference featured a variety of talks on Catholicism in a secular world, by a wide range of nationally renowned speakers. There were opportunities for conference participants to attend daily Mass as well as utilize spiritual direction and the sacrament of reconciliation. Moreover, the conference provided opportunity for networking and fellowship. —Annie Schleuter (‘20)


“On Learning in a Challenging Time” Each Fall, the beginning of a new academic year is marked by a formal assembly of the University community. Faculty, administration, and students gather together to welcome the new students and faculty, to recognize those students on the Dean’s List, and to hear the convocation address. On September 1st, Convocation speaker Dr. Robert Kennedy spoke about the challenges facing institutions of higher education in our time, and about how to respond with courage, upholding the pursuit of learning as a good in itself. Kennedy, who serves as Professor and Chair of the Department of Catholic Studies at the University of St. Thomas, and who is also a member of Ave Maria University’s Board of Trustees, began by speaking about challenges in a general way. He went on to list some of the challenges facing institutions of higher education, and he also discussed those challenges particular to a Catholic university. He concluded with some challenges of his own, aimed at inspiring the

is a deviation from the university’s true purpose. “Can we resist the temptation to embrace new technologies for their own sake?” Kennedy asked. He recommended that universities have the courage to discern between which technologies to adopt, becoming “masters” of technology, and not its “servants.” Kennedy moved on to examine some of the challenges facing universities that embrace “the complementarity of faith and reason in an aggressively secular age.” These challenges are rooted in a disbelief in the harmony between faith and reason. In response, Kennedy made two points: First, believing as we do that “truth has one Author,” there cannot be contradictory truths; we must “press forward when conflicts occur,” he said, confident that the conflict will dissolve with careful examina-

“I believe that AMU…will meet our challenges. We will adapt, and we will thrive.”

tion. Second, Kennedy pointed out how faith can “purify and enrich other disciplines.” Disciplines like theology and philosophy can be a boon to a university’s pursuit of truth, offering answers where other disciplines, like science and technology, fall short. Before closing, Kennedy challenged Ave Maria University students to do three things during their time in college. First, he urged them to commit themselves to finding and establishing balance in their lives. Second, he challenged the students to seek the good, the true, and the beautiful, “surrounded by faculty and staff who can help you discover these things.” Finally, Kennedy encouraged them to open themselves up to being formed by their time at Ave Maria. “You will rarely again in your lives be surrounded by so many good people,” he said. “Let them have an impact on you.” Concluding his address, Kennedy affirmed that, yes, we do live in challenging times. But, if we remember the examples of the great men and women of history who rose up and seized the opportunity that challenges presented, we can remain confident that these difficulties, when answered with courage, will only make us stronger. “I believe that AMU…will meet our challenges,” he said. “We will adapt, and we will thrive.” Dr. Robert Kennedy, husband and father of 12, received his Ph.D. in medieval studies with a concentration in philosophy and theology from the University of Notre Dame. He also holds M.A. degrees in biblical criticism and business administration. He is the author of some 200 essays, book reviews and articles on a variety of topics, including corporate social responsibility, professionalism, spirituality in the workplace, wealth creation, ethical investment, and other issues related to culture and public life.

Dr. Robert Kennedy addresses students, faculty, staff, and administrators at the 2016 Academic Convocation.

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students present to make the most of their time at AMU. In response to any challenge, Kennedy said, either we can cower in fear, or we can rise with courage. “This is what the great men and women of history have always done,” Kennedy said. When faced with difficulties, great men and women have responded with courage. Challenges, in turn, can be seen as an opportunity for us to become better, pushing us and demanding the best of us. With this attitude of courage in the face of difficulty as the lens through which to view the situation of universities today, Kennedy went on to spell out some of the challenges. Founded eight hundred years ago as institutions where teachers and students could associate free from external pressures, universities are now being pushed to bend to these same pressures. One such pressure is the demand for utility, the demand that universities be ordered towards securing students with jobs after college, or towards being an answer to social problems. It is vital that universities not lose sight of their proper goal: the life of the mind and the pursuit of truth, goodness, and beauty. Another challenge is the expectation that a university implements the latest advances in technology. Often, he said, implementing new technologies when older methods worked well



ped·a·go·gy |ˈpedəˌgägē| the art or practice of teaching.

strategy in capturing students’ attention, storytelling can create opportunities for educators and students to learn together. Over the past years in my career,

AMU professors share their thoughts on a single topic: pedagogy

many graduates have shared that they remember the patient “stories” long after graduation, and that often the stories helped nursing graduates recall what they have learned in the classroom and how to translate what they have learned


classes of 31 graduate-level professors

The call to teach is

across multiple universities. Whether

not met by impart-

it was due to enthusiasm or teaching

ing information

style, organization or personal experi-

from a particular

ence, the top communicators reached

field of knowledge.

their audiences early and often. What

The subject matter

set them apart? Was there a common

of a “discipline”

trait? Absolutely. They loved their field

is simply the in-

and they truly cared if their students

strument through which a teacher leads

were loving it too. I once witnessed a

the student to the formation of good

professor talk enthusiastically about her

habits. A teacher ought to use the field

favorite neuropeptide for 30 minutes.

of knowledge as a “space” for character

It was riveting. I wanted a favorite neu-

formation. Perhaps Mother Teresa’s

ropeptide of my own! Another profes-

“pedagogy” for “teaching” charity may

sor told me before class “This doesn’t

help here.

feel like work. I’d probably spend the

I suspect God’s “pedagogical” Word to

next few hours talking about this stuff

us through Mother Teresa is a reminder

anyway…to whomever would listen!”

that charity is a personal kenosis, a will-

That’s caring. Through my observations,

ingness to give ourselves away to this

I’ve learned that oozing with passion

person, “here and now.” For a teacher, it

makes a professor more approachable,

consists in using the knowledge con-

less intimidating, turns dry slides into

tained in a subject matter as a means

juicy stories, makes an hour lecture feel

through which to give oneself entirely to

like 15 minutes, and directs students

each and every pupil.

towards conversation and pertinent

Academic lofty ideas, fields of study, “processes” to offer students “universal” knowledge—these are, most of the time,

organizations outside of the classroom. Prof. Craig Flanagan is Visiting Assistant Professor of Biology

a veil of the original sin disguised in the Pygmalion habit.


Dr. Ubiratan Rezende is Associate a v e m a r i a m a g a z i n e | f a l l 2016

Professor of Business


MCNULTY: In the profession of Nursing I have


found that one of


the most effective

earning an under-

teaching strate-

graduate degree,

gies that nurse

I’ve taken courses

educators can

by, worked closely

use in the classroom is storytelling. Not

with, or audited

only can storytelling be a very effective

into their approach and care with the patients and families they serve. Clinical stories help assimilate theory with clinical practice, bringing nursing to life! By exposing students to real clinical stories in the classroom, they can begin to learn how to increase their capacity to create their own stories as future nurses and to listen intently to their patients’ stories. Storytelling can promote critical thinking, which is essential in managing complex patient care issues in an ever-changing healthcare world. Stories are the narratives that help give meaning to our lives and serve to promote healing of mind, body and spirit most especially when told from the heart! Dr. Denise McNulty is Associate Professor & Department Chair of Nursing DOROTHY THOMPSON: As a business professor in a Catholic university, I understand that it is critical to create a culture which is centered on the full development of the student. Business courses take on more practical and applied characteristics as they relate to their particular major. Without the knowledge and skills needed to be a part of the professional world, a student would be unprepared for the marketplace and unprepared to live a life that makes the world a better place for others to live in after he/she is gone. By teaching my business students how to work, they are learning and growing

as part of their development as a human person. Business has an ethical dimension to it, and through work we learn to become better human beings. Because business courses are applied courses, the integration of social and spiritual realities is more subtle. I like to look at different companies to see how they contribute to the common good of society. Dr. Dorothy Thompson is Assistant Professor of Business TAYLOR FERRANTI: The hallmark of fine singing is a complete control over the mechanics of tone production. This type of technical efficiency frees the artist to successfully reveal the subtleties of phrasing and the variety of moods inherent in all great music. Faithful review of the fundamentals of tone production is crucial to the study of voice. Uninspired rote singing of scale passages proves useless unless the fundamentals of vocalism are understood as well as practiced. Historical vocal pedagogy was based primarily on a few fundamental facts underlying the physical laws of sound. Thus, instruction became a matter of training vocal muscles, via

AMU Students Contribute to New Translation of Major St. Jerome Work


helped a couple of them get accepted leven AMU students had the into graduate school. But it is also a unique opportunity to work with worthwhile endeavor in and of itself.” their professor on a published Going on, he declares: translation of one of St. Jerome’s major “I am very proud “I am so proud that they tackled this.” works. The first volume, to put Ave Maria Each of the AMU stuwhich appeared in print University on the dents recruited to help May 2016, is published in map like this.” translate was assigned the students’ own names, —Dr. Thomas P. Scheck one of the twelve comwith Dr. Scheck listed as mentaries. The twelfth co-translator and volcommentary—on the ume editor. prophet Amos—was Dr. Thomas P. Scheck, contributed by Rev. Dr. Associate Professor of Jason Soenksen at ConTheology, recruited the cordia University, Wiseleven AMU students, consin. This two-volboth graduate and ume work marks the undergraduate, to work first-ever published on the Latin translation English translation of project after InterVarsiSt. Jerome’s Commenty Press invited him to taries on the Twelve be the editor of a new, Prophets. Volume I two-volume translation features an introducof St. Jerome’s Comtion and notes by mentaries on the Twelve Minor Prophets. He had the idea to open Dr. Scheck and the first group of seven commentaries. Volume II, containing the up the opportunity to some of his students. “I am very proud to put Ave Maria remaining five commentaries, is currently in production. The two volumes University on the map like this,” Scheck are part of InterVarsity Press’ Ancient says. “And to help these students get a Christian Texts series, edited by Thomas publication in their own name. It will C. Oden and Gerald L. Bray. help them professionally; it has already

directed exercise, to coordinate in the most efficient manner possible. At the same time, this directed exercise was designed to eliminate the activwith efficient coordination. A singer is capable of making beautiful sounds only to the extent that the coordinative process of the laryngeal muscles involved in phonation will permit. This obstacle is ever-present for the modern-day voice teacher! Dr. Taylor Ferranti is Visiting Associate Professor of Music

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ity of those muscles that interfered



NURSING: YEAR 2 a v e m a r i a m a g a z i n e | f a l l 2016



he Bachelor of Science in Nursing Program is just one-year-old, but this academic year promises to be another milestone: the first cohort of majors is due to graduate in May 2017. A lot of work goes into developing and writing a brand new curriculum, hiring appropriate faculty, creating lab space, and securing clinical experience opportunities for students. In spite of the challenges of being a “startup,” AMU’s nursing program has already landed some significant milestones. Besides meeting all of the requirements set by the Florida Board of Nursing, AMU’s B.S.N. program is the first one in Collier County, and also the only Catholic nursing program in all of Southwest Florida. “Our students stand out in the clinical setting,” Dr. Denise McNulty, founder

and director of the program says. She means it quite literally: AMU’s program is one of the few in the area that requires students to wear a white uniform. “Many patients and staff have made comments that our students stand out and look so professional in their white uniforms,” she goes on to explain. “We want our nursing students to look like nursing students—and future nurses!” Denise McNulty, DNP, MSN, RN-BC, ARNP, not only oversees the program’s operations, but she also teaches a number of the courses. McNulty developed a nursing model of healing for AMU’s program inspired by Mother Teresa’s words about faith, love and service. She describes the experience of opening a new program—from the drafting of a proposal for the Board of Trustees to the

acceptance of a second cohort of students—as “a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.” Over the past year, what have our nursing students been up to? The first cohort of students, who came into the program as juniors, began their clinical training at local hospitals and healthcare agencies. They were accompanied by clinical instructors who are also currently practicing nurses—something not all nursing programs can boast, and a unique advantage for our students. Our nursing students also began attending the local Collier County Nurses dinner meetings, which afford many opportunities for the students to meet and network with nurse leaders and staff nurses in the area. Another project the students worked on this past year was a class on

in all of them. My favorite part of the nursing program is the people to whom I bring healing. I am empowered to do so by this program, which has trained me both as a professional and a person.” —Sarah Blanchard

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Diabetes, which they presented to seniors at the Golden Gate Community Center in Naples. This year, while the second cohort of eight new students is starting on their clinical training, the first cohort is finishing senior year and preparing for graduation, a step that will make them eligible to take the NCLEX-RN examination. Nursing student Michelle O’Loughlin, who is preparing to graduate in May, reflects on her experience thus far and offers an insight into what sets Ave’s first cohort of B.S.N. AMU’s B.S.N. program apart students (L to R) Carolyn from other programs: “The Doetsch, Michelle O’Loughlin, nursing program has helped and Tyler Church. me learn not only the science of nursing, but also the art. and the caring element. I now underWhile the science is taught exceptionally stand the difference between having a here, it is also taught well elsewhere. job as a nurse and being one. Being a However, here at Ave, we also learn the nurse involves treating the whole human art of nursing, which unlike the science, being—both soul and body. Love your includes both the therapeutic element patients and you will begin to see Christ


a v e m a r i a m a g a z i n e | f a l l 2016





Students take their seats at Mother’s canonization Mass.

PERHAPS IT HAS TO DO WITH THE close friendship that Ave Maria’s President, Jim Towey, had with Mother Teresa during the last twelve years of her life, when he served as her legal counsel. Or with the new nursing program at the University that models her concern for the God-given dignity of the sick and suffering. Perhaps it is the Mother Teresa Project that is in its third year on Ave’s campus and is the only one in all of higher education in America to have the permission of her headquarters in Calcutta to offer a program of study and service in her name. Whatever the reason, what is clear is that no University in the world is more inspired by this saint of Calcutta or disposed to follow in her footsteps than Ave Maria University. As evidence of this, Ave Maria sent a delegation of over sixty students, members of the administration, staff, trustees, and friends of the University on a pilgrimage to Rome to attend the Canonization Mass of Teresa of Calcutta on September 4th. President Towey was asked by Sr. Prema, M.C., Superior General of the Missionaries of Charity, to do the first reading at the Mass. The honor of having the University’s president proclaim the word of God in St. Peter’s Square during the Mass was on the minds of the entire campus community. Indeed as he read from the Book of Wisdom, across the globe on Ave Maria’s campus, more than two hundred students were assembled in in the lobby of Xavier Hall at 4 a.m. to

watch the Canonization proceedings live from Rome. This gathering inauguarated the campus-wide celebration captioned as the “Week for Mother” and later included a screening of a movie on Mother Teresa’s life, a holy hour, lecture, pro-life color run, and an evening of reflection on the significance of this “Saint of the Gutters.” The festivities culminated with an “Inspiration Day” celebration on September 10th, the day Mother was called in 1946 to found the Missionaries of Charity. Mother Teresa’s nuns in Miami filled a bus with those they serve in their soup kitchen and shelter, as well as a host of local volunteers, and came to Ave Maria for a fiesta of fine Indian food and dance by a group of Ave students. Pope Francis, in his homily for Mother Teresa’s Canonization, said that “the task which the Lord gives us is the vocation to charity in which each of Christ’s disciples puts his or her entire life at His service, so to grow each day in love.” Upon hearing these words echo across St. Peter’s Square in Rome, AMU student John Benz thought: “This summarizes, quite beautifully, Mother Teresa’s life.” Reflecting further, he realized that this vocation to charity is not limited to saints like Mother Teresa, but is availed to all with “hearts to love and hands to serve,” as she so frequently said. Many of the students on the pilgrimage to Rome for St. Teresa’s Canonization had similar epiphanies about the call to serve. A number of them recognized how intimately united the message of loving service

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At Ave Maria University’s commencement ceremony last May, His Eminence Cardinal Sean O’Malley stated that he stood on the campus of “Mother Teresa’s University.” What prompted him to make such an extraordinary claim?


“Being in Rome for Mother Teresa’s canonization helped me realize that the beauty of the Church is everywhere.”

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- Grace Williams (‘19)


is with the message of mercy. This theme was reflected in the day itself, September 4th, which was also a Jubilee for Workers of Mercy and Volunteers. One of the most meaningful parts of the trip, Catie Crnkovich said, was the fact that it took place within the Jubilee Year of Mercy. Catie, who is a senior Classics major, recalls that the Mass began with a choir chanting the motto of the Jubilee Year: Misericordes Sicut Pater. “For me,” Catie says, “the whole trip was focused on understanding better God’s mercy. The fact that we got to go to Rome for this huge event and be immersed in graces was a great grace and, I think, showed God’s mercy for all of us who went on the trip and for this University as a whole, which we were all representing.” The group of students arrived in Rome 36 hours before the Canonization. Their intense weekend schedule included daily Mass, visits to eleven churches and basilicas, participation in a procession of St. Teresa’s relics and a stop by her room at the San Gregorio Homeless Shelter. It also included a journey along the Holy Stairs near the Sistine Chapel, stops at four designated Jubilee of Mercy churches and entrances through the “Holy Doors” designated by Pope Francis, and, of course, attendance at the Canonization Mass, where, like their friends back home on campus, they arrived in the Square at 4AM to be positioned as

close to the altar as possible. “There was a beautiful, joyful spirit to the group,” Corinne MacDonald, who accompanied the students, said. “Mother must have been with us. The students were awesome pilgrims: always up for the sacrifice and ready to encounter the Lord everywhere they walked the Eternal City.” Sophomore Grace Williams, was struck by the contrast between the breathtaking beauty of Rome, the Eternal City, and the filth of the streets in Calcutta where Mother Teresa worked. “Being in Rome for Mother’s canonization helped me realize that the beauty of the Church is everywhere,” she says. “You simply need to see through the eyes of Christ in order to truly see the full image of beauty.” The weekend quickly came to a close, and it was time for the University students to return to their studies. As they boarded their plane back to the United States, the delegation of trustees and AMU friends, led by President Towey, continued on to Assisi for additional days spent in pilgrimage. Removed into the countryside, away from the crowds and splendor of Rome, they spent time in reflection on the witness of two other saints who lived the call of mercy and love through service: Francis and Clare of Assisi. Both Francis and Clare rejected the things of the world to follow the “folly” of God. Both were mocked

Mother Teresa Project staffer Mary Kate Lee with visitors on Inspiration Day.

efforts that Ave Maria University professors, students, administrators, staff, donors and others are making to build up our little mission within the Catholic Church. We cannot begin to understand what God has in mind for Ave Maria in the centuries to come.” This year, Ave will celebrate the great gift of God’s mercy that was St. Mother Teresa’s life. Through the trip by the delegates of AMU, the celebrations on campus, and the academic conferences and activities scheduled throughout the academic year will only solidify the tight bonds of friendship that make Ave Maria, in Cardinal O’Malley’s words, “truly Mother Teresa’s University.”

(Below, L to R) Students celebrate at 4 a.m. during the live stream of Mother Teresa’s canonization. Students (L to R) Grace Williams (‘19), Gerrick Gamboa (‘17), and Maeve Alflen (‘18) after the canonization in Rome. Sister Prema (Mother Teresa’s successor) with the President’s Medal of Ave Maria University presented by Board of Trustees Chairman Michael Timmis and AMU’s delegation in Rome.

ave ma r ia maga z i ne | ave ma r

and reviled when they passed by worldly pleasures in order to serve the poor and the lowly. Neither Saint Francis, nor Saint Clare, nor, for that matter, Mother Teresa, could have imagined the great things in store for them when they first heard the call, “Come, follow Me.” It was this thought that President Towey held in his heart as he journeyed back to Ave Maria at the conclusion of the pilgrimage. In a reflection he sent out to the University community, he wrote: “I came away from my trip to Rome and Assisi with the conviction that the same dynamic that overshadowed the 13th century lives of Francis and Clare applies to all of the


“I hope one day He will help us to light the fire of charity in all the cities

Come, Be My Light


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s students at Ave Maria are just waking up and heading to their first morning class, nine thousand miles away, in a small village in West Bengal, there are students turning on solar-powered lights and sitting down to spend the evening in study. The village is called Bamandanga, and the students are at Emily House, a hostel—or boarding school—for girls. Emily House ran for nearly two decades without a reliable source of energy. Massive power cuts at night meant that the girls could not rely on having light to work by in the evenings. The unpredictability made it difficult for them to use their time productively, and often left them sitting in the dark. Light is something frequently taken for

AMU students visit Seva Kendra in May.

granted in the U.S.—perhaps especially in southwest Florida, the “Sunshine State.” Getting bright light at any time of day is, quite literally, as easy as flicking a switch. But for most of the villages in rural India, light after sunset is a precious commodity. Over the years, some of the related hostels for boys have had solar lights installed. But by 2014, not one of the girls’ hostels could rely on a power supply at night. It was at that time that Ave Maria University was given the opportunity to help out. Emily House is one of the many initia-

tives of Seva Kendra, the official social service center of the Archdiocese of Kolkata. The center is run by Fr. Franklin Menezes, who has been overseeing and leading Seva Kendra’s efforts in “bringing hope and healing” to the impoverished and underprivileged of Calcutta, with a special emphasis on sustainability. “He is just an extraordinary priest,” AMU President Jim Towey remarks, calling special attention to Fr. Franklin’s entrepreneurial investment in “green” alternatives. One such instance

of this is the system by which Seva Kendra is powered: stored rainwater. Another example is its Alternative Energy Solutions Project, through which young men and women are trained in how to assemble and install solar lights—which is where Emily House and Ave Maria University come in. Each year, AMU’s Mother Teresa Project takes a group of students on a mission trip to serve the poor alongside the Missionaries of Charity in Calcutta. Of course the aim of the trip is to offer physical service to those in need, but there is only so much that can be done in the space of a week’s visit. The mission trip has the far more lasting effect of enriching the lives of the students who go to serve.

the Archdiocese of Kolkata. It is easy to see how the people of Calcutta enrich the lives of the AMU students who visit them, but what more can AMU do in turn to enrich the lives of the poor? President Towey, who has known Fr. Franklin Menezes for many years, saw the opportunity to do just that when he heard about Emily House and the need for solar lighting. With a $5,000 donation from Ave Maria University in 2014, Seva Kendra was able to install solar lighting at Emily House, finally allowing for the girls there to have a normal evening life of recreation and study. One year later, AMU made another dona-

(Left): AMU students present Seva Kendra Vice President and Director, Fr. Franklin Menezes, with an Ave Maria University t-shirt.

Without exception, all of the students return home with countless stories of how they have been inspired and touched by the people of Calcutta. “Our student ambassadors to Calcutta are building a bridge,” President Towey says. “But it’s not enough for our students to be educated and enriched by the experience. We wanted to do something to help educational advancement there as well.” The true aim is to build a reciprocal relationship of giving and receiving between AMU and

tion, this time to set up solar lighting for a boy’s hostel, Henry House, in Kearchand. Just this past summer, the University helped set up lighting for a third hostel in Serampore. These three hostels, which each house around 100-130 girls and boys, are now lit for four hours every night— from 6-10pm—thanks to Seva Kendra’s groundwork and the donations from AMU. The installation of solar lighting for the students in West Bengal is a step towards President Towey’s hope for a relationship of giving and receiving between the

University and the Archdiocese of Kolkata. Three groups of AMU students on the Calcutta mission trip have had the opportunity to meet Fr. Franklin, tour Seva Kendra’s headquarters and get a glimpse into its work in the slums. Unanimously, the first thing that struck the students was Fr. Franklin’s joy. The second thing was his clear delight in wearing the “AMU” t-shirt President Towey had given him the year before. “He kept pointing at the shirt, laughing and smiling,” alumna Mary Katherine Lee recalls. Corey Blanchard, an AMU senior, agrees. He also remembers being struck by how Fr. Franklin’s work at Seva Kendra empowers individuals to take initiative. “Fr. Franklin’s idea is that it’s better to build leaders, to show them how to lead in their communities, in order to create a better economy,” he explains. For junior Marisa Helms, something Fr. Franklin said sticks out in her mind particularly. “I remember Fr. Frank telling our group that through our efforts with the Mother Teresa Project we are putting into light what was meant by the words ‘Come be my light.’” “Come, be my light.” Those are the words Jesus used in calling St. Mother Teresa to serve the poorest of the poor in the slums of Calcutta. And, echoing the theme of light, Mother Teresa expressed the desire to light up all of India with “the fire of charity.” As the sun rises over Ave Maria’s campus, it is also setting over Emily House in West Bengal. In that moment, the two are united, not just in the pursuit of learning, not just in the physical link between a donation and a solar light, but also—and more importantly—in the great blaze of charity, that flows out of the heart of God, is passed among his people, and then brought home again, into the Light that is Love.

ave ma r ia maga z i ne | ave ma r

of India—where there are poor living in the slums.” –St. Teresa of Calcutta


(L to R) Mary Eckard (‘15), Katie Ely (‘16), and Jill Riordan (‘15)



Jill Riordan (’15)


working towards building a relationship with families, individuals and institutions in Immokalee. For example, the Mother Teresa Project provides AMU students with opportunities to serve and volunteer on a regular basis in Immokalee. Last year more than 10,000 service hours were logged through the program, with the majority of hours served in Immokalee. AMU’s newly-formed department of Education provided an additional track of engagement. The Elementary (K-6) Education Program is working in close association with the Collier County Public Schools to offer AMU students the opportunity to work as aids or student teachers in the schools of Immokalee, which for decades

My focus has always been to engage every student every day through collaborative group work. My advice for those thinking about becoming teachers is to watch as many teachers as you can. It is such a great experience in college to be able to observe so many different teachers, grade levels, and schools. Every teacher is unique!  The professors in Ave’s Education Department have so much experience in all levels of education. I learned so much through the professors sharing their experiences and advice. I still keep in contact with some of these professors and they are always willing to offer their advice and thoughts.  This fall, I will start my masters in Educational Leadership.

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y home – the meaning of the word “Immokalee” in the Mikasuki language. Located about 20 miles inland from the Gulf of Mexico and 8 miles from the Ave Maria University campus, the city of Immokalee is an agricultural center and leading supplier of tomatoes in the United States. Historically, the area has been demographically diverse, originally settled by the Calusa Indians, and followed by the Seminole Indians, who were joined by traders, hunters, ranchers, escaped slaves, and pioneer families. Today, Immokalee still reflects that diversity and consists of a community in search of a better life, with a population largely made up of immigrants from Mexico, Guatemala, and Haiti. For many in Immokalee, the “better life” still eludes them. Migrant workers labor under harsh conditions with little pay, and employment opportunities are constantly in flux with the seasons. According to some studies, 43% of the population live below the poverty line. When Ave Maria University first broke ground to build its campus in the middle of tomato fields, some wondered why it was making a permanent home for itself so far removed from the beaten path of nearby Naples. But not AMU’s founder Tom Monaghan, who saw AMU’s siting as providential. He envisioned the role Ave Maria could play as a bridge between the affluence of the Southwest Florida retirement communities and the needs of those in neighboring Immokalee. Since arriving on its permanent campus in the fall of 2007, the University has been


Katie Ely (’16)


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My greatest challenge so far is one every new teacher faces: adjusting to being in a new place with the responsibility of teaching students who come to you with different strengths, different needs, different levels of development, and different personalities. My greatest pride is meeting every student’s need, seeing students progress in their learning, and collaborating with my colleagues. My number one piece of advice to those seeking an Education Major is to ask as many questions as you can during your internship and put your all into it! I hope to attend graduate school to obtain a Master of Education in Reading Education. I would like to become a Reading Coach at the elementary level, and specialize in reading differentiation and intervention.


have ranked among the lowest-performing in the state of Florida. As part of the requirements for the Education degree, AMU students complete three semesters of practicum experience, which consists in one full-day per week spent in the classroom under trained cooperating master classroom teachers. This experience culminates in a full-semester teaching internship. AMU students typically serve at least two of their semesters in Immokalee schools. These placements afford AMU students the unique opportunity to work with at-risk students in migrant schools. For many undergraduates pursuing a teaching career, these experi-

ences are powerful ones. “Our students all wind up loving the experience of working with the children of Immokalee,” Dr. Seana Sugrue, Vice President for Academic Affairs, remarked. “It is often a life-changing experience for our teacher-candidates who, more often than not, then actively seek out their first teaching jobs in at-risk schools.” Their search does not take them far from campus. Three AMU program graduates— Mary Eckard (’15), Katie Ely (’16), and Jill Riordan (’15)—are currently teaching in Immokalee. “It has been challenging to meet the diverse needs of my students,” Mary said of her experience so far, adding, “but I have loved every minute of it. My

Mary Eckard (’15)

My main focus is to meet the needs of my students by teaching them in the ways that they are best able to learn. I feel very blessed because as I help my students grow and learn new things every day, they are likewise doing the same for me. AMU helped me prepare for my professional work by developing me as a whole person, rather than strictly focusing on academics. It is extremely important that as educators, we are helping our students learn and grow in different aspects of life beyond academics. As Theodore Roosevelt said, “To educate a person in mind and not in morals is to educate a menace to society.” I am very grateful to Ave Maria for teaching me the importance of this so that I may carry it over into my work with students as well. I hope that I can maintain and develop even more passion for teaching. My plan is to work hard and continually learn more so that I can help make a difference in the lives of as many children as possible.

greatest pride and joy comes from my students, their efforts to learn, and their growth.” Several of the faculty in AMU’s Education Department are themselves active in Immokalee schools on a day-to-day basis. Dr. Joy Bonnaig, for instance, teaches a University course on identifying and working with diverse and exceptional students. She is also an Intervention Support Specialist at Lake Trafford School in Immokalee. Ms. Shirley Rainwaters, the Literacy Coach at Immokalee High School, also teaches the AMU course EDUC 310: Teaching Social Studies in the Classroom. These professors, and the entire Education faculty, are well equipped to prepare AMU students to flourish in any educational environment, no matter how challenging. Katie Ely is grateful to have been taught by professors who were also active in the Collier County Public Schools, since they were able to present information with the expectations and procedures of the local school system in mind. “My AMU

education prepared me for my professional work by connecting me with professionals working in the school district,” she explains. “These professors provided insights and practical knowledge that was current with educational philosophy and research, and held us to the expectations of the district.” AMU’s Elementary Education Program is approved by the state of Florida as an initial teacher preparation, and is in line with the most recent expectations for excellence in teacher preparation. Program graduates qualify for Florida professional certification for grades K-6, including ESOL and Reading Endorsements. Two of the program’s required courses focus on teaching English language learners (ELL), and seven of the required courses are ESOL (English for speakers of other languages) infused. These aspects of the program prepare AMU graduates well for working in migrant and at-risk schools. Jill Riordan spoke about the challenges in working with ELL students, and the joy she experiences when progress in the classroom is achieved. “I never imagined

the amount of planning, repetition, and assistance we need to provide,” she says. “It is all worth it to see the growth and ‘ahha!’ moments in the classroom. The greatest joy comes from working with students of different backgrounds, and watching them grow into successful students.” These three AMU graduates are bringing their own diverse backgrounds, and their formation in the liberal arts, into the lives of the elementary students of Immokalee. In turn, they have been welcomed into the community as one of their own. “I feel at home teaching in Immokalee because the sense of community and family at my school,” Jill shared. “It is not always easy to teach at a Title 1 school, but the staff at Village Oaks Elementary is like a family, always looking out for each other and working together to ensure the success, safety, and well-being of our students.” “Home is where the heart is,” Mary added. “And that is exactly how Immokalee has become home for me. My heart is with my students here in this community.” For Mary, Katie, and Jill, Immokalee— “My Home”—has become theirs.

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an interview with

Dr. Seana Sugrue by Sarah Blanchard

Dr. Seana Sugrue is the Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of Faculty at Ave Maria University. She holds a B.A. in business administration from Bishop’s University, a LL.B. from the University of Ottawa, and both an LL.M. and a D.C.L. from McGill University. Dr. Sugrue came to Ave Maria University in 2004 as Associate Professor of Politics, where she has taught classes on constitutional law, public policy, international relations and American government. Her favorite place on campus is the classroom.

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On her education…


I am a product of the Canadian education system. I have three law degrees, and my highest law degree, a doctorate of civil law, is an interdisciplinary degree in which I was allowed to approach the study of law from a sociological and a philosophical perspective—to question why it is that people obey law and how it is that they end up shaping it in their own lives.

On her choice to study law… I chose my specialty in part because I have family members who are lawyers, but the major reason why I continued in it was because I had a remarkable mentor,

On the greatest intellectual and professional influence in her life… Perhaps surprisingly, I’d say the greatest intellectual and professional influence in my life was my grandfather. He had a grade-four education, but he was very wise. One of the best pieces of advice he ever gave me was: “keep it simple.”

On a book that has had a major influence…

On what she most treasures in her office… What I treasure most in my office are the people that I get to work with. I have colleagues whom I admire and value tremendously, and the students at Ave Maria are a source of great joy.

On her duties as the newly named VPAA… My duties as Vice President of Academic Affairs involve governance together with the faculty in creating policies and programs to provide the highest possible integrity and excellence in the education. I also try to ensure that everyone who comes here is valued and treated fairly.

C. S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity helped solidify my understanding of the possibility of reconciling my intellectual commitments with the commitments of my heart.

On her favorite course to teach… My favorite course to teach is Constitutional Law. I love it because the students find it challenging, and it’s an opportunity for me to introduce them to a whole new world and a way of thinking which is one in accord with legal reasoning.

On her current research interest… I am currently interested in questions of populism and politics because of the current election cycle. The issue of how elites and those who are members of the underclass have starkly identified with various parties and have interacted in making policy is something that I find intriguing.

On the future of AMU… I admire my colleagues in the administration. I think [President] Jim Towey is an extraordinary leader. He has a vision for the University which will take us forward in a spirit of love and on a firm foundation, and one which is consistent with Mr. Monaghan’s vision of creating an excellent Catholic university that could bring souls to heaven.

On the best training she’s ever received…

On a past accomplishment… I previously worked in academic administration at Princeton University, where I helped start the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions with Robbie George, who is a dear friend and one of my intellectual idols.

professional development—one which encourages best practices in pedagogy, and the other which is dedicated to cultivating excellence in student writing. Beyond that, I want to secure more resources to fund their scholarship and to provide more opportunities for undergraduates to work as research assistants. The potential for collaboration between our students and our faculty is tremendous.

On her hopes for the upcoming academic year… What I hope in moving forward as Vice President of Academic Affairs is to encourage the creation of an intellectual community in which we’re inspired by our pursuit of truth and our love of neighbor, and where we can collectively make small yet significant contributions to the betterment of others. But if I can’t do that, getting through the year without doing harm would be great!

On future plans for Academic Affairs… I do think that our junior faculty are the future of the University, and that a significant investment needs to be made in them. We started this in a modest way with some ad hoc committees this semester for their

I think the best training for being Vice President of Academic Affairs is being a mother. You need to understand people. You need to understand their hopes and their fears. It calls upon you to love them as they are, and to understand that you have a commitment to do the very best that you can by them. At the same time, you need to do what is best for the whole. Balancing individual needs or demands with the good of the whole is tricky business. I’m not sure any professional training could match parenthood in helping to see matters from different perspectives, realizing that no matter what decisions are made, not everyone will be happy. Parents are held to high standards. They are expected to make responsible, albeit imperfect, choices.

One parting piece of advice… If I could give one piece of advice as an academic or as an administrator, it would be to love the people with whom you work. That’s sometimes easier said than done, but it is what we are called to do, whatever our position in life.

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Roderick Macdonald at McGill University. He passed away a couple of years ago. He was a very creative individual, very unconventional, absolutely brilliant, and he encouraged me not to think in linear ways about law or life.



AMU Alumna Begins Medical School Megan Rivera graduated cum laude in 2015 as a one of six members of the first graduating class in Biochemistry. This summer, she began medical school at Florida State University. Megan knew she wanted to be a physician since she was in high school. So it makes sense that some of the things that further convinced Megan to enroll full-time at AMU were the level of academic excellence, the accessibility of the professors, and the opportunities available for students looking to attend medical school. “I was pleasantly surprised,” she shares, “to find so many opportunities and resources to direct me toward medical school. The labs are well equipped, and the professors have research projects that students can participate in.” Not only are AMU professors incredible resources, she goes on to explain, but they also are personable. They make themselves available outside of class and they encourage their students to gain pertinent experience directed toward their future careers. “The professors really take an interest in your interests and fuel your desire to pursue excellence… I never wanted to miss a class!” Megan exclaims. Under the guidance of Dr. James Peliska (Professor of Chemistry & Biochemistry, Department Chair of Chemistry & Physics), Megan worked as a medical scribe in a Naples emergency department while taking classes at Ave. She later helped to establish the Braden Clinic in the town of Ave Maria and, after graduating, worked there for a year as a head medical assistant. “I didn’t have to go to a big university to find opportunities for clinical experience during my undergraduate studies. Because Ave is still new, there are opportunities to take the lead in your extracurricular activities and to do something different,” Megan says.

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Megan started in Florida State University’s medical program this summer. When asked how it was going so far, she answers with one word: “Intense!”


Moving forward, she feels that Ave has given her a solid foundation on which to build: “I think what is really important is that AMU prepared me to be a physician that treats a person, not just a disease. The classes embedded in the core curriculum really prepared me not only to see, but more importantly to understand the value and beauty in each person—and I’m really grateful for that. Megan’s final thoughts? “You can go to a small school and still do great things. If you set your mind to something, you can achieve it—and there is no better place to equip you for that than Ave Maria University!”

—Sarah Blanchard


David TomaszyckI Ordained a Priest Congratulations to newly ordained Ave alumnus, Fr. David Tomaszycki. Fr. Tomaszycki was ordained in May at the Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament in the Archdiocese of Detroit by Archbishop Allen Vigneron. He was among the members of the Fall 2007 entering class and graduated in 2010 with a degree in Philosophy. When he came to Ave Maria in 2007, there were 418 undergraduate students and his entering class was 187.

During his time in Rome, he had the chance to serve vespers with Pope Benedict XVI and Mass for Pope Francis. In the summer of 2013—the same year the Mother Teresa Project was founded at AMU—Dave traveled to Calcutta to work with the Missionaries of Charity. During his time serving in Calcutta, he volunteered at Daya Dan, the home of disabled children. Fr. David Tomaszycki now serves as a priest in the Archdiocese of Detroit.

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After graduating, he attended Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit, and has studied in Rome at the Pontifical North American College and Pontifical Gregorian University, where he received a bachelor’s degree in Sacred Theology. Fr. Tomaszycki also studied at the John Paul II Institute.



More than an Internship Many times I have heard someone say that when God wants you to do something, He will find a way for you to do it. That is how I feel about my recent internship with Catholic News Service (CNS). It was my Junior year at Christmas time – and being the planner that I am – I was working on sketching out my summer plans. So what do I mean by sketching out my summer plans? For me, this meant searching job by job on, reading through each job description and thinking about what I would like to do and what could help me grow and teach me new skills. I applied to different internships accordingly. I then came across a summer position at CNS in Washington, DC. I remember thinking about how I didn’t have much experience in the field of marketing, so I figured that the chances of acceptance would be narrow. However, there is no harm in trying to pursue an opportunity that God is putting right in front of you. Internships are made for one to learn and to primarily practice a job that you could see yourself doing. I was accepted to the internship, and what I learned at Catholic News Service was more than I could have ever imagined.

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Catholic News Service, founded in 1920 by the United States Bishops as an official news agency, is located within the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). The CNS office is located in Washington, DC on the same street as the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.


On a typical day at the internship, I would arrive by 8:30 a.m. and get coffee from the cafeteria where I would run into others who worked at the USCCB. I would then walk to the third floor, where the CNS office is located. If the day’s schedule included an event or conference, I would go directly to that event and then return to the office later to produce the content. If my day did not include a conference or event, I would plan to finish something I had to write or schedule interviews to conduct for new articles. At around 10 a.m., the editor would release the daily schedule with what pieces would be added to the website in the morning or afternoon, and these were essentially the deadlines for those writing the articles. I had the opportunity to work closely with the Editor in Chief, Julie Asher. Ms. Asher exemplifies hard work. I will forever be grateful for all the things she and the rest of the people at Catholic News Service taught me, such as believing in myself and in the work that I produce. I found out that what makes Catholic News Service who they are is more than just the great content they produce — it is those people behind the screen.

STUDENT HIGHLIGHT THE CHOALS SISTERS’ UNIQUE JOURNEY TO AVE MARIA UNIVERSITY Three of a Kind It’s a new academic year, and the campus is bustling with a fresh wave of new students—members of the class of 2020. Ave is known for its legacy families that foster a unique sense of community on campus. Maria, Theresa, and Gabry Choals are firstyear students at Ave. From St. Paul, Minnesota, these three sisters learned of Ave Maria more than seven years ago when they lived in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The Choals recall reading intentions for the growth of AMU in the Chapel of Domino Farms, where they attended daily Mass. None of the Choals would have predicted their academic path that would lead them all to Ave Maria University—at the same time. The eldest sibling of the Choals clan, Gabry, is 20 years old. After graduating high school, Gabry accepted a part-time cantor position at a local Cathedral. After one year of working, she began searching for the right college but, didn’t just want to pick a school off of the Cardinal Newman Society list. Gabry explained, “I wanted to be positive that Ave Maria would be a place where I could thrive.” Gabry considered other schools during her college search, but wasn’t completely satisfied, so she decided to work a full-time administrative position at a local church in St. Paul. The second eldest sibling, Maria, took a gap year after high school to support a friend through therapy after getting into an accident. She worked full-time at the Nursing Home for the rest of the year. In December of 2015, the two sisters visited Ave Maria, and it became their ideal school. “The first thing that struck us beside the vibrant student body was the campus. It was so beautiful to see it in person,” said Gabry, and the sisters agreed.

Maria Choals was initially uneasy about attending AMU with her two sisters, fearing she wouldn’t have independence, but is happy about her decision saying, “it’s amazing having different class schedules, but it’s nice to have my sisters here for support and familiarity.” Though the Choals come from the same home, they have different passions, personalities, and lives while living and studying at Ave. They enjoy having each other’s company that they say helped make moving away from home a smooth transition. The sisters plan to get involved in different clubs, and activities on campus. They are excited to embark their academic, and spiritual growth at Ave Maria University!

—Veronica Macias (‘19)

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The youngest sister, Teresa, was interested in attending a different Catholic University, but shortly changed her mind after her two sisters Gabry and Maria “couldn’t stop raving about Ave,” saying, “how vibrant the student body is, how the Faith is number one, and how excellent the professors are.” The sisters gravitated towards AMU’s “emphasis on adhering to the Church’s teaching—as a traditional, liberal arts school, dedicated to academic excellence, and being a whole person body, mind, soul, but also being open to people of all faiths, backgrounds, and beliefs.”



The History of

DORMWARS by Sarah Blanchard

It’s a quiet afternoon in Ave Maria, Florida. The hot sun beats down upon an empty field. Suddenly, the air explodes with chants and shouts, the rumbling of feet, the slapping of chests, the beating of drums. From the Quad between the student dormitories, down the cement pavers, the ranks approach for battle. First, you might see the strong men of Sparta, with flowing red capes, march in phalanx form. A band of ancient Egyptian female warriors might sneak in for a surprise attack from behind, or a squad of lumberjacks might stride out, brandishing freshly hewn logs. Perhaps you’ll even spot a crew of swashbuckling female pirates sailing in from the canal. What is going on? It’s time for Dorm Wars. Partcamaraderie, part-competition, part-Olympics, part-fun, it’s the annual event that brings all the dorms out in the sun for a day of exercise and games.

Helen of…Xavier Hall?

David Harley (‘14) represents Goretti in a relay race in 2013.

Before there was Dorm Wars, there was a couch called Helen, which many considered the most comfortable couch in all of campus. The couch belonged to the men of Xavier Hall. One night, Helen was stolen away from its home. Outraged, the men declared war… And the battle over Helen has been going on ever since.

But really, how did the official event arise?

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Sibling students Marcellino and Marisa D’Ambrosio came up with the official idea on their flight back to Ave after Christmas Break. It was the second year AMU was on its permanent campus, and the D’Ambrosios were brainstorming about ways to bring the campus together. “I thought it’d be cool to initiate some sort of event that everyone could equally take part in…and that would become an anchor tradition for Ave,” Marisa recalls. When they got back to Ave, Marcellino, SAB President at the time, pitched the Dorm Wars idea to Student Affairs and Residence Life. The idea was approved and set in motion to take place that February.


What’s with the outfits? As part of the general competition, each Residence Hall is required to come up with its own theme. The more extravagant, passionate, and creative a Hall is in the implementation of its theme, the more points it scores. The requirement for themes serves a two-fold purpose: it builds teamwork in the preparation, and inspires joy in the silliness.

We are never ever ever getting back together. In 2013, Goretti Hall had the idea to “court” one of the female dorms. JPII Hall enter-

tained Goretti’s serenades for a while. The relationship turned sour when JPII Hall reversed the serenade, singing down a breakup song from the breezeway. Needless to say, Dorm Wars was particularly fierce that year.

Hide & Seek During the games, each dorm carries its own banner into battle. If one dorm is able to steal another dorm’s banner, they are awarded extra points. The challenge presents a strategic dilemma: Should a Hall display their banner with confidence and pride, or should they try to keep it hidden out of sight?

Go for Gold! The winner of Dorm Wars is awarded the prized trophy—a golden cup set on a wooden base with little plaques emblazoned with the names of winners past.

TIMELINE OF EVENTS JANUARY 2009: Marcellino and Marisa D’Ambrosio come up with the idea for Dorm Wars on their flight back to Ave after Christmas Break. FEBRUARY 2009: The first annual Dorm Wars takes place. OCTOBER 2009: The Megadorm opens this year, just in time for the newly minted female dorms, JPII and Mama T, to compete in the second annual Dorm Wars. “Siena Hall,” now no longer a women’s dorm, changes its name to “Sebastian.” OCTOBER 2010: This year introduced into the competition the Synchronized Swimming Contest and the Tricycle Relay race. The synchronized swimming has remained a staple in the games, but the tricycle race was tossed.

Traditionally, the winning dorm gets to keep and display the trophy until the next Dorm Wars. In 2013, the trophy was stolen from Goretti Hall by the legendary and elusive “Banana and Gorilla Suits.”

You’ve been judged. The Student Activities Board (SAB), which sponsors and organizes Dorm Wars, is also in charge of selecting a panel of judges to score and evaluate the competitions. They always choose judges from the University faculty and staff. Some of the judges revel in the day of madness and mayhem; others finish with a sense of relief that their own days of college are safely behind them.

Opening Ceremonies One of the revered Dorm Wars traditions is the Opening Ceremonies. Each dorm enters onto the field according to their custom—whether it be marching, sailing, running, or even riding horses. Once assembled, each dorm must each present a fight song. They are awarded points based

on the fear and awe they inspire.

Show-stopping Entrances October 2010 was a big year for entrances. JPII brought some laughs by marching on to the field as the “Women of the Revolution,” sporting bloody aprons, a line of drummers, and led by Christa McMahon and Samantha Donohue dressed up as George Washington and Martha—or was it Marie Antoinette? It seems they had identity confusion between the French and American Revolutions. Joe’s decided to commit to their third year as “Men of Sparta” by designing custom shirts for battle. The Sebastian “Indians” looked fierce, though a number of men had grievously irregular sunburns after washing off the war paint. We won’t say anything about the distasteful “teddy bear” sacrifice… Goretti Hall, which was half graduate student housing at the time, made up for their small numbers by riding out on horses. And Mama T blew everyone away by the most elaborate entrance into battle yet: a pirate ship float.

FEBRUARY 2013: This year marks the first time that a male dorm has won since the first year of the competition. Congratulations, Goretti! READING KEY FEBRUARY 2014: The 3-month-old son of former Resident Director, Pete Van de Voorde, leads the troops of Goretti onto the field as a crusader-in-training.] FEBRUARY 2015: Erin Krajewski bravely took a seat in the Trivia Dunk Tank with a prayer that the competing students have been keeping up with their studies.

“Goretti” = St. Maria Goretti Men’s Hall “Joe’s” = St. Joseph Men’s Hall “JPII” = St. John Paul II Women’s Hall “Mama T” = St. Mother Teresa Women’s Hall “Sebastian” = St. Sebastian Men’s Hall (formerly, “Siena”)

NOVEMBER 2015: Mama T takes the cup again. Each of “Xavier” = St. the other dorms has 12.5% Francis Xavier of the wins, while Mama Men’s Hall T has a whopping 37.5%. They are the only dorm to win more than once—let alone three times!

DORM WARS HALL OF FAME 2008-2009: Xavier

2012-2013: Goretti

2009-2010: Mama T

2013-2014: Joe’s

2010-2011: JPII

2014-2015: Sebastian

2011-2012: Mama T

2015 -2016: Mama T

ave ma r ia maga z i ne | ave ma r

Victoria Antram (‘17, center), representing Mama T Hall, leads a tribal-themed synchornized swimming routine in 2015

FEBRUARY 2012: After switching back and forth, Dorm Wars is moved to the Spring semester. This luck lasts for another three years, and then it’s moved back to Fall in 2015. Rumor has it that the war might be delayed until Spring this year… It seems the organizers can’t decide whether they want Dorm Wars to be a springsemester bonding experience, or a fall-semester affirmation of loyalty!




a v e m a r i a m a g a z i n e | f a l l 2016



The 2016 Lady Gyrenes volleyball team is seasoned, with a roster of seven seniors out of 15 total student-athletes. And to go along with that experience, there is a steady comradery amongst the seniors and underclassmen competing on this year’s squad. Senior All-Conference middle blocker Lexy Smith and the team’s upperclassmen have significantly impacted AMU’s volleyball program. “In talking to Lexy at practice and games, you understand how focused she is,” says freshman Mari Dietz. “She is a leader on the court. Our seniors are instrumental in helping the underclassmen adjust to competing at the college level.” Smith has already made her mark on the Ave Maria record books, boasting a program record 173 total blocks, 103 block assists, and 70 solo blocks in just two seasons at Ave. Hailing from Manassas, VA, Lexy ranks second in career kills entering the 2016 season, with 556, just 24 behind Christianne Ludwick (2009-12) for most all-time. Lexy became the first Lady Gyrene volleyball player to earn a Sun Conference weekly honor when she was named Attacker of the Week on September 14, 2015. In recognition of her outstanding performance last season, Smith was named First Team All-Sun Conference. Smith transferred to AMU in 2014. She spoke on the relationships that she has formed with her teammates, “the bonds that you make with people is what makes your experiences at Ave.” She also appreciates the positive, yet challenging atmosphere that Coach Katie Latenser promotes. “Everyone has an equal opportunity to be great, and she sees that in all of us. “She believes in us even when we fail to believe in ourselves.” This season the team implemented “five covenants,” which are qualities and principals that the program stands for. These covenants are accountability, integrity, responsibility, respect, and discipline. “If we can keep these five core qualities, we’re going to be successful on and off the court,” Coach Katie Latenser says. Katie likes to incorporate the faith into volleyball by finishing practice with a prayer. She hopes to get the team involved in service in the spring saying, “We plan to get involved with the Mother Teresa Project once (L to R) Seniors Jessica Schein, Libby Welsh, Lexie Andric, Lexy Smith, Monique Rivers, our season concludes. There are so many Jessica Sanchez, and Hannah Wurster. extraordinary ways we can get involved in


the community.” The team practices at 6:30 a.m. every morning, and will have competed in 26 matches by the end of the season. The team is led by senior captains Lexy Smith and Monique Rivers. Ave Maria returns 12 athletes from last years’ squad that finished 13-19 overall. The team began the year with a 3-0 win over Conference foe Johnson & Wales at the Edward Waters Invitational in Jacksonville, Florida. The Lady Gyrenes hope to build on their successes of last season with the guidance of their new coach and sensational leadership on the court. —Veronica Macias (‘19)

(From Above, Clockwise) Senior Monique Rivers serves in a recent home match against Florida National University.


Lexy Smith makes a point for AMU against Trinity College. The Lady Gyrenes won the match 3-0.


ave ma r ia maga z i ne | ave ma r

Seniors Hannah Wurster (left) and Libby Welsh (right) prepare to block a spike from a Trinity College Middle Hitter.



The Gyrene defensive line anticipates a snap during the first home game of the 2016 season.

A Bright Future


a v e m a r i a m a g a z i n e | f a l l 2016

The 2016 football season is well underway, and so is a new era for Ave Maria football. One reason for bright forecasts lies with Ave’s impressive new coaching staff. Many of the new coaches come with astonishing credentials, having coached elite high schools, colleges, or even NFL teams.


Head Coach Joe Patterson looks on after an AMU touchdown.

Joe Patterson is at the helm this year - his first year as a college football head coach. Patterson spent the past 12 years at St. John’s College High School in Washington, DC. He made the playoffs 10 of those years and recorded notable wins against powerhouses like IMG Academy and Gonzaga. Joining him in their first year at Ave is a group of highly experienced coaches. Three resumes stand out especially in this new group: John Palermo’s, Eric VanHeusen’s and Tom Brattan’s. Palermo will take control of the defensive line and serve as associate head coach. On the other side of the line of scrimmage, Brattan is the new coach of the offensive line. Meanwhile, VanHeusen will step in as the offensive coordinator and head of recruiting. Palermo has coached for big-name programs such as Wisconsin, Miami, Notre Dame, Pitt, Minnesota, Tennessee, and the Washington Redskins. During his time at Wisconsin he coached four first team All-Americans, and helped the Badgers obtain three Big 10 titles. He was on Notre Dame’s coaching staff for

(From top left, clockwise) Associate Head Coach John Palermo discusses the gameplan with the defensive line before the Gyrenes take the field.

Fans and cheerleaders look on in a game against Lagrange College.

their latest National Championship win in 1988. And in his two seasons with the Redskins where he was a defensive coach, the team was ranked in the top 10 for fewest yards allowed. Brattan mostly coached offensive line at Maryland as well as Stanford, Illinois, and William & Mary, but perhaps his most impressive feat was coaching offensive line for Northwestern and helping lead the team to a Big 10 championship trophy and a #7 national ranking. Northwestern had not won a Big 10 Championship in 47 years prior. VanHeusen has mainly worked for college programs, including Princeton, Culver-Stockton, McDaniel College, and Sienna College. But like Palermo, he has worked at the next level. VanHeusen spent five years working in the United Football

League, for the Las Vegas Locomotives. They won two UFL championships during his tenure. The experience doesn’t stop with those three. The other new coaches and assistants have impressive feats of their own. Mike Hiestand just came off two years of coaching at Notre Dame, Joshua Cooper coached three years at Duke and played for two NFL teams, and Mike Lawrence, former running back at Kansas State, held the record for most career rushing yards in 1997. The amount of experience in the new coaching staff is uncanny at a university the size of Ave Maria. Coaches Patterson, Palermo, Brattan, and VanHeusen sat down to talk about why they’re at Ave and what they expect from the team. A couple of them had family in the area and others liked the idea of being part of something

new. Most of the answers, however, were common among all four coaches. They all said that they were attracted to the mission of the University. Additionally, all of the assistants agreed to coach at Ave because they respect Coach Patterson and want to help him build a strong football program and form young men of character. When asked about adjusting to a small, relatively new football program, they responded that it is hardly different when it comes to approaching the “X’s and O’s” aspect. As Coach Brattan simply put it, “Ball is ball.” Obviously there are growing factors for the program such as field upkeep and player retention. Coach Palermo said with regards to the latter, “The only way you’re ever going to build a championship program is to keep the student-athletes here.” And then there’s the most important part of football: winning. Coach Patterson expressed that he wants his players to, “Win in the classroom, win in the hallways, win in practice, win in the meeting room, win in all aspects of life. And then let the game unfold on the field as it will.” —Joseph Towey

ave ma r ia maga z i ne | ave ma r

Offensive Line Coach Tom Brattan draws up a scheme with the o-line.



Runnin’ Gyrenes

a v e m a r i a m a g a z i n e | f a l l 2016



The Ave Maria men’s and women’s cross country teams competed in the National Catholic Cross Country Championships at the University of Notre Dame in September. Notre Dame welcomed more than 40 Catholic colleges and universities to the Burke Golf Course for the races. The men’s team was led by Freshman Gabriel Hogan, who finished 37th of 200 runners in the non-D1 portion of the men’s five mile race. Hailing from Oxford, Michigan, Hogan was named the Sun Conference runner of the week on September 12th for his efforts in the Florida

Freshman Gabriel Hogan (left) competes at the Florida Tech Invitational.

Tech Invitational, where he finished 23rd among 105 runners with an 8K time of 26:50. Fellow freshman Claire Hobrock, from Encinitas, California, was named Sun Conference runner of the week on the women’s side on September 12th. Claire led the women’s team at the Florida Tech Invitational with a time of 20:56.21 in her first collegiate race.

The men’s and women’s teams finished 21st and 22nd, respectively, at the National Catholic Cross Country Championships in South Bend and both teams finished in ninth place in the non-D1 division at the Florida Tech Invitational. The teams look forward to the Sun Conference championships later this year. The championships will take place in Hardeeville, South Carolina in November.

Meet the New Advancement Staff Brian came to Ave Maria University from the


University of Notre Dame where he served as the Senior Director, Annual Giving & Strategic Marketing. Prior to joining Notre Dame, Brian was an executive in the aviation industry holding leadership roles with responsibility for P&L, sales, marketing and operations at companies including Honeywell and GE.

Tina leads donor strategy and stewardship, the Mis-


sion Society, corporate and foundation giving, alumni relations, advancement direct marketing, events and the student phone center for Ave Maria University. Tina’s most recent position was as Director of Advancement for the Smithsonian Libraries in Washington, DC. Prior to joining the Smithsonian Libraries, Tina was a Director of Development at the Catholic University of America.


Jennifer’s leads AMU’s advancement services initiatives including documentation, reporting, analytics, direct marketing, annual giving, stewardship, prospect development, and events. Prior to joining AMU, Jennifer was the Director of Development for The Immokalee Foundation in Naples, Florida serving the children of Immokalee, Florida.


Gabriela’s responsibilities as Research Analyst include research, reporting, analysis and documentation of procedures to support AMU’s institutional advancement objectives. Gabriela’s most recent position was as Operations Manager for Network FOB, Inc., an international logistics freight forwarding company based out

of Jacksonville, Florida. She graduated from AMU in 2008 with a degree in Economics and a minor in Philosophy.

ave ma r ia maga z i ne | ave ma r



Upcoming Events November ST All Saints’ Day

1 14


Celebration November 1, 2016 Ave Maria, FL Medieval Charters and Communities Symposium November 14, 2016 Ave Maria, FL


3 12


Lessons & Carols for Advent December 3, 2016 Ave Maria, FL


Our Lady of Guadalupe Celebration December 12, 2016 Ave Maria, FL



Florida Artists Group Exhibition January – Late March 2017 Canizaro Library, Ave Maria, FL





a v e m a r i a m a g a z i n e | f a l l 2016



Mother Teresa and the Mystics: Toward a Renewal of Spiritual Theology February 10-11, 2017 Ave Maria, FL Scholarship Dinner February 16, 2017 Naples, FL Mother Teresa Project Conference: Welcoming the Unwanted February 24-25, 2017 Ave Maria, FL






visit for times and locations

Exhibition Opening: Gordon Hartshorn: Woodblock Prints Late March through May 2017 Canizaro Library, Ave Maria, FL Feast of the Annunciation Celebrating Tom Monaghan’s 80th Birthday March 25, 2017

STUDYING SCRIPTURE President Towey holds a Bible study session with students in the newly-renovated John Paul II dorm lobby. This year, the group is studying the Gospel of John.

Ave Maria University 5050 Ave Maria Blvd. Ave Maria, FL 34142

“It is all worth it to see the growth and ‘ah-ha!’ moments in the classroom. The greatest joy comes from working with students of different backgrounds, and watching them grow into successful students.” —Jill Riordan (‘15)

AMU Magazine Fall 2016