Catholic Interest

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    Friday, February 24, 2006

    Catholic City by Design, thanks to pizza and Monaghan

    Discussing his life as a millionaire Catholic who puts his money where his faith is, Monaghan says: "I believe all of history is just one big battle between good and evil. I don't want to be on the sidelines."


    Raised by nuns in orphanages, Monaghan, 68, has tried to franchise his religious views in the past, creating elementary schools, a small college, Catholic radio stations and, in 2000, a Catholic law school. While many of his initiatives have foundered, the law school, with 88 percent of its most recent class passing the Michigan bar, is off to a strong start.

    Even the pope is interested. When Ave Maria Provost Father Joseph Fessio saw Benedict XVI, the first thing out of the new pontiff's mouth, according to Fessio, was, "How's Ave Maria?"

    The 5,000-acre tomato field in southwestern Florida sure doesn't look like heaven. Bulldozers scrape the land flat while clusters of Porta Pottis signal an undeniable earthiness. But soon a massive cathedral will rise from this barren spot. Reaching 100 feet in the air behind a 65-foot crucifix, the Oratory will anchor Ave Maria, a whole new town and Roman Catholic university 30 miles east of Naples. Ground was officially broken last week, and the plan is to build 11,000 homes—likely drawing families who already hold the church at the center of their lives.

    For Tom Monaghan, the devout Catholic who founded Domino's Pizza and is now bankrolling most of the initial $400 million cost of the project, Ave Maria is the culmination of a lifetime devoted to spreading his own strict interpretation of Catholicism.

    He controls all the commercial real estate in town (along with his developing partner, Barron Collier Cos.) and is asking pharmacies not to carry contraceptives.

    The ACLU of Florida is worried about how he's playing the game.

    Planned Parenthood is similarly alarmed. So far, Naples Community Hospital, which plans to open a clinic in Ave Maria Town, says it will not prescribe any birth control to students.

    Multi-millionares and their money as they get older. I wonder if Gates got
    the idea of divesting his fortune from this gentleman.

    I am told that Mr. Monaghan intends to die penniless. Those nuns at the orphanage are to be commended in helping form such a nice Catholic example of a man.... thanks.


    Blogger TheDen said...

    Hey Joe,

    Talking about a fellow Detroiter. Tom lives about 15 miles from me (I think...) I was debating on joining his parish on Domino's Farms which is very cool and very orthodox. Alas, my wife wanted a parish closer to home.

    His Ann Arbor neighbors are kinda trying to push him out. That's the reason why Ave Maria college moved to Naples. There's talk that the Law School may follow. A friend of mine is an instructor/dean of students there. Monaghan wanted to build this HUGE (maybe 200 feet high or so) crucifix right at the junction of two freeways at Domino Farms but the neighbors said, "NO!"

    He wants to die penniless.

    Talk to you soon.

    February 24, 2006  

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