Those are the attention-getting words of the founder of Domino’s Pizza and Ave Maria, Tom Monaghan.
Around the time he sold Domino’s Pizza and the Detroit Tigers about 20 years ago, Tom Monaghan stopped doing most interviews. He devoted himself to Catholic education, most prominently by founding Ave Maria University, now based near Naples, Fla., where he spends much of his time these days raising money for the school.
But in a rare local appearance Friday morning at the Fairlane Club in Dearborn, Monaghan, who just turned 75, showed he still has a knack for making the sort of comments that made him swear off doing interviews two decades ago.
Known as a devout Roman Catholic who attends daily mass, Monaghan told an audience of non-profit fund raisers, “If it wasn’t for my faith I’d make Hugh Hefner look like a piker.”
And while acknowledging that he was speaking to a mixed audience, he freely criticized brands of Catholic religious practice that are theologically looser than his own strict faith, particularly in Catholic schools and universities today: “The worst thing you can do is send your kids to a Catholic school if you want them to retain their faith.”
If off-putting to some listeners, Monaghan also had people lining up after his talk for him to autograph their copies of his 1986 autobiography “Pizza Tiger,” which his staff gave out to the audience at the start of the breakfast meeting.
The event that drew Monaghan was the annual meeting of the Planned Giving Roundtable of Southeast Michigan, a professional association of people who raise money for the likes of universities, foundations and charities.
“I don’t think anybody’s thought more about how to invest their charitable dollars than I have,” he told the audience. “I never found anybody that came up with a better idea than helping people get to heaven.”
Speaking of raising money to further Catholic education at Ave Maria, he said, “It’s not a short-term investment. It’s a very, very, very long-term investment. It’s eternity.”
There were lighter moments, too, as when he drew laughter by saying, “I wanted to be a priest from the time I was in the second grade, until I sat behind Lois in the seventh grade.”