… IT’S BEEN LESS THAN ONE MONTH SINCE THE LESBIAN “Immoral Conduct” SCANDAL TOOK PLACE: Now…Ave Maria University Coach Arrested (Warning: This Naples Daily News article contains graphic language and details).
September 9, 2010
The phones must be ringing today at Ave Maria University.
That is, if parents, students and residents are confronting the university and demanding full disclosure regarding the facts– and environment, surrounding the “immoral conduct” of the former superior of an Ave Maria University-endorsed religious community on campus, called Home of the Mother, aka, “Hogar de la Madre.”
The Naples Daily News printed in a Wednesday evening article, that a religious sister “was accused” of having a sexual relationship with a female student, but that Ave Maria University is “simply referring to it” as “immoral conduct between the religious sister and a female student.”
Parents, students and residents of Ave Maria should demand full disclosure.
Who is this “Home of the Mother” (Hogar de la Madre) religious group– and who brought them here?
Home of the Mother is a religious group that arrived at AMU from Spain, in 2004, as a “Private Association of the Faithful”– at the invitation of the university’s administration, which assigned the religious sisters to run the Women’s Discernment Program on campus. The religious sisters call themselves “Servant Sisters.” On June 21st of this year, the Vatican moved Home of the Mother one notch up, by giving them the title of “Public International Association of the Faithful.”
It is important to note that the Bishop of the Diocese of Venice in Florida, Most Reverend Frank J. Dewane, did not institute or control this program. Two priests are also here from Spain as part of the Home of the Mother group, and are very active– and sought after, in providing “spiritual direction” on campus, as well as in the town of Ave Maria.
A de facto endorsement
The presence of the Home of the Mother group on campus has been a de facto endorsement by AMU’s administration. This Home of the Mother group has had tremendous latitude and influence on students, both at AMU and at the local Ave Maria K-12 school, as well as on town residents.
The university’s administration may claim that they have no power or control over town residents interacting with these religious sisters and priests from Home of the Mother; however, their role in the Women’s Discernment Program on campus, and as teachers and priests at the local Ave Maria K-12 school (Rhodora J. Donahue Academy of Ave Maria) has led many in the town to trust them.
Others view them as cult-like and too aggressive in their recruitment tactics– and I strongly agree.
One thing is clear: Ave Maria University’s administration brought the environment of Home of the Mother to Ave Maria.
CLICK ON IMAGE BELOW TO READ FULL ENDORSEMENT OF “HOME OF THE MOTHER” BY AVE MARIA UNIVERSITY, ON JANUARY 3, 2009
Ave Maria—a fertile ground for recruitment
The Servant Sisters of Home of the Mother have found at AMU and at Ave Maria Town a fertile ground for recruitment into their religious community. Indeed, good, faithful and trusting young Catholics have joined them and have taken religious vows in the Hogar de la Madre community in Spain. There are residents in the Town of Ave Maria who have travelled to Spain, to witness their children formally join this religious community, both as religious sisters and as religious brothers. Some have sent their adolescent children on trips overseas with members of this Hogar community, while others have even sent their young children on Hogar de la Madre retreats in Florida.
Questioning the credibility of “spiritual direction” by members of Home of the Mother
Now that the president of Ave Maria University, Nicholas J. Healy, Jr., has announced this “immoral conduct” scandal, and has terminated the relationship with Hogar de la Madre—what does it say about the credibility of the “spiritual direction” that this group has been imparting to Ave Maria University students, students at the Ave Maria K-12 school—as well as to the children and adolescents in the town?
What took place on Tuesday is not just the expulsion of one religious sister. This is much more serious than that. This is the termination of a relationship with a religious community—tantamount to the expulsion of the Jesuit order from a campus.
There are questions that need to be asked, given the seriousness of the circumstances, and the fact that Ave Maria University has to “determine if there are other victims and help any student that might have been harmed” :
- The Naples Daily News reported that the religious sister was recalled “last year.” Exactly when was she recalled “last year”? What happened between “last year” and March of this year, which according to Mr. Healy, is when the religious sister was recalled.
- If the religious sister was recalled in March, why was the Bishop not informed until August? Why didn’t Ave Maria University’s administration directly inform the Bishop (who sits on the Board of Trustees as an ex-officio member) that the Superior of the Servant Sisters had been recalled, as soon as it happened?
Even though the Bishop did not invite the Hogar group here, nor did he endorse it (this can’t be emphasized enough)—it would seem a fundamental courtesy and proper behavior of an “unabashedly Catholic” university to keep the local ordinary apprised of such a significant change in the Women’s Discernment Program.
3. What is the responsibility of the Student Life Dept., which has endorsed this program on campus?
4. Will the two priests that are part of this Home of the Mother group, and are acting as “Spiritual Directors” on campus, be sent back to Spain as well? Their names are Fr. Colum Power and Father Henry Kowalczyk– and they still appear today on the AMU website:
UPDATE – Sep. 10, 2010: The names of Father Colum Power and Father Henry Kowalczyk have been removed from the Campus Ministry Directory of the AMU website.
5. What is the legacy of Home of the Mother? How many from Ave Maria University and Ave Maria Town have been recruited, professed or joined this religious group?
6. Have these former Ave Maria University students and residents of Ave Maria Town been contacted and informed, in Spain, about the “immoral conduct” that has been reported, and that this Hogar religious group has been expelled from Ave Maria?
This terrible situation may have been prevented, had the local Bishop been able to appoint a religious order with full canonical approval, and to provide full Episcopal oversight of the Discernment Program.
But would that involve granting Ave Maria University official Catholic recognition? — something which the Bishop has not done– of which one shouldn’t be surprised.
Finally, this Hogar de la Madre / Women’s Discernment Program disaster shows that the set-up of Ave Maria University with the Catholic Diocese of Venice in Florida is fundamentally flawed, in terms of authority.
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NOTE – Wednesday, Sep. 8, 2010: Ave Maria University’s president, Nicholas J. Healy, Jr., spoke with me late Wednesday afternoon (at 4:45pm) and personally acknowledged receipt of questions I presented to him, and answered them. He said he would send his response (in writing) on Thursday.
NOTE: CNA – Sep. 11, 2010: The community did not report the incident to the university. According to the university, Home of the Mother superiors did not follow Vatican-prescribed procedures for reporting such incidents
UPDATE – Thursday, Sep. 9, 2010- The following is AMU President Nicholas J. Healy, Jr.’s written response. It appears that Mr. Healy is treating this very serious situation as a “marketing” issue, by referring my questions to the “Director of Marketing”. I’m not surprised.
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You may read Marielena Montesino de Stuart’s observations and opinions through RenewAmerica, USAToday, Poynter Online, Spero News, The New Liturgical Movement-Poland, The Naples Daily News, Les Femmes-The Truth, Culture War Notes, ProLife Blogs, The Wanderer, etc.
TOPICS FOR DISCUSSION: Ave Maria University + Home of the Mother and Lesbianism at Ave Maria University + Hogar de la Madre and Lesbianism at Ave Maria University + The Jackson Laboratory + Workshops and Resources for Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research + Eugenics + Margaret Sanger + Tom Monaghan + Tom Golisano + Nick Healy + Nicholas J. Healy Jr., President of AMU + Barron Collier Companies + The Ave Maria Stewardship Community District + Bishop Frank J. Dewane
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