Ave Maria, Florida - A pizza billionaire's stunning investment in traditional Catholic education, culture and way of life

We vacationed in the Naples, Florida area this week and as part of this time we had the opportunity to tour and discover one of the most remarkable religious and civic enterprises it has been our pleasure to experience...Ave Maria, FL and Ave Maria University.

Our visit to Ave Maria began with Mass in the Extraordinary Form at 7:30 a.m in the town's Oratory. The photo below shows a the morning's sunrise over the entrance to the town of Ave Maria on a beautiful day that eventually was about 80 degrees with perpetual breeze that carried the almost overpowering smell of orange blossoms and honeysuckle. The town of Ave Maria is in the countryside about 30 miles from central Naples, FL.
As one drives up the 2.5 mile winding sumptously landscaped road from the highway entrance toward the town, you see in the distance the 100' Ave Maria Oratory. It is the central point of the town and the University in both physical and spiritual orientation.
The Oratory is surrounded by a semi-circular piazza of commercial/residential buildings in an Italian architectural style which feature condominium homes on the second and third floors of the buildings. The "downtown" features a number of restaurants, clothing stores, gathering places, supermarket and other commercial buildings located on the 5,000 acre property.
The interior of the oratory is superb! Although the architecture is of a modern style, the surprising overall feel is sacral and inspirational with soaring steel beams that interlock and overlap forming arches from front to rear of the nave. The Oratory seats over 1,000 persons. A huge 30' crucifix is the central icon and the beautiful tabernacle of gilded bronze and enamel will soon be completed surrounded by reredos installed on each side of the tabernacle and flanking a baldacchino over the tabernacle of ornamental woods. The reredos will be made of wood with a basket woven effect and will feature statues of 26 Marian saints and the 12 Apostles in nooks on each side of the tabernacle.The photo below shows the organ and choir loft looking up into a partially translucent ceiling of glass and stainless steel.
Along each side of the nave are beautiful carved wood confessionals topped by Stations of the Cross. There are EIGHT CONFESSIONALS! We haven't seen anything like this since the Redemptorists were building churches a hundred years ago.
The Stations of the Cross were donated by a Michigan diocese and are exquisitely carved in marble.
Flanking each side of the Sanctuary are 12 FOOT statues of the Blessed Mother and St. Joseph. They are carved in a traditional style that will impress any Catholic that appreciates the art of the centuries.
The exterior of the Oratory is not quite finished. A huge 35' carving of marble is being done by an on-site sculptor. The 7-foot prototype of the 14 huge panels is shown below showing what the finished work will be like showing a tableau of the Angel Gabriel visiting the Blessed Virgin with his announcement of her becoming the mother of God (The Annunciation). The following picture shows the progress of one of the panels. It is estimated that the carving of this central panel plus two huge side panels on either side of the Oratory of adoring angels will take several years.

We have the explicit pleasure of visiting Ave Maria on the Feast of the Annunciation. It was a special day for the Oratory. It was consecrated exactly one year earlier on the Feast of the Annunciation in 2008. There were many events scheduled for the day, including the dedication of the new 1.8 million dollar organ. Five university students played 7 pieces of beauty and difficulty on the new 4-rank virtual pipe organ.

The university, which is situated facing the Oratory is composed of about 6 completed buildings with several buildings under construction. There are currently about 500 students. Other buildings are contemplated for construction in the coming years. In addition to the university there is a K-12 preparatory school which has an enrollment of about 165 students and growing quickly. The ultimate plan is for an expanded school with 450 students. Several of the university buildings designed by inspirations of Frank Lloyd Wright are shown below.

Ave Maria, FL is not for everyone...but for those whom this type of small-town, country living surround by one's Catholic faith, it is worth the move and the expense.

About 400 families have moved to Ave Maria and are living in beautiful developments on the property developed by national companies. Featured are the condos in the central piazza, single family homes by Pulte Homes. A golf-course community of single-family and carriage home condominiums by Del Webb developers. There are other sub-divisions of homes by DiVosta Homes. In the wake of the country's financial difficulties, Florida has seen amazing drops in real estate values and this could be a very good time for those who might be interested in investing in a Florida first/second home. For example: homes that were selling at Ave Maria in 2007 and 2008 are now selling at about 40% off those prices. Something to think about.

The photo shows a sunset taken on the beach looking toward the Gulf of Mexico. At about 7:45 p.m. thousands of Naples residents and visitors line the miles of beaches to view the beauty created by our God.
There's a lot more to tell about Ave Maria, Florida. In some future posts we'll give you some more information about the university and town life. Perhaps it sounds like we're selling this community for gain...but our interest is simply to share our experience with those of like-minds.

Calendar of Events through Easter

Special Events for Easter:

April 4th - Lenten Retreat (Saturday)
8:30 a.m. - Confessions
9:00 a.m. - Holy Mass
10:30 a.m. - First Conference
11:10 a.m. - Rosary
11:30 a.m. - Second Conference
12:00 Noon - Adoration of the Most Blessed
Sacrament and Confessions
12:45 p.m. - Benediction of the Blessed
April 9th - Holy Thursday
7:00 p.m. - High Mass, Procession and
Adoration until midnight
April 10th - Good Friday
Noon - Stations of the Cross
6:30 p.m. - Liturgy of the Lord's Passion
April 11th - Holy Saturday
8:30 p.m. - Easter Vigil
April 12th - Easter Sunday
8:00 a.m. - Low Mass
10:15 a.m. - High Mass

Palm Sunday - Change of Schedule

A change of schedule for next Sunday was announced at Mass this morning.

The Sunday Low Mass will be held as usual at 8:00 a.m. Blessing of Palms ceremonies and Procession has been scheduled for 9:30 a.m. which will be followed by High Mass.

A pretty sucessful prognostigator predicts the naming of St. Louis Archbishop in a couple of days

Rocco Palmo who writes the Whispers in the Loggia blog and who has a good track-record of correctly predicting appointments of bishops and other Roman news, is suggesting in a recent post that a successor to Archbishop Burke is imminent...perhaps in just a couple of days. In the meantime he reports on the appointment of orthodox bishop, Salvatore Cordileone of San Diego as the new Bishop of Oakland.

Masonic "agitation and propaganda" in France

According to a recent poll as published by Rorate-Caeli, 43% of French Catholics want Pope Benedict out. There are other equally disturbing statistics published in this posting which we suggest that you take a look at.

According to the survey they also want the Church to change its discourse and its positions on homosexuality (69%), remarriage for the divorced (77%), and contraception (85%). France and the rest of Europe is now reaping the fruits of its four decades of ultra-liberalism along with four decades of the Church losing its influence because of failure to educate and form Catholic minds in truly Catholic theology and philosophy.

We truly have a beautiful church!!!

“Let the earth also rejoice, illumined with such resplendent rays; and enlightened with the brightness of the eternal King, let it feel that the darkness of the whole world is dispersed."
...from prayers of the Easter Vigil

Reader, Kevin Koster, sent this image shot on his cellphone right before 8:00 a.m. Mass this morning. What is so remarkable is how the rising sun shoots in from the various stained glass windows and lights up the altar and entire sanctuary in a splendid manner. As the sun moves higher in the east, its light illuminates new parts of the church. At about 8:10 a.m., the sun lingers like a spotlight on the tabernacle and the crucifix above it. It is a remarkable experience on a bright clear morning. It is not only beautiful but also inspirational. Most surprising is the fact that one usually associates the downtown urban canyons as dark, windy and turbulent. Not so at Old St. Patrick. The morning sun is visually bright and calm. No surburban church could compete in setting and effect.

If you're a reader that hasn't visited our church yet, please make a point to try it soon.

Polish Easter Baskets - A Holy Saturday Tradition

Reader, Martha Wisniewski, sent us this most interesting run-down on a Polish Easter tradition...preparation of and the blessing of baskets.
In Poland and perhaps other Eastern European countries they prepare a special Easter Basket to be blessed by the Priest on Holy Saturday. The people work all week on the food for Easter, but until after Holy Saturday none can be eaten.

I asked Canon Avis if he would bless a basket if I brought one. He will. It is a wonderful tradition for a family to assemble and discuss what is put into the basket.

Items for the basket:

Colored eggs. In Poland they can be painted and carved wooden eggs, but most times it is the Pisanki eggs. These are the ones dipped in a succession of color and then the color covered in wax, then the next color, then more wax until the egg is completely covered in wax. Then the wax is removed to reveal the designs. The designs also have various symbolic meanings. There are also Skrobanki eggs where a design was scratched on to them. Oklejanki eggs are ones with a succession of papers glued and sealed.

You would have sausage, ham, bread, butter, salt and horseradish. Flowers from your garden, perhaps a bottle of wine if your basket is large enough.

Eggs: symbolize life, spring and the Resurrection.

Bread: Christ, who is the bread of Life

Sausage/Ham: the abundance and God's generosity.

Horseradish: the passion of Christ

Salt: prosperity

Butter: good will. It usually pressed into a mold to make a lamb. As Jesus is the Lamb of God

Flowers: Joy (whatever you have blooming, pussy willows are good too)

You line your basket with fine small linens (large napkin size), stitched with flowers or religious symbols. Keep covered until they are ready to be blessed.

At home after your basket has been blessed, boiled eggs in the shells are cut into wedges. The head of the family carries a plate to each member of the family to take a piece of the egg and wish a Happy Easter.

Easter Monday is known as Smigus Dyngus or Wet Monday where people will sprinkle or completely douse each other with water. Why? Because Prince Mieszko was married and baptized on Easter Monday in 966 and the whole nation was baptized along with him.

In Poland Easter is celebrated all week long. Not just on Sunday.

Since Poland does not have palm trees they use straw to fashion flowers, dye them and weave wheat as well. Those are blessed and used on Palm Sunday and can also be placed in your basket.

Progress in the East Village Redevelopment District

There's been some recent progress in the Oratory's neighborhood - East Village district. The City of Kansas City has notified a contractor to proceed with the next phase of the $340 million East Village redevelopment project: demolition of the ReStart Inc. building at 601 E. 11th St.

The East Village plan calls for the transformation of nine blocks of scattered buildings and surface parking on Downtown’s east side into a mixed-use neighborhood anchored by JE Dunn Construction’s new $60 million corporate headquarters.

A notice issued by Kansas City’s Capital Improvements Management Office, a division of the city manager’s office, calls for the $1.6 million acquisition, remediation and demolition of the ReStart building. The work, to be performed or subcontracted by George J. Shaw Construction Co., is expected to begin later this month and be completed by late spring or early summer. It will necessitate closing one lane of 11th Street between Holmes and Cherry streets.

“We are very excited to see this project moving forward,” City Manager Wayne Cauthen said in a release. “This demolition will open up valuable property and allow the East Village project to continue to progress and improve the aesthetics and economics of the area.”

Remediation and demolition of another building in the East Village area, the former bus terminal at 11th and Holmes streets, is scheduled to begin in the fall.

The bus terminal parcel is part of a two-block site in the running for a proposed new federal office building that would house more than 1,000 employees of the General Services Administration and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The city bought the bus terminal with bonds to be repaid with tax revenue generated by the East Village project. Of $31.2 million in tax-increment financing approved for East Village, $12 million was earmarked for buying and cleaning up blighted properties in the nine-block area. This information is courtesy of the Kansas City Business Journal.

On the negative side, however, the Kansas City Star this morning reported a setback for the prime developer of the East Village area, Swope Community Builders. Apparently they have been unable to lock-in the required financing needed to qualify for already approved public financing. This could have a very detrimental effect on prospects for the planned improvements in the area bordering Old St. Patrick Oratory. Stay tuned.

Figures never lie...but liars always figure

From the New York Post here some startling figures that we've never seen outlined previously about the popularly quoted statistics regarding the uninsured in America:
"The president's budget repeats the popular claim that 45.7 million Americans are uninsured. The figure is taken as proof positive that the current system is failing - and that the government must step in to provide a remedy.

But that misleading number includes millions we can hardly call uninsured. 
  • About 18 million of the uninsured make more $50,000 a year
  • Almost 10 million have yearly incomes over $75,000. 
  • More than 10 million aren't US citizens. 
  • And as many as 14 million are already eligible for government programs like Medicare, Medicaid and SCHIP - but haven't signed up.
For most folks, health insurance is simply too expensive. And ramping up funding for government health programs, as Obama proposes, won't make insurance cheaper. In fact, it could cause private insurance to become more expensive."
More than 725,000 Canadians languish on months-long waiting lists for surgery and other necessary treatments. Doctors are in short supply - thanks largely to the government takeover of the health sector. In the early 1970s, when Canada launched its "universal coverage" system, the country ranked second among 28 developed countries in doctors per thousand people. Today, it's 24th.

Further, Canadians often lack access to the advanced medical technology that Americans take for granted. Canada ranks 19th among 26 reporting OECD nations in access to CT scanners and 14th out of 25 reporting OECD countries in access to MRI machines.

An unmitigated disaster awaits America if the President gets his way on this issue and other social experimentation initiatives on his plate. Soon it won't be just the banks and the automobile manufacturers...

It will be America that will be bankrupt! This is no joking matter!

Many thousands line the new St. Patrick Day Parade route

The beautiful day...sunny and in the mid 70s...was a big draw to this year's St. Patrick Day parade. Featuring a huge 4-story tall balloon of "himself", the scores of parade entrants moved slowly down Broadway from Linwood Boulevard at Redemptorist Church through Westport and ending at 43rd and J. C. Nichols Parkway. People lined up as many as ten deep along the parade route. Heading the parade were groups such as the Knights of Columbus in full-regalia and the Royal Order of Hibernians. Well-known restauranteur, Carl di Capo, instead of waving to the crowd as his float passed by was giving the Sign of the Cross in a layman's style of blessing.

The crowd, at least as far as we could see was boisterous and happy, but not rowdy. Everyone seemed to be enjoying the sunshine and caught up in the fun of the event - not looking to make trouble.

We propose that Old St. Patrick Oratory prepare a float for next year's parade. It looks like it would be great fun and pretty good publicity for our parish and for the Latin Mass.

Over $900 raised for the poor and needy

We understand that the voluntary collections contributed by persons availing themselves of the offerings on the St. Joseph Table set a new record. Never before to our recollection was the collection this high.

To all those who organized and contributed to this effort and to those who made contributions, our profound thanks.

There were so many contributions that a secondary table was required.

As Father Z. says..."here's some 'eye candy'"

This is a photo of the rising sun striking the altar at OSP during the 8:00 a.m. Mass. We're afraid the photo doesn't do justice to the setting. The colors were beautiful and fully saturated in the reflected sunlight. We wish we had a better camera. Guess we'll just have to begin saving in earnest.

St. Joseph Table is beautiful!

Canon Avis flanked by servers, Joseph and Jacob Villotti, blesses this year's St. Joseph table which was set up in the narthex around the statue of St. Joseph. Part of the blessing:
"Holy Lord, Father Almighty, everlasting God, bless this bread with Thy supernatural benevolence. May it be to all partakkers health for body and soul, and a safeguard aginst illness and all inimical assults....

"Bless, O Lord, these edibles, so they be a saving help to humanity; and grant that by calling on Thy Holy Name all who eat of them may experience health of body and protection of soul."
In their typical stylish manner, the ladies of the Oratory decorated this morning's St. Joseph Table. Shown to the right are: Therese Balke and Felicia Villotti, leaders of the volunteers.

On Vacation

Yes, we're still on vacation, but had to report on the St. Joseph table at the Oratory and get the photos in the parish archive. It was beautifully done. We hope that a nice amount is raised for the poor and needy.

See you after Easter...or so.
For news of the Oratory, please consult the
For more information, go to www.unborn.info

Even Warren Buffett's billions are hurting

According to today's Reuters, billionaire Warren's Buffett's vast empire has seen its Class A shares drop over 50% since the last quarter of 2008. If you owned just one share of this company, you've seen a loss of over $75,000. Berkshire Hathaway quarterly profits have also fallen 96%. Although this news isn't entirely apropos to Old St. Patrick and the Church in general, it is instructive for those of us who are feeling the pinch of the nasty economy to know that even the "smartest of the smart" have made big errors in judgement regarding their investments in the past also. Somehow knowing that the richest man in the world is also suffering makes us feel not so stupid.

Sign a petition against the confirmation of Sebelius

Kansas City locals know her best and we don't like what we know.

Please check out the Catholics Against Sebelius website and take a minute to sign an online petition calling on Congress to REJECT anti-life Kathleen Sebelius as the next Secretary for Health and Human Services.

Also read Archbishop Naumann's editorial in the diocesan newspaper, The Leaven.
"I am also concerned personally for Governor Sebelius. Her appointment as Secretary for HHS places her in a position where she will have to make many decisions that will in all probability continue her personal involvement in promoting legalized abortion and her cooperation in this intrinsic evil.
I am also concerned that the appointment of Governor Sebelius places another Catholic supporting legalized abortion in a prominent national position. She joins Vice-President Joe Biden, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and unfortunately a host of Catholic Senators and members of the House of Representatives who support legalized abortion contrary to the clear and consistent teaching of their Church. It saddens me that so many Catholics, to gain political advancement, have chosen to compromise their Catholic faith by their failure to defend the most fundamental of all human rights – the right to life."

Stations of the Cross - Convenient for All!

This photo is of the Eighth Station at
Old St. Patrick Oratory

Stations are followed each Friday
at 12:00 Noon and after the 6:00 p.m. Mass
(approximatey 6:45 p.m.)

Comprehensive Lenten and Easter Schedule Announced

Lenten Schedule at Old Saint Patrick Oratory

Eucharistic Adoration  - Wednesdays at Noon. Confessions will be heard during the Adoration.

Stations of the Cross  - Fridays at Noon and following the 6pm evening Mass. Veneration of the relic of the True Cross.

Upcoming special activities/Masses

March 15thBlessing of Saint Joseph’s Table

March 17th - Feast of Saint Patrick, Patron of the Oratory: 6:30pm High Mass followed by veneration of the Relic of Saint Patrick.

March 19th Feast of Saint Joseph: 6:30pm High Mass.

March 21st - Feast of Saint Benedict, Patron of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest: 9am Mass. A Plenary Indulgence may be gained under the usual conditions by all the faithful who assist at Mass in the Oratory this day. Mid-Lenten Retreat—details to be announced.

March 25th - Feast of the Annunciation: 6:30pm High Mass.

April 5th - Palm Sunday: 8am Low Mass; 9:30am Blessing of Palms, Procession and High Mass

April 6th - Holy Monday: 6pm Low Mass

April 7th - Holy Tuesday: 6pm Low Mass

April 8th - Spy Wednesday: 6pm Low Mass

April 9th - Holy Thursday: 7pm High Mass of the Lord’s Supper; Procession; Adoration until Midnight.

April 10th - Good Friday: 12pm Station of the Cross; 6:30pm Liturgy of the Lord’s Passion

April 11th - Holy Saturday: 8:30pm Easter Vigil

April 12th - Easter: 8am Low Mass; 10:15 High Mass

Special Message to this blog's "followers"

Dear Friends: We mistakenly deleted the "followers" gadget. As soon as we figure out what went wrong, we'll ask that you sign up again. Once more...WE'RE SORRY! No slight intended to our very loyal friends. Please don't give up on us.

Update (3/5/2009-7:10 p.m.) Alleluia!!! We got found our followers again. Sorry for the mix up. Those that were deleted, please sign up again if you wish. All the best....

If you love traditional Catholic sacred music you must see this

This is a 70-minute documentary on the life of composer William Byrd, one of the Church's greatest composers. The famous Tallis Scholars chorus is featured. Spend the time to view this. If you don't have the time to watch, let it play in the background as you work on your computer. You won't forget it.


Don't be late for Mass. In the United States Daylight Saving Time begins at 2:00 a.m. local time on the second Sunday in March. This year, Sunday, March 8th. Move your clock ahead one hour before you retire Saturday night.