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Ave Maria University Ends Relationship with Order after Conduct Reports

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The School was informed of immoral conduct that occured between a nun and a female student

The Hogar de la Madre Order has been asked to leave campus after a report was given the school by their governing body in Spain concerning an incident that occurred with a female student.

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Highlights

By Randy Sly
Catholic Online (https://www.catholic.org)
9/9/2010 (1 decade ago)

Published in U.S.

WASHINGTON, DC (Catholic Online) - Students at Ave Maria University were in shock on Tuesday when they received word via email that allegations of an inappropriate relationship by a nun with a female student had been made. She was the superior for a sisterhood of nuns who worked in the discernment center for women at the school.

The nun, identified as Sister Maria Elena from the Hogar de la Madre Order, was summoned back to Spain by her governing body in March with no explanation given.

According to the campus email, Bishop Frank Dewane of the Diocese of Venice learned of the accusations against Sister Maria Elena and met with the president of Ave Maria University, Nicholas Healy and University Chancellor Tom Monaghan "to inform us of what had happened, and to provide guidance as to how to determine if there are other victims and help any student who might have been harmed."

"The decision to terminate the relationship was made after careful consideration and in consultation with Bishop Dewane and our Trustees," Healy wrote.

The president told CBS affiliate WINK, he was in "both shock and disbelief" about the incident, which involved a student who is still attending the school.

"We have no indication that there were any others. We are asking anyone to come forward who's been harmed in any way," Healy also said.

Sister Maria Elena has worked at the University for four years and, with her order, assisted young women in discerning their call to religious vocation. She also was a teacher at Donahue Academy, the primary school in the town of Ave Maria. While no indication was given of any problems at the academy and notice was sent to parents concerning the issue.

Hogar de la Madre, or Home of the Mother is not considered a religious order on the level of the Franciscans, Benedictines or others by the Vatican. The group, founded in 1982, is regarded as a "Public Association of Faithful," with approximately 100 sisters in 10 countires. They had two communities in the United States, the one at Ave Maria and another in Jacksonville. Now only the Jacksonville community remains.

According to an article on the website of the The Ave Herald, "The group has drawn both strong supporters and detractors in their time at Ave Maria, with some people admiring them for their evangelical fervor and others denouncing them as controlling and cult-like."

The Ave Herald is an independent online journal that covers the town of Ave Maria and occasionally  have stories about the university.  They also cover matters concerning the Quasi-Parish of Ave Maria Oratory.  It is published by a town resident.  They can be contacted through their web site, www.aveherald.com

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The four additional nuns of the order have been asked to leave campus by the end of the week.

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