Ave Maria | The Diocese of Venice and Ave Maria University announced Jan. 19 the purchase of the Ave Maria Oratory building by the diocese from the university. The oratory building now becomes the Ave Maria Parish church for the faithful in the town of Ave Maria and the surrounding area. At the same time, Bishop Frank J. Dewane officially erected Ave Maria to parish status.
The announcement was made to the faithful at a Mass during which Bishop Dewane installed Father Cory Mayer as the first pastor of Ave Maria Parish, the 62nd Parish in the Diocese of Venice.
The move to establish Ave Maria Parish comes as the diocese seeks to better meet the expanding pastoral needs of the parishioners of the town of Ave Maria and the student body at the university. The number of parishioners and students has grown substantially since Bishop Dewane established Ave Maria as a “Quasi-Parish” in 2008, with the agreement of the university.
“By working together, the diocese and the university have strengthened their relationship and ensure that the rapidly growing pastoral and spiritual needs of the Ave Maria community are being met,” Bishop Dewane said. “It is encouraging to see this vibrant faith-filled community, under the patronage of the Blessed Virgin Mary, continue to grow and strengthen.”
As an official Catholic university, Ave Maria uses its curriculum, teaching and research to serve the Church and community.
Ave Maria University President Jim Towey praised the agreement which will usher in a new era at Ave Maria. “We are grateful to Bishop Dewane for his leadership and for this agreement that solidifies our relationship with the Diocese and the town,” Towey said. “The university and parish have grown so fast, and this new status accommodates these changes and builds a stronger foundation for the future under our bishop’s leadership.”
Thomas S. Monaghan, university founder and chancellor, said this agreement will serve the university and community for generations to come. “I thank Bishop Dewane for working out this new agreement which is a win for the town, university and diocese,” Monaghan said. “It was my dream that the Church would be at the center of life for the university and town of Ave Maria, and this agreement ensures that.”
Michael Timmis, chairman of the Ave Maria University board of trustees, said the agreement has the full support of the board. “I congratulate Bishop Dewane, Chancellor Monaghan and President Towey for the efforts over the past year to negotiate this sale/purchase and the provision of land that will provide for the needs of the campus community and parishioners well into the future.”
Because the Oratory building does not have sufficient grounds for standard Parish activities and operation, as part of the agreement, the University donated a 2.5-acre lot, and a 10-acre parcel of land was donated to the diocese by Ave Maria Development. Bishop Dewane said the dDiocese plans to use the land for the construction of a parish hall, offices, and other related needs.