A BRIEF HISTORY
Ave Maria, Florida is an unincorporated community that was founded in 2005 by Ave Maria Development Company, a partnership consisting of the Barron Collier Companies and the Ave Maria Foundation led by Roman Catholic philanthropist Tom Monaghan, founder of Domino's Pizza and the leader in establishing Ave Maria University and Ave Maria Catholic Church.
Ave Maria University opened its temporary campus in the fall of 2003. Construction on the permanent campus and the town of Ave Maria began in 2005. The town officially opened July of 2007 and the permanent AMU campus welcomed students at the start of the 2007-2008 academic year. A private K-12 school also opened for the 2007-2008 academic year as the Ave Maria Grammar and Preparatory School. It was renamed the Rhodora J. Donahue Academy in February of 2009.
Ave Maria Catholic Church was originally established as an "oratory" or a "quasi-parish" by Bishop Frank Dewane. According to canon law, "a quasi-parish is a definite community of the Christian faithful in a particular church, entrusted to a priest as its proper pastor but not yet erected as a parish because of particular circumstances." The Ave Maria Oratory was dedicated in March 2008 by Bishop Dewane.
BISHOP FRANK DEWANE
One of Ave Maria Catholic Church's most distinctive characteristics is its steel structure, much of which is exposed internally and externally. Mr. Monaghan has had an interest in architecture for more than 50 years and has been one of the world's largest collectors of the works and memorabilia of American architect Frank Lloyd Wright. The design of Ave Maria Catholic Church and Ave Maria University borrows heavily from the legacy of Frank Lloyd Wright.
"This Oratory will be the center for the campus and the town, a constant reminder of why we are there," Mr. Monaghan said when first beginning the endeavor.
"This will be like a landmark on the horizon," stated Harry Warren, design principal for Cannon Architects, concerning the Oratory. "It will be a beacon."
The Church's facade displays sculptor Márton Váró's 30-foot-tall sculpture of the Annunciation depicting the Archangel Gabriel's announcement to the Blessed Virgin Mary. The facade is carved in marble taken from Cave Michelangelo in Carrara, Italy.
ECCE ANCILLA DOMINI
On January 19, 2017 the Diocese of Venice purchased the oratory from Ave Maria University and established its status from a quasi-parish to a parish. With diocesan approval, Ave Maria Oratory became Ave Maria Catholic Church. Baptisms, weddings and funerals can now be performed without exemption from the Bishop.
At the time of the purchase, Ave Maria University donated a 2.5 acre lot adjacent to the Church and Ave Maria Development donated a 10 acre parcel to the diocese for further development.
FATHER DAVID VIDAL
On February 1, 2021 Rev. David Mariano Vidal, PhD became Ave Maria's new Pastor. Father Vidal was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina on August 13,1973, the fifth of seven siblings. His parents, Alicia and Julio, still live in Buenos Aires. He attended public primary schools and a Catholic private secondary school. In 1993 he began studies for the priesthood and was ordained to the priesthood in La Plata, Buenos Aires on August 9, 2001. Father Vidal’s two brothers are missionary priests and three of his sisters are nuns. After some years of missionary work in the United States, Father Vidal entered the graduate program in the School of Philosophy of the Catholic University of America in the fall 2009. He received the Licentiate degree in Philosophy in 2012 with a thesis on “Nature and Suppositum in the Metaphysics of Thomas Aquinas” under the direction of Msgr. John F. Wippel. He received the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy in 2020 with a dissertation on “Res as Transcendental in the Metaphysics of Thomas Aquinas” under the direction of Gregory T. Doolan. He has been a lecturer at Saint John Vianney College Seminary in Miami. In the Diocese of Venice, Father Vidal was assigned as Parochial Vicar of Ave Maria in August 2017. He was then assigned the Administrator of Our Lady Queen of Heaven in LaBelle in May 2018. We welcome him back to Ave Maria Catholic Church as our Pastor.
The future will be resplendent and an untold number of souls will be saved, but on one condition: that your sons be devoted to the Blessed Virgin Mary.