Businessman to Create
New Community

By Martin Bashir and Dan Morris,
ABC News

Domino's Pizza Founder Converts
Florida Wilderness to 'Ave Maria,' an
11,000-Home Community

A one-time wilderness in Florida is
being transformed into the Promised
Land. A buccaneering businessman
with strong Catholic values wants to
build a new community from scratch.

Tom Monaghan, founder of the
worldwide Domino's Pizza chain, is
sinking his billion-dollar fortune into a
new town called Ave Maria, a joint
venture with a local developer. It will
number 11,000 new homes and,
unsurprisingly for a man who opposes
abortion, contraception and
homosexuality, at the summit of this
planned community is not a golf
course but a church.

"It'll seat about 1,100 people, including
the choir loft," Monaghan said of the
church, "and there'll be seating for
about 25 priests that can celebrate a

Across the road from the church is
Monaghan's other singular contribution
to the development, a new Catholic
university that will house over 5,000

"We need a new kind of Catholic
school with an emphasis on combining
excellence in spiritual aspect and also
excellence in education," he said.

From Poverty to Priesthood
So what prompted this 70-year-old
entrepreneur to pursue his dream of
building a kind of Catholic heaven on
5,000 acres of earth?

It may be because Tom Monaghan has
been searching for a community like
Ave Maria for most of his life. He was
born in March 1937 into a poor family
of unskilled workers -- his mother a
domestic servant, his father (and hero)
a truck driver.

"I was so poor, and I was always
conscious of what other kids had," he
said. "I had to scrape the manure off
my shoes when I went to school and I
had to keep my feet on the floor so
you couldn't see the soles of my

By 10th grade, Monaghan had decided
to join the priesthood and was
accepted into seminary, but he lasted
less than a year.

"[The] rector said I didn't have a
vocation& so he said, 'Tom, when
you're packing your bags for Easter,
pack them for good.' And I cried,"
Monaghan recalled. "I was crushed
'cause I thought I was more interested
in being a priest than almost every kid
in that seminary."

Delivering Colossal Growth
Monaghan decided to take his future
into his own hands. An opportunity
arose to buy a pizza business for $500
in Ypsilanti, Mich., close to where he
grew up.

After buying that first store,
Monaghan soon discovered a gaping
hole in the pizza business of the 1960s
-- a gap that he was eager to fill.

"I was the first one to focus on
delivery," he said. "There were places
that delivered but they did it because
they had to. I was the first person to
do it because I wanted to. I was
excited about the idea of delivery. I
saw the potential of the convenience
of it for people, and I thought it could
be built into a big business."

He wasn't wrong. From 1960 to 1980,
Monaghan opened 300 Domino's Pizza
delivery stores.

"[In] 1980 we took off like a rocket
and went from 300 to 5,000 stores in
10 years," he said. "It was the fastest
growth in the history of the restaurant

The boy who once had holes in his
socks could now afford diamonds on
the soles of his shoes. And he started
spending serious money. At one time,
he even owned eight planes.

Rediscovering His Faith
The spending spree lasted six years,
until 1989, when one quiet evening,
Monaghan read "Mere Christianity" by
the British scholar C.S. Lewis and had
a sudden revelation.

"This chapter in the book basically said
I was just trying to impress people,
and so I couldn't sleep that night," he

"[I] was taught that pride is the
greatest of all sins, it's the source of all
other sins& and when I read that I
said, 'My gosh, that's the greatest of
all sins and I'm the greatest sinner in
the world."

Almost immediately, Monaghan sold
his planes and his cars and created a
foundation, donating millions of dollars
to Catholic causes. He decided to
focus on education, believing that
most Catholic schools had also
wandered from the faith. In 1998,
Monaghan sold Domino's Pizza for an
estimated $1 billion. Two years later
he opened the Ave Maria College near
Ann Arbor, Mich. The school quickly
grew, but local government would not
allow any further expansion. So he
began scouting for other locations.
After looking at various potential sites,
he settled on a former swampland in
Florida, entering into a deal with a
local developer.

Critics Question Monaghan's Motives
Not everyone is delighted at the
prospect of a town so avowedly
Catholic, especially those concerned
with civil liberties. Monaghan, who
believes that abortion should be
outlawed and that contraception
should not be available, is often
criticized for his fundamental Christian

"What makes me so unique?" he asked.

Critics call Monaghan's views into
question because few people have the
resources and ability to build a
university that influences the social
situation in a specific direction.

"That's where the rub is. I'm
dangerous," said Monaghan.

Whether the town represents a single
religious denomination or not, there
was no shortage of interest at a recent
"open day." And Monaghan seems
genuinely at peace with himself,
attending Mass every day, preparing to
live in the community of his dreams.

"I think I'm very happy," he said. "And
when the media gets on me I just say
Hail Mary for whoever wrote the
article and it goes away just like that."

Copyright © 2007 ABC News Internet
Ave Maria, Florida
As many of you know, there is
literally a new town on the
horizon.  The new town is called
Ave Maria; and, it is going to be
a town unlike any other town in
history.  Many of us have heard
or felt of the idea of a town
centered on a Church, where
all life and activity has the right
sense of the Divine at its center
see Thomas Merton quote).  
We feel that this is something
often lacking in this day and
age; but, we just cannot place
our finger on what it is or why it
ended up this way.  Where
there is a basic need, man
eventually attempts to build it.

Ave Maria is already radically
unique because of the concept
of building a planned city and
university from the ground up.  
It is currently the largest
construction site in the country.
Nowhere in history do you find
such an undertaking. Usually in
a college town, the town comes
first or the college; but a
college town built all in one!  Its
the product of rooted
inspiration coupled with the
modern need for
comprehensive planning.

"Ave," as the students at the
interim campus have already
decided its nickname, is a
university town of excellence,
already being built in the hearts
of people.  No amount of
concrete or colored paint can
cause this vision to take place.  
But the intentions and the
vision of the founder, along with
the hearts of all those who
share in it.  This is what makes
it the town of Ave Maria.  
Oratory Church under
SCRIPT> microsoft_adcenterconversion_domainid = 62796; microsoft_adcenterconversion_cp = 5050; ::adCenter::
Click for site map
A New Town
Excerpts from National   
News Articles
Celtic Cross
atop Oratory
Florida Community Bank Building
under construction, May, 2007.  
Click for La Piazza Picture Page.
New Business Opening
in Ave Maria, Florida
Coming this fall and currently available
online, Ave Maria Real Estate &
Complete Home Services, is a new
business in Ave Maria that will allow
new homeowners, home buyers, and just
anyone seeking quality home services in
services they need at an affordable price,
while also supporting the new Catholic
Grammar and Preparatory School
students who would not otherwise be
able to afford the tuition.  

On top of that, Ave Maria Real Estate &
Complete Home Services will give new
Ave Maria families, local skilled trades
professionals and even Ave Maria
University students new flexible job
opportunities.  This is possible because
the business will be structured in such a
way as to allow individual licensed and
qualified professionals to provide these
services through the business's name in
exchange for a percent of the profits or
fee.  The majority of the profit will go to
the individual, family or local business
performing the service (see
how profits
will be applied).  

Whether it be real estate services, home
owner's insurance, moving services,
mortgage loans, pool building,
maintenance, painting, interior decorating,
title services, rental management,  
cleaning services or anything related to
home ownership, the business allows
qualified professionals to offer the
services and invites new residents or
area locals to browse through the
selection of products being offered.  A
retail site will be located along Ave
Maria Blvd., as well as an online site
displaying the products and services
offered.  A future Ave Maria resident
can come to one place to find the best
and lowest price for all of his or her
home service needs; while, at the same
time, supporting the Catholic and
Christian community.

There is no limit to the types of services
that Ave Maria Real Estate & Complete
Home Services can provide, as long as it
relates to home services.  Qualified,
skilled, licensed and insured individuals or
families can even be creative, offering
home service products that fit any need.  
Click to find out how you can start your
business or associate your existing
business with AMHS).  

In all cases, a percentage of any profit
will be awarded to applying Ave Maria
Grammar and Preparatory School
students in need of tuition assistance, or a
similar Catholic and Christian community
need or charity.

Click on the links below to find out more
about Ave Maria Real Estate &
Complete Home Services.
Seeks to Build Community and provide
(239)430-3995 x207 Brokerage Office Phone
(239)353-2173 OfficeFax
1575 Pine Ridge Rd., Suite 16
Naples, FL 34109
Golden Palm Mortgage Corp.
(239)353-2173 Home office/ fax
(239)451-0434 Cell
Capri III
Call James at (239)451-0434
James Bohrer is an alumnus
Steubenville residing in
Southwest Florida.  His
intentions are to promote a
Catholic and Christian vision
for the Ave Maria
FL Mortgage Broker Licence
Ave Maria Real Estate
Complete Home Services
Ave Maria Real Estate and Home Services, Ltd.
Pulte, Pulte Homes
Pulte, Pulte Homes
Pulte, Pulte Homes
Pulte, Pulte Homes
Pulte Homes
Pulte, Pulte Homes
Pulte, Pulte Homes
Pulte, Pulte Homes
Pulte Homes, Pulte
Pulte Ave Maria
Pulte Mortgage, Ave Maria
June, 07
Front Entrance
La Piazza
(239)353-2173 Home office/ fax
(239)451-0434 Cell
(239)649-1980 Fax
(239)649-1990 Office
Sun Realty
3757 Tamiami Trail North
Naples, FL 34103
Real Estate Brokerage: