Things are getting stranger and stranger at Ave Maria. Wednesday the word was that Father Fessio had been fired from Ave Maria. Students and faculty were upset. There was a formal protest. The negative feedback was devastating. Today, we hear that Fr. Fessio has been rehired, but to a new position. What is more, much is made of the fact that Fr. Fessio accepted the new “made-up” position, why? Could it be that he thinks so much of the school that he is willing to allow himself to be used so as to preserve its reputation and prospects? Hum.
CATHOLIC WORLD NEWS reports about it:
Mar. 23, 2007 – Father Joseph Fessio, SJ, who was dismissed as provost of Ave Maria University on March 21, has been retained by the school in a different capacity.
The abrupt dismissal of the prominent Jesuit had sparked protests on the Florida campus, and raised concerns among the supporters of the young Catholic institution.
I suppose this is good news of a sort, but something still does not smell right. I wonder what happened… [Father Joe enters another Walter Mitty like daydream]
The Telephone: RING! RING! RING!
Dr. Healy: Oh no, not another phone call! This is too much!
The Telephone: RING! RING!
Dr. Healy: [picking up receiver] Hello, this is Ave Maria, can I help you? [Pause] Is this for real? [Cough] Yes, I will take the call. [Clears Throat] Hello, Holiness, I am so honored to have you call me, I um…yes, I know he’s a good man, but…yes…yes…[Gulp!]…if it is okay by you I think I would rather kiss your ring…right…I did not know you had such a powerful voice, let me change ears, I think I went deaf in that one [Switches Phone to Other Ear]…aaaahuh, aaaahuh, I understand…or else…I am not sure that is anatomically possible, but if you say so…not worthy to untie his shoes…he’s like a son to you…the man you most trust in America…no, I don’t think interdiction is necessary…yes, I’ve learned my lesson…but what about Tom Monaghan?…choke on his pizza?…you talked to him already…yes, I see…excuse me?…yes, I have seen a few episodes of the Sopranos…aaaahuh, Guido will pay me a visit…oh, I think your phone call is all the encouragement I need…yes, I’m sure…I’ll make it right…I promise…yes, I am sorry…very sorry…really, very, very sorry with a cherry on top…thank you for understanding…may I have your blessing…is that a blessing?…um, thank you for calling Holy Father,…yes, I will get to it before the week is out…yes…
The Telephone: DISCONNECTS
Dr. Healy: Bye, um…I guess he already hung up.
The Telephone: RING! RING!
Dr. Healy: [picking up receiver] Hello, this is…oh, hi Tom…yes, so you got a call, too…right…some guy named Guido…oh my, well I am sure your thumbs and leg will heal with time…yes, aaaahuh…I will get to it right now…
The Telephone: RING! RING! RING!
Dr. Healy: [picking up receiver] Hello, this is Ave Maria, can I help…oh, hi Fr. Fessio, I was just getting ready to call you…yes your second father did call me…aaahuh, well he sure loves you, that’s for sure…and so do I…I am sorry about my miscommunication the other day…you know us Charismatics, you never know what’s going to come out of our mouths…gobblegunkglueIminthestew…hehehe…please, forgive me and come back to us…we need you…there is no Ave Maria without you…the Holy Father even said so [Cough] very forcibly I might add…oh yes, you will have your own room…take mine even, it’s too big for me…teach whatever you want, sure…we’ll put the altar anywhere you want it…that’s right…thank you, thank you, thank you. Bye now.
Dr. Healy: [buzzing his secretary] Maggie, can you run to my home and bring me back a spare pair of trousers, um, and maybe underwear too…no I can’t say what happen…thanks, and be prepared to take some shorthand…I have a significant statement that must be released this Friday morning…yes, it is urgent, thanks.
President Nicholas Healy had this to say:
We expressed yesterday that the separation of Father Fessio from the University’s administration had nothing to do with our shared commitment to our mission as a Catholic university ex corde ecclesiae. As a sign of our esteem for his great gifts and abilities, we have asked Father Fessio and he has agreed to continue a relationship with us. This will include the following:
He will be designated a theologian in residence and maintain a room on campus.
He will join us for the Commencement exercises.
He will teach the planned summer program for high school students.
He will explore a semester abroad program in Rome and how our Austrian semester abroad program might be continued. It is expected that in developing plans for study abroad programs Father Fessio will be spending a significant amount of time in Europe.
It is anticipated that beginning in the spring semester, Father Fessio will assume teaching responsibilities at AMU, although the precise schedule for the teaching hours will need to be worked out.
We are pleased that we can confirm the continuing association with Father Fessio and his commitment to the ongoing development of Ave Maria University in a non-administrative capacity.
Father Fessio will be teaching high school students?
He will be sent to Austria to see how the abroad program is going? That is about as far as one might go from Naples…is this exile?
We can only “assume” that he will be teaching at Ave Maria and that a precise schedule will need “to be worked out”? Look at all the qualifying language!
He is pleased to announce a “continuing association” but the terms of that association are a bit vague and the emphasis seems upon the “ongoing development” of the school, which is important to Fr. Fessio. Nevertheless, he remains fired from any “administrative capacity”. In other words, he has no more real say about things.
Time for another phone call?
APOLOGIES TO ALL INVOLVED. SOMETIMES IT IS JUST TOO HARD TO BE SERIOUS.
Telephone: RING! RING!
Father Joe: [picking up receiver] Hello, can I help you? You can help me? What do you mean, the pizza king has no sense of humor? Who is this? Guido…?