Why Catholic higher education
This time of year signals the beginning of another academic year for schools at every level. Ever since founding Ave Maria University and later Ave Maria School of Law (two separate schools), people have asked me why I started a new university and law school. Given this issue is focused on Catholic higher education, I thought I would share my answer with you.
I have always had a passion for Catholic education, which I think can be traced back to the incredible impact it had on my life as a young boy. The instruction and formation that I received in the orphanage and Catholic grade school from the Felician sisters, particularly Sister Berarda, really served as a foundation for my faith development and as a moral compass for much of my life.
Years later when Domino’s Pizza started doing well, I was approached by many people with requests to support all kinds of projects designed to help the Church. I had to really think and pray about how I was going to use the resources God had given me to help His Church. I began getting involved in a variety of projects, including a couple Catholic universities… serving on their boards, etc. I also worked with the local Catholic high school in Ann Arbor, and then started a couple of grade schools (Spiritus Sanctus Academies), which I later turned over to the Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist.
However, it was when I was preparing to sell Domino’s that I had to think long and hard about what God was calling me to do with these resources He had blessed me with… because they were really His. I knew Legatus was critically important and I planned to spend the rest of my life helping it fulfill its mission. Next to Legatus, Catholic higher education emerged as the best way I knew that I could help the Church and society as a whole.
Building grade schools and high schools is critically important, but it is expensive. I knew that even with the proceeds from the sale of Domino’s, my resources were limited. So, I began to think globally… who are the ones who will be teaching and running the grade schools, high schools, colleges, law schools and seminaries? And where are they going to be formed? It was the idea of helping to mold the future teachers, principals, priests, religious, executives, etc. that really got me excited about the importance of Catholic higher education.
In addition, I thought not many people have the resources to start a new university or law school, so I felt a certain responsibility to do so. Therefore, I wanted to do everything in my power to found a university and law school, which would be faithful to the Magisterium and intellectual traditions of the Church and in turn to create a ripple effect that would be felt for generations to come.
TOM MONAGHAN is Legatus’ founder, chairman and CEO.