Commencement Speaker

Commencement Speaker and Honorary Degree Recipient


Reverend Mitch Pacwa, SJ

President and Founder of Ignatius Productions

In the year 2000, Father Mitchell Pacwa, S.J. established Ignatius Productions, a Catholic media production apostolate, under the Society of Jesus, whose mission is to teach people the scriptures, educate Catholics about their Faith, and promote unity and understanding within the Mystical Body of Christ.

In 2017, Father is extending his teaching mission by embarking on a new ‘Legacy of Faith Project’. This will be an effort to reach younger Catholics in answering their questions and concerns as living as Catholics in the 21st century. Look for more info at his display table.

Father Pacwa received his B.A. in Philosophy and Theology from the University of Detroit, summa cum laude. He was ordained a Catholic priest in 1976 with the Society of Jesus and then continued his studies and then received his Master of Divinity and S.T.B. from the Jesuit School of Theology of Loyola University, magna cum laude. At Vanderbilt University, he received his Master of Arts as well as his Ph.D. in Old Testament.

Father Pacwa is fluent in twelve languages and has a unique understanding of the peoples and cultures of the Middle East. Father’s extensive travels to the Holy Land has inspired him to write the “Holy Land Prayer Book,” which has been published by his Jesuit apostolate, Ignatius Productions. Father Pacwa also has the privilege of being bi-ritual, which means he also celebrates the Maronite Mass of the Eastern Catholic Church.

He is best known for his appearances on the Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN), where he currently hosts two television programs – “Threshold of Hope” and “EWTN LIVE” and as the weekly host of EWTN Radio “OPEN LINE” program.

Andrea N. Phillips

Student Commencement Speaker

Andrea grew up in Rowlett, Texas. And, even though “[i]t’s a great time to live in Rowlett,” Andi, moved to Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas. She studied architecture, psychology, philosophy, and, ultimately, received a Bachelor of Arts in English, with an emphasis in secondary education. She taught for several years in the Dallas area before answering the call to law school.

Ms. Phillips began her legal studies at Ave Maria School of Law as part of the first Summer Start class beginning in May of 2014.

During this 1L year, Andrea, began her service as a lector for daily Mass on campus and Sunday Mass at St. Agnes. She also tutored at Vineyards Elementary after classes, began her service as a Deans Delegate for donor events, and became a Student Ambassador. That summer semester, she externed in the felony division of the State Attorney’s Office, founded the Rosary Fellowship Nights with the Saint Thomas More Society, volunteered on the board of Lex Vitae, and served with the Advanced Critical Thinking Department for new-student orientation.

During her 2L year, she started as an Associate Editor on Law Review and was asked to become the Deputy Articles Editor. She was the campus lector coordinator, a research assistant for Dean Emeritus Milhizer, and an intern clerk with the Honorable John E. Steele in federal court. That summer semester, she worked as a Certified Legal Intern for the misdemeanor division of the State Attorney’s Office and served on the campus finance committee.  

During her 3L year, Ms. Phillips, helped human trafficking victims through the on-campus clinic, served on the Law Review Board as an Executive Articles Editor, founded the graduate affirmation letters program with the Student Bar Association, and interned with federal prosecutors in the United States Attorney’s Office.

The only honors she will let us mention are (1) the Sterling Earhart Community Service Award because it is based on a school-wide vote and named in memory of an amazing past student, and (2) the fact that she is the first law student named as a member in the Calusa Inn of Court, which allows her to learn from so many knowledgeable judges and attorneys in Fort Myers.

After graduation, Ms. Phillips hopes to work for justice.