The Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist are pleased to honor Thomas S. Monahan as as the 2009 Medal of St. Dominic Recipient.
A champion of Catholic education, Tom gave Spiritus Sanctus Academy (SSA) its start by establishing its first location in 1995. Over the next several years, 3 additional locations were built in Michigan and one in Honduras. Tom was an integral force in bringing the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist to Ann Arbor to run the schools, as well as providing funding for the initial phases of the community’s Motherhouse. Through the Ave Maria Foundation, Tom continued to support SSA after administration was turned over to the Sisters in 1997, and since the Sisters assumed ownership in 2004, he has served as a donor and sponsor for its annual Scholarship Dinner Auction. Tom made possible early on the unique opportunity for students, faculty, and parents to participate in the daily sacrifice of the Mass through the establishment of a sponsorship program for priests overseas to pursue higher education in the U.S. while acting as chaplains for the schools.
Tom established the Ave Maria Foundation in 1986. In 1998, with the sale of his Domino’s Pizza business, Tom was able to devote himself full-time to his philanthropic work, and the resources of the foundation were greatly enhanced by the proceeds of the sale. His efforts have resulted in a 30-year series of Catholic initiatives. In 1987, Tom formed Legatus, an international fraternal organization of Catholic business leaders committed to the study, living out and spreading of the Catholic Faith through their professional and personal lives. In 1996, he purchased an AM station, which eventually grew into what is now known as Ave Maria Radio, providing Catholic programming to more than 120 stations around the country and is also heard on Sirius Satellite Radio. In 1999, Tom established the Thomas More Law Center, whose chief focus is to provide legal defense to people whose freedoms are threatened, especially in pro-life and religious-liberty concerns. He has been involved in missionary work in Honduras and Nicaragua and has provided leadership in pro-life causes to successful ends, weathering public criticism and boycotts of his Domino’s Pizza business.
Tom’s particular focus has been in the area of Catholic education. In 1990, he made a critical (and little-known) contribution to an education effort, headed by Austria’s Cardinal Christoph Schonborn, which ultimately produced the Catechism of the Catholic Church. In 1998, he founded Ave Maria Institute, which has evolved into what is now Ave Maria University (AMU), the first new Catholic university in the U.S. in more than 40 years, for which Tom serves as chancellor. The University’s permanent campus was completed in 2007 in Ave Maria, FL, and AMU also offers a master’s degree in pastoral theology at sites around the country, while operating a branch campus in Nicaragua. In 1999, the Ave Maria School of Law was established, which received accreditation from the American Bar Association in the shortest time possible, and has since become an important center of Catholic legal scholarship and professional preparation.
The results of Tom’s endless energy, courage, and zeal for defending and preserving the Faith and saving souls are too numerous to recount fully here. However, we are proud to acknowledge all that he has done, and we are truly grateful for his impact on the coming generations. We wish God’s abundant blessings on Mr. Monaghan and his family.