The Roman Catholic World
December 2, 2009
by Marielena Montesino de Stuart
The Dark Side of Ave Maria, Florida
On February 17, 2009 the Naples Daily News published my Open Letter to the Ave Maria University Board of Trustees in their editorial pages. In this letter I presented questions regarding AMU’s administration– key questions that I strongly felt the town residents, donors, parents and students deserved to have answered, concerning issues that affect the future of the university and the Town of Ave Maria, a town which was built in a symbiotic relationship with the university.
The Most Vicious Attacks
Within minutes of my Open Letter appearing online– even before the newspaper arrived at the newsstand, the attacks began to appear on the comments section of the Naples Daily News website. These personal attacks have continued to this day on various websites and blogs, and they have included profanities, detailing our lives, using cruel and distorted descriptions.
Certain individuals in this town have made it a priority to participate in vicious attacks against me, by vilifying me and portraying me in a distorted image– to the point of promoting an environment potentially dangerous to me and my family. Given this very active campaign against me, one wonders when these persons find time to take care of their families.
CINO’s (Catholics in Name Only)
I had never experienced in the United States the vulgarity and repression I have experienced inside Ave Maria. How can this be happening in the town named after Our Heavenly Mother?
Indeed, there are decent families living here, but most of these families remain silent out of fear– because vulgar bullies rule and control the social environment of Ave Maria, and their attacks against me are a warning to the rest of the townspeople. The question is: WHO IS NEXT?
Think it Can’t Happen in America? Think Again!
On November 5th, Ave Maria University’s administration had Sheriff deputies waiting for me and threatened me with arrest for stepping on campus property, when I attempted to inquire why I had just been “disinvited” as a journalist, to a press conference where Ave Maria University was about to honor pro-choice politician / billionaire, Tom Golisano. This, after I had received an invitation directly from Branden Blackmur, who is in charge of press invitations at Falls Communications.
Not only did the university ban me from the press conference– but they have banned me indefinitely from over 900+ acres of campus property!
What is of deep concern to the public, is the fact that the university administration has repeatedly affirmed that my ban is based on my participation as a “town resident” at a town government Stewardship District public meeting– two days before the press conference. I attended this town government public meeting as a private citizen and taxpayer.
The university administration deemed my questions to the town’s governing committee as “disruptive”– and this, ladies and gentlemen, is not only the basis of my ban– but the university is not afraid to repeatedly affirm it!
Smoke and Mirrors
These draconian and repressive actions make Ave Maria appear more and more like America’s socialist training ground.
So… don’t let appearances fool you. The only thing that is keeping this town from falling apart at the seams, is the liturgy inside the town’s church and the Catholic pastoral care– extended to us through the support of the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Venice in Florida. Everything else is smoke and mirrors.
Ave Maria University and Bullies
The latest example of this bullying was covered by Fox 4 Television News on December 1st. This latest report will give the reader a taste of the environment inside Ave Maria. The comments made against AMU’s student, Rusty Hemminger, pale in comparison with the comments written about me, by not a few residents of this town.
Here is Fox 4 News reporter, Pooja Lodhia’s written report and newscast aired last night:
VIEW FOX 4 NEWSCAST VIDEO HERE
NOTE: It appears that Fox News has removed the newscast video. Please contact the Fox News SouthWest Florida office for coverage.
This is just a taste of what Rusty Hemminger sees when he signs on to Facebook – his fellow students’ descriptions of him.
“amature drama queen,” “extraordinarily annoying annoying,” and – “a loser who will die alone.”
They’re comments from a facebook group created for just one reason: to talk about Rusty Hemminger.
“It’s hurtful in the sense that I don’t know them, you know?” he told me.
Rusty’s fellow students created the facebook page after he agreed to do interviews with us three weeks ago. He told us then that he likes attending Ave Maria University, but doesn’t always agree with its policies.
“It seems like there are other cases where it seems like the school is trying to shut down and silence people who might be critical,” he said.
Rusty’s publicly stated opinion led 16 fellow students to sign on to the Rusty bashing site. I ran into the group’s founder, student Patrick Simmons.
“I wouldn’t do something like this if Rusty didn’t go on the news,” he told me.
He said the stream of written insults is supposed to be funny.
Calling him a drama queen or fat….any of those things aren’t bullying or hurtful?” I asked.
“I don’t think calling him a drama queen is bullying,” he responded. “Like I said, it’s just satire.”
Another member agrees.
“I don’t think I would describe it as hateful,” he said. “I think people might be mildly irritated.”
They’re irritated with Fox 4, calling us stupid on the page. That skepticism was on full display as one student recorded his own version our latest visit to Ave Maria. But their strongest words are for Rusty, all because he challenged the school’s policies publicly.
“Saying that on the news could be potentially very damaging to the university which does a lot of good,” one student told me.
“I just don’t like people saying false things about the university,” another said.
A university that prides itself on Catholic compassion, something Rusty doesn’t see or feel when he sees the page.
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TOPICS FOR DISCUSSION: www.Fox4Now.com , Blood Money, Ave Maria, Ave Maria University is Not a Catholic University, Ave Maria University Bullying, 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.