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BY TIM DRAKE
From the Press Release:
Today, Most Rev. Frank J. Dewane, bishop of the Diocese of Venice in Florida, made perhaps the most significant announcement in the history of Ave Maria University. During the investiture ceremony for new Ave Maria University president H. James Towey, Bishop Dewane announced that he grants recognition of Ave Maria University as a Catholic university.
Bishop Dewane commented, “This announcement marks a special time in the history and faith life of Ave Maria University. While the university continues to grow, it is the deepening of its roots of faith that is of primary importance to me as the bishop of this diocese. The Catholic Church views Catholic universities in very high regard, and, with that, the entire Ave Maria University community should be encouraged and inspired by its new designation.”
Ave Maria president Jim Towey expressed appreciation and joy upon hearing the news: “I am grateful to Bishop Dewane for his confidence in our future and thankful for Tom Monaghan and all those who built the foundation that made this announcement possible. This recognition means a lot to us as we continue on the path toward new excellence.”
Bishop Dewane also took time out to congratulate President Towey as he enters into this new phase of leadership, which will move Ave Maria University into a bright future. The bishop also thanked Thomas S. Monaghan, founder of Ave Maria University, for his forthright commitment to Catholic education and his Catholic faith. His leadership and vision brought the monumental undertaking of building a Catholic university in southwest Florida to where it stands today.
The Code of Canon Law regulates the establishment and conduct of a Catholic university by the competent ecclesiastical authority, which in this case is Bishop Dewane. The recognition of Ave Maria University as a Catholic university is granted upon their commitment to continue to be guided by the teachings of the Catholic Church and faithfulness to the apostolic constitution Ex Corde Ecclesiae. First and foremost, it is the responsibility of the local bishop to provide pastoral care to the university community, as stated in Ex Corde Ecclesiae.
Bishop Dewane has served as an ex officio member of the Ave Maria University board of trustees since 2009. Ave Maria University was founded in 2003. The quasi-parish of Ave Maria Oratory was established in 2008.