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Law, culture, and Catholicism...up in smoke!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Ave Maria's Paul Roney: "'Transparency' is the watchword today."

Not wanting to disappoint Tommy, I have decided to comment on one aspect of the latest humor from the AMSL Transition Team. Specifically:

Regarding another matter, the Law School continues to work with the Foundation to develop and finalize a package of relocation and other possible incentives for faculty and staff. It will be announced to the community once this is determined in a more concrete form.

Let's ignore for a minute the fact that the Transition Team tacitly admits that AMSL is a subsidiary of the Ave Maria Foundation. (That being said, I leave it to the Michigan Attorney General to check this out.) Nevertheless, since the "package" of incentives for faculty and staff are being dealt with by the Foundation, it might be nice to check out who they will likely be dealing with.

Indeed it is Mr. Paul Roney, Treasurer of the Ave Maria Foundation. What do we know about this guy? Well, besides his perfect hair, wicked cool tan and longstanding affiliation with Monaghan, we have discovered a tidbit that merits some reflection by all interested parties. For ease, I call it the Roney Philosophy; he describes it as the way the Ave Maria Foundation does business. It is useful to consider this philosophy to see how the Foundation puts it in practice. Consider some signficant passages:

The critical element in all of this is communication. After a series of scandals in both the corporate and nonprofits worlds, “transparency” is the watchword today. And while all organizations have proprietary data and prudence may sometimes dictate that arrangements be in place before information is widely shared, the nature of religious ministry puts a high premium on openness. Candor is especially important in dealing with employees. It’s wise to minimize secrets and stay ahead of the rumor mill, which, with the combined attributes of speed and inaccuracy, can disrupt the peace of any organization.

Direct personal communication—both within departments and one-on-one—should be an integral part of your operating procedures on a daily basis. Attentiveness, accessibility, and easy give-and-take with workers are essential to managing effectively and staying on mission.

Direct personal communication makes possible the feedback and recognition employees need. It’s consistent with the feeling of “specialness” that sets church organizations apart, reinforcing the idea that ministry is more than just a way to earn a living. It helps to dispel feelings of isolation and meaninglessness that can creep into anyone’s life from time to time, no matter how bright his outlook or how firm his faith. It forges bonds of personal loyalty.


At The Ave Maria Foundation, Mass is celebrated four times a day in our own chapel. We also have opportunities to pray the Liturgy of the Hours, participate in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, and go to confession. Also, we typically begin our meetings with a prayer. And, there is ample encouragement of private devotions, including the Rosary and the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. I, myself, begin each morning by dedicating my day to the Lord at morning Mass, and I try to set aside the fifteen minutes it takes me to drive home each night for reflection on the day just completed.

All of these practices help to clear away the fog of daily worries, opening the mind for insight and inspiration. They also encourage a spirit of thankfulness for the opportunity to do the Lord’s work—which is the spirit that makes us eager to do it any day of the week.

[emphasis mine]

Given the obvious connection of AMSL to the Foundation, I consider the Roney Philosophy to be significant. Setting aside the fact that he sounds like a damn Protestant with all the "ministry," "Lord's work b.s.," and "feelings talk" his prescription for integrating the faith with one's profession isn't all that bad. The only remaining question is: "What gives? Why does the Foundation boast this way of doing business, but the practical experience of those in its affiliated entities indicate something different?" It may be one of the following:

Either: (a) Monaghan didn't get the Roney Philosophy Memo, (b) Roney has the whitewashed tomb syndrome, or (c) the lessons learned in business are appropriate and necessary for spreading the Kingdom of God--if the Church doesn't agree, She should probably stick to theology and leave business to the professionals.

I suspect the answer is (d) all of the above.