Monday, February 27, 2006

UK Times Online Article on Ave Maria Town

UPDATE: The Drudge Report has now linked to this article, which means that this will now become a mainstream news item for the forseeable future...

It looks like Ave Maria Town and AMU are starting to appear on the radar of the national and international mainstream media. Unfortunately, as this article and the Newsweek story show, they seem to only want to focus on the minor issues of banning pornography and contraceptives in the town, rather than doing an in-depth story about this rather novel plan.

The real story that both the Catholic media and the mainstream media should be doing is why a large university and town are being built on worthless swampland, in hurrican alley, in a place that has dangerous wildlife roaming freely, is isolated from any major metropolitan center, yet will have housing that is anything but affordable.

Add to that the fact that one man is the de facto ruler of both town and university, and micro-manages everything to the smallest detail, including who talks to the media. Yes, it will be hard to get that story, because how are you really going to find out how things operate in a place where no one is allowed to speak freely?

'Pizza pope' builds a Catholic heaven
Tony Allen-Mills, New York

A FORMER marine who was raised by nuns and made a fortune selling pizza has embarked on a £230m plan to build the first town in America to be run according to strict Catholic principles.
Abortions, pornography and contraceptives will be banned in the new Florida town of Ave Maria, which has begun to take shape on former vegetable farms 90 miles northwest of Miami.

Tom Monaghan, the founder of the Domino’s Pizza chain, has stirred protests from civil rights activists by declaring that Ave Maria’s pharmacies will not be allowed to sell condoms or birth control pills. The town’s cable television network will carry no X-rated channels.

The town will be centred around a 100ft tall oratory and the first Catholic university to be built in America for 40 years. The university’s president, Nicholas J Healy, has said future students should “help rebuild the city of God” in a country suffering from “catastrophic cultural collapse”.

Monaghan, 68, sold his takeaway chain in 1998 for an estimated $1 billion (£573m). A devout Catholic who has ploughed millions into religious projects — including radio stations, primary schools and a Catholic law faculty in Michigan — Monaghan has bought about 5,000 acres previously used by migrant farmers.

The land on the western edge of the Everglades swamp will eventually house up to 30,000 people, with 5,000 students living on the university campus. Florida officials have declared the project a development bonanza for a depressed area, and Governor Jeb Bush attended a groundbreaking ceremony for the new university earlier this month.

Yet civil rights activists and other watchdogs concerned about the separation of church and state are threatening lawsuits if Ave Maria attempts to enforce Catholic dogma. Environmentalists have also complained the town will restrict the habitat of the Florida panther, an endangered species.

None of which has deterred Monaghan, who initially tried to build his new university in Michigan but could not get permission. Asked recently about possible lawsuits in Florida, he replied: “That’s great. That would be the best publicity we could get.”

The Florida developers managing the project claim more than 7,000 people have already expressed interest in buying homes in the town. Retailers and other businesses are reportedly close to leasing 60% of the intended commercial space.

Monaghan was sent to a Catholic orphanage with his brother James after the death of their father on Christmas Eve 1941. After serving with the US Marines and later dropping out of university, he founded Domino’s in 1960 with his brother, who sold back his share for a Volkswagen Beetle.

Monaghan then set about building what became America’s second-largest pizza chain. He collected antique cars, bought a yacht and became the owner of the Detroit Tigers baseball team.

About 15 years ago he read Mere Christianity by CS Lewis. “That was a big turnaround,” he said recently. “I decided to simplify my life. No more airplanes, no more yachts. It’s been a big relief.”

Sources close to the project said Monaghan was particularly disturbed by what he regards as the failure of western civilisation to resist Islamic fundamentalism. In a speech to students last year Healy warned that Islam “no longer faces a religiously dynamic West”.

Healy described the “virtual collapse of Europe” as “one of the most profound and unsettling developments of our new century”. He added: “If you consider the more telling signs, such as its plummeting birth rate, Europe does not even seem to believe in a future . . . children are a sign of hope and the fruit of obedience to God’s command to be fruitful and multiply.”

Monaghan has argued that the owners of the town’s commercial properties will be free to impose conditions in leases — notably the restriction on the sale of contraceptives. But that has been challenged by Howard Simon, executive director of the Florida branch of the American Civil Liberties Union.

Simon said the US Supreme Court had already ruled “ownership [of a town] does not always mean absolute dominion”. “If he wants to build a town and encourage like-minded people to come and live there, that’s fine. We get into problems where he tries to exercise governmental authority.”

Frances Kissling, president of a liberal Catholic group supporting women’s rights to contraception and abortion, said the idea of a Catholic town was “very disturbing”.

“We have to learn to tolerate the fact that there are other religions — as well as non-believers — and the interplay of cultures helps make each of us more productive members of society. A Catholic-only town goes totally against that.”

Lawsuits appear inevitable once the new town begins functioning in 2007, but Monaghan believes he has more than the law on his side. “I think it’s God’s will to do this,” he said.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Monaghan Asks for Donors to Cover 40% of AMU building costs; Preview of AMU Chapel; "Affordable" Housing in AMT

This story from the Southwest Florida News-Press has many interesting items of note, including a photo of the new model of the AMU chapel (above), a piece that says Tom Monaghan is looking for donors to cover 40% of the building costs (in bold below), and "affordable" housing in the town starting at $170,000 (see link to story for full details)

Ave Maria University today

In the fall of 2003, the university opened an interim campus north of Naples in The Vineyards community. Its current enrollment is about 400. The new campus will have a capacity of about 6,000 students.


Ave Maria is the first project under Collier County's Rural Land Stewardship program. In remarks Friday, Gov. Jeb Bush said Ave Maria preserves the natural and rural heritage of this part of the state. In return for developing the town and campus, land owner Barron Collier Companies of Naples set aside environmentally sensitive land for preservation.

The look of Ave Maria

Designers of the town and campus aimed for the charm of an old-world Mediterranean village combined with the vitality of a college town. The town center, called La Piazza, includes six buildings. First floors will house retail and commercial tenants. Five buildings will have a total of 70 condos one the upper floors. One will hold only offices.

The oratory

A 100-foot high church will anchor La Piazza. The wood, stone and steel structure will seat 1,100. Outside the church, there will be a 65-foot crucifix, a water feature, and a bell tower. The church is called an oratory because it is not associated with a Catholic diocese or religious order.

Pulte neighborhoods

Pulte, a national homebuilder, will build three communities in the town. No prices are being quoted at this time.
• Del Webb at Ave Maria will cater to active adults 55 or older and offer up to 2,500 home sites. It includes fitness centers and a golf course with a community center that offers classes and clubs ranging from ceramics to computers to personal investing. In the past 24 months in Florida, home prices in Del Webb developments have ranged from $165,000 to more than $300,000, according to Pulte's Web sites.
• Pulte Traditional Communities will build about 3,400 homes for first-time buyers and young families. Past Florida prices for similar neighborhoods have begun at about $260,000.
• DiVosta at Ave Maria will offer about 2,000 home sites for multi-generational neighborhoods, similar to Village Walk of Bonita Springs.

Campus buildings

The first phase of the campus development will include:
• A student activity center with 400-seat dining hall, game room and 24-hour study lounge.
• Residential student housing which will be organized into neighborhoods of seven buildings. Each building will house 85-100 students.
• Library with special and rare book collections, and a Frank Lloyd Wright collections room.
• Science, mathematics and technology building. It will include a 200-seat lecture hall.
Thomas Monaghan, founder and chancellor of the university, is now looking for donors to cover 40 percent of the cost of the buildings. They will be named for donors.

What's on site now?

Site work and construction of the main roads and water management system began in April of 2005. The water and sewer treatment facility is already built. Ave Maria Boulevard, which connects to Camp Keais Road, is nearly complete. All buildings are staked, and the first of six town center buildings is already under construction.

Article on AMU and AMT from Naples News

Here's another story on the ground breaking ceremony courtesy Naples News. Pay attention to the sentences in bolds and italics, as we will be following up on them in the next few days.

Catholic university and town mark beginning of a new era for Collier County

By Jenna Buzzacco (Contact)

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Friday's event started just as any other at Ave Maria University, with a prayer.

But this prayer was different. Instead of standing behind an altar in the Stella Maris chapel on the North Naples campus, the Rev. Joseph Fessio battled bugs and heat to say his blessing.

"Almighty and eternal author of life and Lord of history ... we ask for absolute blessing now and always on Ave Maria," Fessio said.

After the crowd of about 400 invited guests, including Gov. Jeb Bush, said a resounding "amen," the groundbreaking ceremony for the town of Ave Maria began, marking the beginning of a new era for the Catholic university.

"I thought (Collier County) would be the easiest place in the country to get students and faculty to come," said AMU founder Tom Monaghan.

AMU is the first Catholic university to be built in the United States in around 40 years, but when Monaghan dreamed of a place where young Catholics would foster, he didn't stop at a university.

Lamar Gable, chairman of Barron Collier Cos., said Friday that Ave Maria, between Immokalee and Naples, will be similar to a European hill town. While the oratory is expected to be the centerpiece of the community, the 1,000-acre campus also will play an important role in shaping Ave Maria.

The first phase of the town and university is scheduled to be complete in 2007, and Barron Collier Cos. has received thousands of requests for information about housing within the community, Monaghan said.

"I think (the town) is going to bring a lot of people from all over the country to Southwest Florida," Monaghan said. "This town is going to be conducive to families."

Monaghan said the town's signature will be the prairie style design and the green copper roofs. But turning it green has proven tricky in Florida's climate.

"The challenge is, this is the only place in the world where you can treat the copper to be green and it turns black," Monaghan joked. "We have a warehouse filled with rolls and rolls of copper, but we just haven't figured out how to keep it green yet."

The town will offer a variety of residential neighborhoods, as well as condominiums on the upper floors of retail space. Ave Maria eventually will have about 11,000 residential units, though it's still not enough units to accommodate the 20,000 inquiries the company already has received, Monaghan said.

But Ave Maria will be more than a new community based in the Catholic faith. It will also serve as the home of AMU.

"This is largely symbolic," AMU president Nick Healy said. "The students are getting very excited. I can say I would be amazed if they all didn't want to come out and see the progress, but it's just not safe right now. Every so often we will have opportunities for the students to visit and see the progress."

Friday's groundbreaking was only ceremonial, Healy said, mainly because vertical construction for the project started earlier this year. The ceremony originally was scheduled for early last November, but was postponed because of Hurricane Wilma. While there was no damage to the site, organizers thought it wouldn't be proper to celebrate while others were suffering. Instead organizers donated the $50,000 they had planned to use for the ceremony to the Guadalupe Center in Immokalee.

Healy said the foundation already has been poured for the school's library, and it's expected the foundation for the science, math and technology building will be poured in the near future.

The first residents of Ave Maria could move in as early as spring 2007, Gable said.

"I encourage you to stop and take a look at the town in a few years," Gable said. "The good Lord has 100 years invested in this project, and we better not disappoint or else he'll cause trouble."

Newsweek article on Ave Maria Town and Tom Monaghan

Halfway to Heaven
A Catholic millionaire's dream town draws fire.

Ethan Hill for Newsweek
A Vision: Ave Maria, whose temporary campus-chapel is seen here, is Monaghan’s most ambitious undertaking

By Susannah Meadows
Feb. 27, 2006 issue - 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. Though he says nonbelievers are welcome, Monaghan clearly wants the community to embody his conservative values. 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. If forced to choose between two otherwise comparable drugstores, Barron Collier would favor the one that honored that request, says its president and CEO, Paul Marinelli. 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."

The ACLU of Florida is worried about how he's playing the game. "It is completely naive to think this first attempt [to restrict access to contraception] will be their last," says executive director Howard Simon. Armed with a 1946 Supreme Court opinion that "ownership [of a town] does not always mean absolute dominion," Simon will be watching Ave Maria for any signs of Monaghan's request's becoming a demand. 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. Will others be able to get the pill? "For the general public, the answer is probably yes, but not definitely yes," says hospital point man Edgardo Tenreiro. The Florida attorney general's office says the issue of limiting access will likely have to be worked out in court. Barron Collier and Monaghan say they're following Florida law.

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. Early signs suggest the new Ave Maria complex, his final and most ambitious project, might also work out. The developers are close to leasing 60 percent of the commercial space (no pharmacists yet), says project manager Blake Gable, and they have received some 7,000 inquiries from people interested in buying homes, which will go for less than the half-million median price in nearby Naples. In an area of strip malls and bad traffic, Ave Maria's communal design—with shops within walking distance to the homes—has civic appeal. "The general buzz is that the university and town are going to be a spark plug for massive development in that area," says Michael Reagen, president of the Naples Chamber of Commerce. 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?" He's not the only one awaiting the answer.

Friday, February 17, 2006

News Story on AMU groundbreaking ceremony

Gov. Bush praises Ave Maria
By Joan D. Laguardia
Originally posted on February 17, 2006


About 400 people, including Gov. Jeb Bush, gathered near Immokalee today to officially kick off construction of Ave Maria University and its new town.

The charm of an old world village combined with the vitality of a college town is the theme of the new community.

Bush, whose visit today was his first time back in east Collier County since Hurricane Wilma, said he was pleased to see the area recovering from hurricane damage.

“I’m really proud of Southwest Florida and Collier County in how organized you are,” he said.

Bush welcomed the new Roman Catholic university for its goals of combining academic accomplishment with reinforcing “timeless values” like humility, compassion and respect for life. He also pointed out that the development is the first project under Collier County’s Rule Land Stewardship program.

The town preserved the natural and rural heritage of this part of the state, Bush said.

The university will be built on 1,000 acres about five miles south of Immokalee in east Collier County. The town will be set on 4,000 acres next to the university.

The feel of the town will be Mediterranean, with the center referred to as La Piazza. Its six buildings will include the first residences of Ave Maria and the only condominiums available. The 70 condos will encircle the church, which will anchor the town.

The wood, stone and steel structure will soar more than 100 feet high and will seat 1,100. Outside the church, there will be a 65-foot crucifix, a bell tower and a water feature.

The town will have residences ranging from rental apartments to estate homes. Pulte, a national homebuilders, will build three communities.

It's the dream of billionaire philanthropist Thomas Monaghan.

The founder of Domino’s Pizza and former owner of the Detroit Tigers, is chancellor of the Roman Catholic university. Through his Ave Maria Foundation, he has pledged to meet the $250 million in construction costs.

“This initial donation will provide a substantial start to Ave Maria University, but to achieve our vision for greatness, we will need continued financial support from others,” Monaghan said.

“Little did I know when I opened the first Domino’s store to pay my way through architectural school, it would eventually lead to the building of a Catholic university some 45 years later,” he said.

The university and Naples-based Barron Collier Companies have formed a partnership to develop the campus and its own town, also called Ave Maria.

Monaghan and Lamar Gable, Barron Collier chairman, are hosting the ceremony today.

Site work and construction of the main roads and water management system began in April of 2005.

Planned opening of the university is in fall of 2007. Homes may open as early as late spring and early summer of 2007.

The community will have as many as 11,000 houses and apartments at capacity.

Monaghan, whose wealth comes primarily from the $85 million sale of the Detroit Tigers in 1992 and the $1 billion sale of Domino's Pizza in 1998, announced plans for the lay person-run university in November 2002.

In the fall of 2003, the university opened an interim campus north of Naples in The Vineyards community. Its current enrollment is about 400.

The new campus will have a capacity of about 6,000 students.

Building began in December on about 330,000 square feet of commercial space, including 70 condos that will be above retail and office businesses.

A groundbreaking, set for Nov. 1, was canceled and $50,000 budgeted for the event was given to the Guadalupe Center in Immokalee for Hurricane Wilma relief. The hurricane hit the area of the new campus on Oct. 24.

The first phase of the campus development will include:

* A student activity center with 400-seat dining hall, game room and 24-hour study lounge.

* Residential student housing which will be organized into neighborhoods of seven buildings. Each building will house 85-100 students.

* Library with special and rare book collections, and a Frank Lloyd Wright collections room.

* Science, mathematics and technology building. It will include a 200-seat lecture hall.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Press Release on AMU and AMT Ground Breaking Ceremony

Official Ground Breaking of Ave Maria University and Town

NAPLES, Fla., Feb. 9 /PRNewswire/ --

WHO: - The Honorable Jeb Bush, Governor of Florida
- Thomas S. Monaghan, Founder & Chancellor, Ave Maria University
- Lamar Gable, Chairman of the Board, Barron Collier Companies
- 300 - 500 invited guests, local and national dignitaries
- University & town leadership

WHAT: - Breaking of ground for first Catholic University in more than
40 years in U.S. & newest town in Florida - both to be opened
in 2007
- New renderings of campus & town, model of Oratory to be
- Speeches, presentation and ceremonial ground breaking
- Multiple tented areas for program and reception

WHEN: 1:30 p.m., Friday, February 17, 2006

We have arranged special seating for the media. We ask that
attending media be on site no later than 1:15 p.m. We will also
have a limited amount of time for question and interviews
immediately after the ground breaking ceremony. Because of the
sizable amount of interest we have received, please let us know
ahead of time if you have any special requests, needs or

WHERE: Ave Maria, Florida
Entrance on Camp Keais Rd. between Oil Well Road & Immokalee Rd.
From I-75: Exit 111 - Immokalee Rd., proceed 10 miles east to
Oil Well Rd., turn right and proceed east 10 miles to Camp Keais
Rd, Turn left and proceed north, entrance to event on left.

SOURCE Ave Maria University

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Professor Adolphe on new EU 'homophobia' resolution

The following excerpt is from a story appearing today on World Net Daily that quotes Professor Jane Adolphe at length. The story concerns a recently passed resolution by the EU Parliament that urges EU member states to ban homophobia and even to apply sanctions to countries that do not follow suit.

Christians slam 'homophobia' resolution
European Parliament's action equates condition to racism, anti-Semitism

The European Parliament's recently passed resolution "Homophobia in Europe" has raised alarms among European pro-family groups, Christians and others who worry the measure is a move to cut off public debate over same-sex unions and force universal acceptance of the homosexual lifestyle.

The controversial resolution urging member states to ban "homophobia" states that "homophobia can be defined as an irrational fear of and aversion to homosexuality and of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people based on prejudice, similar to racism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism and sexism."

Homosexual activists point to recent tension, including so-called "hate speech," between traditional values and the growing public expression of homosexuality throughout Europe as the catalyst for the resolution. Last year, Premier Edmund Stoiber of Bavaria declared his intention to challenge Germany's proposed law favoring homosexual adoption. In June, conservatives in Spain took to the streets to protest the passing of same-sex unions.

Conflict between the newer Eastern European member states of the European Union is increasing. Poland, Latvia and Estonia have refused to permit homosexual unions. Italy also voted against homosexual unions, while Britain, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany and Spain have legalized them. Poland's prime minister, Kazimeierz Marcinkiewicz, a founding member of the Christian-National Union Party, called for state protection against homosexual "contamination" of Polish culture. And Polish President Lech Kaczynski refused permission for "gay pride" demonstrations when he served as mayor of Warsaw. Lativa also disallowed homosexual-themed parades.

Homosexual advocates sought Parliament's passage of the "homophobia" resolution.

"It's a tragic thing that the term 'homophobia' has actually made its way into the resolution," said, Jane Adolphe, associate professor of law at Ave Maria School of Law in Ann Arbor, Mich. "Even though a resolution is legally non-binding, if the term is used often enough in official documents it eventually becomes part of customary international law." A nation may be bound by customary law, even when that nation has not specifically enacted into its domestic law the provisions held in international customary law.