The Roman Catholic World
November 25, 2009
UPDATE: The Cardinal Newman Society denounces Ave Maria University’s administration for honoring pro-choice politician / activist / billionaire Tom Golisano (which vindicates journalist Marielena Montesino de Stuart).
On August 20, 2009 Marielena Montesino de Stuart wrote Part 3 of The Wanderer’s series “Ave Maria: The Promise, The Reality”– where she questioned the Cardinal Newman Society’s endorsement of Ave Maria University. Read it HERE.
The Golisano scandal completely proves de Stuart’s accurate and insightful reporting on Ave Maria University’s administration.
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IS AVE MARIA UNIVERSITY’S ADMINISTRATION TELLING THE TRUTH?
By Marielena Montesino de Stuart
If Ave Maria University’s administration is telling the truth that they wanted me banned from a press conference honoring pro-choice politician / billionaire Tom Golisano– why have they banned me also from the entire 900+ acre campus, and threatened to arrest me for entering campus property?
This extreme measure is evidence that Ave Maria University’s administration is participating in a coordinated effort to control not just free speech, but also the movement of citizens inside Ave Maria.
Several key issues need to be addressed:
1. Does Ave Maria University administration have a legal right to issue this ban? What exactly is this legal right?
2. What claims did the university administration present to the Collier County Sheriff between 9:15am and 11:00am on November 5, 2009, to justify pulling Sheriff deputies away from their duties, and using taxpayer’s funds, in order to attempt to have me arrested?
3. Who reported my behavior as “disruptive” to Ave Maria University?– after I had received an invitation, specifically as a reporter for both The Wanderer and www.TheRomanCatholicWorld.com, from Branden Blackmur at Falls Communications– an invitation which allowed me to attend the Golisano Press Conference.
4. Forrest Wallace, spokesman for the university, talked to Fox News about my ban in terms of “behaving in a civilized way in a public forum.” Mr. Wallace emphasized to Fox News that my ban was based on questions I asked (as a taxpayer) at the town’s government Stewardship Committee Public Meeting– questions which Ave Maria University’s administration deemed “disruptive.” This is also confirmed in AMU’s written statement given to the media. An amazing decision– given that the Stewardship town government meetings have nothing to do with Ave Maria University matters. The town’s government meeting took place on November 2nd, two days before my ban was issued by AMU’s administration.
Mr. Wallace has never had a conversation with me—in fact we have never been in each other’s company. Mr. Wallace has never attended a Stewardship District town government meeting. So, where exactly, Mr. Wallace, have you witnessed me “not behaving in a civilized way in a public forum”? This is a serious and offensive statement that Mr. Wallace must back up with clear and factual evidence—since I have never attended a press conference nor a meeting at the university, nor have I ever behaved in an uncivilized way in a public forum—or anywhere, for that matter.
What is clearly uncivilized behavior is the university’s administration threatening a Catholic journalist , mother and resident of the town with arrest by Sheriff deputies, in the presence of her young children and her husband, without any legal basis.
Mr. Wallace also stated to Fox News that I am “uninformed”– about Golisano being honored by Ave Maria University, even though he is pro-choice. Which part of Golisano’s long-standing “pro-choice” history am I “uninformed” about, Mr. Wallace?
5. Who is reporting to the university’s administration what goes on at town government taxpayer meetings? The fact that I have been banished from over 900+ acres owned by the university, based on questions labeled as “disruptive” during a town government meeting which I attended as a taxpayer and property owner in Ave Maria, is evidence of a coordinated effort between the town’s governing board, the town’s developer and the university’s administration, to instill fear in town residents– by silencing free speech and by controlling their movement.
6. Last week, Nicholas J. Healy, Jr. (President of Ave Maria University) sent a letter to the students. Mr. Healy’s letter is copied below in italics, in its entirety, with my comments in brackets:
My dear students,
As I am sure you know, the situation involving a town resident [that’s me] denied permission to be on our campus has generated publicity about supposed curbs on freedom of speech.
Let me make it clear. We do not make any effort to restrict speech by students. [Except, when students criticize the university’s administration to a Fox News reporter]. Vigorous and open debate is an essential aspect of university life [except of course, when Mrs. Montesino de Stuart, a Catholic reporter, writes her opposing views in The Wanderer and http://www.TheRomanCatholicWorld.com – or when she attempts to ask questions the university’s administration does not like, at a press conference].
Having said that, let me note two caveats:
News media are expected to follow established protocols if they wish to enter the campus. [I did, Mr. Healy. I formally registered directly with Branden Blackmur, the head of your PR firm in charge of press invitations. Stop hiding this fact! Oh… but wait! In the opening line of this letter you referred to me as a “town resident”. So… make up your mind, Mr. Healy. Did you ban me as a “town resident” for my participation as a taxpayer and property owner at an Ave Maria town government meeting, unrelated to the university? Or, did you ban me as a “journalist” because you don’t like my opposing views about the way that you go about your administrative activities at the university?] We do need to avoid disruption of student activities and dorm life. [This was directed at a Fox News reporter who came to speak with two courageous students who spoke out against the university. The Fox News reporter respectfully sat with the two students at the public reception area of the dorm, as their guest—until the Dean of Students and a dorm administrator ordered her to leave].
Interviews given to the media can wind up on YouTube or other outlets and surface again years later. Things that might be hurtful or embarrassing to other students or to the faculty cannot be withdrawn once they are given to the media. [You mean “hurtful”– as in trying to arrest a Catholic journalist, mother and resident of the town of Ave Maria, in front her children and husband, for trying to attend the Golisano Press Conference, for which she had received a formal invitation? You mean “embarrassing”—as in the embarrassment that your actions are causing to donors of Ave Maria University– not to mention how The Cardinal Newman Society has denounced your decision to honor Tom Golisano– a pro-choice politician / activist / billionaire?]
My hope is that you will let charity “rein”. [Yes, folks—this is exactly how he spelled it—“rein”– as in a strap or harness used to guide or check a horse. Healy later sent out another version with the correct spelling—but by then, his Freudian slip had made the rounds of the internet, with every comical comment you can imagine].
After issuing the original ban, the university’s administration excepted the Oratory and the Adoration Chapel only. The question remains—how do they propose I get to those rooms, since they are surrounded by the university property from which I am banned. Helicopter? Should the routes I can use be marked out with red tape, or a new Berlin Wall? Or should I just take my chances that my children might witness their mother being arrested by Sheriff deputies aided by security guards employed by Ave Maria University—the entity that banned me and clearly doesn’t like me? How many Sheriff deputies is the university administration going to pull away from their duties (using taxpayer’s money) in a remote area such as this, which already lacks sufficient law enforcement presence? These are Sheriff deputies whose presence is very much needed in the nearby town of Immokalee, which is well known for being a high crime area, not to mention other isolated communities in this area of the Everglades.
It is worthy of note that the Catholic Diocese of Venice in Florida contacted me through its Parish Administrator to assure my protection while in the Oratory and its grounds, as well as in the Adoration Chapel—should the university administration arbitrarily interpret my presence as “disruptive”; however, the university administration has not defined what constitutes the Adoration Chapel grounds, nor what constitutes “disruptive”. The other chapels on the university campus have not been addressed yet.
Should my feelings be hurt that I am declared publicly to be such a menace to the peace and harmony of Ave Maria University that merely walking across the campus is some sort of danger? That I could cause some “disruption” that their security guards could not handle? Oprah?
Is Ave Maria University’s administration telling the truth– that my ban is based on my unwelcome questions to the Stewardship District town government board— the same group that controls and taxes all of the property owners in Ave Maria without representation (Read the Naples Daily News, May 9, 2009 article “Ave Maria: A Town Without a Vote—Now and Forever”). So, the questions I asked of the town’s governing board were the basis of the university’s administration labeling me as “disruptive”? If this is true– why not also ban Mr. Klucik from the 900+ acre campus? (Mr. Klucik made it a point to identify his full name several times on the public record). Anyone who carefully listens to the audio tape of the Stewardship Committee town government public meeting (available through Fox News and the Naples Daily News websites) can clearly hear Mr. Klucik refusing to heed the Chair, and trying to interject answers to questions that I had directed to the town’s government Stewardship Committee. So, does AMU have a double standard– one for residents and journalists who question and write things they do not like– the other for their supporters—however “disruptive”?
Is my banishment a life sentence, or 5-10 years—or may I somehow get a parole hearing or probation? To whom do I apply, Mr. Monaghan? To the town government Stewardship District Committee? To the Ave Maria University administration? To the town’s developer, Barron Collier? Should I apply to all of the above, given their coordinated efforts? If that fails, should I try President Obama?
Is it “disruptive” to question—even argue for a few minutes– not yelling—but simply argue with a town government committee that is stacked with Monaghan’s and Barron Collier’s appointees, not elected by the townspeople, when the committee refuses or seems to refuse to give straight answers to questions– and treats the townspeople as peasants (not voters) to be controlled and condescended to? If so, why was Mr. Klucik not also banished from the campus? Even Paul Roney, CFO of Ave Maria University, who also sits on the Stewardship District Committee, can be heard saying “Rob… Rob”– as he tries to stop Mr. Klucik’s interruptions.
The fact is that the “disruptive” behavior cited is nothing but a minute or two of “back-and forth”—quite routine for meetings open to the public. Evidently, the town government Stewardship District Board prefers a quiet, muted, obsequious audience.
Did this allegedly “disruptive” behavior put the Stewardship District Committee in fear of something? A riot, perhaps? There were a total of eight property owners present, of which five were senior citizens. Was the Stewardship District Committee afraid that I might lose my temper and assault them? In other words, other than unwelcome questions and some minor argument over who had the floor, from a taxpayer and journalist that Ave Maria University and the town government do not indirectly control—exactly what did the Ave Maria University administration fear I would do at their press conference, that would have me banished from it– and from the entire 900+ acres surrounding it? Was there some evidence I carried a Weapon of Mass Destruction?
Residents of Ave Maria were promised many things– including access to the Ave Maria University Library, student events, theatrical performances, campus dining facilities, etc., — access to the whole Ave Maria community, which is very tiny and limited anyway, located in a remote area of the Everglades– and completely surrounded by swamps.
Does Mr. Monaghan and the Ave Maria University administration he controls care if their draconian banishment of a journalist, and permanent resident of Ave Maria – banishment not merely from a press conference or press conference room—but from the entire campus, imposes a terrible burden on her family and effectively imprisons them to a tiny area with extremely limited services and cultural opportunities—despite the access promised to the Catholic community? This included the university promised to residents. Is that fair, or reasonable, or just—or Catholic?
Does Mr. Monaghan and the university administration he controls care that on the evening of November 19th, the day that the relic of Mary Magdalene was brought to the Ave Maria Oratory, my children and I had to leave a Rosary procession—when Father Robert Garrity, in charge of the Ave Maria University campus ministry, led the procession completely into the university campus—from which I have been banished? Did Father Garrity– who was completely aware of my presence and my children’s presence at the front of this procession, even care that we had to leave the procession because he was leading it into university property, where he knows I’m not allowed? Processions are generally carried out on the street surrounding the Oratory.
Fox Television News was banned from the campus a few days ago, when their reporter tried to interview two students that courageously spoke out against the university’s administration. How many more journalists will the Ave Maria University’s administration exile for asking questions they do not like? Should all journalists fear “banishment” from the entire campus if they do not “behave themselves”– or act “civilized”—as the university’s spokesman, Forrest Wallace, said on Fox News? What exactly is this measure of “behavior” that the university administration expects?
Like I’ve said before– what could be more uncivilized than a university administration threatening to arrest a Catholic journalist who believed in Ave Maria University’s Catholic promises so much, that she and her husband bought a home in Ave Maria and brought their young children to live here?
Should other town residents fear banishment from the entire campus if they don’t behave according to the unknown standard imposed by Ave Maria University on me? Who’s next?
Finally, isn’t such banishment of a journalist and resident of Ave Maria—and effectively of her entire family, with nowhere else to go in these swamplands– counterproductive– and, very frankly, embarrassing for Ave Maria University and its donors?
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Marielena Montesino de Stuart is an observer of the Roman Catholic world. She expresses her views as a journalist for The Wanderer and for
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TOPICS FOR DISCUSSION: Abortion, Blood Money, Ave Maria, Ave Maria University is Not a Catholic University, Is Ave Maria University ready to face ”Blood Money”?, Ave Maria Stewardship Community District (AMSCD) Town Government, Ave Maria University Honors “Tom” Golisano Pro-Choice Politician / Billionaire, Does AMU have a Right to Criticize Notre Dame? Ave Maria University Council, What is the Status of Ave Maria University Accreditation Process?, Ave Maria University Board of Trustees, Bishop Frank J. Dewane, Father Joseph Fessio SJ, Firing of Priest, Lack of Fiduciary Responsibility, Institutional Instability, Tom Monaghan, Nicholas J. Healy Jr., President of Ave Maria University, Barron Collier the Ave Maria Town Developer, Ave Maria Development, Ave Maria University 2nd Mortgages, Ave Maria Real Estate, Naples Daily News, The Wanderer Catholic Newspaper, Open Letter to the Ave Maria University Board of Trustees, Ex Corde Ecclesiae, Summorum Pontificum, Latin Mass, Communion Rail, Catholic town identity, Charismatic Movement, Charismatic Healing Masses, etc.
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NOTICE TO READERS:
Marielena Montesino de Stuart and www.TheRomanCatholicWorld.com do not disparage anyone’s motives at Ave Maria, Ave Maria University, including the administrators, Ave Maria entities, Ave Maria Town, and Barron Collier Co. Nothing contained in The Chronicles of Ave Maria© or Divine Comedy©, or anywhere on this blog/website questions the commitment of all involved to what they genuinely see as the best interests of Ave Maria, Ave Maria University, Ave Maria entities, Ave Maria Town and Barron Collier Co. Marielena Montesino de Stuart and www.TheRomanCatholicWorld.com concede this.
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