New Man Profile – Tom Monaghan

Tom Monaghan

Tom Monaghan



“When I think back on some of the things I did, sins against God, I ought to be shot. I’m very embarrassed.”

Suppose the 19th century author Horatio Alger had to pen a novel with the following storyline:

  • The protagonist grows up dirt poor. When he’s four, his father dies. His mother places him in a Catholic orphanage.
  • The nuns who raise him inspire and form his faith.
  • He joins the Marines and dreams about becoming an architect and amassing a great fortune.
  • Upon discharge, he buys a tiny pizza shop in Michigan to pay for the college and training he needs to become an architect.
  • The pizza business takes too much effort. There’s no money to enter college.
  • After struggling for years, he builds that storefront into the largest privately owned fast food chain in the world. He lives his dream and buys anything and everything in sight—homes, planes, helicopters, yachts, art and car collections—even a major league baseball team.
  • He reads a book which discusses Pride as the greatest sin, recognizes himself in the description, sells most of his possessions, changes his lifestyle, begins giving his fortune away, builds a Catholic university and dedicates the rest of his life to that institution.

Sound too far fetched? Well, that is the true story of Tom Monaghan—Founder of Domino’s Pizza, former owner of the Detroit Tigers and Founder of Ave Maria University. Those are his words at the top of the page. Certainly not the kind of self-incrimination you’d expect from a billionaire, but Tom is far from typical.

Seeing himself in C.S. Lewis’ description of “Pride” while reading Mere Christianity in 1990, Tom became convicted that he needed to root out that “greatest of sins” by turning away from ostentation and serving God. When he sold most of his possessions, including Domino’s, he decided that pro-life causes and Catholic education were where he wanted to invest the rest of his life. Nearly twenty-five years later, he’s given most of his fortune away and is now living a different kind of dream—working for the university he built, where he lives in a 10’ by 12’ student dorm room during the week.

He’s quiet, shy, aware of his limitations—and quick to point those out. The last thing one feels when being with Tom Monaghan is intimidation. He doesn’t project power and asks nothing for himself. He’s a man whose seen and had it all and has concluded that his own life is worthless outside of what he can do for Christ. “I’m working harder than I ever did at Domino’s,” he says.

No doubt he is, but the product and the rewards can’t even compare.

Steve Silver PR Photo (Smallest)Yours for the journey,


Steve Silver—June 13, 2013


CLICK HERE to view highlights of Tom’s’s 2011 Men’s Golf Fellowship talk.

CLICK HERE to learn more about the Ave Maria University.

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