Ave Maria2-1.jpg



by Carole Carpenter 

The profound connection between beauty and liturgy should make us attentive to every work of art placed at the service of the celebration [of the liturgy…] This same principle holds true for sacred art in general especially painting and sculpture, where religious iconography should be directed to sacramental mystagogy”. Pope Benedict XVI 

Ave Maria was established in 2007. From its beginnings, the church building in the center of town became an iconic landmark for this unique development. As the population of the town began to grow, it included many families, retired people, university personnel and students. In March of 2008, His Excellency Frank Dewane, Bishop of the Venice Diocese, dedicated the parish church of Ave Maria on the Solemnity of the Annunciation. During the Dedication Mass, he anointed the walls with sacred chrism, a mixture of olive oil and balsam, thereby signifying that the church building was given over entirely and perpetually to Christian worship. Since that day, the faithful of Ave Maria, as well as visitors and pilgrims from near and far have experienced within these walls grace, healing, reconciliation and spiritual nourishment. 


Ezekiel 3:12 

"...May the Glory of the Lord be Praised in His dwelling place." 

Where people gather in prayer, the Lord is in their midst. In Ave Maria Parish, families are finding God's promises to be true as they worship and work together to build a strong community of faith. 

Ave Maria Oratory-38.jpg

From March 2008, the church building served as the home of the Roman Catholic Quasi-parish of Ave Maria Oratory and became part of the Diocese of Venice. The quasi-parish served as the parish for local residents until January 19 2017, when the parish purchased the church building. With this transaction, Ave Maria Catholic Parish was born. “By working together, the diocese and the university have strengthened their relationship and ensure that the rapidly growing pastoral and spiritual needs of the Ave Maria community are being met,” Bishop Dewane said in a news release at the event. With the formal announcement of the sale Bishop Dewane officially installed Rev. Cory A. Mayer, PhB, STL, STDc as the first pastor of the new parish. It was an exciting day and important milestone for Ave Maria Catholic Church. [17]



The design of the Church, which evokes t.[19] The church building is 27,000 square feet. and has a capacity of 1,100 persons. It reportedly cost $24 million to build. From the bottom outside step to the top of its Celtic cross, it is 118 feet. From the floor inside to the skyline above it is 104 feet. The large white panels in the ceiling are gypsum, designed to dampen sound-waves so that they are not just bouncing off the steel beams. It is oriented east to face the exact position of the sunrise on March 25, the Feast of the Annunciation. 

One of the building’s most distinctive characteristics is its steel structure, much of which is exposed internally and externally. Because I-beams had never been bent like this before, Cannon Design (the firm that helped with the construction) invented the process. They could not just put the beams in a furnace and let them melt so they created a tool which attached a series of electronic leads to the beams and would run an electronic current through them to speed up the molecules inside, making the beams malleable. 

The steel weights 3.5 million pounds, (1750 tons) and came from Cives Steel in Georgia. The building is hurricane-resistant up to a Category 5. One-hundred and forty cement trucks were used to set the foundation which was a 17-hour pour that marked the longest concrete pour in southwest Florida’s history. The landmark church received an architectural award from the American Institute of Steel Construction in 2008.[18] 


The Façade The facade of the Church displays a spectacular relief depicting the Annunciation, with the Archangel Gabriel greeting the Virgin Mary with the words "Ave Maria" (Hail Mary). [14] [15] The town of Ave Maria derives its name from this moment in history when the archangel Gabriel greeted Mary and announced: "you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus" (Luke 1:31). The relief rises over the main doors of the church and was sculped over a span of three years by the Hungarian artist sculptor Márton Váró'. It is 31-foot-wide and 35-foot-tall and contains one of the largest depictions of Mary in the world (20-foot-tall). 


Váró's "Good Shepherd" sculpture is also featured inside the Church and both works of art are carved in marble extracted from Cave Michelangelo in Carrara, Italy. This same quarry was used by Michaelangelo for his sculptures of David and the Pietá. The 54 tons of marble were delivered to Ave Maria in blocks and the sculptor carved this masterpiece on the grounds of Ave Maria where many visitors came to watch the artist work.

The colorful stone on the façade was brought in from 4 different quarries in New Mexico and is travertine stone. The 12 apostles that are placed at the entrance to the Church, are 36 inches tall and are a gilt or gilded bronze which means they are a gold leaf cover over bronze. They were ordered from Baker Liturgical in Southington, CT, and were made in Italy. Each one was donated by an individual or family. They face the Adoration Chapel that is located across the street. With their eyes on Jesus, we are reminded of their steps of faith as they learned from Him and followed his commands. When we enter the Church, we can become attentive to what Christ might be asking us to do as we follow their examples and begin to step out in our own personal journeys of faith. 

Ave Maria Oratory-8.jpg
Ave Maria Oratory-6.jpg

The two square nooks on the façade are 5.5 feet tall and are of Ghibli granite. In the northern niche stands a statue of the Infant of Prague which was discovered by a Spanish monk who received a vision from the Christ child. The Infant was brought to Prague in 1628 and, after many battles, was found in the ruins of a church. The original image has been located in a Carmelite church in Prague since the early 17th century. The Infant is patron of universities, vocations, family life and travelers. 


The southern niche contains a statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe in honor of her appearance to St. Juan Diego on Tepeyac Hill (Tepeyac, Mexico City). On December 12, 1531, the Virgin Mary imprinted her image on Juan Diego's cloak (tilma), which is now displayed in a Basilica in Mexico City and which inspires many conversions to the Catholic faith. The Virgin of Guadalupe is the Patroness of the Americas and Protectress of Unborn Children. She is Mexico’s most popular religious and cultural image. Both niche statues were constructed from stone quarried in India. 


Like most Catholic churches, the church of Ave Maria faces the east. It was also constructed so that each year on the Solemnity of the Annunciation the sun rises directly along the east-west axis of the church and the evening sunlight streams into the church through the circular window above the sculpture.


It is appropriate that when you enter the sanctuary you are greeted with the Baptismal Font. It is located directly below the choir loft. It weighs 3500 pounds and was carved from a single block of white marble (white indicating the purity of Baptism). 

Ave Maria Oratory-11.jpg


In the Catholic Church THE SACRAMENT OF BAPTISM is the basis of the whole Christian life, the gateway to life in the Spirit and the door which gives access to the other sacraments. (CCC 1213). Through Baptism we are freed from sin and reborn as sons of God; we become members of Christ, are incorporated into the church and made sharers in her mission. Jesus said Go therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. (MT 28:19) 


The baptismal font was donated by a faithful Catholic family in memory of their son.

Next to the Baptismal Font sits the Pascal Candle. The origin of the paschal candle is uncertain. The rite has its roots in the very beginning of Christianity. For example, the use of singing a hymn in praise of the candle and the Easter mystery is mentioned as an established custom in a letter of St. Jerome, written in 384 to Presidio, a deacon from Piacenza, Italy. 

The use of the candle has varied over the centuries. Initially it was broken up after the Easter Vigil and its fragments given to the faithful. This was later transferred to the following Sunday. However, from the 10th century the use prevailed of keeping it in a place of honor near the Gospel until the feast of the Ascension (now until Pentecost). The paschal candle is usually blessed at the beginning of the Easter Vigil ceremonies and is placed on a special candlestick near the altar or ambo. The candle remains in the presbytery during the 50 days of Easter season and is lit for all liturgical offices. Each year on the Easter Vigil, when catechumens are baptized, a new Pascal candle is lit. Following the Easter season, this candle is positioned left of the baptismal font and is lit each time this sacrament is celebrated. 

Five grains of incense representing Christ's wounds are inserted into the candle in the form of a cross. An alpha appears above the cross and an omega below (the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet) indicating that Christ is the beginning and end of all. The current year is traced on the four sides of the cross. 

During the year the candle is lit during all baptisms and funeral services. The candle is placed next to the casket during the funeral Mass. In this way, it symbolizes baptism as a death and resurrection in Christ and also testifies to Christian certainty in the resurrection of the dead as well as to the fact that all are alive in the risen Christ.


The floor inside the Church is Brazilian slate tile called “ardosia” which becomes naturally oxidized resulting in each piece developing its own unique color and pattern. The colored tiles that are sprinkled throughout the church floor also recall Frank Lloyd Wright’s style. Each was donated by a family for a special remembrance or memorial and with a desire to make the church beautiful.

Ave Maria Oratory-9.jpg
Ave Maria Oratory-29.jpg

The lanterns are a Frank Lloyd Wright design concept and are a replica of a dining room chandelier used in Sam Walton’s house (founder of Wal-Mart). Each light is 11 feet high, weighs 800 pounds, and took over 500 hours to assemble. 

Ave Maria Oratory-18.jpg


The pews also have a Frank Lloyd influence as each pew end consists of 54 pieces of wood. A group of volunteers in Ann Arbor, Michigan, who called themselves the “Pew Crew” put them together at Domino Farms and took pride in their design and intricate workmanship. At the end of each pew is a small plaque recognizing individuals or families who donated them. All of the pews were donated before the celebration of the first Mass!

The Stations of the Cross 

The Stations of the Cross are a 14-step Catholic devotion that depict Our Lord's sorrowful journey to Calvary. The 14 devotions, or stations, focus on specific events of His last day, beginning with His condemnation. The stations are commonly used as a mini pilgrimage as the individual moves from station to station. The stations are most commonly prayed during Lent on Wednesdays and Fridays, and especially on Good Friday, the day of the liturgical year when Christ's death on the cross is remembered by Christians throughout the world. 

The physical stations date from the 1920's and are sculpted in a bas-relief format (three-dimensional sculpture) in "scagolia"(imitation marble or other stone, made of plaster mixed with glue and dyes, which is then painted and polished). They were salvaged from St. Agnes Church in Detroit, the very day before the church was scheduled for demolition. Appreciating their beauty, the family who found them had them restored and donated to Ave Maria Church. An inspirational note is that their frames were built for a commercial version of the stations before these were donated. Imagine the joy when it was discovered that the donated stations fit the previously constructed frames perfectly! 


The Confessionals 

Beneath eight of the Stations of the Cross are the oak confessionals, where Catholics seek forgiveness for their sins. The Catholic Church encourages us to make frequent use of the Sacrament of Penance, which has been called "a second Baptism because we open ourselves to God and to the communion of the Church in order to make a new future possible"(CCC1455). 

Confession to a priest is an important part of the Sacrament of Penance. When God’s faithful strive to confess all the sins they remember they undoubtedly place them before the Divine Mercy for pardon. The whole power of penance consists in restoring us to God’s grace and joining us with Him in an intimate friendship. 

Forgiveness results in reconciliation with self, with others, to the church, and to all creation. We invite all who visit to explore and learn more about the Sacrament of Penance and to consider the grace that it offers to repair and estore life. Confessions are heard several times each week at Ave Maria.

The Choir Loft 

The choir loft is in the rear of the church. It has an 80-person capacity and holds an electronic organ. In this device, sounds are not created internally but have been prerecorded (sampled) and stored in the computer from which they can later be retrieved. Musical tones or shapes recorded from conventional windblown pipe organs are coded into digital form and may be re-created by a special computer at the touch of the keys and stops. Ave Maria's electronic organ has been given high scores for its performance. 

The black boxes observed against the back wall above the choir loft are the large speakers for the organ. For those who love sacred music and desire to give a special gift to Ave Maria Catholic Church, they may consider a special donation for this area. An organ screen, which is pictured above is still needed. The screen will present an image of pipes while still allowing the beautiful sounds from the speakers to pass through to all who are attending a Mass or special occasion. 


Music within the liturgy is prayer. Music touches us spiritually and emotionally. As we listen we are healed. As we sing we are nurtured and our spirits are lifted. We are inspired and moved by music. And at Ave Maria, within the Mass, the music becomes community prayer. "The musical tradition of the universal Church is a treasure of inestimable value, greater even then that of any other art" (CCC 1156). 

Ave Maria Oratory-41.jpg

The Window Above the Choir Loft 

The large circular window above the choir loft is also ready for a donation! The design for a Rose Window (a circular window, with mullions and traceries generally radiating from the center, and filled with stained glasses) has not yet been determined. Once a donation is committed, artists from around the world have designs that may be considered. At this time, an estimate for the naming rights for the Rose Window is $1.5 million. The Rose Window is one of the most beautiful and characteristic features of medieval architecture, especially French gothic. Stained glass and rose windows have been a source of great beauty throughout the centuries. 

The Apostles at the Altar 

In the back of the sanctuary stand the 12 statues of the Apostles at the altar are made of linden wood from Czechoslovakia. The wood is laminated, glued and then kiln-dried. Linden wood has very little grain, small density and is commonly found in electric guitars, bass bodies, and wind instruments. Each statue was carved from a wood block almost double its size. The statutes were ordered from Baker Liturgical and were made in Italy. They weigh in a range from 218 – 289 pounds and have an average height of 6 feet. 


Each statue has its own iconography (specific symbols by which we can recognize holy objects). For example, only St John, the youngest of the Apostles lacks a beard and he carries a chalice. 

The chart below will help you identify each Apostle by their symbol. They are not positioned in the order listed on the chart, so you have to do some homework to identify each Apostle! 


The 12 Apostles’ Symbols 

1. Peter (original name: Simon, aka “the Rock”) Symbol(s): 

Upside down cross – Tradition holds that Peter was crucified upside down because he told his murderers, “I am not worthy to die as my own Savior."   

Crossed Keys – Jesus gave Peter the “Keys to Heaven”, which was a symbolic way of showing that he would be the leader of the entire Church.  Also symbolizing his confession of faith in Matthew 16:16 – "you are the true Christ; Son of the Living God. "  


2.  Andrew Symbol(s): 

X-shaped cross – Was crucified on an x-shaped cross, 2 crossed fish.  He was a fisherman.


3.  James (aka James the Greater) Symbol(s): 

Scallop shell – James the Greater was a teacher and preacher.  He supposedly traveled all the way to Spain to preach the Gospel. Spain’s coast was supposedly covered with millions of scallop shells. It is also reported that James the Greater carried a scallop shell with him in order to scoop water and drink it. 

Traveling staff – (representing his pilgrimage) 

Traveler’s hat – (see above) James was put to death with a sword and at his death it was believed that his accuser was converted because of Jame's faithful preaching.


4.  John Symbol(s): 

Eagle – This is John’s Gospel symbol (because his Gospel was so intellectual that it “soared” high above the others). 

Book – John’s Gospel that he wrote. 

Serpent (snake) in a chalice – Someone supposedly tried to kill John by putting poison in a chalice that he was drinking out of. When John drank from it he was miraculously unharmed. 

Cauldron (large pot) – Tradition says John was brought to Rome, where he was beaten, poisoned, and then thrown into a cauldron of boiling oil. The boiling oil, however, did not harm him, so they exiled him to the Island of Patmos instead. 


5.  Philip Symbol(s): 

Loaves of bread (sometimes pictured in a basket) – Refers to the feeding of the multitude.  Philip has a speaking part at the beginning of the miracle of the loaves and fishes (he says, “Two hundred days' wages worth of food would not be enough for each of them to have a little bit.” in John 6:7)

Tau cross/Spear - indicate the manner in which he surrendered his life. 


6.  Bartholomew (aka Nathanael) Symbol(s): 

Flaying knife – Bartholomew was supposedly skinned alive. He is oftentimes pictured holding his own skin (either his face skin held in his hands or his body skin draped over his arm). 

Bible representing his firm faith in the Word.


7.  Matthew Symbol(s):

 Winged-man or an angel – This is Matthew’s Gospel symbol (because his Gospel begins with Jesus’ genealogy [family tree]). 

 3 moneybags - He was a tax collector before he began following Christ. Tax collectors were usually seen as very bad and sinful people because they would oftentimes take extra money for themselves.


 8.   Thomas Symbol(s): 

A carpenter’s square – Thomas supposedly built a church in India, which is important because he was the only apostle to travel and preach the Gospel outside of the Roman Empire. 

Spear – Story of his painful but brave death.

9.   James (aka James the Less) Symbol(s): 

A fuller’s club – One story says James the Lesser was clubbed to death (another one says he was thrown from the top of the temple and then his dead body was sawed into pieces). 

10. Jude (aka Thaddeus) Symbol(s): 

Boat – Jude traveled to many places to preach the Gospel. 

A club and axe – Jude was beaten to death and then beheaded. 

11.  Simon (the Zealot) Symbol(s): 

Saw – Simon was supposedly sawn into pieces.  He was an inspiring companion of Jude.  They were both believed to be martyred in Persia. 

A fish on top of a book – Simon was a fisherman (hence, the fish) and he preached the Gospel; (hence, the book) symbolizing the power of the Gospel.

12. Matthias, (took the place of Judas Iscariot) Symbol(s):

Bible – Well versed in the scriptures.

Scimitar – After dauntless work as a missionary in Judea, he was beheaded with a scimitar.  

The 12 Apostles, positioned below the Crucifix, also send a deep and profound message to us as we worship and pray in the Church.  Remembering what Christ accomplished on the cross, we become aware of how He called his disciples to “take up [their] cross and follow [him]” (Mt 16:24). As we remember Christ's suffering and call to his disciples, we are challenged over and over to consider their examples.    


The Crucifix 

The magnificent Crucifix, suspended from the rear wall of the sanctuary, serves as a constant reminder of the sacrifice of Jesus, which is the "source of eternal salvation" (Hebrews 5:9). It depicts the unique sacrifice of Christ, the “one mediator between God and men” (1 Tim 2:5). 

The Crucifix consists of a red oak cross which is 23.8 feet high and weighs 2,600 pounds. The cast-bronze corpus is 12.7 feet high and weighs 1,600 lbs. The corpus was made in Bangkok, Thailand, and sculpted by the Canadian sculptor Timothy Schmalz who took 10 months to complete it. The combination weighs 4,200 pounds and was installed in 2009. 

In order to bring the crucifix inside the Church, the corpus had to be detached from the cross and the two were brought in separately. The corpus cleared the doorway by only 1/16th of an inch. The corpus and the cross were then reattached while the cross was lying on the altar and then raised into place. 


The shadows that appeared in the background of the cross were not planned but are an effect from the natural and artificial light coming into the altar area. The two shadows on either side of the cross might call to mind the two criminals crucified with Christ (Luke 23:33) or the three persons of the Blessed Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Many parishioners and visitors comment on the beauty and meaning of this arrangement – an inspiration to prayer, repentance, conversion, and worship. 

The Tabernacle 

The word tabernacle means "dwelling place." The tabernacle in the Catholic Church is so named because it is a place where Christ dwells in the Eucharist. 


The Catholic Catechism tells us "The tabernacle in which the Eucharist is regularly reserved is to be immovable, made of solid or opaque material, and locked so that the danger of profanation may be entirely avoided" (CIC 938 §3). 

The ornate bronze Tabernacle at Ave Maria is prominently located behind the altar. It is designed to encourage adoration of Our Lord, who is truly present in the Eucharistic host. It was made in Spain and is believed to be one of the largest in the country. The white characters outlined on the blue-enamel front are the Alpha and Omega, the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet, which from ancient times have indicated that Christ is "the one who is and who was and who is to come" (Rev 1:8). The design of the tabernacle, with its buttresses and circular window replicates that of the church of Ave Maria as a whole. The tabernacle is flanked by gold angels bowing in adoration to Our Lord, who proclaimed "he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life" (john 6:54). The red sanctuary lamp to the left is lit when Jesus is present in the tabernacle.

Ave Maria Oratory-33.jpg

This beautiful tabernacle was the first gift donated on the first day when Ave Maria moved to the property in 2007. The gift was made by a local Naples resident who wanted to honor her late husband and who held a great love for the Eucharist and Christ's Church. The donor attended the first Mass in the church when Bishop Dewane blessed the church and the tabernacle received its first Host. She, like so many, were overjoyed that day. Throughout time, she will be remembered for her generous gift – a gift that continues to house Jesus our Lord, who is love, forgiveness, and eternal grace for all who worship here. 


We invite our visitors to spend some time in prayer before they leave Ave Maria. Prayer before the tabernacle offers a unique opportunity to leave special needs of families and friends and any special intentions under the protection and care of the God of the Universe who loves us as a Father and promises to hear our prayers.


1. Catechism of the Catholic Church 

2. Visitor's Center Script, 2008 

3. Legion of Mary Script (Local Chapter) 

4. The Catholic Encyclopedia 

5. Symbols of the Twelve Apostles, Robert Molkenbur 

6. A Call to Deliver, Peggy Stinnet, 2015.

Ave Maria Catholic Church
Our Church Building

Building Design

                                                                  Architect        Thomas Monahan

                                                                       Principal         Harry Warren

                                                                       Design Firm   Cannon Design

Original design was 3 times bigger (seating 3300 people). 

Frank Lloyd Wright principles used everywhere.

Steel design came from two chapels in Arkansas; both designed by E. Faye Jones

Previously the bowed-wood was used by Mildred B. Cooper (Bella Vista) and straight steel by 
Thorncrown (Eureka Springs).  Mr.Monaghan chose to combine the two: bow the steel.

Because “I-beams” had never been bent like this before, CannonDesign (the firm who helped with the construction) was forced to invent a tool that could bend the beams into the shapes we wanted. Because they couldn’t just put the beams in a furnace and let them melt, the tool is a series of electronic leads that
would attach to the beams. They would then run an electronic current through the beams which would speed up the molecules inside, making the beams malleable. It is because of that invention that we were given the award of the most beautiful steel structure in the country.

3,500,000 lbs. steel = 1750 tons from“CivesSteel,”Georgia.

The Church is hurricane-resistant up to a Category 5.

150 cement trucks were used to set the foundation. It was a 17 hour pour which marked the longest concrete pour in southwest Florida’s history. 3,000 yards of concrete, 3 feet thick.

The lanterns based on a Frank Lloyd Wright concept.

Lights are a replica of a dining room chandelier that was used in Sam Walton’s house (the guy who founded Wal-Mart). Each light is 11 feet tall; weighs 800 lbs; and took over 500 hours to assemble.



27,000 square feet.

206 feet long. iii. Capacity: 1,100 people.

From the bottom step outside to the top of the Celtic cross is 118 feet.

From the floor inside to the skyline above is 104 feet.

The large white panels in the ceiling are “gypsum” – designed to dampen sound-waves so that

they’re not just bouncing off the steel.

Why the shape of the building?

There are several interpretations.

Bishop’s mitre.

Silhouette of Mary.

The intent was weather-resistance.


The colorful stone on the façade was brought in from 4 different quarries in New Mexico, “Travertine stone.”

The 12 apostles are 18 inches tall, and are actually a gilt or gilded-bronze, which means they are a gold-leaf cover over bronze. They were ordered from Baker Liturgical here in the states, but they were made in Italy.


The day we opened the Perpetual Adoration Chapel, a gentleman came out and went inside the chapel. He then looked up and saw that we only had 8 of the 12 apostles at that time. He offered to pay for the remaining 4 apostles as well as a number of the statutes that have yet to be installed on the altar area. He attributed his generosity to the devout Catholic faith of his mother-in-law. Donor remains anonymous.


The front doors have several little square spaces in them. These are supposed to be filled with the same type of bas-relief carving as The Annunciation Sculpture, but will probably not be made using Carrara marble. They’re supposed to be individual scenes from Mary’s life.


The two square nooks on the façade

Ghibli granite; 5.5 feet tall.

Infant of Prague (stage left) Discovered by a Spanish monk; received a vision from the Christ child.

Infant was brought to Prague in 1628. After many battles, found in the ruins of a church.

Patron of universities, vocations, family life and travelers.


Our Lady of Guadalupe (stage right) in them. The image of our lady appeared on the cloak of Juan Diego (Tepeyac, Mexico City – Dec. 12,1531).


The Virgin of Guadalupe is Mexico’s most popular religious and cultural image.In our image she appears pregnant.


Sanctuary area is the only area not yet completed.Dome wall: steel frame & solid wall with plaster.


Only four features are permanent: crucifix, tabernacle, statues of Mary and Joseph (which are

made of linden wood). 

Tabernacle was donated, made in Spain, and is one of the largest in the country. The big blue areas are simple enamel; there are 13 small tanzanite gems located on the façade (each is valued greater than diamonds; 3.5 carats).


The red oak cross is 23.8 feet tall and weighs 2,600 lbs.

The cast-bronze corpus is 12.7 feet tall and weighs 1,600 lbs. It was made

in Bangkok, Thailand. It was sculpted by the Canadian sculptor Timothy

Schmalz; it took him 10 months to complete.

The combination weighs 4,200 lbs. and was installed Feb. 15, 2009.


“Crucifix Story.”

In order to bring it inside, the corpus had to be detached from the cross and the two were brought in separately. The corpus cleared the doorway by only 1/16th of an inch. The interesting thing is that they reattached the corpus to the cross while it was lying on the altar; then they raised the cross up into place.

Interior Statues (altar area)


“Linden Wood” comes from Czechoslovakia.

Wood gets laminated, glued and the kiln-dried.

Need a wood block that is almost double the statue size to carve.

Ordered from “Baker Liturgical” (Southington, CT) and was made in Italy.

Weight range: 218 – 289 lbs. Average approximate height of 6 feet.

St. Peter (218.3lbs), St. Andrew (253.5lbs), St. Matthew (288.8lbs), St. James the Greater

(247lbs), St. Jude (244.7lbs), St. Matthias (253.5lbs).

Pedestals are temporary.

Stations of the cross

Found in the basement of a church outside the Detroit area (was St. Agnes, is now The Martyrs of Uganda). A lady found them in the basement of St. Agnes the day before the building was scheduled to be demolished. She was able to get them out in time and eventually donated them to our Oratory.

Each one is over 90 years old, sculpted in a bas-relief format (3-dimensional sculpture). They used a “Scagliola” mean, which is basically just a mixture of plaster and marble.

The interesting thing is their frames were built before we received them – and still they fit perfectly.



8 total, each with one room for the priest (center) and two for the people (either side). ii. Remind people that there are no locks on the doors and they are not to open them.

Names on the walls.

Along the walls throughout the Oratory are several named stones, these are part of a scholarship program where the proceeds go towards student scholarships. Same as the brick pavers outside the Oratory.

The stone used for the Facing Stones is called “cast” stone. It is supposed to resemble “natural stone” using cements, natural sands, crushed stone, natural gravels, and color pigments to give a natural color whilst maintaining durability. It came from “Ruck Brothers” company (Ft. Myers). It’s a good replacement for limestone, brownstone, sandstone, etc. and resembles sedimentary stone. A creation process known as Vibrant-Dry-Tamped (VDT) involves a vibration method against the outside of the mould which acts to consolidate the concrete.


Pew ends

54 pieces of wood each.

Mr. Monaghan designed the patterns themselves. He actually came out

over budget, but a group of volunteers from Domino Farms came down
(on their own dime) and offered to finish the ends for free. He referred to them as “The Pew Crew.”



The floors were made using Brazilian slate tile called, “ardósia.” Part of the creation process includes a natural oxidation which results in each piece developing its own unique color and pattern.

Foundation = 16,200,000 lbs or 8,100 tons.


Choir Loft.

80 people capacity.

We have an electronic organ. We had the choice between a pipe organ and an electronic organ.


Easier to maintain
We have been able to download all of the best tones in the world into it.

Story: about two years ago, the former director of music for the San Diego music department (now the director of music for Mexico City) flew up to Ave Maria, went inside the Oratory, and played one note on our new pipe organ; the sound was so perfect that he was able to confirm his theory and return home.


The black boxes against the back wall above the choir loft are the large speakers for our electronic organ. Hopefully in time we will receive a donation that will allow us to put up a giant mesh-screen that will have the image of pipes while still allowing the sound from the speakers to pass through.

Ave Maria Quasi Parish was established in the Diocese of Venice, Florida in 2008 by Bishop Frank J. Dewane. According to the Code of Canon Law, "a quasi-parish is equivalent to a parish; a quasi-parish is a definite community of the Christian faithful in a particular church, entrusted to a priest as its proper pastor but not yet erected as a parish because of particular circumstances."  


The unique church building was dedicated on March 31, 2008 by Bishop Frank J. Dewane.


On January 19, 2017 Bishop Frank J. Dewane raised the Quasi Parish and Oratory to full Church and Parish status. On the same day he installed Rev. Cory A. Mayer as the new parish's first pastor.  Rev. Cory A. Mayer had served previously as the pastor of the Quasi-Parish.    

On February 1st, 2021 Rev David Vidal, PhD became our new pastor. Father David Mariano Vidal was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina on August 13, 1973, the fifth of seven siblings. His parents, Alicia and Julio, live in Buenos Aires. He attended public primary schools and a Catholic private secondary school. In 1993 he began studies for the priesthood, and he was ordained to the priesthood in La Plata, Buenos Aires, on August 9, 2001. Father Vidal’s two brothers are missionary priests, and three of his sisters are nuns. After some years of missionary work in the United States, Fr. Vidal entered the graduate program in the School of Philosophy of the Catholic University of America in the fall 2009. He received the Licentiate degree in Philosophy in 2012, with a thesis on “Nature and Suppositum in the Metaphysics of Thomas Aquinas” under the direction of Msgr. John F. Wippel. He received the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy in 2020, with a dissertation on “Res as Transcendental in the Metaphysics of Thomas Aquinas” under the direction of Gregory T. Doolan. He has been a lecturer at Saint John Vianney College Seminary, in Miami. In the Diocese of Venice, Father Vidal was assigned as Parochial Vicar of Ave Maria Parish, Ave Maria, in August 2017, Administrator of Our Lady Queen of Heaven Parish, LaBelle, in May 2018, and Pastor of Ave Maria Parish in February 2021.



The scope of the Buildings and Grounds Committee is to provide future direction, advice, and insight for the physical plant of Ave Maria Church, to include all buildings, the grounds, and all utilities therein. The focus should always be towards achieving the Mission of Ave Maria and enriching the faith of our Parish Family and visitors through the campus of Ave Maria.

The Committee will meet quarterly to evaluate any long-term strategy planning that is required to provide such a large and complex environment with multiple purposes. The Committee will advise the Pastor of Ave Maria and the Facilities Manager on topics brought to the committee by the clergy and staff, as well as develop an agenda for each meeting with a particular focus on a future initiative. The Committee will be directly involved with the planning process for any new campus change and forecast needs that match the Mission of Ave Maria, including providing decision making support on Capital Planning and other subcommittees of Ave Maria, in conjunction with the Finance Council and Pastoral  Council. Suggestions for improvement of the current environment will also be part of the responsibility of the Buildings and Grounds Committee.

Building and Grounds Committee:

Albert Dzermejko, Chairman


Register online


With any parish registration for children and teens, we will also need the following forms filled out:

One per child

One per family (for all Ave Maria Parish classes and programs - youth ministry, religious education, children's choir, altar servers)


Inquiry Form

American Heritage Girls (AHG)

Contact: Heather Thompson


Ave Maria Moms Prayer Group

Contact: Emily West



Ave Maria Parish Homeschool Group


Ave Prays

Contact: Lia Fry


Catholic Youth Organization (CYO)

Contact: Charlie Thompson 

Catholic Adult Organization (CAO)

Contact: Charlie Thompson

Charismatic Prayer Group

Contact: Veronique Scanlan 


Contact: Vicki Dean

Divine Will Prayer Cenacle

Contacts: Karen Kabiling (English)

Felipe Gomez (Spanish) 

Flame of Love

Contact: Marie Nguyen

Junior Legion of Mary

Contact: Sandy Dinan

Knights of Columbus

Contact: Steve Rosner



Ladies of the Little Flower

Contacts: Renee Wortz and Jean Prather, OCDS

Lay Cistercians

Contact: Ann Brefka 

Legion of Mary

Contact:  Jim Daly

Legión de María

Contact: Virginia Mendez 


Men's Gospel Group

Contact: Dom Micillo

Men's Reparation Prayer Group

Contact: Dr. Joseph Burke


Respect Life Committee

Contacts: Sharon and Nester Levesque

Secular Franciscan Order

Contact: Carol Bart, OFS


Seven Sisters Apostolate

Contacts: Lia Fry and  Ruth Karbach

That Man is You

Contact: Dom Micillo

What is AmazonSmile?

AmazonSmile is a simple way for you to support your favorite charitable organization every time you shop, at no cost to you. AmazonSmile is available at on your web browser and can be activated in the Amazon Shopping app for iOS and Android phones. When you shop with AmazonSmile, you’ll find the exact same low prices, vast selection and convenient shopping experience as, with the added benefit that AmazonSmile will donate 0.5% of your eligible purchases to the charitable organization of your choice. You can choose from over one million organizations to support.

What is the AmazonSmile Charity Lists program?

AmazonSmile Charity Lists is a meaningful and easy way for you to shop and donate items directly to charities in need. Simply find the charities you'd like to support,Ave Maria Parish, Inc  add items from their lists to your cart, and check out – it's that easy. To learn more, visit or tap Charity Lists on the "Programs & Features" menu in the Amazon Shopping app on your mobile phone.

How do I shop with AmazonSmile?

To use AmazonSmile, simply go to on your web browser or activate AmazonSmile in the Amazon Shopping app on your iOS or Android phone within the Settings or Programs & Features menu. On your web browser, you can add a bookmark to to make it even easier to return and start your shopping with AmazonSmile.

How do I activate AmazonSmile in the Amazon Shopping app?

AmazonSmile is available for Amazon customers with the latest version of the Amazon Shopping app on their mobile phone, including Android devices with version 7.0+ or iOS devices with version 12+. To activate AmazonSmile in the Amazon Shopping app, simply tap on “AmazonSmile” within the Programs & Features menu or Settings and follow the on-screen instructions.

Do I need to renew AmazonSmile?

AmazonSmile renewals happen twice a year to help keep AmazonSmile on mobile app. AmazonSmile will notify you of these renewals via push notifications and through in-app notifications. If you miss a renewal you can reactivate at any time by repeating the steps to “turn on” AmazonSmile on your mobile device. There is no renewal period for browser shopping on AmazonSmile, which you can use anytime by typing ‘’ into your browser.

Which products on AmazonSmile are eligible for charitable donations?

Tens of millions of products on AmazonSmile are eligible for donations. You will see eligible products marked “Eligible for AmazonSmile donation” on their product detail pages. Recurring Subscribe-and-Save purchases and subscription renewals are not currently eligible.

Can I use my existing account on AmazonSmile?

Yes, you use the same account on and AmazonSmile. Your shopping cart, Wish List, wedding or baby registry, and other account settings are also the same.

How do I select a charitable organization to support with AmazonSmile?

On your first visit to AmazonSmile, you will be prompted to select a charitable organization to receive donations from your future eligible AmazonSmile purchases. We will remember your selected charity whenever you shop at or with AmazonSmile activated in the Amazon Shopping app, and then every eligible purchase you make through AmazonSmile will result in a donation for your selected charity. AmazonSmile will occasionally contact you about donation amounts disbursed to your chosen charity or about the program.

How much of my purchase does Amazon donate?

The AmazonSmile Foundation will donate 0.5% of the purchase price from your eligible AmazonSmile purchases. The purchase price is the amount paid for the item minus any rebates and excluding shipping & handling, gift-wrapping fees, taxes, or service charges. From time to time, we may offer special, limited time promotions that increase the donation amount on one or more products or services or provide for additional donations to charitable organizations. Special terms and restrictions may apply. Please see the relevant promotion for complete details.

Can I receive a tax deduction for amounts donated from my purchases on AmazonSmile?

Donations are made by the AmazonSmile Foundation and are not tax deductible by you.

How can I learn more about AmazonSmile?

Please see complete AmazonSmile program details.

May customers make direct donations to charitable organizations through the AmazonSmile program?

Customers can make direct donations and arrange for donated products to be delivered to charitable organizations through the AmazonSmile Charity Lists program on their browser or on their mobile device in the Amazon shopping app. That program is the only AmazonSmile program that enables customers to make donations to charities at this time. Customers who support their selected charitable organization is by shopping AmazonSmile do not make direct donations.

PARISH STRATEGIC PLAN COUNCILThe Parish Strategic Plan Council will be working for the next 4-5 years on a comprehensive strategic plan for Ave Maria parish. The plan includes: 
-a financial component
-a pastoral component
-a development component

Dom Micillo, Chairman
Kevin Iepson
Carlos Figueroa
Judy Tamisiea
Charlie Thompson


If you or you and your family have recently registered as new Ave Maria Catholic Church parishioners then you are cordially invited to the New Parishioners Dinner. This is a wonderful opportunity to meet our staff, other new parishioners and enjoy a delicious meal. 


Welcome to our Ave Maria parish family!