Thursday, March 22, 2007

Fr. Joseph Fessio - Fired from Ave Maria University

Fr. Fessio at Assumption Grotto, April 1, 2006

CWNews reports that Fr. Joseph Fessio, SJ - founder of Ignatius Press and publisher of Catholic World Report - who kicked off his Spirit of the Liturgy conference at Assumption Grotto, has been fired from Ave Maria University.

Naples News has published a brief email sent out by Fr. Fessio, as follows:

"To the Ave Maria University community: I have been asked to resign my
position as provost and leave the campus immediately.

I will miss Ave Maria and the many of you whom I hold dear.

Fr. Joseph Fessio, S.J."

Naples News continues...

In a statement, university officials said Fessio was asked to step down as a result of "irreconcilable difference over administrative policies and practices."

"There has never been any difference in our commitment to our mission or to the Magisterium of the Church. Nor is there any diminishment in our commitment to maintaining the highest quality of scholarship," according to the statement.

There are rumors swirling that the "irreconcilable differences" had something to do with a difference in liturgical taste between Fr. Fessio's traditional Latin, reform of the reform, and President Nicholas Healy's Charismatic taste. According to Rocco Palmo, Masses offered on either end of the spectrum had a huge draw. Both were popular. Rocco writes:

The hourlong general session of faculty and students took place 90 minutes after a meeting of the new campus' senior staff, at which the university's official statement (found below) was hammered out. A standing-room crowd packed a hall that seats around 300, as university president Nicholas Healy and other top officials offered their reflections. As with the earlier demonstration, the audience was largely pro-Fessio, with two standing ovations given the absent former provost -- the first of which came following a question from the floor asking for his reinstatement.

A senior university official said that one crux of the "irreconcilable differences" cited as the reason for the requested resignation was a divergence on liturgical tastes; Healy and much of his leadership team take their cue from the evangelical Charismatic school of the Franciscan University of Steubenville (to which they maintain close ties), while Fessio's crowd gravitated toward a more solemn manner of ritual. The Jesuit's Latin Masses -- Novus Ordo, celebrated ad orientem -- were reported to have drawn large numbers, while similar crowds were had for monthly Healing Masses celebrated by priest-in-residence Fr Richard McAlear, a member of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate.

According to a sign hoisted during the impromptu protest which formed immediately after news of Fessio's ouster broke, the new score in Naples was said to be "Healy 1, Benedict 0."
So, does this mean, Ave Maria University is going the way of Franciscan University of Steubenville in terms of liturgical flavor?There is a public interview now available, in which Fr. Fessio expresses relief, yet considers it a mistake.

The FUMARE blog, a little creativity is going into the discussion:

They also have a post up, Fr. Fessio Whacked, Dollarbransky Next?

Fr. Fessio at Assumption Grotto during the Spirit of the Liturgy Conference, April 1, 2006