Ave Maria Living

Life in the town of Ave Maria, Florida. News & information for residents & visitors.

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Philosophers on a Mountain Top


These two are among the men who call Ave Maria home. It will be interesting to hear more about their escapade over a bourbon or some wine. Let us pray they came back refreshed and ready to inspire their students and contribute to the Academy.

Originally posted on Michael Pakaluk:

Mt Jefferson

Michael Waldstein, my colleague in theology, an experienced Alpinist from his youth in Salzburg, with me on the summit of Mt Jefferson, on the last day of a writing retreat in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.

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Did somebody say Harvard and Ave Maria are equivalent?

The thing about Ave Maria is that it is still new, and therefore it makes sense that people aren’t quite sure what to make of it (i.e. the community, which consists of both town and university). This blog is an exercise in trying to help people have information so they can know what to make of it. And so is this article by professor Michael Pakaluk, which explains how some of the best things that can happen are happening here:

… So, simply with respect to what was found to be best at Harvard, it seems we can conclude that Harvard and Ave Maria are equivalent (or better, if London Pride at the Queen Mary Pub is better than tea). … It would be absurd to claim that Ave Maria has everything that Harvard has.  For instance, we do not have the noise, pollution, and crime which are found in a city.  We do not have any dirty piles and pools of slush to trudge through in March. …

Of course Michael’s keen wit is worth reading. Go click –  it’s short and funny (and he makes some great points). And the quote from A Man for All Seasons is precious.


Our neighbor Novak’s deft reply to New York Times’ attempt to pit Pope Francis against Pope Saint John Paul II

Queerly, the New York Times seems to be advocating that papal pronouncements ought to influence culture and public policy, and in that vein has posed this question and then published five responses:

Jesus drove money changers out of the Temple, calling them “a den of thieves.” Of the profit-centric world view, Pope Francis warned, “We can no longer trust in the unseen forces and the invisible hand of the market,” to provide economic justice. Others call Christianity and capitalism inextricable. Is contemporary capitalism compatible with Christian values?

Novak presents shirt reading “Centisimus Annus” to Pope Saint John Paul II – click to see it and other photos at Novak’s website

Interestingly, that setup by the Times ignores how Pope Saint John Paul II described capitalism in the magisterial encyclical Centisumus Annus:

… an economic system which recognizes the fundamental and positive role of business, the market, private property and the resulting responsibility for the means of production, as well as free human creativity in the economic sector … circumscribed within a strong juridical framework which places it at the service of human freedom in its totality.

But Michael Novak did not let the Times get away with that omission (or the Times’ lame attempt to pit Pope Francis against his canonized predecessor John Paul); Novak’s is one of the five published responses, and it begins with the saint’s definition and discusses why capitalism is the most moral of the economic systems. It is worth reading.

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Unashamed: May we always be a town that stands with Robbie George

Robbie GeorgeThis past week at the annual National Catholic Prayer Breakfast legal and political philosopher Robert George gave an address that will likely be remembered for decades. Closer to home, it will likely remind many of us why we have chosen to be faithful, and in particular to be part of the Ave Maria Project.

The question each of us today must face is this: Am I ashamed of the Gospel? And that question opens others: Am I prepared to pay the price that will be demanded if I refuse to be ashamed, if, in other words, I am prepared to give public witness to the massively politically incorrect truths of the Gospel, truths that the mandarins of an elite culture shaped by the dogmas of expressive individualism and megeneration liberalism do not wish to hear spoken? Or, put more simply, am I willing, or am I, in the end, unwilling, to take up my cross and follow Christ?

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Being named after Saint John Paul the Great (a town where it’s common, and 1 young John Paul who is attending the canonization)

On the eve of Divine Mercy Sunday when Pope John Paul II will officially enter the canon of saints of Christ’s Church, many families in the town of Ave Maria are also planning a feast day for their sons – or their Sister! It is fitting that a town where one of the streets is named “Pope John Paul II Boulevard” – a town whose founding was inspired by that pope’s “new evangelization” – has so many boys and young men named after that extraordinary man.

His papacy saw a rise in the popularity of the name “John Paul” for newborns in the USA as shown in this graphic, with spikes in popularity based on events in his life:

Pope John Paul Newborn Names Ave Maria

How many newborns were named “John Paul” in the USA each year?

Of course not everyone bearing the name received it as a newborn boy. Sister John Paul, OP, who teaches in Ave Maria at Donahue Catholic, received the name when she entered Religious life.


“I received the name John Paul as my religious name the day I received the holy habit of St. Dominic, August 5, 2001. ‘John Paul II, we love you!'” – window at the Mother House of the Dominican Sisters of Mary Mother of the Eucharist

Among the estimated dozen John Paul’s in Ave Maria, several have provided photographs, below.

John Paul R

John Paul Raiger

John Paul K

John Paul Klucik

John Paul T

John Paul Tamisiea

john paul m

John Paul Moore, who made his First Holy Communion today.

John Paul and Rhodora M

John Paul Moore – born second – was blessed while in the womb with his twin sister Rhodora by John Paul II. And while the parents had no idea they were having twins, the Pope knew because he gave them two extra rosaries (instead of one extra) for the baby!

One lucky Ave Maria boy bearing the name is having the trip of a lifetime with his mother – they traveled to Rome to attend tomorrow’s canonization ceremony! John Paul Allan’s friends and neighbors have been able to follow his special pilgrimage via Facebook. Mrs. Allan owns a Catholic gift and book store and home school supply store called By Way of the Family that she named after a phrase from Saint Pope John Paul”s apostolic exhortation Familiaris Consortio: “The future of humanity passes by way of the family.”

John Paul Allan and his mother on their canonization pilgrimage in Rome.

John Paul Allan and his mother Chelsea with the Vatican in background on their canonization pilgrimage in Rome.

John Paul A 1

Pope John Paul II canonization banner over the entrance to St. Peter’s Basilica with John Paul Allan standing under it at St. Peter’s Basilica.

John Paul Allan praying at the tomb of Pope John Paul II the day before his canonization.

John Paul Allan praying at the tomb of Pope John Paul II the day before his canonization.

John Paul Allan praying at the tomb of Pope John XXIII the day before his canonization.

John Paul Allan praying at the tomb of Pope John XXIII the day before his canonization.

John Paul A 3

John Paul Allan and his mom Chelsea sent this image showing where they are standing in line at 3:00 AM on the eve of John Paul II’s canonization.


Pontificate of Hope (that continues to inspire our town)


This reflection (below), penned by Cistercian Father Edmund Waldstein after St. John Paul was beatified in 2011, highlights what many Catholics of my generation found in his Petrine ministry: hope. That hope in the nature of who we are as creatures of a Creator will continue to fuel the flame that is the Gospel. That hope is precisely why the Ave Maria projects were founded.

We can look forward with hope to the writing and teaching of theologian Pater Edmund, and of his theologian parents Michael and Susan here in Ave Maria, who have done much already to spread this good news that is St. John Paul’s theology – especially his Theology of the Body.

Originally posted on Sancrucensis:

The author's first encounter with Bl. Pope John Paul II

My confrere Pater Johannes Paul and I went to Rome with a group of pilgrims for the beatification of Pope John Paul II. It was tremendously moving and all that sort of thing, but the trip was also kind of exhausting and so I actually fell asleep during the sermon at the Beatification Mass. Reading the sermon when I got back, I was struck by the following passage, in which Pope Benedict gives a remarkably pithy summary of the center of his predecessor’s teaching:

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Throwback Thursday: Joseph Pearce on Ave Maria


In 2011 writer Joseph Pearce wrote a wonderful reflection about being a resident of Ave Maria and a longtime member of the AMU faculty. He is now on the faculty at the Thomas More College of Liberal Arts.

Here is the link: World is eccentric; Ave Maria is different because it’s not

Ave Maria: home is where the orange blossoms grow

[Update: scroll to the end.]

This time of year, Ave Maria smells heavenly.

imageThick waves of perfume waft along sidewalks and onto front porches.


This beautiful breeze flows from the acres of orange groves in blossom – row upon row of snowy flowering trees that surround Ave Maria.

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Sunset – last night in Ave Maria

Who remembers the sky-blue pink crayon in the big green and yellow Crayola box (with the sharpener on the back)?

Ave Maria Sunset 2

Photo by Linda, an Ave Maria resident.


My neighbors and I are wonderfully created fallen people hoping in the promises of Christ our Redeemer, Who came to dwell in our midst after the angel said “Hail Mary, full of grace!”

Sometimes we look a lot like the cast of not-so-pleasant characters in this leaf from an ancient book of hours. Yet we carry on, trusting in God’s grace – the same grace that filled Mary and that she wants us to know.

That’s who lives here in Ave Maria – and I wouldn’t want it any other way.

 Ave Maria Florida

Just How Much We Love Ave

When I first saw the rendering  of Ave Maria town and the Oratory I thought that this is a place we would like to live.  The town to be was just in the talking stages along  with a new Catholic University.  With each meeting that was held and with every new rendering, for both the university and town, I just knew that we had to live there someday.  I was familiar with the farmlands east of Naples because  we’ve lived in Naples since 1979.  I  had always said “who would want to live so far from Naples?”  Back in 1979, certainly it wasn’t us.

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Top Twelve Reasons I Love Living in Ave Maria – One for Every Month of the Year.

1) Orange blossoms in April. The scent fills Ave Town with a heavenly perfume that makes me want to go outside and just breathe.

2) When I tell people my address on Annunciation Circle in Ave Maria they ask me how I managed to get such a Catholic address. I tell them it’s no coincidence.

3) Daily Mass in Ave Maria is said at four times per day during the school year (daily for the K-12 students and 3 times for the college students and residents) and as the college students make their way across campus to daily Mass I’m often asked by tourists if the students are required to attend daily Mass since so many of them are seen headed that way at Mass time, and of course the answer is, “No. They go because they want to.”

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Giving Our Children The Best That Life Can Offer

photo courtesy of http://www.AveHerald.com

What called us to Ave Maria may not be what keeps us here or it may be a combination thereof. We were attracted to the Catholic values and practices of the community. It is our desire as parents to give our children what we find to be the best that life can offer and that is the Truth of the Catholic Church. It is in our minds and hearts the surest way to live a loving and peaceful life for ourselves and for others. After living here two and a half years we realize of course that we did not move to Heaven, but we did become part of a community that strives to go in that direction, and it is a wonderful experience to do that together, that is as Church.

For an example, it is heartwarming to go to Mass on Sunday and see all the families and all the children in these families. It matters not who we are or what we do in the community. In the end, when day is done, what seems to matter most is that we love each other in our families first and then bring this love to the world outside of our families. It is living as a Domestic Church. It is living as the Jesus, Mary and Joseph lived in Nazareth and believe in the outcome that God our Father has planned for all of us.

Contributed by Richard & Suzanne Dionne

A genuinely Catholic university: faculty, students & curriculum

I can say with Adam, “I was there at the beginning”. Though it wasn’t the Garden of Eden, it was nevertheless full of glimpses of glory. I have wonderful memories from my seven years at Ave Maria.

Of course, the most essential thing is that it is a genuinely Catholic university… [break] …I can sing my Nunc Dimittis with confidence that the torch of vibrant faith is being passed on to the next generation.


Contributed by Fr. Joseph Fessio, S.J.

World is eccentric; Ave Maria is different because it’s not

There’s something very special about Ave Maria and the people who live here. It’s a community centred on Christ. How many other towns or neighbourhoods in the United States or, for that matter, anywhere else in the modern world, could claim to have Christ as the central focus? Ave Maria is, therefore, very different as well as very special. For some people, no doubt, the difference is the problem. Such people, wishing to conform to what Evelyn Waugh described so aptly as “our deplorable epoch”, will not want to visit Ave Maria, let alone live here. So be it…


Contributed by Joseph Pearce

What Matters Most in the Human Adventure

We moved from a military post near Regensburg, Germany, to Ave Maria in 2007 confident that the environment would help us to be constantly mindful of what matters most in the human adventure…  [break] …This consciousness and unity became very tangible during a watershed event in August of 2010. The eldest of our seven children, Alex, died in a car accident in town at the age of 19, about three weeks before he would begin classes at AMU. In the midst of this otherwise senseless tragedy the community united to live and witness and taste “the appalling strangeness of the mercy of God.”…


Contributed by Robb & Laurie Klucik


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