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Sophomore Katie Ringdahl Honored at NCAA Final Four for Service

Recognizing Ringdahl


Contents 03 Letter from the President 04 News 10 From the Classroom 26 Campus Community 28 University Digest 30 From the President’s Blog 32 Faculty Highlight 34 Athletics Update 36 Alumni Highlight 38 Giving


Ave Maria University breaks ground on a new academic building—the University’s first construction project in nearly a decade.


Grit. Determination. Drive. Meet three AMU students that show their classmates what it means to fight the good fight, finish the race, and keep the faith.


This year’s Feast of the Annunciation marked the convergence of two noteworthy events: AMU founder Tom Monaghan’s 80th birthday and the 10th year on its permanent campus.


Diana West, Assistant Professor of Chemistry at AMU, and Vicki Thorn, founder of Project Rachel and Executive Director of the National Office of Post-Abortion Reconciliation and Healing explore the biological effects of hormonal birth control on multiple generations of humans.

24 MICHAEL NOVAK: INTELLECTUAL GODFATHER TO A GENERATION OF CONSERVATIVES Arthur C. Brooks, President of the AEI and AMU trustee, fondly remembers the great Catholic theologian and economist.



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


Biochemistry faculty and students are conducting research for studies dealing with Alzheimer’s disease and HIV. The biochemistry major focuses on fostering the development of independent thinking, complex problem solving skills, and technical proficiency that every effective scientist in the biochemical sciences must have.

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 St. Teresa of Calcutta, and dedicated to the formation of joyful, intentional followers of Jesus Christ through Word and Sacrament, scholarship and service.

Scan the QR code to learn more about biochemistry research at Ave:


Letter from President Towey


should have known that an academic year begun by the canonization of Ave Maria University’s special friend, Mother Teresa of Calcutta, would lead to an experience her heavenly companion, Saint John, described in his Gospel’s prologue: “grace following grace.”

A university is more than bricks and mortar, of course, and this edition highlights several members of our fine faculty and their colleagues who participated in conferences we hosted this year. The profiles of three AMU students who have faced adversity and hardship and triumphed against all odds, as well as the cover story of Katie Ringdahl, gives the reader insight into the caliber of the young men and women who study and flourish at Ave. We were thrilled in this “Year for Mother” to have one of Saint Teresa of Calcutta’s Sisters with us for the annual scholarship dinner. Sister Dominga, M.C., gave a

President Jim Towey reads the first reading at Mother Teresa’s canonization Mass as Pope Francis presides. Photo: L’Osservatore Romano

captivating talk at the beginning of the program that moved many to tears. She and her companions didn’t stay with us for dinner – they headed back to Miami so that they could feed their beloved poor the next morning in the soup kitchen they’ve operated for 35 years. The relationship Ave Maria has with Mother Teresa’s nuns already is bearing fruit, and the photos of our Ave missionaries tell some of that story. All of this momentum explains why a man of the stature of Daniel D’Aniello, chairman and co-founder of the prestigious Carlyle Group, one of the world’s largest private equity firms, is thrilled to address our graduates and be a part of the AMU family. Our applications, acceptances and deposits for the class of 2021 are well ahead of last year’s pace, which means that our goal of getting to 1,300 undergradu-

ate students by 2022 is inching closer to realization. What Mother Teresa teaches us is this: As long as we attentively follow Our Lady’s command, “Do whatever He tells you,” we should expect nothing less than “grace following grace.” Enjoy our spring 2017 magazine!

Jim Towey President

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In a year where our founder’s 80th birthday coincided with our 10th on the campus we so love, it should not have come as a surprise that this year would be special. Thanks to the generosity of our trustees and donors, we were able to break ground on phase one of the new, multi-purpose building that will honor Mother Teresa and house her museum; be home to our growing nursing program and nationally-renowned Shakespeare in Performance program; and serve to handle the growth of our student body and corps of faculty and staff.




r. Daniel A. D’Aniello, co-founder and Chairman of The Carlyle Group, will be Ave Maria University’s commencement speaker at this year’s graduation exercises. An honorary degree from AMU will be given to Mr. D’Aniello in recognition of his exemplary life as entrepreneur, corporate executive, philanthropist, and Catholic layman. Dan D’Aniello was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, raised by a single mother, and started working at the age of nine as a stock boy at his uncle’s produce market. Working his way through college at Syracuse University, he graduated at the top of the Business School. From enlisting in the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam War to serving on the USS Wasp, he had four major deployments during his time of service. In 2016, Mr. D’Aniello received the Lone Sailor Award from the U.S. Navy Memorial Foundation, an honor given to Sea Service veterans who have excelled with distinction in their respective careers during or after their service. Mr. D’Aniello received his MBA from Harvard Business School. After success with TWA, PepsiCo, and Marriott International he co-founded The Carlyle Group, a global alternative asset management firm, in 1987. The Carlyle Group has offices in 20 countries spanning six continents and manages $169 billion of assets across its portfolio of funds.

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» AVE MARIA UNIVERSITY is delighted to announce the addition of three new undergraduate degree programs, starting Fall 2017: Chemistry, Communications, and Marketing. The major in Chemistry will introduce students to the principles and techniques of what has been long considered the “central science,” essential for a comprehensive understanding of the other phys-

ical sciences, while offering many opportunities for research. The major in Marketing, housed in the Department of Business, will focus students on the practical question of how market sectors function and how organizations provide goods and services to society in an efficient, effective, and ethical fashion. The major in Communications will prepare students for effective

communication through contemporary channels, offering them the tools needed for a deeper understanding of the assumptions and contexts of their target audience. Learn more online:


DRS. JANICE AND MICHAEL BREIDENBACH RECEIVE VISITING POSITIONS AT OXFORD THIS SUMMER This summer, Janice Chik Breidenbach, Ph.D. (Assistant Professor of Philosophy at AMU), will be a Visiting Research Scholar at Blackfriars Hall, University of Oxford. Over the course of the summer, Dr. Janice Breidenbach will be working in collaboration with Oxford philosophers on a research

project at Blackfriars Hall’s Las Casas and Aquinas Institutes entitled, “Human Nature and Dignity: Resources for the Twenty First Century.” She will also be working on several articles comprising a book, The Unity of Action, on human and animal agency and the philosophy of biology. She has plans to present papers at Blackfriars Hall, Oxford, and collaborate with the Oxford Students for Life. Michael Breidenbach, Ph.D. (Assistant Professor of History at AMU), will be joining his wife Janice as Visiting Research Fellow at the Rothermere

American Institute, University of Oxford. Over the summer, he will be working on his book, The Pope’s Republic, which looks at the history of political, religious, and legal thought in the eighteenth-century Atlantic World. Dr. Michael Breidenbach will present papers at the University of London, University of Notre Dame, and Oxford Brookes University. He plans to visit archives in Oxford and London, and he has received a Peter R. D’Agostino Research Travel Grant from the University of Notre Dame to conduct archival research in Rome.

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Joseph Trabbic, Thomas Scheck, Paul Baxa, Roger Nutt, Chairman of the Board of Trustees Michael Timmis, Founder and Chancellor Tom Monaghan, and President Jim Towey.

Four professors—Drs. Paul Baxa (History), Roger Nutt (Theology), Thomas Scheck (Theology) and Joseph Trabbic (Philosophy)—were honored at the annual AMU Christmas party for their ten years of service to the University. Each of these professors began teaching at AMU in 2006. Thank you, Drs. Baxa, Nutt, Scheck and Trabbic, for your dedication to the search for truth and for the countless ways you have led our students closer to this truth!




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he Ave Maria University Students for Life club was awarded the 2017 National College Group of the Year Runner-up at the annual Students for Life National East Coast Conference in January. The conference was held in Maryland after the annual March for Life. Students for Life Vice President Nora Anderson (’19) sees the Students for Life group not as an isolated club at Ave Maria University, but rather a unit within the entire pro-life movement. “This club is not for our own benefit or enjoyment but orientated toward the reversion of our culture back to God through the honoring and protecting of human life,” Nora said after accepting the award from Students for Life of America. “The Ave Maria Students for Life initiatives

continue to cultivate a culture of life not only within the campus and community of Ave Maria, but throughout Southwest Florida.” As the largest club on campus, Students for Life hosts monthly meetings that focus on specific aspects of the pro-life movement. This year, the club has made bi-weekly trips to pray in front of abortion facilities throughout Southwest Florida. In addition, the group has trained more than 16 stu-

Scan the QR code to watch a video that highlights pro-life chalk day. On this day each year, students spread positive messages about the pro-life movement by decorating the campus pavers with chalk!

dents to perform sidewalk counseling and makes weekly trips on abortion days to pray for and counsel those considering abortion. This year, the group also launched a new death row inmate pen pal initiative. The Students for Life club has signed up more than 40 students to write monthly letters to an assigned pen pal on death row. The club has coordinated more events this year than ever before. For the first time, the club participated in National Pro-Life Chalk Day and ProLife Cupcake Day to help raise pro-life awareness on campus and within the Ave Maria Community. The club also hosted a donation drive and baby shower for the Immokalee Pregnancy Clinic, where they collected more than 100 items through the Ave Maria Community.

Ringdahl Honored for Service in Immokalee

Katie Ringdahl (fourth from right) is presented with the Allstate Good Works Team award at the 2017 Women’s Final Four in Dallas.

Q: Why do you choose to work with high school students? As a YoungLife leader, I was chosen to work with Immokalee High School because the program was in desperate need of leaders. I wanted to work with teens because high school is so challenging, yet a great time to learn about who you are becoming. I have only been out of high school for a couple years, and I believe that helps me to walk with these students, as some of them struggle with the same things I struggled with while in high school. Q: How do you balance service, academics, and basketball? It is very difficult to balance school, basketball, and YoungLife. However, I have great professors and a great coach that are all very understanding of what I do. I don’t have a great amount of free time to do anything else, but I love what I do! Q: How has your Christian faith aided you in your passion for service? God has given me the amazing opportunity to serve in the community of Immokalee and to play college basketball. Being a student-athlete has been a dream of mine since I was eight. When working with high schoolers, it is challenging and it can be easy to get discouraged. I know that God is with me wherever I go and that he has called me to serve in the community of Immokalee.

Q: The student-athletes nominated to the Good Works team were sent to a service project in Dallas, Texas during the women’s final four weekend. In a few words, describe your experience. We went to the Cook Children’s Hospital in Fort Worth, Texas for our service project. I had a great time getting to know the other student-athletes that were named to the Good Works Team, and once we got to know each other, we then interacted with children that were hospitalized. It was amazing to see the resilience of the children and how excited they were to have the chance to play basketball with us! One child had an IV in his arm, and was still able shoot a basketball. That showed each and every one of us that no matter what, you can do anything you set your mind to. ave ma r ia maga z i ne | ave ma r

KATIE RINGDAHL (’19) of Ave Maria’s women’s basketball team was one of 20 student-athletes, and the only from the NAIA, named to the 2017 Allstate WBCA and NABC Good Works Teams® by Allstate Insurance Company. Katie was nominated because of her ministry to 1,300 students in the Young Life program at Immokalee High School, as well as her work with ReRun Sneakers, a non-profit organization started in Gainesville in 2012. ReRun’s mission is to give used sneakers to children and adults who are less fortunate. In addition to being named to the Allstate Good Works Team, Katie was named the Sun Conference’s Champion of Character award winner for the sport of women’s basketball as a freshman in 2016. Since the inception of the Allstate Good Works Team award in 2012-13, the Ave Maria women’s basketball team has placed two student-athletes on the list. Emily Huber (‘13) was named to the Good Works Team in the award’s inaugural year.





r. Lou Argenta, an Ave Maria University Trustee, spoke to a large audience of students this Spring about his involvement in the field of medicine. Dr. Argenta specializes in plastic

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Right: Anthony Nycum (‘19) and Libby Welsh (‘17) listen intently to Dr. Argenta’s talk.


and reconstructive surgery, where he resides as the head of surgery at Wake Forest School of Medicine. His clinical interests include Cleft Lip and Palate, Pediatric Surgery, Vascular Malformations, Cosmetic

Surgery, Wound Healing Problems, and Craniofacial Surgery. In his talk with AMU students, Dr. Argenta discussed his experiences working in third world countries. Many of the attendees were Ave Maria students interested in entering the medical field. Biochemistry, nursing, and biology majors alike were in awe of Dr. Argenta’s knowledge and background in medicine. Macey King, a freshman, described the evening by saying: “I really was awe struck by his work in poor areas, and how people with severe life threatening injuries would politely wait for extended periods of time for a chance to get Dr. Argenta’s help.” This man’s magnanimous heart led to his very dedicated life of service by providing medical assistance in third world countries. Katie Beckman (‘19), a biochemistry major, was struck by Dr. Argenta’s message. “Medicine is a calling to a life of service and many practicing physicians need to take the approach of treating the whole person rather than simply diagnosing symptoms or performing a procedure,” Katie said. “Dr. Argenta truly sees beauty amidst each of the patients he encounters.”

From L to R: AMU Founder Tom Monaghan, Bishop of the Diocese of Venice Frank Dewane, President Jim Towey, and Chairman of the Board of Trustees Michael Timmis.


n a sunny day in January, hundreds gathered at what was formerly known as the Ave Maria Oratory for the installation Mass of Fr. Cory Mayer as pastor. Following the Mass, President Jim Towey was joined by Bishop Frank Dewane, Ave Maria founder Tom Monaghan, and university board chairman Michael Timmis to announce that the Diocese of Venice had purchased the new Ave Maria Parish. “By working together, the Diocese and the University will have strengthened their relationship and

ensure that the rapidly growing pastoral and spiritual needs of the Ave Maria community are being met,” Bishop Dewane said in the news release. “It is encouraging to see this vibrant faith-filled community under the patronage of the Blessed Virgin Mary, continue to grow and strengthen.” Formerly, the Parish had been classified as simply a “quasi-parish.” It was not an official parish. Due to this, it was unable to administer sacraments such as baptisms, weddings, and funerals without an exemption from the bishop.

The elevation to parish comes on the heels of the rapid development of the Ave Maria community. In 2016, the town experienced its biggest year in sales, according to Ave Maria Development, and throughout the year, 342 homes were sold. The Parish also received a donation of 2.5 acres from Ave Maria University and 10 acres from Ave Maria Development. Bishop Dewane said that part of the land will be used for the parish hall as well as offices. The purchase makes it the 61 st parish in the Diocese of Venice.

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From the Classroom of

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THEO 105



ore than 25 students stood outside of the Mother Teresa Museum on Ave Maria’s campus, one of only two official Mother Teresa museums in the world, awaiting the opportunity to learn about the life of Saint Teresa of Calcutta. These students were from Professor Brandon Wanless’s Sacred Scripture class, one of the core requirements of the AMU curriculum. Following St. Paul’s epistles, Professor Wanless wanted his students to see Paul’s charisms exemplified through a modern-day saint, beloved by the AMU community. While outside of the museum, Mr. Wanless talked about the private vow Mother Teresa made to God, that she would not refuse Him anything, and the vision that she received. Additionally, he spoke of her faithfulness in her spiritual darkness. Once inside, Maura Littleton (‘19) and Eve Anders (‘19), students at the University

Clockwise from Left: The Theology 105 class gathers for a photo after learning about the life of Mother Teresa. Maura Littleton (Left, ‘19) and Eve Anders (Right, ‘19) share about Mother Teresa’s early life. Maura Littleton (‘19) explains how Mother Teresa founded the Missionaries of Charity.

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and tour guides at the Museum, led the class on a tour. They described how Ave claims a connection to Mother, as AMU’s President Towey worked for Mother Teresa. In fact, the museum has letters addressed to President Towey from Mother Teresa on display. Maura and Eve shared stories about the different artifacts within the Museum, including an exact replica of Mother Teresa’s room and a life-sized statue of her. Eve shared personal stories, having served with the Missionaries of Charity in Calcutta in the summer. She talked about the impact that the sisters have in a society where brutality is embraced and empathy is nonexistent. She spoke on how constantly surrendering in prayer helped to get her through the long, hot summer days while volunteering in Calcutta. The student guides ended the tour with a challenge to do exactly what Mother Teresa did in her own life: love and serve right where you are at, much like St. Paul encouraged the churches he wrote to.


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New Building Honors Mother Teresa, and Promotes Nursing and the Arts By Sarah Blanchard


n recognition of Mother Teresa of Calcutta’s canonization and in furtherance of the University’s liberal arts mission, Ave Maria has begun its first construction project in nearly a decade. The estimated $11 million construction project will be home to the Nursing Program and Mother Teresa Museum. The new building, which will provide much-needed space for a student body that has grown 70% in the past six years, will face the Paul M. Henkels Academic Building across the campus mall. The building will feature a nursing laboratory, a 400-seat performance hall, a 125-seat auditorium with thrust stage, over 37,000 square feet of space for classrooms, 13 private offices for faculty, exhibition space for the Mother Teresa Museum, and staff space for Campus Ministry and the Mother Teresa Project. At first glance, the building’s disparate functions may seem an unlikely grouping: nursing, service, ministry, music, drama, concerts, lectures, research and other academic pursuits. But upon closer in, a certain unity begins to emerge. Saint Teresa of Calcutta was a woman who devoted her life to caring for the poor, healing the sick, and comforting the dying. So it is fitting that a building in her honor will support three activities which her life so perfectly exemplified: service, compassionate medical care, and ministry. The Mother Teresa Project at Ave Maria University and its adjoining Mother Teresa Museum, which together will be housed in the new building, offers students a program of study and service as a way to learn about, be inspired by, and follow in the footsteps of the Saint of Calcutta

and her care for the poor. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing Program, which is preparing to graduate its first cohort of students in May 2017, uses a model for healing the sick that is based on the words of Mother Teresa. AMU nursing students are taught to observe the dignity of the human person while maintaining excellence in medicine. Dr. Denise McNulty, Associate Professor and Chair of Nursing, shares: “As our Nursing Program continues to grow, our students and faculty eagerly await the opportunity to be in a state-of-theart facility which will house our nursing classrooms and lab.” Having the Mother Teresa Museum as neighbor to nursing in

Top, from L to R: Chairman Michael Timmis, Founder Tom Monaghan, and President Jim Towey break ground on the new academic building. Above: Tom Monaghan speaks to the audience at the ground breaking ceremony. Left: Art by Sofia Ungarino; Original rendering by the Architect, Disney & Associates, PA


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Nursing majors are all smiles at the ground breaking ceremony. Photographed from L to R: Chairman Michael Timmis, Rachel Lewandowski (‘18), Gianna Vega (‘18), Rosie Gates (‘18), Rebecca Thebeau (‘18), and President Jim Towey.


the building will be very special, given AMU’s commitment to integrating Mother Teresa’s influences and teaching as the model for our Nursing Program. In addition, the activities of Campus Ministry—which range from supporting the sacramental life of the student body to organizing retreats and opportunities for spiritual direction—are akin to Mother Teresa’s efforts to seek Jesus beyond this life, and towards eternal life with God. The staff space for Campus Ministry in the new academic building will help keep the University community oriented towards the source of all healing—Jesus, the Divine Physician. So if service, nursing, and ministry are natural activities to undertake in a building named in honor of St. Teresa of Calcutta, how do the performing arts fit in? Dr. Travis Curtright, Chair of Humanities and Liberal Studies and Director of Shakespeare in Performance, gave a clue to this in his remarks at the building’s groundbreaking: “So many of us treasure Shakespeare in Performance and the Mother Teresa Project. The reason why is

because both are unique programs that inspire generosity. Each challenges students to share not just their time or talent but even more so, to make a gift of self.” The performing arts invite students to give of themselves in a way different from but no less valuable than traditional service work. And the arts, as expressed in Gaudium et Spes, are “able to elevate human life” by revealing man’s place in creation and foreshadowing a better life to come. In such a way, the arts play a vital role in the life and mission of a Catholic liberal arts university, both in inspiring students to give generously and in elevating the life of the entire campus community. The performance venues that the new academic building will house—including a theater with thrust stage specifically designed for Ave Maria’s nationally-renowned Shakespeare in Performance productions—will also accommodate lectures and guest speakers. These functions, together with the additional classroom space and faculty offices, fall clearly within the realm of a building dedicated to the pursuit of academics. The academic functions that the new building will support are in harmony with its other purposes, for in the sincere pursuit of truth, which resides in God who is the Supreme Truth, a university is

the formation of disciples equipped to meet the needs of a society starving for love and hungering for God. The first phase of construction will include the main structure of the building and the completion of the interior wing that houses the auditorium. The final phase of construction, which includes the Mother Teresa Museum, nursing classrooms, faculty offices, and additional classrooms, will commence once the remaining $4 million in funding has been secured. With Saint Teresa of Calcutta “overseeing” this task, how can it fail? Members of the Shakespeare in Performance troupe are photographed with President Jim Towey, Founder Tom Monaghan, and Chairman Michael Timmis at the ground breaking ceremony.

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open to all areas of knowledge—including theoretical, practical, and revealed. The new academic building, which will support an array of diverse activities, can almost be understood as a microcosm of what a Catholic institution of higher education should look like. The pursuit of academics should hold pride of place, and indeed, the primary function of the new building will be to support the activities of higher education in the classrooms, laboratory, and faculty offices. But attendant upon these is also a commitment to the spiritual welfare of the student body, the elevation of the community through dramatic and musical performances, and


Grit. Determination. Drive. It is the rare individual who refuses to quit in the face of seemingly overwhelming adversity, and, against all odds, finds a way

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to succeed. Remarkably, there


are three such individuals at Ave Maria University showing their classmates day in and out what it means to “fight the good fight, finish the race, and keep the faith.�

F O S E I R O ST E C N A R E V PERSE VALERIA TKACIK, a junior, majoring

in Politics with a double minor in Environmental Science and Theology.


aleria was born without a left arm—a condition called congenital disarticulation of the shoulder. What many may consider a serious disadvantage has actually helped form Valeria into one of the most determined students on campus. Her confidence, joy, and zest for life are entirely self-evident, whether she is voicing an opinion at a Student Government meeting or hanging with other members of the Sisterhood of Mary Magdalene, the household that she founded. In her three years at AMU, Valeria has become one of the best-known students on campus. She can often be seen deftly handling a lacrosse stick on the field or circling the crowd with a camera at an event in the Bob Thomas Ballroom in her role as a marketing intern. Dr. Ubiratan Rezende, one of Valeria’s professors, describes her as “sweetness and warmth mixed with some steel of determination in her eyes.” “I never considered being born with only one arm to be a challenge,” says Valeria. “ I knew that there were some things that would require a little more effort, and that resulted in me becoming a very determined, motivated and confident person.” The discipline and passion has rubbed off on her lacrosse teammates. According to Richelle Harris (‘19), “With Valeria, our team has definite advantage! The positivity she brings to the team never fades on or off the field. Valeria encourages us to go hard all the time.” Georgia Miller (‘19), adds, “Valeria brings

laughter and light-heartedness to the team. Something I love about her is that she’ll be joking around and then transition to a profound conversation on miracles in one sitting.” Valeria attends AMU on the Jon Scharfenberger Memorial Scholarship and an athletic scholarship for Women’s Lacrosse. She is a member of the President’s Council, the University’s elite group of twelve student leaders, and an outreach ambassador for Champions of Charity. She is also the Student Government Junior Class Representative, and Vice President of the Young Women for America club. She was a 2016 inductee into the Sports Faith International Hall of Fame and recipient of the Organization’s St. Paul Award. Besides excelling in the classroom, participating in several student organizations, and playing a collegiate sport, Valeria is also a Mother Teresa Scholar who has seized the opportunity to serve the homeless and elderly with the Missionaries of Charity in Harlem, New York, and Puerto Rico. “Although I may not have a left arm, a physical attribute,” she reflects, “these people are missing much more. They have experienced a spiritual loss, however, and may just need a little boost to help them find their faith.” Valeria has learned never to let her situation prevent her from participating in activities or accomplishing her goals. Instead, she dreams big and dives right in. “Even though I only have one arm, God has given me so many beautiful gifts. Whether it is on or off the field, there is no time to dwell on what we may be lacking.” She is quick with an encouraging word for those who struggle with life’s challenges. “For me, and as my parents always remind me, relying on Jesus as a best friend/coach/mentor will help you through any situation.”  

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By Sarah Blanchard


JOHN ZAMBO, a junior,

majoring in Managerial Economics and Strategic Analysis.

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hen John was 14, his brother was diagnosed with cancer. With his father working and his mother tending to his brother at the hospital, John was left to cook, clean, and care for his three younger sisters. When his brother came home from the hospital, John would take turns with his mother as his brother’s primary caregiver—preparing his food, and giving him his medication every three hours. John had to drop out of school the following year and was no longer able to participate in extracurricular activities, including basketball, orchestra, and debate. His brother’s cancer went into remission after a year, but his mother was soon diagnosed with stage IV inflammatory breast cancer. Once again, John became the primary caregiver—organizing his mother’s medication, preparing her meals, and driving her to treatments around the country. “It’s impossible to put into words how difficult life was. I felt too physically exhausted to wake up and take care of my brother, but I did it anyway,” John said. “I knew the moment that God’s grace disappeared I would fall apart. So while it took a a whole lot of sacrifice, God gave me the grace to do what I had to.” After taking two years off, John returned to his studies, graduating from high school only one year behind his classmates. But with so many medical expenses, his parents weren’t able to help him pay for college. John thought he would never be able to go to Ave Maria University—until the encouragement and generous donation from a missionary priest visiting his parish made it possible. “It was the greatest thing that had ever happened to me,” John says. But then tragedy struck during the summer after his freshman year. John suffered a terrible single-car accident, leaving him in a coma with a traumatic brain injury. The doctors said that if he ever woke up, he would live in a vegetative state. Miraculously, John woke up and became fully conscious. Although he had to learn how to do everything again—eat, speak, balance, write, walk, and more—he made huge strides in his recovery. John participated in physical and occupational therapy for six months and speech therapy for nearly 10 months. Upon leaving the hospital, his food had to be pureed like baby food, and liquids had to be thickened. “I hated eating,” recalls John. “It was a long time before I was cleared to begin trying to eat normal food and drink normal liquids. I had to completely learn how to chew and

Below: A photograph of John’s car after the accident in the summer of 2014.

swallow again.” Amazingly, he returned to AMU the following year. “Making it back to Ave Maria was the main driving force for putting in a lot of work to recover,” he says. Clearly, the effort has paid off. John has been on the Dean’s List for three semesters. He is in the Honors Program, serves as a Mother Teresa Scholar, and is a Kazma Leadership Scholar. Around campus, he oversees service projects for the Fishers of Men household, is a member of the Pro-Life club, and works part-time in the Mother Teresa Museum. His daily life is not without continuing challenges. John had cranial nerve damage as a result of the accident. He has almost no sensation in his face, mouth, head, and none in his eyes. The surgeries he endured to reconstruct his face left his eyes without functioning tear ducts, so he must wear protective goggles to keep his eyes moist. “As a result of not feeling my eyes, I do not blink nearly as often as I should. My eyes get very dried out. My doctor


senior, graduating May 2017 with a Bachelor of Arts in Catholic Studies.


herese was born in October 1974, the youngest of a family of fifteen children. When she was a baby, she contracted spinal meningitis and spent the next three years on a positive pressure ventilator. Over the years she has undergone an enormous number of trials, including multiple health scares and the quest for medical treatment that would enable her to live her life with dignity and independence. Throughout it all, she has remained strong in the face of adversity. “My family would say I’m very ambitious, very bossy,” she pauses with a chuckle here, “very determined, but persevering.” In 1992, Therese discovered the Porta-Lung (a portable version of the Iron Lung). Each night, she must spend at least 12 hours in the Porta-Lung. Most of her body is in the machine, which seals around her neck and uses negative pressure to work her lungs, enabling her to breathe on her own, without ventilation support. She sleeps for about two-thirds of her stay in the Porta-Lung; the remaining hours she spends praying, thinking, or watching a movie. In the morning, it takes Therese about an hour to get ready. Then she has about an hour before she goes to noon Mass. In the afternoon, she has roughly three hours available—the remainder of her day is spent taking care of her health. That leaves Therese with four hours maximum, each day, to visit with friends, talk on the phone, read, work, write, or study.

Such a daily regimen has made Therese’s academic career a long journey. It took her 10 years to complete high school, in part because she was teaching herself through Seton Home Studies, but largely because she caught pneumonia in 1992, sending her to the hospital for a second tracheotomy that resulted in complications which set her back. In 2004, Therese moved with her family to Naples, where they discovered Ave Maria University at its temporary campus in the Vineyards. Attending college became a real possibility. Therese started taking classes in 2006, not sure whether she would continue on to a degree. But she quickly realized that she wanted to press forward. “God took all of my physical capabilities away from me, but he didn’t take away my mind. So He’s telling me that I should use the gifts of intellectual ability He gave me to help others find Him.” Therese attended classes in person for a year, but when the University moved to its permanent campus, she switched to attending classes remotely via Skype. “I must say, the teachers have been very supportive,” she says. “They tried their best to accommodate me.” Dr. Maria Fedoryka, an Associate Professor of Philosophy, has often thought about her time with Therese. “Suffering can make us feel like we’re the center of the universe, or that we should be, and that nothing else matters at that moment because we’re suffering, thus being in victim mode. One can retain self-possession in the midst of the greatest of trials, and not allow oneself to be swamped by the suffering. And that it is in this way that suffering bears fruit in our lives, purifying us like the refiner’s fire, and bringing a new nobility to our being.” Therese was not satisfied in simply passing her courses. Instead, she always set her sights on nothing less than an “A.” “The feeling that I achieved a college degree after 11 years is worth everything,” she says. “I don’t like to give up on something that I start. God has called me to be somebody different from the normal “Joe” on the street, so timeframes for me can be adapted. The Lord doesn’t promise us rainbows and flowers. He promises us eternal life with Him.”

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said that the worst-case scenario was that I could eventually go blind from the dryness, so I need to take care of my eyes.” To individuals struggling to cope with the challenges in their lives, John’s advice is simple: “Just remember that you are loved, you are worthwhile, you are good enough, everything is for God, and doing everything for Him is worth it. In the end, it will make you happier than anything in this world.”


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Students Caitlin Bostrom (‘18) and Rachel Wisely (‘18) celebrate their birthdays alongside Tom Monaghan at the feast of the Annunciation on March 25.

Feast of the Annunciation, Ave Maria University marked the convergence of two noteworthy events—the 80th birthday of founder Tom Monaghan and the 10th year on its permanent campus—with an all-out “town-and-gown” event. The day kicked off with a gathering for Holy Solemn Mass for the Feast of the Annunciation, celebrated by Bishop Frank Dewane at Ave Maria Parish. Following Mass, the community streamed down the church steps and out onto the University mall. AMU’s Student Government Association, which organizes the University’s feast day celebrations, partnered with the Knights of Columbus to provide lunch for the entire Ave Maria commu-

Tom Monaghan was born in Ann Arbor Michigan on March 25, 1937. After suffering the loss of his father at the age of four, he spent years in the care of Felician Sisters of Livonia at the St. Joseph’s Home for Boys orphanage. After graduating from Ann Arbor’s St. Thomas High School in 1955, and enrolling in college, Monaghan enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1956. After completing his service three years later, he was honorably discharged. Returning to civilian life on the completion of his service in the Marines, he took a $900 loan and bought a local pizza shop, DomiNick’s. Within ten years, he had streamlined and innovated the business, transforming it into one of the largest pizza delivery services in the world, Domino’s Pizza. After

nity—students, professors, administration, staff, Ave Maria parishioners, and town residents. Over lunch, the birthday of Tom Monaghan was celebrated with live entertainment from the AMU and Donahue Academy a capella groups and student soloists. Martin Doman performed “The Chapels of Ave Maria,” a song especially dear to Tom Monaghan and composed for him by the renowned singer-songwriter Dion DiMucci. All gathered were proud to recognize the singular man who, in his great generosity and fidelity, founded a University and town. Marissa Conde (‘17) remarked that “the Feast of the Annunciation renews in me a thirst for an openness to the Holy Spirit and a willingness to act in accordance with God’s plan as He works in my life!” Julia Wool (‘20), called Tom Monaghan’s vision for the University and town “a tremendous act of love and charity.”

selling Domino’s in 1998, Monaghan dedicated his life and the vast majority of his fortune to philanthropic works—including the founding of Ave Maria University. Throughout it all, he has attributed his great success to God’s work in his life, and he insists that it was his faith which kept him going in the midst of difficulties. Students learn about his conversion in classes, like C.S. Lewis Apologetics. Dr. Dauphinais expresses the beauty in Lewis’ Mere Christianity, which is the book that Tom Monaghan was given by Fr. John Hardon and ignited the burning fire of desiring God’s will in Monaghan’s soul. Jennifer O’Hare (‘18) describes the town and University as more than just a place to live or be educated. “He built a foundation for people to discover, enrich, and appreciate their faith. He built a haven where they should be able to live it courageously and fearlessly and to share it with others.”

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For this year’s celebration of its patronal


IS HISTORY REPEATING ITSELF? An essay exploring the biological effects of hormonal birth control on multiple generations of humans

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Diana West, Assistant Professor of Chemistry, Ave Maria University, Ave Maria, FL Vicki Thorn, Founder, Project Rachel and Executive Director, National Office of Post-Abortion Reconciliation & Healing, Milwaukee, Wisconsin



n 1930, Pope Pius XI reaffirmed the Church’s two-millennia teaching on contraception in Casti Connubii (1). A generation later, Bl. Pope Paul VI in Humanae Vitae defined and predicted the consequences of a contraceptive mentality and explained why acceptable methods such as Natural Family Planning/Fertility Awareness respected the nature of the marital act (2). Subsequent Pontiffs have continued to contribute to deeper theological understanding for marriage and human dignity, most notably, St. Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body. Despite the Magisterium’s

clear instruction on appropriate means of family planning, a Guttmacher survey (3) reported that among self-identified Catholic women (between ages 15-44 and sexually-active), 83% used contraceptive methods not sanctioned by the Church. As a significant proportion of women, Catholic and non-Catholic have used birth control over the past several decades, several scholars have delved into the social and spiritual consequences of a contraceptive society (4-8). This essay will instead explore the history and multi-generational biological fallout of hormonal contraceptives.

development and female fertility disorders were documented In 1936, Dr. Elizabeth Hunt published a medical editorial raising concerns over using natural estrogens to treat human skin symptoms (25). Four decades after the Pill was first prescribed, disorders. Knowing that estrogens induced tumors in laboratory the World Health Organization classified the combined estroanimals, Hunt asked, “…should not a woman be informed of gen-progestogen contraceptive as a Group 1 carcinogen (26, 27), (9) the possible risk to which she is exposed[?]” . Shortly therea ranking shared with tobacco and asbestos. The Pill’s elevated risk of breast and cervical cancer was strong enough to warrant after, two synthetic estrogens were developed by competing Group 1 classification, despite evidence of lowered ovarian/ scientific teams: diethylstilbestrol (DES) (10) and ethinyl estradiol endometrial cancer risk. Some of today’s contraceptive formula(EE2) (11). DES was prescribed to women to prevent miscarriagtions, with lower EE2 doses than the first Pill, still have a signifes and premature births. While male workers occupationally icant association with increased breast cancer risk (28, 29). Similar exposed to DES developed breasts (12), few recognized this harbinger of future’s disturbing side effects. Decades later, vaginal to DES, EE2 is also an environmental epigenetic DNA modifier (30) cancer (adenocarcinoma) was that may produce inheritable linked to patients whose mothers’ risks for Pill user’s children and used DES (13), and subsequent grandchildren. Altered epigenetic DNA markers and increased evidence of DES-induced cancer cancer incidence were observed and fertility disorders led to its in EE2-exposed female rats and ban in 1971. By then, millions of two subsequent generations of women worldwide had taken DES; offspring (31). Dr. Craig Roberts their children, exposed to DES in utero, were termed “DES daughand others have demonstrated (14, 15) ters and sons” that Pill-users were attracted to . DES children different men compared non-Pilllater had children of their own, users (32,33), implying an unknown and “DES grandchildren” also experienced side effects of their biological mechanism that may (16,17) grandmothers’ prescription alter human evolution and mate . choice. Some of the first Pill These observations implied that proponents became concerned DES induced inheritable changes, Dr. Diana West Assistant Professor of Chemistry about the unintended effects of and experimental evidence of Ave Maria University synthetic hormones on human DES-altered DNA via epigenetic health and evolution. Dr. Carl modifications supports this hyDjerassi, nicknamed “father of the pothesis (18,19). Pill,” admitted that the Pill’s use EE2, developed at the same over several decades served as an time as DES, showed potential as incidental longitudinal side-efa birth control hormone. Planned fect study (34). Djerassi ironically Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger backed a team of researchsuggested that pharmaceutical ers to formulate the first birth companies develop Natural Family control pill with mestranol, a dePlanning methods as the future rivative of EE2 (20,21). First available for birth control (35). Dr. Alexanin 1960, the drug was quickly der Sanger, Chair of International nicknamed “the Pill,” a general Planned Parenthood Council, moniker used since then for most oral hormonal contraceptives. wrote that Pill-users “…are taking reproductive risks that cannot In 1969, Barbara Seaman, a pro-choice journalist-turned-activbe seen or measured” (36). Therefore, as we begin to understand ist, summarized her research on Pill-induced blood clots, mood the biological consequences of the synthetic hormones in con(22) disorders, and cancer in The Doctor’s Case Against the Pill . Senator traceptives, the contraceptives upon which our society purportedly relies, we can’t help but think of the early whistle-blowers: Gaylord Nelson subsequently organized congressional hearings should not a woman be informed of the possible risk to which on Pill safety that were interrupted by young feminist protesters she is exposed? Why are millions of women and men being used shouting questions such as: “Why are 10 million women being (23, 24) as guinea pigs? used as guinea pigs?” . Like DES, EE2 was a recognized For footnotes, please visit occupational hazard for pharmaceutical workers; male breast

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“Why are millions of women and men being used as guinea pigs?”


Remembering Michael Novak 1933-2017

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even a crime against his own humanity,” ext time your work is frustratNovak wrote. “He knows the stakes.” ing or unpleasant, reflect on But the possibility of hopeless delusion these words: “Enjoying what is no excuse for the “I’m spiritual, but we do is not always a feeling not religious” evasion we so often hear of enjoyment; it is sometimes today. A person of honor must decide the gritty resolution a man or to believe and face the consequences if woman shows in doing what must be wrong. In Novak’s words, “He has no done — perhaps with inner dread and place in his heart for complacency or yet without whimpering self-pity.” The ARTHUR C. BROOKS, PRESIDENT OF that sweet pseudo- religious ‘peace’ that author of this tough love is the great THE AMERICAN ENTERPRISE INSTITUTE sickens honest men.” In short: Religious philosopher and policy expert Michael AND AVE MARIA UNIVERSITY TRUSTEE belief is not for sissies. Novak, who died on February 17 at Like many thinkers of his generation, 83. Novak, a longtime scholar at the FONDLY REMEMBERS THE GREAT Novak intellectually matriculated as a American Enterprise Institute until his CATHOLIC THEOLOGIAN AND ECONOMIST progressive but graduated to conservaretirement in 2010, was one of the most tism. The first reason was his observation influential conservative scholars of the that the Democratic party of the 1970s was softening on Compast 75 years. His work shaped an entire generation of intellectumunism; then over social issues such as abortion and the family; als. and finally over support of the American free- enterprise system. Novak’s own formation started with twelve years training for He ultimately defined himself as a neoconservative alongside the Catholic priesthood. He left the seminary just a few months AEI colleagues such as Irving Kristol. But while Kristol defined before ordination. But he never wavered in his Catholicism and a neoconservative as a liberal who has been mugged by reality, put his priestly training to good use in a career-long apostolate for Novak preferred the definition “a progressive with three teenage faith, family, and free enterprise. children.” Novak’s early intellectual accomplishments were in theology. My own ideological migration from left to right matched His most influential work in the field was the 1965 masterpiece Novak’s. Although at the time I had never met the great man, his Belief and Unbelief: A Philosophy of Self- Knowledge. Reading work was especially helpful to me as a young Catholic. In the it is a viscerally satisfying experience, as Novak challenges the 1990s, I was struggling to ascertain how my religion fit with bravery of believers. A belief in God “could be an empty illusion,

Intellectual Godfather to a Generation of Conservatives

the conviction that capitalism was the superior Ave Maria University Trustees pray a Rosary for the repose of the soul of economic system, at a time when much of the Michael Novak. Church hierarchy appeared to be asserting the opposite. Was my ideology at odds with my faith? Novak answered my question. In the early Americans out of unemployment and poverty. 1980s, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops I came to relate to Novak in more ways than just ideological developed a pastoral letter, “Economic Justice for All,” that proand religious. We both moved from Syracuse University (he taught moted unvarnished liberal economic policies under the banner of religion; I taught public administration) to AEI, although he did Catholic social teaching. Novak led a lay group of Catholic leaders so 30 years before me. When I joined AEI as its president, I found with expertise in economics and business that published an alterit nothing short of astonishing that I was a colleague of the counnative take, “Toward the Future: Catholic Social Thought and the selor to presidents and popes, whose work had done so much to U.S. Economy.” While respectfully confirming the Church’s teachinfluence my thinking. ing authority regarding faith and morals, Novak and colleagues That influence was nowhere greater than in his belief that all confidently asserted lay competence in practical questions of economic arguments must have a moral basis in human digeconomics and policy. And this expertise, they argued persuasively, nity. This was definitively clear in what I believe is his greatest showed that free enterprise was integral to achieving the Church’s book of all, The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism, which he published goals of promoting the dignity of the individual, affirming the soin 1982. “Democratic capitalism is neither the Kingdom of God cial nature of humanity, and asserting the need to solve problems nor without sin,” he wrote with characteristic toughness. “Yet all at the lowest possible level of governance. Novak’s words were other known systems of political economy are worse. Such hope mother’s milk to me at that pivotal moment in my life. as we have for alleviating poverty and for removing oppressive Novak’s work as a policy analyst was just as consequential. tyranny—perhaps our last, best hope—lies in this much despised Perhaps most notable was the 1987 volume he edited, The New system.” Consensus on Family and Welfare, which argued that welfare An AEI colleague once remarked that Michael Novak’s tough dependency was a bigger problem for the American poor than conservative brain was motivated entirely by a tender heart. It’s poverty per se. This was a radical idea at the time, and it complenot a bad combination, and a legacy which I can only hope to mented the work of his AEI colleagues Charles Murray and Irving imitate in my own career. Kristol. Murray, Kristol, and Novak were intellectual godfathers — Arthur C. Brooks is the president of the American Enterprise Institute. of the welfare-reform efforts of the 1990s that pulled millions of

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“[Novak’s] influence was nowhere greater than in his belief that all economic arguments must have a moral basis in human dignity.”



STUDENT LIFE ON STAGE Students perform at Ave’s Got Talent, Ave Idol, and A Night on Broadway


1 1. Sean Hanus (‘17) performs a song from Annie Get Your Gun at the Night on Broadway performance. 2. Sarah Schicitano (‘19)

and Joseph Thrun (‘19) perform a song from Into the Woods at the Night on Broadway.

3. Ave Idol hosts Nicolas Pullano (‘17, far left) and Alexander O’Conner (‘18, right) announce the winners of the Ave Idol lip-sync competition.



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4. Josie Hartney (‘17, right) flips Mary Alice Glaser (‘17, left) during their dance routine at Ave Idol.


5. John-Paul Arias (‘19) jumps for joy upon being announced as the winner of Ave’s Got Talent. 6. Anilia Rivera (‘19) and John Paul Arias perform their winning routine, a classical guitar cover of Rodrigo y Gabriela’s Tamacun. 5



MILES MARCHED More than 200 administrators, faculty, staff, and students attend the 2017 March for Life in D.C.



1. AMU Students for Life Vice President Nora Anderson (‘19) preps students for the 20 hour bus ride to Washington, D.C. 2. Mari Dietz (‘20) helps

give Mackenzie Sterling (‘19) a birds-eye view of Vice President Mike Pence’s speech at the Pro-Life Rally in D.C.



3. From R to L: Ellen Seta (‘18), Theresa Antones (‘17) Katie Raddell (‘20), and Catie Crnkovich (‘17) at the National Basilica in Washington, D.C. 4. Students stayed the

5. Students stop for a photo while marching near the Capitol building. 6. Students gather for a quick photo with President Towey!

5 5



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night and ate breakfast at St. John the Beloved Parish in McLean, Virginia.


UNIVERSITY DIGEST EXAMINING MEDIEVAL CHARTERS The History Department hosted “Medieval Charters and Communities: A Symposium,” on different methods of engaging with charters in historical research earlier this year. The event featured presentations by Dr. Mary Blanchard (Instructor of History, Ave Maria University), Alexander Crawford (Ph.D. candidate, University of Aberdeen) and Katherine Har (D.Phil. candidate, University of Oxford). The lecture hall was packed with students, all there to learn more about what medieval charters were, their original purposes and the various ways in which medieval historians use charters in their research today. “The History Department was incredibly pleased with the symposium,” Dr. Mary Blanchard remarks afterwards, “particularly with how well the three diverse papers fit together and created such a cohesive educational event for the students here at AMU.” Going on, she says: “We were very fortunate to be able to host Miss Har and Mr. Crawford at the same time, as they provided several wonderful insights into how medieval charters enable their doctoral research.”

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AMU professor Dr. Mary Blanchard gave an engaging presentation on how medieval charter witness lists can give us a sense of the shifts of power in the AngloSaxon royal court. In her paper, “Before She was the Evil Step-Mother: Queen AElfthryth and King Edgar’s Chamberlain,” Dr. Blanchard explained how the presence of the royal consort in a witness list changed over time, becoming both more frequent and showing a change in title, from “mater regis” (mother of the king) to “regina” (queen). This shift in the ways queens witnessed, she said, may indicate a change in the queen’s power in court. Focusing in on Queen Aelfthryth (c. 945-1000), Dr. Blanchard showed how tracking Aelfthryth’s presence in charter witness lists may help us understand her reputation among later generations as a murderess and evil stepmother.


The symposium concluded with a paper delivered by Alex Crawford: “Ceterisque Probis Hominibus Suis Universis: ‘Political Community in the reigns of William I and Alexander II (1165-1249).’” Mr. Crawford is an AMU alumnus now earning his Ph.D. from the University of Aberdeen, Scotland. In his doctoral research, Mr. Crawford has examined the witness lists of over six thousand Scottish charters spanning the period of 11651249, noting how many times an individual appears and where on the list they rank. During his presentation, he

Alumnus Alex Crawford (‘13)

spoke on his use of quantitative analysis in his research, through which he is working towards demonstrating how two phenomena of the period—namely, a dramatic change in the socio-economic role of the Scottish earls, and the increased inclusivity of the royal court—can be shown to be linked. Medieval Historian Dr. Mary Blanchard, who organized the two History Department events and who is herself an alumna of Ave Maria University, said that Miss Katherine Har’s workshop was a “great success” and “allowed students a peek into the multiple stages involved in a large-scale museum exhibit, as well as a more personal look into what working in a major archive is like.” She also shared how glad she was to have Mr. Alex Crawford participate in the symposium. “I look forward to him becoming the second AMU graduate to earn a doctorate in Medieval History,” she said. “I believe this points to the wonderfully strong legacy of former and current professors at Ave who have supported and encouraged the study of the Middle Ages.”

UNIVERSITY DIGEST MOTHER TERESA AND THE MYSTICS: A TIME FOR SPIRITUAL GROWTH There are many academic conferences that one might attend throughout the course of an academic career. These may often be interesting and important, and weighty matters may be discussed and considered. Few conferences, however, are like that held over the weekend of February 10-11 at Ave Maria University. The Aquinas Center’s conference “Mother Teresa and the Mystics: Toward a Renewal of Spiritual Theology,” lived up to its title and seemingly began the renewal right away in the very attendees at the conference. For those fortunate enough to hear all of the plenary speakers, a wonderful kind of whole was revealed that both instructed and inspired. On Friday night, Dr. Ralph Martin (Sacred Heart Major Seminary) began the conference with a stirring reflection on the depth of the Spiritual Darkness of Mother Teresa. However, his account was couched in terms where we were not simply left in awe of the great suffering and holiness of the little saint from Albania, but we were also encouraged to carry on in our own respective spiritual lives, and trust ourselves to God’s providential and loving guidance.  The theme of providential ordering was taken up by Fr. Matthew Lamb (Ave Maria University) on Saturday Dr. Mark Miravalle morning, when he showed how St. Teresa’s dedication to the poor in all circumstances gave witness to the natural law’s testimony of the inherent dignity of all men. He was followed by a illuminating lecture from Dr. Michael Waldstein (Ave Maria University), commending the place of St. Teresa and Pope St. John Paul II as the spiritual mother and father of Ave Maria University. These talks helped those listening to reflect both on the very concrete example that Mother Teresa provided, and also on how her life still is touching ours.

Finally, Fr. David Meconi, S. J. (Saint Louis University) brought all of these elements together, emphasizing what Mother Teresa taught us about how we are able to contact Christ in His “distressing disguise,” as Mother Teresa was wont to call it, in the poor. Mother Teresa’s witness of service and love emphasized not only the dignity of the poor, but also the sanctity that is to be had through suffering. By tending to the poor, she saw herself tending to Christ himself. The Body of Christ, that potentially contains all mankind, was always present to her in her administrations to the poor. As Christ says to the righteous, “you did it for me.” Augmented by a strong cohort of other speakers—including many from among the students and professors of AMU’s graduate programs in theology—the lesson of the conference, just as in Mother Teresa’s own life, was clear: that the work of God in us is to bring us, and all those whom we encounter, closer to Him.

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St. Teresa of Calcutta’s motherhood was taken up again, and this time in relation to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Mother Teresa’s continual devotion to the Blessed Virgin was so much a part of her, that one can almost lose sight of it. Dr. Mark Miravalle (Franciscan University) highlighted this connection and showed how Mother Teresa participated in the mystical motherhood of Mary in her incessant love of all of those whom she encountered, especially the poor.



President Towey and AMU Trustee Cardinal Seán O’Malley after a recent meeting at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston.

It Never Lets Up!


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s some students headed out of town for the mid-term break, others left the country to go and serve the poorest of the poor with Mother Teresa’s nuns in the Dominican Republic and Mexico. Here


they are at a dessert Mary and I hosted at our home the night before they departed. The Sunday after the big Annunciation weekend, Governor Rick Scott of Florida contacted me and asked if he could join Mary, my kids and me for Mass on Sunday. He could not have been more gracious. He met with numerous students and other Ave Maria parishioners after Mass. He was joined by the vice-chairwoman of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Liesa Priddy, here pictured after Mass with the Governor and my family. If you ever wanted

Vin and Sandy Sarni visit President Towey.

Florida Governor Rick Scott meets Ave Maria students after Mass.

to know who owns all of the land on the other side of Oil Well Road, and has a huge ranch nearby, you now do. She is a great neighbor and friend of AMU. That same Sunday an even more significant event took place: the official opening of the “Mary and Mercy Center” on the Piazza, next to the Mother Teresa Museum. AMU trustee Donna Bradt and her husband, Bill, invited Fr. Michael Gaitley to come to our community for a parish retreat and other activities. We are so very blessed to have this new resource

Mary and Mercy Center opening

in our community – go visit! An “ocean of Mercy” awaits! If you watched the Masters Golf tour-

nament in April, you heard a lot about Arnie Palmer. He was one of my childhood heroes, and one of America’s most beloved sports figures. His sister, Sandy, and her husband, Vin Sarni, came for a campus visit, and a lunch in my office in early April. They have been longtime supporters of AMU, as well as friends of Mary and me for over a decade. Great people. Ave’s Army! The “engine room” of Ave Maria University and parish is the Martha J. Burke

Adoration Chapel where there is 24/7 exposition of the Eucharist. Every year Mary and I look forward to the reception we host for the adorers – we have over 150 students who sign up for a specific hour each week, and many more who are regulars. Their prayers are transformative for AMU. Mary not only enjoys being a hostess at the house for student receptions, she also loves to play intramural basketball on an AMU women’s team. I won’t say how old Mary is, but I will say that in the game I watched her play last week she scored 8 points! Her team is undefeated so far, and if any student referee calls a foul on her, I am going to have to convene a disciplinary committee!

Ave Maria University student adorers are recognized at a reception in April.

President Towey sits alongside Florida Governor Rick Scott and Florida First Lady Ann Scott at the annual Red Mass in Tallahassee.

Governor Scott was kind enough to invite me to sit next to him and Florida’s First Lady for the annual Red Mass in Tallahassee. This Eucharistic celebration brings Florida’s leading executive, judicial and legislative branch members together, as well as all of Florida’s Bishops. The photo after Mass shows our own bishop, His Excellency Frank Dewane, greeting the Scotts. After two Catholic services in three weeks, Governor Scott just might have earned the title of honorary Catholic! On April 7th, we had a unique presentation of the Stations of the Cross by Dr. Anthony Valle and a dozen of AMU student readers in the Ave Maria Church. Each individual station included a brief meditation in Mother Teresa’s own words. Dr. Valle deserves praise for his editing touch and inspired choices. I close this

post with Mother Teresa’s final meditation addressed to Jesus: “You accepted patiently and humbly the rebuffs of human life, as well as the tortures of Your crucifixion and Passion. Help us to accept the pains and conflicts that come to us each day as opportunities to grow as people and become more like You. Enable us to go through them patiently and bravely, trusting that You will support us.  Make us realize that it is only by frequent deaths of ourselves and our self-centered desires that we can come to live more fully; for it is only by dying with You that we can rise with You.”

Follow the President’s blog online at!

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AMU First Lady Mary Towey competes in intramural basketball this spring.



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HARD WORK PAYS OFF: Dr. Travis Curtright’s Year of Accomplishment



his academic year was a year of accomplishments for Dr. Travis Curtright, who came to Ave Maria University in 2004. He advanced from associate to full professor, was named Editor of Moreana, a leading journal of Renaissance studies, and published his fourth book, Shakespeare’s Dramatic Persons (Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2016). He is currently reviewing proofs for

Dr. Travis Curtright is Professor of Humanities and Literature, Director of Shakespeare in Performance, and Chair of the Humanities and Liberal Studies Department. By Sarah Blanchard

a forthcoming article on Thomas More’s Utopia, and, as Research fellow at the Center for Thomas More Studies, he is organizing a conference on More’s early modern reputation. Dr. Curtright just finished out the year with a bang as Director of the enormously successful Spring 2017 production of Love’s Labours Lost, the AMU Shakespeare in Performance troupe’s sixth annual production. In this interview, he talks about the

adaptations of Shakespeare’s plays designed for today’s audiences.

publication of his latest book, what makes his Shakespeare in Performance course so unique, and how, through his research and innovation, he is bringing new energy to Shakespearean performance.

What makes Shakespeare in Performance so successful?

Shakespeare’s Dramatic Persons is about early modern acting styles and Shakespeare’s characters.

Why did you write it? Lifelike dramatic action is too often defined by standards of modern naturalism. I wanted to explore how the classical oratorical tradition could inform an actor’s portrayal of a character in ways that constitute what I call an early modern illusion of real life.

Who is the book’s intended audience? Dramatic Persons will appeal to those interested in the theorization of character, early modern theatrical practice, Shakespearean adaptations and performance history, and the reception of classical rhetoric in the Tudor period; but also I address those with a general interest in Shakespeare and his characters.

What do you want readers to gain from it? I hope to redefine the current critical understanding of renaissance rhetorical acting styles and make a contribution to how we consider Shakespeare’s characters.

How did writing this book impact your work as a director? In some cases, writing Dramatic Persons influenced the way I direct plays at Ave Maria quite a bit. Often, I will block an actor’s movements based upon the rhetorical arrangement of his or her character’s words, or I will encourage a connection between certain figures of speech and an actor’s changes in voice or emotion. We also leave the house lights up during our shows, and actors directly address audiences. At the end of Dramatic Persons, I envision how Richard Burbage, Shakespeare’s best actor, would speak with and question audience members, but I also explore how such a practice might work today. With all that said, our productions here are very much creative

Shakespeare in Performance is a unique course. Instead of a final exam, we stage an entire production of a single play from the ground up. Students not only master the text, but also they learn how to share Shakespeare’s art with audiences. My favorite part of the course is the production run. Parents and family of our cast and crew, along with alumni from Ave Maria, fly from across the country to see our shows. We are also popular with residents in the town and theatre lovers from Naples. The students in our troupe are remarkable: they provide professional quality theatre with genuine joy in and earnest dedication to their craft.

What should audiences know before they come to see one of your plays? Too many think of Shakespeare’s plays as a solemn cultural occasion, but the Globe theatre could have rambunctious patrons. With the performance of our comedies, in particular, I want a festive environment, a theatre of exuberant encounter, especially between actors and audiences. I think people are first surprised at and then delighted by the tone and the interaction. So audiences should come prepared to have a good time.

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

Can you offer a short summary of the book?



Athletics Roundup

a v e m a r i a m a g a z i n e | s p r i n g 2017

Ave Maria’s Softball Team is off to a historic season. Through the first 40 games of 2017, the Lady Gyrenes held a 27-13 overall record and a 12-6 record in conference play. Marinna Shadley (‘17) has led the Lady Gyrenes to offensive success throughout the 2017 campaign, batting .466 and recording an on-base percentage of .493 through the team’s first 39 games. Sadie Mosher has led the Lady Gyrenes on the mound, with a 14-5 record for the season and a team-best 1.90 earned run average. The Lady Gyrenes will compete in the Sun Conference tournament this April.


In response to Mother Teresa’s canonization last year, the baseball team decided last fall to increase their charity work. The Gyrenes partnered with Immokalee Elementary’s second grade class for the second year in a row. The student-athletes brought in over 1,000 school supplies for the second graders. The team spent the remainder of the school year visiting the classroom periodically, reading to and mentoring students, as well as participating in activities.

The Sun Conference recognized two members of the men’s basketball team in the 2016-17 Men’s Basketball All-Conference awards. Deonte Dixon was named to the All-Conference Second Team and Michael O’Donnell was named to the All-Academic Team. Dixon averaged 21 points per game, leading the Gyrenes in scoring. Additionally, he was second in the NAIA in three-point field goals made per game, with four per contest, and sixth in total three pointers made with 108. Dixon set the single season scoring record for AMU with 567 points.


The men’s golf team opened at the Keiser Invitational in March. The tournament took place at the Palm Beach Polo & Country Club in Wellington, FL. AMU was led by Cameron Weikart at the beginning of the tournament. Despite starting with an opening 18-hole score of 82, Weikart ended the day with a three-over par round of 75. Isaac Nycum led the Gyrenes on the third and final day an 18-hole score of 77, finishing the tournament at 240.

Ave Maria’s Women’s Lacrosse team has embarked on their second season of intercollegiate play on a hot start, defeating #6 Columbia College (S.C.) 10-6 in just the third game of their 2017 campaign. Ave Maria sophomore Katelyn Sherman led the team with three goals in the win while teammates Mackenzie Tourville and Sarah Wade eached pitched in with two goals a piece. Midway through the season, the Lady Gyrenes held a #6 ranking in the NAIA national poll. The team never dropped below the 8th spot nationally in the first three polls of the 2017 season.

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The women’s golf team played at the Georgetown College Women’s Invitational in February. The tournament spanned two days and 36 holes. It was played at the Slammer & Squire course at World Golf Village in St. Augustine, FL. The Lady Gyrenes finished eighth, with Bianca Vicioso leading the team with a four-overpar 76. Vicioso tied the school record set by Jessica Licari.


ALUMNI HIGHLIGHT ALEXIS STYPA (’16) Designed to Succeed: Alexis Stypa Alexis Stypa flourished academically, professionally, and socially during her four years at AMU, and she is now reaping the benefits of a solid undergraduate education: admission into one of the nation’s top graduate programs in Architecture. After graduating in 2016 with a major in Humanities and a minor in Mathematics, Alexis began a three-year Master of Architecture professional degree at the University of Notre Dame. “Even though I had no architectural background, the intensity of classes at Ave, and juggling various jobs, was a good way to practice for life at Notre Dame,” Alexis shares. While an undergraduate, Alexis was enrolled in the Honors Program, named to the Dean’s List, and a member of the President’s Circle. She was also an Intercollegiate Studies Institute Honors Scholar. She worked as a Resident Assistant in the halls, and participated in many extracurricular activities, including Students for Life, Genuine.Feminine, and a variety of student clubs. She also completed an internship with Andrea Clark Brown Architects in Naples, Florida, and she worked as a Design Assistant for BOXHILL Design in Tucson, Arizona. Notre Dame’s program involves an intensive three-semester foundational sequence of studio, history, theory, and technology courses, followed by two semesters of studio work in her area of concentration—classical architecture and new urbanism. Her studies culminate in a final semester dedicated to a terminal design project and public defense. Her favorite course so far has been Architectural Design, a studio class that typically lasts four hours. “It’s where all the creativity happens,” Alexis explains. “Everything is done by hand at this point in our education; I use my ruler to measure out everything, from the fridge to front porches.” Her program emphasizes handdrawn over computer-aided drafting, since it lends itself to greater creativity. Even though the work is sometimes tedious and often goes long into the night (she is expected to draw all her designs onto watercolor paper and render them with watercolor paint), she derives great joy from it. “It is such a joy to be up late at night drawing and painting. Everyone in my studio is happy to be at Notre Dame, studying what we all love. There is a great working atmosphere.”

a v e m a r i a m a g a z i n e | s p r i n g 2017

Alexis just finished up an assignment that is part of a program her professor has proposed in response to the refugee crisis. The project offers sustainable and humane housing solutions. “For the second phase of this project, my studio had to invent a type of townhouse that was suitable for Greece, and that retained classical principles of design,” Alexis says. “I had so much fun looking up Greek vernacular homes!”


When asked how her AMU education prepared her for graduate school, Alexis replies: “When thinking about beauty in design, my professors will often refer back to Plato and Aristotle, which reminds me of the core classes in philosophy I took at Ave. These courses were so useful in laying out a foundation. The math classes at AMU were also very helpful… I was able to take so many different classes and learn from so many great professors. I cherish the friendships that I made at Ave…Ave brought us together and made us very close; I am so grateful for this.” For now, Alexis plans to continue developing her skills in design. Working as a teacher assistant at Notre Dame, she has led some discussions on beauty and architecture, so she might be interested in delving further into that area. Down the road, she dreams of working for a firm on the California coast. And someday, she’d like to have a family. “But all in God’s timing,” Alexis concludes.


Alumni Alert: Anthony Jay Alumnus Anthony Jay has been busy during the nine years since he graduated from AMU with a double major in Biology and Theology, and a double minor in Classics and Chemistry. After spending two years working as a research technician in an Alzheimer’s Disease Lab (20082010), Anthony began a doctoral program in Biochemistry at Boston University School of Medicine. He has presented original scientific research at many conferences, most notably the Kern Lipid Conference in Vail, Colorado (where he earned the Early Career Investigator Award in 2014), and the International Alzheimer’s Conference in Vienna. While still in graduate school, Anthony co-founded the medical non-profit International Medical Research Collaborative (, which rotates international medical students through U.S. hospitals. He also founded AJ Consulting Company (, which seeks to unpack scientific research and innovation in a way that empowers individuals to take ownership of their diet, lifestyle and overall health. His consulting company offers personalized DNA diet consulting, a new podcast called “The Opt Out Show,” and a free healthscience YouTube video series called “Chagrin & Tonic.”

Anthony dedicated his book to Ave Maria University. When asked why, he replied: “Because I love Ave Maria and because Ave was so instrumental in every aspect of where I am today.” For instance, Anthony met his wife, Allison, at AMU. He also made other lifelong friends in college, friends who share his same commitment to the Splendor of Truth. “My years at Ave Maria were literally some of the best of my life,” Anthony says. In February 2016, he had the opportunity to present his research on birth control at a Stein Center for Social Research conference at AMU. “Without a doubt,” he shares, “encouragement from the incredible people at Ave during this conference was the major reason Estrogeneration exists today.” Anthony uses his education and research to guide his family in making healthy choices in diet and lifestyle, but he considers the incorporation of faith into daily life just as essential. The Jay family goes to Mass every morning and says the rosary every evening: “It gives the kids lots of ‘practice,’ like any good spiritual ‘athlete’ needs,” he explains. As far as the future goes, Anthony plans to continue his research and professional pursuits; he has already started work on his second book: “Blubber Brain.”

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

In fact, the day after he received his Ph.D. diploma, Anthony’s first-ever book was published: Estrogeneration: How Estrogenics Are Making You Fat, Sick, and Infertile (Pyrimidine Publishing, 2017). The book is part of “Chagrin & Tonic,” a series that discusses health problems (“chagrin”) and health solutions (“tonic”) in a simplified language, making the issues relevant to general audiences—not just scientists and doctors. In his first book, Anthony examines the top 10 artificial estrogen chemicals (“estrogenics”) in our everyday environment, how these chemicals explain the rise of major health issues, and what individuals can do to limit their exposures to them.



LETTERS TO HOME The Sixth Annual Scholarship Dinner

a v e m a r i a m a g a z i n e | s p r i n g 2017



n February 16, nearly 300 Ave Maria Mission Society members gathered at the Ritz Carlton in Naples to celebrate Ave Maria’s Sixth Annual Scholarship Dinner. The evening featured a theme of “Letters to Home,” inspired by Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta’s words “I am a little pencil in the hand of a writing God.” The evening’s distinguished speaker, Sister Dominga, M.C., was recruited to the Missionaries of Charity by Mother Teresa in 1982 and has worked for the M.C.s in New York, Washington D.C., Saint Louis, Chicago, Indiana, and is currently serving in Atlanta. She captivated the audience with poignant stories that offered a glimpse into the everyday life of Mother Teresa and her love of the poor and her sisters that made her endeavors and faith even more awe-inspiring. During the night, several students read letters to home which gave their perspective on their experience at Ave Maria. Freshman Taryn Posch read a letter to her sister Kendra, a recent graduate, about her decision to attend Ave Maria. She wrote, “Visiting you and our other sisters at Ave really influenced me, but, ultimately, my decision to attend was made because I felt like I was being “called” to Ave Maria.” Taryn continued, “Even though it has only been five months since I arrived, I have started to see the fruits from following that call, and how Ave is impacting my life in big ways. I am growing as a person, especially in my faith. Ave has pro-

vided me a chance for renewal and I have deepened my relationship with the Lord in a totally new way.” Taryn, a Psychology major, has plans to attend graduate school to become a clinical neuropsychologist. Sophomore James Barrows, a Literature major, is the fourth person in his family to attend Ave Maria. For the second year in a row, James has earned a role in Ave Maria’s renowned Shakespeare in

Performance program. James wrote to his parents, “It is amazing to see the different ways in which Ave Maria has strengthened our family, helped us to grow in our faith, and offered a multitude of different opportunities.” Ave Maria’s philosophy includes educating and forming the whole person, which is why it is home to over

40 clubs and organizations. Junior Andrew Nussbaum, a Business major, initially chose to attend Ave because of a baseball scholarship. After an injury sidelined his baseball career, he experienced a transformative experience in Mexico City while volunteering with the Missionaries of Charity. He wrote, “Little

Sister Dominga, M.C. shares the story of her vocation and memories of her time with Mother Teresa. Brietta Haynes (‘17) reads her letter to home, which reflected on her four years at Ave. Students wrote letters to donors thanking them for their committment to Ave Maria University.

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

Clockwise from Left The AMU Opera Ensemble performs at the Sixth Annual AMU Scholarship Dinner.

did I know I would find the meaning of life there serving the poorest of the poor. I learned we are simply called to will the good for others each day we live.” In her letter, senior Brietta Haynes reflected on her four years at Ave, “Ave Maria has given me an excellent, authentic Catholic education for which I will be forever grateful. Pursuing Catholic Studies has given me such insight into my faith but I have learned more than just theology. Ave’s rigorous core curriculum was daunting as a freshman, but looking back, I could not imagine I would graduate with such knowledge. Ave Maria invested in my future, and I am not taking that for granted. I honestly do not believe that I could have dreamed of a better college experience, or excellent education.” To close the event, guests heard from freshman Annie Schlueter, who is planning a career in broadcast journalism, and will be one of the first to enroll in Ave Maria’s new Communications major. Annie addressed her letter to “the Ave Maria Family”. She said, “Beyond academics, the community at Ave Maria is overwhelmingly beautiful. I am surrounded by joy...real people with real struggles who are still living in love with Jesus. What other school can you walk through campus and be smiled at by nearly everyone? I love Ave because I am surrounded by young adults who don’t have their lives figured out, but who are seeking truth in joy.” She continued, “I have been here a little over a semester and I have grown so much. I cannot wait to keep going and see how God continues to move and change the world through Ave Maria University.” There are abundant blessings to be grateful for at this University. Vital among them is the generosity of benefactors like Mission Society members. Through their commitments, Ave Maria provided 99% of students with scholarships and/or financial aid for the 2015-16 academic year. It is truly thanks to your prayers, dreams, and support, this great University is possible.



Students participate in the annual St. Patrick’s Day parade on Fifth Avenue South in Naples, Florida.

Introducing the

The Ave Maria Mission Society advances the University’s highest priorities and recognizes donors who provide critical funding that make an Ave Maria University education possible. Mission gifts support scholarships, programs, faculty, and opportunities to advance the institution. The Mission Society allows you to experience the life of the University and its students. Activities include access to exclusive events like the University’s Annual Scholarship Dinner, which will be held next year at the Ritz Carlton Beach Resort in Naples, Florida on February 15, 2018. Mission Society members also enjoy meaningful opportunities to engage University leaders and receive special communications about key Ave Maria initiatives. In the 2016 academic year, more than 4,100 donors made Mission Gifts. Thanks to the generosity of Mission Society members, the University is able to provide 99% of students with scholarships and/or financial aid. The University has also been able to expand the number of majors offered in the fall of 2017 to 33 from 10 at our founding, including the addition of Nursing, Health Science Administration, Marketing, Communications and many others. We are deeply grateful to Mission Society members who make an Ave Maria University education possible and enable Our Lady’s University to grow in service to our students and the world. Make your Mission Gift today and join a group of dedicated individuals who are passionate about educating students in an authentic Catholic tradition—students who will have the intellectual gravitas, moral formation and initiative to be tremendous forces for good in the world.

Contact the University’s Advancement Office for more information and a schedule of upcoming events. (239) 280-2575

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

Become a part of the Ave Maria Mission Society and join a group of dedicated individuals who are passionate about educating students in an authentic Catholic tradition—students who will have the intellectual gravitas, moral formation and initiative to be tremendous forces for good in the world. RECOGNITION LEVELS CHAIRMAN’S CIRCLE $50,000+ The Ave Maria Mission Society was created to advance the University’s highest priorities and recognize donors who provide the critical funding that makes an Ave Maria University education possible. Mission gifts support scholarships, programs, faculty, and opportunities to advance the institution.


Office of Advancement 5050 Ave Maria Blvd. Ave Maria, FL 34142

FELLOWS $5,000+ GUARDIANS $2,500+ ADVOCATES $1,000+ FOUNDERS Up to $999

Benefits include access to exclusive events, meaningful opportunities to engage University leaders and special communication about key Ava Maria initiatives. Levels represent annual gift commitments to the Ava Maria Mission Fund.

Phone: (239) 280-2586

Email: Web:

AMU Magazine Spring 2017  
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