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Reposted from Being! or Nothingingness Blog:

February 27, 2006 Live in Ave Maria Town!

Drudge is even reporting it now. Tom Monaghan's little project to recreate a midieval village with all the accoutrements of a Florida retirement park is well underway. It's not that I mind the fact that they will outlaw condoms, birth control, abortion clinics, etc. Great. What I'm worried about is what will come next . . . homosexuals? rock music? certain questionable works of literature? CNN?

There was a great line in my Philosophy 101 class at Notre Dame . . . "Oligarchy sounds great, as long as I'm the head oligarch." Well, Tom's the head oligarch, and despite the fact that he drives a sweet Audi, I'm not sure I want him deciding what I get to do in my freedom.

February 27, 2006 | Permalink Comments

I know what you mean. Many oligarchs of these small and no-so-small New England towns in my area have banned alcohol sales (some towns are dry!) so we have to go to the next town over to find a package store. They even limit nightime entertainment to 2am (1am in some towns!) which severely limits my nightime entertainment choices. In fact, these same town councils now limit smoking in public establishments. We are forced to resort to paying fees at a private club or staying home or even going out doors if we want to smoke. The freedom of those who want to smoke in a crowded room is restricted. What's next, no Hooters resturants? Our young boys need to have some start at the appreciation of the opposite sex while enjoying wings. While on the topic, it's getting harder and harder to find some cock fighting establishments where we can enjoy ourselves as a family.

The principle of subsidarity needs to be rethought. Is freedom the liberty to do anything I want, when I want and where I want? In the "I want" the "I" is the key in today's society not "want".

And now for the third paragraph, in even clearer focus: A community founded on Catholic principles is a high ideal. It is perhaps an ideal that has never been fully realized. Move to where you feel welcomed and let others who want to live in such an environment live in peace. Does Mr. Monaghan's town's by-laws or statues of incorparation call for him to be a dictator? If not, please rethink you blog posts. Blog, instead, in contempt those who drive sweet Buicks perhaps.

Posted by: pazdziernik | February 27, 2006 at 08:45 PM

No one can rebuild Christendom within the US, no matter how much money you have. Ave Maria Town will still depend on energy from other parts of the state, and will import drugs from other parts of the US, and will remain a part of the capitalist liberal republic that is the United States. Ave Maria Town will be both in the world and of it.

I am reminded of what Fr Neuhaus wrote recently:

Among American thinkers, and not least among American theologians, one frequently discerns an attempt to escape one’s time and place. It is a very American thing to try to do. We are never more American than when we believe we have transcended being American. America is, after all, as some like to say, the world’s first “universal nation.”

A serious question to ask is this (and I am really asking this, I am not trying to be a rhetorical wise guy here): Will this town produce Flannery O'Connors, or Mary McCarthys?

Posted by: Santiago | February 28, 2006 at 12:02 AM

I'm actually reading your comment and thinking "Wow, if he wasn't being sarcastic I would agree with him."

Founding a Catholic town isn't a "high ideal" it's an idealistic retreat. I seem to remember a mandate from someone named Jesus who said something like "Go out to all the world making disciples of all nations . . ." I'm pretty sure there wasn't an addendum that said, "And if you find that they just won't do what you want build your own small town and have nothing to do with those shameless sinners."

I find towns like this anti-christian, let alone anti-catholic. Great, so a few rich Catholics will have their little happy town where everything will be perfect and no one will sin and everything will be great. Umm, is it just me or do I smell a vestige of the Enlightenment? If we just legislate it, we can create a perfect society! yes!

This is opposite of the Christian experience with the monks and the growth of midieval society, it's trying to get at the same result with a backasswards methodology. Midieval society was formed because some monks went out to the hinterlands and said "We want to announce Christ here too!" This venture is an exercise in retreat. It's saying "We don't want to be sullied by all that reality out there, so we'll come here and build our own world with our rules and then we'll be safe and happy and able to make our lives just as we want, with none of that secular intrusion."

Bah! I'm thinking of moving there and opening a Hooters. Thanks for the suggestion!

Posted by: Stephen | February 28, 2006 at 12:09 AM

Well, the Amish do it and it seems to me that they have survived in communities for quite a few years! Who wouldnt want to live in a Catholic community! Freedom? Yepp.. Freedom to live our faith 24/7 and uphold the 2000 years of Catholic Teaching!

Im there!

Posted by: Von | February 28, 2006 at 02:27 AM

Mr. Monaghan explained his plans for the town when he spoke at Atlanta's Eucharistic Congress last year. I thought this was a bad idea then. I still do. Mainly because of what Stephen saysthat the Church's entire purpose is mission. If we're not living in the world, we're not doing our job.

At its best, the town will be nothing but a bunch of pseudo-Catholic Pharisees
sure, they'll be able to regulate the availability of pornography and contraception, and put a chapel in every neighborhood. But the big sins will still be there--gossip, envy, greed, lust, and especially pride, no doubt.

No thanks. But if you ever get that Hooters open, Stephen, I might join you for some wings.

Posted by: Jim Cork | February 28, 2006 at 07:32 AM


Are you seriously suggesting that the Amish are a pattern the Church should follow? The ridiculousness of that suggestion is laughable. They might be "surviving" but only because they've become inbred and isolationist. Have you ever heard of anyone converting to Amish?

Posted by: Stephen | February 28, 2006 at 10:00 AM

What was that passage about, eh "suffering insults for my namesake"? So all of a sudden Tom Monyahan is the Great Satan It seems to me that there's something wacky here. What do you guys want to do with your millions?

Posted by: Linda Hallenbeck | February 28, 2006 at 10:31 PM

I'm not suggesting Domino Tom is the great Satan, I'm suggesting he's a moron. There's a difference.

Well, not a moron exactly, but certainly a misguided millionaire. I don't really care what he does with his money, he could blow it all on cracker jacks for what it's worth to me. However, if he wants to make it public, I feel pretty free to make a judgement of it.

In respect to Ave Maria Town, I think it's going to flop, and I think it's anti-Christian, precisely because it's a retreat from society. It's almost like saying "We don't think Christ can save this, so we're gonna go and live with him in our own little world." It's absurd.

Posted by: Stephen | February 28, 2006 at 11:36 PM


Living near an Amish community is really an amazing thing. I admire them because they are not distracted by all the things we are. They are simplistic and humble. I dont think living in a Catholic Community would be a bad thing. Im a mom of 6, (thus far) and I would love for my children to be around other Catholic children daily. I would know that the type of people attracted to this type of living would be ones just like myself.

I feel like we are isolated now, not having many Catholic families nearby. We homeschool too and most of us just get together once or twice a month. My kids dont hang with the neighborhood kids because of their lack of respect, filthy mouths, horish dressing by the girls etc.. etc..

Now, Im not saying that Ave Maria will be the "ideal" place. But I think the concept would be very appealing to our family. It wouldnt mean that we couldnt go "out of town" to do anything, but on a day to day basis my kids would not have to be subjected to the garbage thats out there. I have ONE shot to save their souls and it's my God-Given responsibility to do that, this is one way that would surely help families to develop a sound faith.

It's not for everyone..I would never push that on anybody. But like I said, it is quite appealing. I think we would still struggle with earthly things, but we wouldnt be flooded with it every time we blink our eyes. And try to explain to a 6 year old who sees a Trojan commercial during the 5pm news and asks what a condom is. Im sick of it, Im tired of fighting it- and I have for too many years.

While Ive heard good things about Tom M., Ive also heard nutty things about Tom M.- maybe his concept isnt the right one. But no matter what our individual opinions are, he's going for it. And I think it will bring a "certain" type of Catholic into the town, those who like us dont see it as isolationism but what to discern whats best for our families in todays evil world.

Did I make Sense? lol

Posted by: Von | March 01, 2006 at 06:05 PM


I understand your sentiment. I think I shared it once, though certainly I don't have children or the responsability and awe of having to bring them up. The primary motivation in this is protection, safety, and ultimately fear. There is a fear that the world can somehow keep us from Christ. This tension is a real one, but ultimately a dualistic one. It's the idea that what is part of the world, part of reality, is somehow dangerous to our kids' encounter with Christ.

I think that the heart of what you desire is the truest aspect of the encounter with Christ. You desire community. You don't seem dilusional about it, you know that even a "Catholic community" will have its share of sin, vice, and problems. So, putting that aside, the question to me is simple, is there a reasonable way to live this communion without having to move away from your life, away from where you've been "given" by God the place to live your relationship with him.

I guess I just think of this town as a retreat. I know we can get tired of "running the race" but what I want isn't to give up running and hide away in some nice cushy enclave until the race is over, I want someone to help me, to accompany me in the race right where I am.

There is a book I'm reading by Don Massimo Camisasca called "Together on the Road" about how this very experience of communion, a lived friendship in the midst of my life, is the answer to the human heart. I recommend it to you (it's from the Daughters of St. Paul) and I encourage you to email me,

I really do understand your desire. But I think a project like Tom Monaghan's is not a Christian project. It doesn't seem to be a real answer to man's modern problems. In fact, a town like AveMaria Town won't have any cultural impact. Most of the country will see it as a strange community of cooks, it won't challenge the culture because it doesn't take it seriously on its own terms. It seeks to define the terms on which culture will be renewed, rather than bringing the experience of Christ to the world's problems.

Posted by: Stephen | March 01, 2006 at 09:54 PM

I live about 10 miles south of Ave Maria town in Collier County, Florida.

A lot of the speculation on Ave Maria seems silly - as if it's a monestary away from civilization.

Actually, I think if it WAS like that, it'd be a refreshing change to typical American society - whether or not I disagree or agree with whatever principles Ave Maria supposedly holds.

I've been there three times so far - and I'll be back today to promote my brother's critter trapping business (bees, rats, raccoons, that sort of thing) and it looks really nice there.

They employed 15,000 workers from nearby Immokalee (which is most of the town) and got that thing almost completely built in just a year and a half. AMAZING, I think.

Will it be a successful University? Time will tell. The university buildings look typical and plain. But the town itself WILL be successful, I suspect, IF they keep their prices down. [to live in ave maria is cheaper than Golden Gate Estates, Naples, Marco Island, Vanderbilt Beach and all of the communities in Naples) There are but a dozen families living there now - the daring few that believe and have already moved in. They complain about being so far away from everything (because the businesses within Ave Maria aren't opened yet- but they don't have to travel any further than I do every day. It's a rural part of an bustling metropolitan area, so it's goin to be quite quiet.

Anyhow, I have hopes for the town. The University, I don't know how it will do - but the town will do fine - IF they keep their prices down. They've got a public school on the premises, a synogague and protestant church are being built right now (okay, they're off in the far corner of Ave Maria, but still, they're there).

And, worst case scenerio - if it flops, then it'll be affordable housing which we need anyhow. But I hope it succeeds.

For more local news on Ave Maria University/Ave Maria Town, see:
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Live in Ave Maria Town! Reposted from Being! or Nothingingness Blog: