Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Fessio: "A Great Burden... Lifted"

A local paper tracked the ex-provost of the hour down for his first public comment....
“Obviously, I think it was a mistake, but I am not in charge,” [Fessio] said.

Fessio said he was asked to a private meeting this morning with chancellor Tom Monaghan. At the meeting, Fessio said he was asked to resign his position with the school, clear his office and leave campus by the end of the day.

“I asked for a reason but was not given one,” Fessio said....

Fessio said his exit from Ave Maria University should free him up to focus more energy on his other endeavors.

“A great burden has been lifted off my shoulders,” Fessio said.”Now I can pray and work for the Lord’s vineyards in other ways.

“The Lord has a plan. It will be revealed."...

Fessio said he hoped the university would continue moving forward.

“We have attracted some very fine students, both in terms of academics and in their commitment to faith,” Fessio said. “A lot of students came by my office today, and I told them all to just keep doing what they are doing.”

Fessio said his ouster should not be percieved as a sign of further shake-up at the school.

“I’m probably just a lightning rod,” he said. “I tend to stick out in a crowd.”
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."

And speaking of the latter, allies of his pupil communicated the developments to the Holy See shortly after learning of them.

"I wouldn't be surprised if the Holy Father knew [what happened] before going to bed tonight," one said.