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Ave Maria Celebrates First Year as Parish Community

process1
Ave Maria Parish Administrator Fr. Robert Tatman kneels before the Blessed Sacrament at the start of a Eucharistic procession following a special Mass for the Feast of the Annunciation.

process2The community of Ave Maria turned out Wednesday to celebrate  the Annunciation, marking the event where the Angel Gabriel spoke to the Virgin Mary the words for which the Univerisity was named, "Hail Mary" - or "Ave Maria" in Latin. It was on the celebration of the same Feast last year that Bishop Frank DeWane dedicated the oratory in the town center and created the Quasi Parish of the Ave Maria Oratory.

A year later, the 1,000-seat oratory was again filled to capacity.

"It's a day when we find a great sense of hope in the community," said parish administrator Father Robert Tatman in his homily at the special Mass celebrated for the occasion. Fr. Tatman, who was joined by 15 other priests at the altar, reflected on the parish's first year and looked ahead.

"We baptized more than 100 children last year," he said. "We had 32 young people confirmed last May, and will have more than 90 this coming May. That's the kind of growth we lookprocess3 forward to."

Following the Mass, those filling the oratory filed out of the church for a Eucharistic procession around the town center, stopping at three different places for special prayers. (Above, right, Fr. Tatman kneels at one of the procession stops. Below, right,  members of the procession recite prayers.)

"One day, I hope there will be thousands of people [here] for the Annunciation," University Chancellor and founder Tom Monaghan said later in the daprocess4y when many gathered again in the oratory for an award presentation and concert. "We took a step in that direction today."

award1Mr. Monaghan presented the university's first Annunciation Circle Award to William M. Cousins, (right in picture at left) a business management consultant who lives in Naples and Massachusetts. The university's description of the award says it "recognizes those men and women who, by their service to the Church and commitment to Ave Maria University and her mission, exemplify the virtues of faith, courage and generosity of spirit.

After the presentation, the choir and university organist Lynn Krahling performed the world premiere of "Benedicta Filia, Fanfare for Organ and Chorus" that was written especially for the occasion by composer Harold Boatrite, the composer in residence for the organ1Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia. An organ recital by university students followed. (Right, student Meaghan King plays Introduction and Passacaglia in D minor by composer Max Reger.) It was the first chance students had to perform in public on the new organ, which was just installed this month.

Annette Paul of Naples happened to be visiting Ave Maria on its special Feast day.  "I was here last year, and the town and the oratory have improved so much since then," as she noted the many new additions like the oratory's large crucifix and new statues. "Ave Maria is a tremendous endeavor."

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