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Domino's owner to build big Catholic church

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  • Domino's owner to build big Catholic church

    Big church to glitter, glow
    By Maya Bell
    Sentinel Staff Writer

    March 25, 2004

    NAPLES -- Thomas Monaghan, who built his Domino's Pizza empire into the world's largest pizza-delivery chain, unveiled plans Wednesday for his latest, loftier ambition: to build the largest Catholic church in America.

    In about two years, the Oratory of Ave Maria will soar 150 feet, overlooking the Catholic university and adjoining town that Monaghan and his development partners plan to build in the hinterlands of eastern Collier County.

    The town and university, each named Ave Maria as well, won't be rural for long.

    With its striking architecture, steel-beamed facade and luminescent sanctuary able to hold more than 3,300 seated worshippers, the oratory is intended to draw pilgrims from near and far. Affixed outside will be a 60-foot, red-tinged crucifix, with a 40-foot body of Jesus.

    "There is nothing like this in the world, nor could there be," said Mark Mendell, president of Cannon Design, the international architecture and engineering firm chosen to design the church and campus. "This place is destined to attract people from all over the world -- the essence of a world-class place."

    Whether the 60,000-square-foot oratory -- what a church not affiliated with a parish is called -- will actually be the largest Catholic church in the nation is, apparently, in the eye of the beholder, or the person measuring.

    The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., lays claim to being the nation's largest Catholic church, with 77,500 square feet of space; St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City and Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles are not far behind. None, however, has more than Ave Maria's planned 3,300-plus seats.

    But for Peter Sonski, a spokesman with the National Shrine, it is space, not seating capacity, that marks the true measure of grand cathedrals. After all, St. Peter's in Vatican City, the largest Catholic church in the world, doesn't have any seats, he noted.

    But Sonski isn't begrudging Ave Maria its superlative.

    "We're all on the same team," he said. "As far as I'm concerned, we're still the largest Catholic church in the United States in pure size, but I'm excited for Ave Maria. It's wonderful that a new Catholic university is being established and they'll have a grand church in the middle of the campus. It certainly gives it a distinction."

    And indeed, despite its hoped-for landmark status, the Oratory of Ave Maria is designed more than anything to be the spiritual and physical centerpiece of the first new major Roman Catholic university to be built in the United States in 40 years. It's also meant to be a gathering place for inhabitants of the supporting town expected to spring up around the school.

    Construction of the first phase is slated to begin by year's end, with 15 buildings for the campus and 400 dwellings, all debuting in summer 2006.

    Monaghan, former owner of the Detroit Tigers, has been spending the considerable fortune he made in the pizza business on Catholic causes and charities for years and has personally contributed at least $240 million for the first phase.

    "I feel God has been pretty good to me," said Monaghan, who turns 67 today. "And I have a lot of making up to do."

    Monaghan, who sold Domino's Pizza in 1998, said there was a simple reason for going large, and it wasn't ego. He's confident all those pews will be needed to accommodate Ave Maria students and town residents, many of whom will go to Mass every day.

    Added Ave Maria University President Nicolas Healy Jr.: "In fact, I'm predicting this church will be overcrowded."

    That's because, if all goes according to plan, the fledgling college of 122 students temporarily housed in a Naples convalescent center will one day grow to a "Princeton-sized" university of about 5,000 students.

    Ave Maria officials unveiled their $240 million plans for the church and school Wednesday, and to no one's surprise, the first phase of the campus borrowed heavily from the principles of Frank Lloyd Wright, Monaghan's architectural hero.

    All the buildings are reminiscent of Wright's prairie-style design, with broad, horizontal buildings, deep overhangs, copper roofs and extensive use of landscaping.

    "The buildings are the background for the landscape," said Harry Warren, the design principal with Cannon Design.

    But that's not the case for the oratory. It will rise from the landscape like a glittering ice castle, using modern materials such as glass and steel but incorporating elements of European Gothic cathedrals. The design is an interlaced web of structural steel clad in glass and aluminum, sitting on a base of limestone blocks.

    "What we're trying to do here is take what we have here in abundance -- light -- and use that so it's always glowing," Warren said. "It's a place to feel cool and uplifted."
    June 9, 1973 - The day athletic perfection was defined.

  • #2
    Catholic dots are coming!


    • #3
      Originally posted by Iowa_Card@Mar 25 2004, 06:49 AM
      Catholic dots are coming!
      mmmmmmmmmmm..... communion dots......

      Official Lounge Sponsor of Lou Brock (really) and Ryan Franklin (really)*

      * Payment processing. It will be official soon.


      • #4
        So how long before priests start wearing those red, white and blue mesh hats?

        Official Lounge Sponsor of Lou Brock (really) and Ryan Franklin (really)*

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        • #5
          Originally posted by steveInebriated@Mar 25 2004, 10:02 AM
          So how long before priests start wearing those red, white and blue mesh hats?
          I can just see Domino's next promotion.

          Now, with your Domino's Pizza order, you get a free bible and one-day pass from donating to the offering plate!


          • #6
            Pepperoni is just a red host.
            Lounge sponsor of Gary Brackett, Reggie Wayne, Henrik Zetterberg (not lounge approved) and all country music.


            • #7
              Fish Pizza for lent?

              Trying to CRUSH Imo's with the religion card?
              Be passionate about what you believe in, or why bother.


              • #8
                Sounds like a Danny Thomas 'keeping a promise' thing.

                Good for him.