Catholic City, University Rises in Florida

Ave Maria, Florida

Ave Maria, Florida is a lot of things.

Town CenterTo its developer, it will be a “compact, walkable, self-sustaining” city of 30,000 people.

To Ave Maria University, it is home to their new campus, the first major Catholic university constructed in the U.S. in 40 years.

To its founder Tom Monaghan, it will be a conservative Catholic city on a hill, where there’ll be no porn on the cable system, no condoms in the stores, and no contraceptives in the pharmacy.

To bitter faculty of Ave Maria Law School, it is the “edge of Corkscrew swamp” where Monghan and his supporters will forcibly relocate them from Ann Arbor.

To conservationists, it is the first implementation of an innovative “market based” rural land stewardship program.

Lastly, it’s an enormous construction site in southwest Florida where thousands of homes, millions of square feet of office space, and a 100-foot tall Cathedral are all under construction under legal arrangements similar to those used to develop Walt Disney World. To top it all off, it’s even been on the Pope’s mind: Newsweek magazine reported it was the first thing Pope Benedict XVI asked the Provost of Ave Maria University when the two met.

> Naples Daily News Ave Maria Story Index
> Ave Maria Developer’s Website
> Newsweek: “Halfway to Heaven: A Catholic millionaire’s dream town draws fire
> Wikipedia: Ave Maria, Florida

Ave Maria, Florida

Top photo courtesy Planning magazine, the second from the developer’s website, and the last the is from this set of images

Author: Rob Goodspeed


  1. LILA, what is your problem? Why do you have to take somebody’s longtime dream that is becoming a reality and bash it? A town inspired to be one of strong community and faith ties, and all you can think of is stats on unplanned pregnancies? I for one would like to congratulate Tom Monaghan for his unwaivering faith in Christ, that he was able to accomplish this! May years of prosperity and blessings flourish in Ave Maria:)

  2. It’s hard not to be a little bit cynical.
    I admire that Monaghan wants to create a Catholic community. This is a valuable, beautiful sentiment. Yet does he think that by limiting people’s opportunity to sin he will be leading them to heaven? He seems so self-important that even if this is God’s will, he’s not allowing the divine to work through him. I fear that an enclosed society like this one will become arrogantly out of touch with the real world and unwilling to engage with its problems.

  3. Congratulations, Tom. It’s nice to know that somebody with a dream can have a positive effect on the people’s lives involved. To the two ladies who seemed to be negative in their comments. There are many communities around america that have been planned in their entirty and then built, that are far superior than the unplanned ones. I have several relatives living in the villages in florida and the place is amazing, everything is planned out. Housing, restaurants, medical services, stores etc. Because Tom has included his faith does not take away from this dream. I commend him on his efforts!!!

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