Good News for Ave Maria University: Jim Towey Named New President
Early this morning I heard the good news of the next chapter in the historic rise of Ave Maria University
'It is a new day at Ave Maria and I am excited about its future. The start up phase is over, a strong foundation is now in place, and now we must go about the difficult work of building the best Catholic liberal arts university in America." President Elect Jim Towey upon appointment.
President Elect Jim Towey of Ave Maria University
AVE MARIA, FL (Catholic Online) - Many years ago I toured the grounds of what would later become the campus of Ave Maria University with its President, Nick Healy. The College was already in operation, utilizing the buildings which now house the Law School in Naples, Florida until the campus was built. The tour was of vacant, undeveloped land in what was then a part of the town of Immokalee, in Collier County, Florida.
During the tour and over lunch afterward I heard the hopes, the vision and the dynamic mission of a new Catholic University dedicated to Our Lady. Building the Campus and the town were not a matter of "if" but only "when" to President Healy. That is how men and women of faith speak! It made my heart leap. I have long believed that the most important work in the Third Christian Millennium is the training of future leaders for a new missionary age of the Catholic Church.
I have known Nick Healy for years. We worked together for a time at what became the Franciscan University of Steubenville. He was Vice President for University Relations and I was first the Dean of Students and then the Dean of Evangelization. We are both lawyers and that gave us a common bond and a similar approach. We were honored to help Fr. Michael Scanlan, another man of deep vision and dynamic faith, turn that little Catholic College into what it has now become, a jewel in the crown of the renewal of Catholic higher education.
Over those building years each of us, like the little boy in the Gospel account, gave our loaves and fish, placing them in the hands of the Lord. We knew were a part of a miracle, even when things were hard. Jesus Christ, the One to whom Father Michael rededicated that College, multiplied all of those resources many of us offered back then. He multiplied them and performed a miracle which is still underway at that wonderful Catholic University. Nick is a man who believes what the Author of the Letter to the Hebrews wrote, that " faith IS the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not yet seen". (Heb. 11:1)
Years later I was not surprised to see Nick respond to the Lords' next invitation through Catholic philanthropist, business entrepreneur and visionary Tom Monaghan to help him to build the first new Catholic College in the United States, named Ave Maria. Tom wanted to place the University within the context of a faith based community. He wanted to build the campus and the town of Ave Maria, figuratively and physically, around a magnificent new Church. There is nothing small about any of Tom Monaghan's undertakings! That was true when he was in business and it is true now as he dedicates the remainder of his years to serving the Lord and His Church. He is an example of how, to paraphrase the Angelic Doctor Thomas Aquinas, "grace perfects nature".
Given my own temperament, I am drawn to big visions. In our early years of marriage I used to tell my wife that I wanted to help build a "New Notre Dame". So, on that day I heard the vision of Ave Maria University from Nick Healy my spirit soared. Over the years I have followed the progress of Ave Maria University - through its advances, its struggles and its perseverance in faith - and I have prayed for and promoted its continuing response to the Lord's invitation to build a University dedicated to our Lady in this new missionary age.
Early this morning I heard the good news of the next chapter in the historic rise of Ave Maria University. Jim Towey has been appointed the new President. Nick Healy has accepted another invitation, to be the "President Emeritus" and support the ongoing construction of, in the words of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta "something beautiful for God". First, knowing Nick Healy, I know his work is far from over. There is no such thing as "retirement age" in service to the Lord. I will keep praying and keep watching as he continues to join his "Fiat", his "Yes", in imitation of Our Lady, to her beloved Son and our Savior Jesus Christ.
I heard about the appointment from a dear friend of many years, Fr. C.J. McCloskey. Though I do not know President Elect Towey personally, I have admired his faith, his service and his accomplishments for years. I also know of Fr. John's deep admiration for this man and that speaks volumes to me. I use the words "something beautiful for God" quite intentionally concerning the ongoing work of building Ave Maria University. I know of Jim Towey's friendship with Mother Teresa of Calcutta. He met her in 1985 and served as her legal counsel for twelve years. He offered himself, both in Mexico and Washington, DC, to her work of loving and serving the poor. This is clearly a man who "walks the walk" when it comes to his Catholic faith.
As a Catholic lawyer with a commitment to authentic Catholic Social Doctrine, I followed Jim Toweys early work as Director of the White House ...
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