On the afternoon of April 30, an open house was held for the public as well as invited guests at Ave’s newly renovated offices in Notre Dame. A short program given by Fr. Tony Szakaly, C.S.C., the Chairman of the Board of Directors, and Mr. Tom Grady, the Publisher, highlighted the history of Ave, including some of its more influential authors.
Then on May 1, the actual date of Ave’s founding by Fr. Edward Sorin, C.S.C., a Mass and dinner were held at the Congregation’s Moreau Seminary on the campus of theUniversity of Notre Dame.
Ave staff and their spouses, board members past and present, and many Holy Cross sisters, brothers, and priests, including some who have worked for the press over the decades, were in attendance for the celebrations.
The dinner following Mass concluded with a program emceed by Fr. Szakaly, who began by remarking: “This is a day of great joy for the Congregation of Holy Cross as we celebrate the 150th Anniversary of Ave Maria Press. It is fitting that this anniversary is being celebrated on the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker. St. Joseph is the patron saint of the Holy Cross brothers.These Holy Cross men formed the backbone of the Press for generations, staffing the printing plant and canvassing neighborhoods door to door drumming up subscriptions toAve MariaMagazine and theCatholic Boy.
“Although there are no longer any Holy Cross religious working at Ave, their spirit lives on in the hard work and dedication of the lay men and women who work at the Press today,” he said.
Fr. Tom O’Hara, C.S.C., the Superior of the United States Province, then offered words of congratulations to Ave and highlighted the incredible work today of lay men and women in continuing this beautiful apostolate that in the Holy Cross tradition and charism works “to make God known, loved, and served.”
Ave Maria Press was founded by Fr. Sorin with the publication of the firstAve Mariamagazine on May 1, 1865, twenty-three years after he founded the University of Notre Dame. Fr. Sorin wanted the magazine to honor the Virgin Mary, focus on Catholic families, and showcase the best American Catholic writing. Many had doubts about whether the publication would survive, but it did for more than a hundred years and at one time was the most popular Catholic magazine in the country.
AlthoughThe Ave Mariamagazine ceased publication in 1970, the publishing ministry continues to flourish. Today Ave is a leader in publishing Catholic high school religion textbooks, parish resources, and books on prayer and spirituality under the Ave Maria Press, Sorin Books, Forest of Peace, and Christian Classics imprints.
Among Ave’s highly acclaimed and most popular titles are Lisa M. Hendey’sThe Handbook for Catholic Moms;The Artist’s Ruleby Christine Valters Paintner;Rebuiltby Michael White and Tom Corcoran;A Book of Hoursby Thomas Merton;Praying Our Goodbyesby Joyce Rupp;Riding the Dragonby Robert Wicks;Encountering Jesus in the New TestamentandThis Is Our Faithby Michael Pennock;With Open Handsby Henri Nouwen; andBasil Moreau: Essential Writings, edited by Frs. Kevin Grove, C.S.C., and Andrew Gawrych, C.S.C.
“Planning for our anniversary has given all of us at Ave Maria Press a welcome opportunity to step back from our day-to-day work and reflect on the history and legacy of the wonderful publishing ministry that Fr. Sorin founded 150 years ago during a very different era,” said Mr. Grady. “Fr. Sorin might be mystified by the way we create and distribute our work in a digital era (as I frequently am!), but I hope he would recognize that we have remained faithful to our mission to proclaim the Gospel, serve the spiritual needs of the Church, and join the Congregation of Holy Cross as ‘educators in the faith.'”
Beginning withThe Cross, Our Only Hope: Daily Reflection in the Holy Cross Tradition, edited by Frs. Grove and Gawrych and published at the end of 2007, Ave has published acollection of books on the Congregation’s charism and history, including biographies of St. Andre Bessette, Blessed Basile Moreau, and Servant of God Vincent McCauley; spiritual and devotional works, such asThe Seven Sorrows of Mary: A Meditative GuideandPraying from the Heart of Holy Cross Spiritualityby Br. Joel Giallanza, C.S.C., andYou Have Redeemed the Worldby Frs. Grove and Gawrych; and Congregational texts, like theDirectory of Devotional Prayer of the Cognregation of Holy Cross.
Future titles and works on Holy Cross and its charism are already in the works to serve as spiritual and theological resources not only for the Congregation’s many apostolates and collaborators, but also the wider Church and world.
All of this work by Avefrom publishing books in the Holy Cross tradition, to serving as a catechetical leader in high school religious textbooks, to sharing the voices of the religious leaders and spiritual wisdom figures of our daycontinues the original vision of Blessed Moreau that Holy Cross would evangelize and educate the world.
“Tom Grady has made it his mission to breathe the charism of the Congregation of Holy Crossto educate in the faithinto every aspect of Ave Maria Press,”said Fr. Grove”The result is that we now have a press with hope to bring–from high school textbooks to sacramental resources, reflection books, and many other series in between.”
“As the magazine evolved into Ave Maria Press, this ministry has touched the lives of countless individuals throughout the world who have been privileged to be inspired by the words of some of the best spiritual writers of our time,” said Fr. O’Hara. “In a world where so many search for guidance in their lives or grasp for spiritual insights, Ave Maria Press has become a leader in providing such guidance.”