The founder of Domino’s Pizza is hoping to deliver more than pizzas to South Florida. Entrepreneur Tom Monaghan wants to bring deliverance to the multitudes with his very own $400 million faith-based town and university.
Personally, I’m skeptical; some faith-based settlements haven’t gone so well.
Ave Maria (“Hail Mary”), as it is to be known, will be a genuine, full-fledged town. But it will have some distinctive aspects.
True to his devout Catholic beliefs, Monaghan is seeking to keep all pharmacies in town contraceptive-free. On the flipside, highly addictive prescription painkillers will still be available at those same pharmacies, so you can still party.
Since all commercial real estate in Ave Maria is already owned by Monaghan, all businesses will have to meet his approval before setting up shop. A “red light district” seems almost certainly out of the question; for me, that’s a deal-killer.
A centralized retail sector will ensure everything one might need is within walking distance. A very progressive, green idea, that, but only practical from my point of view if all you need is a newspaper. It’s hard to schlep home groceries for the family or a 52” screen TV in the Florida heat.
Residents will be able to enjoy communion wafers in their choice of crispy thin, regular or thick crust. Extra toppings will be available at no charge; however, the “Eucharist Supreme” will require a minimum donation to the collection plate.
Instead of sipping wine from a chalice during services, priests will drink Mountain Dew from a 2-liter bottle.
The town cathedral will feature a 65-foot crucifix, to prove to everyone that Tom’s God is bigger than theirs. It will be handy, though, just in case Godzilla ambles through town. Or a giant vampire.
A sanctuary (safe house) will be set up for priests who’ve been banished from parishes elsewhere. Amenities will include a 24-hour masseuse, spa facilities, a hand-tossed pizza buffet and onsite childcare.
Parking tickets will be paid off simply through the recitation of 50 to 100 “Hail Mary’s” (depending on the severity of the offense) or by presenting a coupon to the citing officer.
The town’s sole bingo hall (big with the Papist set) will be operated by the indigenous Gamahuchee Indians.
Florida Governor Jeb Bush, a practicing Catholic, will be permitted to open an oil drilling operation inside the town, provided he agrees to govern the entire state by Catholic dogma.
Heretics, er, non-Catholics will be welcome to buy homes in Ave Maria, as long as they keep their mortgage payments up until they die and go to hell.
It’ll be interesting to see how much control Monaghan is able to exert over his dream town. If he indeed expects the populace to adhere to his conservative beliefs, he’ll have to make a lot of decisions about what kind of businesses will be allowed, and what they can sell. Alcohol? Tobacco? Firearms? Sports Illustrated?
And will Monaghan be able to control who comes to town, when the residents may have family and friends visiting from all over? He may quickly find that keeping bad elements from despoiling his holy vision of faith, fellowship and free toppings is not so easy.