A dead thing can go with the stream, but only a living thing can go against it.”  G.K. Chesterton–  The Everlasting Man, 1925

July 20, 2009

by Marielena Montesino de Stuart


  “AVE MARIA: The Promise, The Reality” Part 1,  Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4

Ave Maria


Today, July 20th at approximately 11:15am (PST)  Father Joseph Fessio, S.J., was fired for the second time, from Ave Maria University.

In a communique, which is excerpted below,  Father Fessio described the chain of events that led to his second, and we assume– last  firing:

 This morning, (Monday, July 20th) Dr. Jack Sites, Academic Vice President of Ave Maria University,  flew from Houston, where he was attending a meeting of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, to San Francisco, to inform me personally that I was being dismissed from Ave Maria University. Our meeting was amicable and Dr. Sites, as always, acted as a Christian gentleman.”  


Fr. Joseph Fessio, SJ

Hmmm… Father Fessio was at Ave Maria University last week, teaching a summer course for high school students.  Why didn’t they fire him while he was present on campus?  Why wait until he is San Francisco to do the dirty deed?   After all, he was scheduled to teach the second summer course at AMU next week.  Afraid of student revolt? 

Father Fessio continues…

He said that the reason for my dismissal stemmed from a conversation I had in November of 2008 with Jack Donahue, then chairman of the board of AMU. At that time I felt it an obligation to speak to the board chairman before the upcoming board meeting, to make sure he was aware of the urgency of the university’s financial situation. After I had informed him, using projections based on publicly available documents and statements,  he asked me what I thought was the solution. I told him that there were policies being followed that were at the root of the problem, that the present administration was irrevocably wedded to those policies, and that without a change of administration the university was at great risk. “

So, here we go again.  When someone tries to inform a member of the Board of Trustees about financial information that should be provided to them by the university administration  AS A FUNDAMENTAL PART OF THEIR JOBS AS TRUSTEES  (i.e., financial transparency and fiduciary responsibility)  — Ave Maria University administration RETALIATES and gets the HONEST  person FIRED!

No considerations were given to the fact that this is a priest who has promoted AMU, and recruited students,  faculty and  lecturers (like Cardinal Pell) and was very involved in raising money for the university.  After all this– where has all the money GONE?

Father Fessio continues…   

Dr. Sites said that Jack Donahue related this conversation to Tom Monaghan, and it was decided (I don’t know specifically by whom) that the university could not have a faculty member making these criticisms of the administration and thus undermining the university. ” 

IS THIS TYRANNY?  What kind of “higher education” environment is this?   Why is the faculty tolerating this?    Are parents and students aware of the kind of administration that they are entrusting their children to?

Father Fessio continues…

Dr. Sites told me that there were unspecified others who had similar substantive concerns that I was undermining the university.” 

“Unspecified others”? !   Shouldn’t the members of the administration who made this decision have the courage to step forward and identify themselves?   Where are the basic principles of justice and morality that are to be expected from a university named after Our Heavenly Mother?

Father Fessio continues…

I continue to support the university. I pray for its success. I have great admiration for the faculty, students, and many of the staff. I do disagree with some of the policies of the administration. This seems to be the reason I was fired the first time, in March 2007, since the official explanation was “irreconcilable administrative differences”.

Nevertheless, I think it is an accurate summary to say that I am being dismissed as a faculty member because of a private conversation with the chairman of the board in which I made known my criticisms of the university administration; and because of allegations which have not been made known to me and to which I have not been given an opportunity to respond… and I will continue to think that my dismissal is another mistake in a long series of unwise decisions.”

This is another example of the highly questionable administration in charge (or not in charge?) of Ave Maria University.   These actions are being carried out quietly, WITHOUT FACING THE ACCUSED (even Christ was confronted by his accusers)– while parents and students are being actively pursued for enrollment.


Nick Healy, Resigning? President of Ave Maria University

Nick Healy, Resigning? President of Ave Maria University

1.Will Nick Healy have the courage to present his WIDELY and MUCH  ANTICIPATED  resignation?  Will he go off into the distance following his “healing priest”– or retire to his beloved  Garabandal?  (Read the Instruction on Prayers for Healing from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, below).

2.  Exactly WHO  is in charge of Ave Maria University?   Does Nick Healy still have access to the budget?  Does anyone report to Healy anymore?  What does Nick do with his day?

Tom Monaghan, Chancellor, President? and King of Everything

Tom Monaghan, Chancellor, President? and King of Everything.

3. Has Tom Monaghan assumed the bulk of Healy’s responsibilities?  Is Monaghan looking for another president to replace Healy?  Could this madness in the middle of the swamp not be attractive enough to anyone from the world of academia?  Does anyone want Nick’s job?

 4. Many of the students left behind at Ave Maria University are there because of Father Fessio’s recruitment efforts.  For many of them, Father Fessio is  the main reason they chose Ave Maria University (given the accreditation issues).  What will the administration say to these students, after the second firing of this priest?5. HOW LONG WILL THE FACULTY CONTINUE TO REMAIN SILENT?– even after the departure of Dr. Matthew Levering!    I guess you wouldn’t want to have open discussions at a university– would you?   The Catechism of the Roman Catholic Church teaches that there are Nine Ways of Being Accessory to Another’s Sin– which include:  by CONCEALMENT,  by PARTAKING,  by  SILENCE.  

*-Inquiring minds should read Dr. Matthew Levering’s FAMOUS Departure Memo  HERE.   UPDATE:  The Levering Memo was originally released by Avewatch.com, an investigative website which is no longer online.  You may read it in AVE MARIA: The Promise, The Reality (Part 2).

By the way… are professors at AMU qualified as “ministerial professors” –as in Ave Maria Law School?! — in addition  to practicing  bilocation?  Dr. Levering is a faculty member scheduled to teach at another university.  Yet, he is simultaneously listed as a faculty member at AMU– according to today’s AMU website.

Could someone please explain this phenomenon?

6. Will the Ave Maria University administration show good will towards  Bishop Frank Dewane, and volunteer transparency of their financial records to him, in the hopes of one day receiving official Catholic recognition, and justify viability of the institution?   Financial transparency does not look very promising– based on today’s news.

7.  What does the second firing of Father Fessio do to advance the cause of obtaining institutional Catholic recognition from the Bishop?  NOT MUCH!

8. What does the firing of a  priest do to encourage confidence in campus ministry?  NOT MUCH!

9. Was Bishop Dewane consulted about the plans to fire Father Fessio?  NO! … said the Bishop’s spokesperson (even though recently the Bishop graciously accepted to be a non-officio member of the Board of Trustees).  The Bishop’s gracious acceptance of the membership does not mean that he will grant the university Catholic recognition.  Which begs the question:  did any member of the university administration oppose the Bishop’s membership in the Board of Trustees– and on what grounds?  This is a very important question.

10.  What does this second firing of Father Fessio say about institutional instability?  They fired him, rehired him–  and then fired him again!


1.  Will the AMU administration beef-up Campus Security if Father Fessio were to visit the students, or celebrate Mass at the Oratory–  if  he were to stop in Ave Maria on his way back from his yearly visit to  Benedict XVI in Castel Gandolfo?

2. Will the “healing priest” become the next Provost– and will he bring his “healing oils”?   After all, the university says it needs to raise more money– but at the rate things are going, AMU’s administration will need to sell these oils by the  GALLON!  (Read the Instruction on Prayers for Healing from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, below).

 3. Is the rumor true that certain Charismatic members of the administration and faculty received a secret message while they were speaking in tongues– that  revealed to them the firing of Father Fessio?  If so, please reveal to us who’s  next?  (Read the Instruction on Prayers for Healing from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, below).

4.  Will Speaking in Tongues  101  be a required course, or is it still just an elective? (Read the Instruction on Prayers for Healing from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, below).

Fr. Joseph Fessio, SJ with Pope Benedict XVI in Castel Gandolfo

Fr. Joseph Fessio, SJ with Pope Benedict XVI in Castel Gandolfo

Parting thoughts…

A few weeks ago, I saw Father Fessio be approached after Mass by a high ranking member of the AMU administration– who warmly kissed him on the cheek.

I glanced at him and thought how alone he really was, as I stood there and witnessed the kiss of Judas.

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NOTE:  Many faithful Roman Catholics are unaware that “Healing Masses” are a defiance of  the Instruction of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which has clearly stated that it intends to put an end to this unlawful abuse.  Read the Instruction on Prayers for Healing from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith HERE)

READ  The Chronicles of Ave Maria©  for  background  on AVE MARIA UNIVERSITY and the TOWN OF AVE MARIA.  Click HERE

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Marielena Montesino de Stuart

© Marielena Montesino de Stuart  

E-Mail:    ContactTRCW@aol.com

You may also read Marielena Montesino de Stuart’s commentaries through: RenewAmerica, USAToday, The Dallas Morning News, U.S. Politics Today (an EIN Service for Political Professionals-*) Poynter Online, Spero News, Daily Estimate, The New Liturgical Movement-Poland, The Naples Daily News, Les Femmes-The Truth, Culture War Notes,  ProLife Blogs,  The Wanderer, etc.

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Topics for Discussion:  Ave Maria, Ave Maria University. Tom Monaghan, Nick Healy, Father Joseph Fessio, Institutional Instability, Faculty, Ave Maria University Faculty, AMU Faculty, Being Accessory to Sin,  Speaking in Tongues, Charismatic,  Kiss of Judas, Healing Priest, Healing Oils, Bishop Frank Dewane, Jack Sites, Ministerial Professors

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