Ave Maria students are already preparing to journey North to welcome Pope Benedict XVI - Liam Dillon reports for Naples Daily News December 26, 2007:
. . . The pope’s plans were revealed Nov. 12 but students at the new Catholic school in eastern Collier County were preparing to make the more than 1,000-mile journey up the East Coast to greet him just weeks after the announcement.The Pope is following the development of Ave. Maria University with interest -- one of his former students, Fr. Joseph Fessio, served as the provost of the university:
“A lot people are planning to go see him in D.C. and New York,” said Rachel Parker, a 19-year-old freshman.
Fellow freshmen Josh Rauwolf and Selah Lyford, who stood in line with Parker at last month’s Farm City Barbecue on campus, said they intended to go.
“The campus in general is very excited about it,” said Rauwolf, 19.
AMU President Nick Healy said it was too soon to tell how the school might commemorate the occasion. University officials hadn’t yet discussed the possibility of coordinating a student trip and having one might be difficult because of class schedules, Healy said. Still Healy anticipated much on-campus clamor.
“I would expect there to be great interest,” he said.
When the Rev. Joseph Fessio ... visited the pope last September, Fessio said Pope Benedict’s first question to him was: “How’s Ave Maria doing?”
Fessio, now theologian-in-residence at the school and its best known professor, is one of the closest American clergy members to the pope having studied under the then-Rev. Joseph Ratzinger in the 1970s. Fessio said he had no plans to travel to the Northeast during Pope Benedict’s visit, and if he did, it would be to promote his publishing business, Ignatius Press — the English-language publisher of the pope’s works — not Ave Maria. Fessio was relieved of his administrative duties last spring after he was fired as provost and rehired in his newly created position within a week.
“I’m just a faculty member in residence now,” Fessio said.