Ave Maria, a planned Catholic community near Naples, Florida?

Three of my five sisters live together in Naples, Florida and one of them mentioned that they recently took a 50-minute, curiosity drive to visit the planned community of Ave Maria (Hail Mary). Intrigued, I did a little research.

American entrepreneur, Tom Monaghan, now 83, founded the Domino’s Pizza chain in Ann Arbor, Michigan in 1960. The humble pizza chain grew to be a national corporation with 17,000 locations. Monaghan retired in 1998 and sold Domino’s for a reported $1 billion dollars.

Monaghan is one those pious, conservative Roman Catholics who takes their legalistic works-religion very seriously. Among other projects, he founded the Ave Maria Catholic Radio Network in 1999. There’s also Ave Maria Mutual Funds. In 2006, Monaghan broke ground in former-tomato farm fields for his planned Catholic community of Ave Maria, northeast of Naples, Florida, which would include Ave Maria University, a commercial/business district, and 11,000 residences, all clustered around the mammoth Ave Maria Catholic church in the center of the community. Monaghan envisioned the college campus and residential and commercial areas being totally free of contraceptives and cable television pornography via restrictive town ordinances, which prompted the Naples press to begin referring to Ave Maria as the “Catholic Jonestown.”

There’s been slow growth and Ave Maria currently has about 30,000 residents, but it’s still considered more of a giant housing development than an actual town. Monaghan had hoped the new community would attract other like-minded, pious Catholics and become a center of conservative American Catholicism, but people of all religious beliefs have moved in and the town could be mistaken for any other large Florida development, except for the Catholic university (1100 students, 80% Catholic) and the ostentatious church building sitting smak dab in the center of town, like something out of Medieval Europe.

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Tom Monaghan

Conservative Catholics like Tom Monaghan still pine for the pre-conciliar, militant Catholicism of the 1950s. They haven’t gotten the message yet that their popes and prelates now grant that all works-religionists and even atheists may also merit heaven if they are “sincere” and “good.” Catholicism covers a wide range of beliefs and preferences, from progressive to traditionalist, but nowhere in sight is the genuine Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone. The most dangerous places in Ave Maria are actually its centerpieces; the Ave Maria Catholic church and Ave Maria University, both of which propagate Roman Catholicism’s false gospel of salvation by sacramental grace and merit.

Postscript: It’s quite revealing that Tom Monaghan is ALL ABOUT worshiping Mary, with the “Ave Maria” moniker attached to EVERYTHING he creates.

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35 thoughts on “Ave Maria, a planned Catholic community near Naples, Florida?

    1. Thanks, Mandy. I had heard previously that Monaghan has been creating and funding various conservative Catholic projects, but this Ave Maria planned Catholic community and college never hit my radar prior to this.

      Liked by 2 people

  1. Thank you Tom. I once went to a Lutheran ladies bible study. A Catholic lady would also come. One day when visiting with her, she said, “That’s YOUR God Patricia” differentiating our Christian walks. I had no understanding why she said that. Its been a puzzle. Your post helps shed light somewhat on this.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, Patricia. In a certain sense, I “appreciate” those anti-ecumenical, conservative Catholics who unabashedly defend their church’s gospel of salvation by sacramental grace and merit. So many pro-ecumenical Catholics and evangelicals overlook vital and irreconcilable doctrinal differences in the search for shallow “unity.”

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I do understand what you are saying. The character that can defend ones faith, is a good quality. Just is confusing coming from my only protestant orientations for a Catholic to kind of ‘attack’ me for my faith. She did, however, acknowledge I had a grasp of scriptures she envied.

        Liked by 2 people

    2. Re: That’s your God

      LOL! Indeed it’s our God for we worship the true triune God.

      Romanists preach a different Gospel (Gal 1:6-9), a different Jesus (2 Cor 11:4), and after Vatican 2, say that the Muslim Allah is the same as the God that they worship. So yes, that lady was correct because her church worships Allah/Baal!

      Pope Paul VI: 3. The Church regards with esteem also the Moslems. They adore the one God, living and subsisting in Himself; merciful and all- powerful, the Creator of heaven and earth,(5) who has spoken to men; they take pains to submit wholeheartedly to even His inscrutable decrees, just as Abraham, with whom the faith of Islam takes pleasure in linking itself, submitted to God. Though they do not acknowledge Jesus as God, they revere Him as a prophet. They also honor Mary, His virgin Mother; at times they even call on her with devotion. In addition, they await the day of judgment when God will render their deserts to all those who have been raised up from the dead. Finally, they value the moral life and worship God especially through prayer, almsgiving and fasting. DECLARATION ON THE RELATION OF THE CHURCH TO NON-CHRISTIAN RELIGIONS, NOSTRA AETATE, PROCLAIMED BY HIS HOLINESS POPE PAUL VI ON OCTOBER 28, 1965

      Vatican II: But the plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator. In the first place amongst these there are the Moslems, these profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and together with us they adore the one, merciful God, mankind’s judge on the last day. Nor is God Himself remote from those who in shadows and images seek the unknown God, since he gives to all men life and breath and all things (cf. Acts 17:25–28), and since the Saviour wills all men to be saved (cf. 1 Tim. 2:4). Those who, who through no fault of their own, do not know the gospel of Christ or His Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience—those too may achieve eternal salvation. Vatican Council II The Conciliar and Post Conciliar Documents, Austin Flannery, O.P., General Editor (Boston: St. Paul Editions, 1980), Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium II:16, p. 367.

      Liked by 3 people

  2. Wow never heard of this town or community before, seems like its a “Maryland” away from Maryland (sorta). Interesting observation about the obsessions with Mary…even though some Catholic apologist downplay the significance of that

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good point about Maryland. I imagine Lord Baltimore envisioned a predominantly Catholic colony just as Monaghan hoped Ave Maria would be a predominantly Catholic town, but the dream didn’t pan out for either.
      RE: Catholic apologists downplay devotion to Mary.
      Yes, they argue that all devotion to the Mother ultimately honors the Son, honoring Mary honors Jesus, etc., etc. I was brought up with that Jesuitical sophistry.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Re: Jesuit Sophistry

        Having being on the receiving end of both that and the “Taqiyya” from Muslim apologists and dawahs, I still think the sophistry employed by Roman apologists are childish and amateurish compared to the Muslims. 😀

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thanks, SB. I’m not familiar with the Muslim Taqiyya, so I appreciate your reference to it in context with Jesuit sophistry/casuistry.

        Like

    1. Crissy, thank you for the encouragement in the Lord! This Ave Maria planned community is another one of those many strange, quirky things that pop up throughout Catholicism.

      Liked by 1 person

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