"You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you odd." ~Flannery O'Connor

Sunday, July 30, 2006

The Ave Maria fiasco

Thomas Peters, blogmeister of the widely followed American Papist, has taken due note of a major article in today's New York Times about the serious problems plaguing the efforts of Domino's founder and Catholic philanthropist Thomas Monaghan. Peters himself is a graduate of Ave Maria College in Ypsilanti, Michigan, which was founded and funded by Monaghan; and Peters' father has even taught there. I am deeply saddened for the Church, but also for myself and many Neocaths like me.

When, in the 1990s, Monaghan undertook to devote his considerable fortune to building up Catholic higher education, I was thrilled. We certainly do need more Catholic institutions, loyal to the Magisterium, that would facilitate the restoration of Catholic culture in this country; for many of the established such institutions have signally failed in those respects. When Monaghan decided to move Ave Maria and its law school to Florida so as to make them the core of a bigger and better university, I was more sanguine than ever. But it appears that he has let his ego and need for control generate too many enemies and too much waste. His desire to build the town of Ave Maria, Florida as a Catholic haven has been a particular boondoggle. It now seems that everything he has done is in jeopardy. Hundreds of millions of dollars may end up going for naught amid all the crying needs that they could have met. Read the article at Thomas' blog for yourself. It seems very well researched and reported.

Oh well. I had been hoping to get a job at Ave Maria University. I certainly have the right credentials, experience, and views. But another prospect bites the dust.

One might well view all this as evidence that it is God, not man, who ultimately runs the Church. I have often observed, both in a secular graduate school in the 80s and when I was an RCIA director in the 90s, that the best evidence of the Church's divine origin is how she survives her leadership. I had in mind the clergy, especially the higher clergy; but I really ought to include rich and influential laity in that too. Though the Church in the U.S. will survive and continue to bring people to Christ, it looks as though that will happen without some of the money that would have helped.
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