Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Fr. Fessio Gets Another Shoe in His Fanny From Ave Maria

The idea that Catholics are banished if they raise a concern or grievance about an apostolate we care about is a concept I just don't take a shine to.

He said that the reason for my dismissal stemmed from a conversation I had
in November of 2008 with Jack Donahue, then chairman of the board of AMU. At
that time I felt it an obligation to speak to the board chairman before the
upcoming board meeting, to make sure he was aware of the urgency of the
university’s financial situation. After I had informed him, using
projections based on publicly available documents and statements, he asked
me what I thought was the solution. I told him that there were policies
being followed that were at the root of the problem, that the present
administration was irrevocably wedded to those policies, and that without a
change of administration the university was at great risk.

Dr. Sites said that Jack Donahue related this conversation to Tom Monaghan,
and it was decided (I don’t know specifically by whom) that the university
could not have a faculty member making these criticisms of the
administration and thus undermining the university.

Dr. Sites told me that there were unspecified others who had similar
substantive concerns that I was undermining the university.

I continue to support the university. I pray for its success. I have great
admiration for the faculty, students, and many of the staff. I do disagree
with some of the policies of the administration. This seems to be the reason
I was fired the first time, in March 2007, since the official explanation
was "irreconcilable administrative differences".

Nevertheless, I think it is an accurate summary to say that I am being
dismissed as a faculty member because of a private conversation with the
chairman of the board in which I made known my criticisms of the university
administration; and because of allegations which have not been made known to
me and to which I have not been given an opportunity to respond.

I will continue to recommend AMU to students and parents. And I will
continue to think my dismissal is another mistake in a long series of unwise
The comments at Fr. Z's do not bode well for Ave Maria - almost unanimously. There's several links in the comments section to Ave Maria Watch which appears to be a site that chronicles concerns about the project. Here's a post about concerns about solvency.

Apparently there was a controversy in February regarding the vaporizing of Vic Melfa at Ave Maria.

In February, former Ave Maria University board member Vic Melfa warned that the university’s reliance on the town’s real estate venture and Monaghan’s donation puts Ave Maria “in a more precarious position than most other schools.”

Melfa, a Massachusetts entrepreneur, left the university’s board meeting in February amid questions about whether he resigned or had been removed. He later said he had resigned.

The timing of the firing was planned when school was not in session so that students, faculty and concerned Catholics wouldn't be able to mobilize around the hornet's nest.

Fessio was due back at the university next week to help teach a session to high school students, he said.

He attributed the timing of his firing, during the summer and in between academic years, to university leaders wanting to avoid a repeat of the protests that ensued after his first firing in March 2007.

Rational mature people are able to understand that a conflict can arise between faculty and administration but they're going to oppose a stampede to silence criticisms over liturgies that are problematic. They're going to oppose firing somebody because they raised concerns about finances in a private conversation. Timing this to avoid answering questions and legitimate concerns is dubious.

Fessio was never given a reason for that decision other than “irreconcilable administrative differences,” which he paraphrased from a March 2007 press release.

In an interview with the Daily News a year after his demotion, Fessio said his relationship with AMU President Nick Healy wasn’t tense but he acknowledged liturgical differences of opinion.

More critical comments and questions here and very disturbing observations here.

One of the major problems, in so far as I can see, is that those who were attracted to the University because they assumed it would be traditional Catholic (and therefore without the "speaking in tongues" and liturgical antics that go with it were duped. There was a bait and switch. In the end, the cults and ego rose to the helm of the ship.

What a shame.

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