City of God: Catholic Fla. Town Opens

Ave Maria, Fla., encourages business owners not to sell contraceptives.

ByABC News via logo
July 21, 2007, 8:59 AM

July 21, 2007 — -- The Florida town of Ave Maria is like many other large family neighborhoods. The town will have 11,000 homes in its community.

But unlike so many other communities, Ave Maria has a specific purpose. The quaint location isn't built for golfers or retirees like so many other Florida developments. Ave Maria is a refuge of sorts for Christian values in a secular age.

It opens its gates to the public for the first time on Saturday. It is the brainchild of Dominos Pizza founder Tom Monaghan, who built the town as part of his life-long dream. The staunch Catholic envisioned a community that would draw residents who shared his Catholic values.

"I put basically everything I had into it, not only my money, but the rest of my life," Monaghan said.

The town is centered around an 1,100-seat Roman Catholic church and a traditional Catholic university.

No adult book stores or strip clubs adorn the town, and local businesses are urged not to sell contraceptives or birth control.

But some civil libertarians are raising objections to this modern-day city of God.

"It is too early to tell from the facts whether there is a constitutional violation, but we're mindful and alert," said Rebecca Harrison Steele of the American Civil Liberties Union.

The founders insist the town is open for any one to reside in.

Monaghan has said his goal is to help as many people as possible get to Heaven. And he hopes these homeowners will have a head start.