The town of Ave Maria, built around the Catholic Ave Maria University, welcomed its first residents in May, and more families are expected to move in throughout the summer and fall.
Mike and Cecilia O’Shea, along with their four daughters, Maureen, 3, Erin, 7, Caitlin, 7, and Maggie, 5, were the first of 11,000 potential households to move into the new 5,000-acre town on May 30.
The O’Sheas purchased a two-story home in Pulte Homes’ Hampton Village community. It has five bedrooms and four bathrooms, along with a spacious backyard and two living rooms. The 225 homes planned for Hampton Village range in price from the mid-$300,000s to high-$400,000s.
The 40-year-old father of four girls said the lifestyle offered in Ave Maria, close to Naples, is exactly what he and his wife were seeking for their family, reported the Naples Daily News.
They want to send their children to a Catholic school with the highest standards in academics and discipline, and “a more traditional approach, rather than the modern view many Catholic schools teach now,” Mike was quoted as saying.
Their daughters’ school will likely be taught by the sisters who live next door. The town’s oratory, or parish church, is within walking distance. La Piazza, the European-inspired Town Center, surrounds the Oratory.
The O’Sheas moved to Ave Maria from Tampa. They lived about 10 miles from the nearest parish and felt cut off from the parish community. “This will benefit us, because we’ll be closer to volunteer our time and efforts to the school and church,” Mike was quoted as saying.
Mike’s office is also within walking distance. He works for Legatus, an organization of Catholic chief executive officers, which will open an office in Ave Maria in November. Cecilia, 40, is a stay-at-home mom.
The O’Sheas enjoy living in a town with limited access to activities and lifestyles that go against a Catholic lifestyle.
“Sometimes people ask us, ‘Why do you want to shelter yourself from the real world?’ But I don’t think we’re sheltering,” Mike was quoted as saying. “Naples is as ‘real world’ as anywhere else, and it’s right down the street.
“It’s important that children are not exposed to things out there that can really harm them. When they get older and grow up, I think they’ll have the same positive experiences as any other child,” he said.
An Ave Maria Townfest, open to the public, is planned for July 21 from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., for those interested in walking the plaza, viewing home models or university buildings.
The town and Ave Maria University were founded by former Domino’s Pizza owner, turned Catholic philanthropist, Tom Monaghan.