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November 5, 2009

By Marielena Montesino de Stuart for


Freedom of the Press in Ave Maria?  Think Again.

Marielena Montesino de Stuart

I am a writer for The Wanderer— America’s oldest Roman Catholic newspaper.  The Wanderer is presented every week to the Pope, members of the Roman Curia, as well as Bishops on both sides of the Atlantic.  No one disputes The Wanderer’s history of defending Holy Mother Church.  I also write for The Roman Catholic World (this blog).

Today, shortly before 11:00AM, my husband, my young children and I walked towards the Ave Maria University Student Union building in order that I could attend the Golisano Press Conference, as a writer for The Wanderer and for The Roman Catholic World. 

This Press Conference was to include the announcement of a large sum of money donated by billionaire Blase “Tom” Golisano, a controversial donor who recently moved from New York to Naples– whose political background and pro-abortion history stands in stark contrast with Tom Monaghan’s advertised mission of Ave Maria University.

UPDATE – Feb. 16, 2010: Mr. Golisano will be honored in perpetuity on the Ave Maria University campus, where a groundbreaking ceremony has taken place– for a building that will be erected bearing Golisano’s name.  The absolute absence of public indignation from the “pro-life” students, faculty and Ave Maria residents (except for this writer) is astounding.

Ave Maria University and Socialist Tactics

I was met outside the Student Union building by Mr. Thomas Minick, head of AMU’s Security, two Sheriff deputies and two security guards.  That makes five.  A Sheriff patrol car also waited nearby.  Yet, it is amazing that when the local Ave Maria jewelry store was violently robbed at gunpoint last year– they couldn’t even get one single Sheriff deputy out to this remote area, in time to catch the criminals– who are still at large.

I, on the other hand, had two Sheriff Deputies, plus three security guards– all assigned and ready for my arrest, plus a Sheriff patrol car ready to take me away.

Mr. Minick warned me that I would be arrested if I did not leave the university property.  I asked him why.  He said he had received orders to keep me away from university property because I am “disruptive.”  I asked him to explain, and I proceeded to ask him some questions, but he would not provide any answers.  He continued to warn me of my imminent arrest, if I did not leave.  One of the Sheriff Deputies moved close to me, and I was again warned that the Sheriff would proceed with my arrest.  Sadly, my young children, along with my husband, were witnesses to this incident.  I began to walk back to our car, but Mr. Minick insisted that he had to escort me out of the university property (as you would escort a criminal).

Never before in my life, have I had an encounter like the one described above, nor have I ever been asked to leave any premises.

To Invite or Disinvite:  That is the Question

On November 4th at 3:49pm I secured permission from Branden E. Blackmur to attend the Press Conference.  Mr. Blackmur works for Falls Communications and is responsible for coordinating matters related to the press.  Today, at 9:15am, Mr. Blackmur contacted me by telephone to inform me that I was being disinvited to the Golisano Press Conference, because I had been “disruptive” at ” meetings;”  furthermore, he said that I am not permitted on Ave Maria University’s campus, which is private property, until notified otherwise.    I responded that I have never been “disruptive” at any meeting and that there is no reason why my invitation to the Press Conference should be withdrawn.  Mr. Blackmur would not go into further details, except to say that this decision was made by the university’s administration.  I told him that I would go to the Student Union building in hopes of obtaining further personal clarification concerning this ambiguous accusation.

After all, Ave Maria University’s administration advertises itself as charitable and kind, and expects the rest of us to show absolute charity and kindness– even when one of  their university administrators gets in trouble with the law– an administrator whose responsibilities include setting an example for the students.

All of the claims made by AMU’s administration about high Catholic moral values, could not be further from the truth– after Father Fessio’s two firings, after today’s events regarding Ave Maria University and “Tom” Golisano– and their actions towards me in front of my young children and my husband.

When Overreaching is an Understatement

It became obvious, to both my husband and I, that the meeting in question was a public meeting that took place on November 3rd, conducted by the Ave Maria Stewardship Community District in the town of Ave Maria.  This meeting was for property owners.  The meeting was audio recorded by the Board of the Stewardship District, and the recording must be made available by the District on their website (see below);  furthermore, all contents of the meeting, by law, must be made available to the public.

This meeting for property owners in the Town of Ave Maria had nothing to do with Ave Maria University, nor with its administration.

It was my right to attend this public meeting as a citizen taxpayer and property owner in Ave Maria.  The audio recording of the meeting  demonstrates that at no time was I disruptive.  In fact, it was another resident who interrupted the meeting and interfered with the questions that I presented to the board of the Stewardship District– primarily, “why is this Special District in non-compliance of Florida statues, pursuant to the Report from the Auditor General of Florida?”  The board never answered my question, and said that they would have their attorney review the matter.

Paul Roney, Chief Financial Officer of Ave Maria University was present, as a member of the Ave Maria Stewardship District governing board— which taxes the citizens of Ave Maria, without giving them a right to vote. This tyrannical  Sustainable Development (Agenda 21) arrangement was granted by the Florida Legislature to Tom Monaghan and Barron Collier Companies, the founders of the town.

The Ave Maria University administration is effectively punishing me for having spoken at a public government meeting, by attempting to silence me as a writer for The Wanderer and The Roman Catholic World, and by banning me from university property.  At the same time, this “private” university uses tax-free municipal bonds and uses the coercive power of the government in the process.

The following two articles from the Naples Daily News explain this further:

Ave Maria: Recipient of $128 million in tax-free bonds, so far
Ave Maria: Were tax-free bonds provided without proper accreditation?

Today’s decision to ban me from university property was based on what the university’s administration perceives to be objectional questions presented to the  town’s governing board– regarding matters that, again–  have absolutely nothing to do with Ave Maria University, or its administration.

It is worthy of note that I have never attended a university meeting, nor have I ever been disruptive on university property, nor elsewhere;  therefore their reference to  “meetings” are the  Ave Maria Stewardship District meetings held in the town.

The illogical and unfair action that the Ave Maria University administration took today is clear evidence of how this administration is overreaching into Ave Maria Town’s jurisdiction and government, as a way to further control and intimidate its residents and property owners.  This is another way in which the university’s administration silences public opinion, which is a violation of our constitutional rights.

Shock Waves

Today’s desperate attempt by the Ave Maria University administration to keep me away from the Golisano Press Conference is sending shock waves across the Catholic world of higher education, as well as the Church.  The volatile situation surrounding Golisano’s pro-abortion history and his large donation to Ave Maria University is a tremendous blow to parents, students, residents of Ave Maria– and Catholics across America.  This action on the part of the university’s administration constitutes a betrayal– since AMU’s administration claims to uphold the highest Catholic moral principles– and has even taken advantage of incidents at Notre Dame, in order to promote AMU’s “impeccable” pro-life image.

Pro-Life or Pro-AMU?

Ave Maria University has aggressively engaged well-intentioned and devoted Catholic students, as well as residents in the town of Ave Maria to picket outside of the new Naples Planned Parenthood Clinic.  Youth pro-life marches and an array of pro-life activities usually end up as promotional and fund-raising material for the university.

Golisano has given millions of dollars to pro-abortion politicians– including Barack  Obama.

How can Tom Monaghan honor this man?

But public opposition is not expected.   Ave Maria University’s administration has a grip on everyone.  Most of the students are on some form of tuition aid– and the faculty has a history of silence, which is deafening.

Ave Maria, Florida

The Swamp– as an Alternative

“University private property”  includes the Oratory and its surrounding grounds, the Adoration Chapel, the chapel inside the Canizaro Library, the Ark Chapel inside the Student Union, the cafeteria inside the Student Union (which is open to the public)– not to mention all the intertwined areas where it is unclear to anyone, how far university private property reaches.

When my husband and I tore our lives apart to bring our young children to this so-called “Catholic town” with a “Catholic” university, we were promised access to the Oratory, chapels, libraries, amenities, etc.  As citizens of this great nation we never expected we would be lured into a town where our freedom of movement and our rights could be at risk.

The constitutionality of the “special law” established for Thomas S. Monaghan and Barron Collier Companies as founders of this town, is indeed under public scrutiny. It is my right as a property owner and taxpayer in Ave Maria to question the activities of the so-called “government” (Stewardship District)– without the interference of Ave Maria University’s administration. Read award-winning story, “Ave Maria, a Town Without a Vote– Now and Forever”.

Given the very large area that constitutes university private property– which I am being banned from, what is mostly left is a swamp.


You may also read Marielena Montesino de Stuart’s commentaries through: RenewAmerica,, 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, The Times of India, etc. Notice to readers

Copyright © Marielena Montesino de Stuart.  All Rights Reserved

TOPICS FOR DISCUSSION:  Sustainable Development (Agenda 21) + Ave Maria Stewardship Community District + “Ave Maria — A Town Without a Vote, Now and Forever” (Naples Daily News Award-Winning Story) + Barron Collier Companies and the Town of Ave Maria + Tom Monaghan and the Town of Ave Maria + Tom Monaghan and Ave Maria University + Abortion.