this Ave Maria University student has some things to say.

Before reading this, it would be helpful to read these two articles, with which I agree 100%:

My dad’s response to President Towey (containing a link to the president’s statement)

Letter to Pope Francis from Catholic Women

I was not going to write about this. But it’s been on my heart all day, so…come, Holy Spirit.

Hi, I’m Annie Schlueter. I’m a communications major and I recently began my third year at Ave Maria University.

I’m a leader on this campus. I’ve worked for the Marketing Department for two years, been involved with various Campus Ministry outreaches, founded and am now leading a household, and spoken at a large fundraising event, just to name a few.

All of my social media feeds are currently blowing up with people denouncing Ave’s Catholicism, saying that they are never going to send their kids here, and removing their financial support from the school. This is due to President Towey’s statement earlier this week, denouncing the need to investigate the pope’s culpability in the unfolding scandals in the Church.

It’s interesting, because before I read President Towey’s statement, I’ve been looking around and thinking, “Wow, there is seriously no place I would rather be while so much darkness is being uncovered in the Church.”

I see young men and women who are radically in love with Jesus. I look around and I see young adults who are having tough but real conversations about what’s going on in the Church right now, with a real interest in knowing truth. I look around and I see people running to the chapel, renewing their promises to receive Jesus daily at mass, and choosing to worship in the face of confusion and desolation.

I see grief, I see disappointment, I see confusion, I see hurt– and I see those emotions being dealt with in the presence of the Prince of Peace.

I was incredibly grieved by our president’s initial statement, and am also disappointed in his second statement. I, too, am calling for an investigation of Pope Francis, while maintaining all respect for and obedience to the Church instituted by Jesus Christ.

The disconnect between the president’s statement and what I’ve been experiencing with students here is startling. I’ve had conversations with people who want Pope Francis removed or seriously investigated and I’ve had conversations with people who are just trying to figure it all out and are so confused.

Honestly, that best describes the culture down here right now– confusion and hurt. Wanting to know what’s going on, wanting to understand what’s going on, but just being so overwhelmed by it all. Not so different from the Church all over the world.

So what do we do when we don’t know? We worship. Because He’s here, even when we don’t know what “here” even is.

As I write this from the comfort of my dorm (with the song “Here Again” by Elevation Worship playing…truly a song to worship with in this season), I keep glancing out my window. Because right across from me, towers the beautiful statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe. The statue that miraculously survived Hurricane Irma a year ago.

Our mama is still here.

I want the Pope to be seriously investigated, I want the truth to continue to rush into the light. And I want these battles to be fought KNOWING that good is triumphing. That now is the rising, even in the crushing. He’s making new wine out of us. The Church isn’t finished. Beauty from ashes. Nothing is beyond restoration. These aren’t just pretty words anymore– we need to hook up to these truths like they are the oxygen our lives depend on.

I don’t understand the seriousness of what is going on in the Church right now. By that, I mean that my heart is far too overwhelmed and broken by it all to even begin to comprehend it.

Next week, I have over fifteen women joining my household. Women who are passionate about healing and evangelization (check out our covenant), who use their voices to speak truth. This is the Church.  And it’s so present at Ave Maria University.

In a video released recently, Fr. Mike Schmitz encourages leading over leaving when it comes to the Catholic Church. For me, that’s what I’m doing here. I’m speaking truth, I’m setting captives free, because my Savior told me that with Him, I’d do greater things.

Now is the time to rise. Funnily enough, that’s my household– Talitha Koum. Little girl, arise.

I love President Towey. I have prayed for this man basically every day since I deposited at AMU over two years ago.

Oh, and that Our Lady of Guadalupe statue? First semester freshman year, I was in my dorm room most mornings. All the time, I’d see him going to that statue. I’d pray for him and for his leadership. I just have to say– while I’m disappointed, and I haven’t always agreed with President Towey’s decisions and words (especially now), I do believe with my whole heart that this man is good. It saddens me to see some of the terrible things being said about him personally, as well as this school, just as it saddens me that his words have increased confusion on this campus.

In a school with over a thousand kids, he never fails to stop me by name and ask how my classes are going, or even life in general– sometimes pausing a phone conversation or a conversation with whomever he is with to do so. Some of my best friends have come back from mission trips with this man and are utterly stunned by his humility and love for Jesus.

I am frustrated by the confusion that the president’s words have created. I am upset that he’s used his position to declare an opinion on my behalf that myself and others here do not share. I’m not defending his words.

What I am doing is using this as a platform to beg you to keep praying for our Church. Pray for my school, my classmates and my generation, our president. Keep praying for the survivors of harassment and assault. Keep praying for the perpetrators.

And take a breath. Because Jesus. is. here.

The darkness does not win. Not now, not ever. Now is the time for revival, now is the time for hard conversations. Let’s be reckless and wild in our worship, not our Facebook rants.

Use your voices, friends. Don’t stay silent for the sake of unity, because only truth unifies. However, let’s speak with patience and ask Mary to teach us how to also ponder in our hearts. Don’t just speak to add to the noise…let’s surrender our words for something greater. The Holy Spirit, which has been promised to us, which is alive in us. Doing greater things.

The battle is not flesh and blood, it’s principalities and powers. Saturate yourself in Scripture, not news reports.

Now is also a great time to open the Psalms. David let out his anguish before the Lord, and the Lord heard Him. Don’t just cry out your anguish on Facebook, cry out before the Lord. 

We can turn in to ourselves through this, we can turn in on ourselves, or we can keep focused. Where is there a need for revival? Go love your family. Go speak truth into your co-worker or classmate. You have power here, regardless of what’s going on in the Church. There are captives that still need releasing, there are hearts that still need loving. Jesus is still showing up at mass, so let’s keep going there, too. 

Let’s grieve, let’s educate, let’s dance, let’s worship– and let’s. keep. moving. The Church isn’t dead, the hearts at Ave Maria University aren’t all corrupted– now is the time for the rising.

I’m going to turn off my computer and go to mass now, because Jesus is going to be there. I’m praying for you.

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4 Comments

  1. Amy!

    You are a very blessed young woman, I commend you for your courage, strength, integrity & kindness in addressing this very difficult time in our church & at your university. Your letter really put things back in the proper perspective and I as a middle aged woman learned so much by your beautiful, graceful example of True Christian love & the hope of the resurrection & the suffering on the cross that we must all carry….together if we are to recover — you keep your gaze on Jesus, which is where all our attention belongs. It’s all in his word, I’m fasting, praying & all amped up to do my part– you are quite the femme leader & im praying for you, our church, Ave Maria university & all souls touched by this….keep it up sister, I can’t wait to see what Gods purpose & plans are…you set back on the right path when I wanted to cut & run. I’m grateful for your bold intervention & that of your father as well.

    Like

  2. Ms. Schlueter, thank you. I am so encouraged today after reading this. I’m hopeful there are young Catholics like you and others at AMU who love the Church but know when sin is sin and that Catholics must demand and work for truth and holiness.

    Like

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