Reclaiming the Arts for God: Ave Maria On the Road

In a letter to artists in 1999, Pope John Paul II said, "In order to communicate the message entrusted to Her by Christ, the Church needs art…Art has a unique capacity to take one or other facet of the message and translate it into colors, shapes and sounds which nourish the intuition of those who look or listen." Two Ave Maria University graduates have taken these words to heart. Combined with their love of the performing arts and the efforts of numerous supporters, Mara Ruane and Mary Lahood have founded a drama troupe that travels the United States to evangelize through media and the arts. Both graduates have had several years of drama, music, television, directing, editing, and missionary experience.

Mara said that her time at Ave Maria allowed her to be further formed in her faith through interactions with the professors, students, and other staff members. As Mara and Mary's years of study were drawing to a culmination their senior year, Fr. Fessio, Ave Maria University Provost, approached Mara to ask her if she remembered a conversation they had two years earlier in which Mara said a dream of hers was "to reclaim the arts for God's glory and for the benefit of the youth." In response, Mara looked to her classmate Mary as a qualified partner to begin this mission which a generous benefactor had volunteered to support.

The first few months have seen several performances throughout Florida at high schools, youth groups, and pro-life events, as well as various performances in Texas and Michigan. The troupe (which also includes current Ave Maria students) writes, directs, and performs their own dramas which range in topics from sacraments, saints, purity, pro-life, to the American dream. AMOR (Ave Maria On the Road) uses music, costumes, lights, and videos to educate, inspire, and challenge their audiences to embrace their faith and live it in an uncompromising manner.

While the pursuit of the dream has begun small, it is hoped that this is only the seed form of what will blossom into a center for the renewal of the arts. Mary commented that, "Because the media plays such a prominent role in the lives of Americans, this is an opportunity to promote all types of art in a way that would strengthen the Catholic voice in the nation." Mary, who has spent six summers with EWTN writing, acting, and editing, has seen the power of the media that Catholics are utilizing more and more. There is no better time to start than now.

Each step towards realizing the "big picture" has been fruitful, but not without its trials. "With a mission so overwhelming, like reclaiming the arts, it seems that just the two of us could easily drown," remarked Mara, "but God has provided every step of the way, even in the desires to accept this mission." Inspired by the faithfulness that God has shown, the two young women are eager to see where God will lead them. They have received a tremendous response so far and are looking forward to speaking with those who seek to support the mission of AMOR, whether it be by asking AMOR to visit your event (they formulate new dramas based upon the need of the audience), or by offering any assistance (an old camera, media experience, website productions, etc). To learn more about AMOR or to contact Mara and Mary regarding a performance please call 1-239-348-4733 or email or

Mara and Mary are just two examples of graduates who have taken the intellectual and spiritual formation which they received from their education at Ave Maria and have put it at the service of the Church in the context of the wider culture. This lies at the heart of Ave Maria's mission. The staff in the Office of Admissions looks forward to speaking with you about opportunities available at Ave Maria University and the numerous doorways opened through a liberal arts based education.

Ave Maria University is now offering a full, tuition, room and board scholarship. To learn about the Magnificat scholarship and other generous scholarships please inquire with Erin Flaherty, Assistant Director of Admissions, Ave Maria University, Office of Admissions at 1-877-AVE-UNIV or You can apply online at

Subscribe to CE
(It's free)

Go to Catholic Exchange homepage