Being intentional about our discipleship
This past July 1-4, Legatus leadership joined 3,500 other Catholic leaders in Orlando, FL for the Convocation of Catholic Leaders hosted by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. With over 100 bishops, archbishops and cardinals, we gathered for a “strategic conversation on forming missionary disciples to animate the Church and to engage the culture.”
This concept of forming missionary disciples is one that should resonate for all Legates. As Legatus members, and more broadly as Catholics, we are all called to be intentional disciples. During Bishop Frank Caggiano’s session entitled, “The Radical Call to Missionary Discipleship,” the bishop stated that if we are to become intentional disciples, we need to “…rediscover the power of the table. When you can break bread with someone across the table, that is when trust is born. Our families need to eat together just as our family of grace eats together at the table of the Lord.” We must begin with ourselves and our neighbors, and that is how we start making a change. It’s no coincidence that our own Legatus meetings begin with the sacraments and proceed into fellowship with our brothers and sisters in Christ. As Ambassadors, we must work on being intentional disciples to and for each other. We are called as an organization to be, in the words of the Denver Legates, the SWAT Team for the bishop. We must go out and knock down doors on behalf of the Church. More specifically, our goal as an organization needs to be building better chapters and more of them. One of the many ideas chapters are implementing in the attempt to grow is reaching out to the younger demographic. I am pleased to report that in a recent study conducted at Headquarters, the average age of membership went down by two years since the last time we conducted this study, which was in 2015. The average age of a Legatus member now is 59. This brings us back to intentional discipleship. We must be intentional about spreading Legatus not just to our immediate friends, but beyond the typical circle to new and unknown parishes. We are charged, now more than ever, to connect with Catholics to bring Christ to the world. Please seek out suggestions and advice from your regional director, chapter development officer or zone manager to learn about techniques that are working in other chapters and new chapters. I look forward to seeing new and different faces gathered around the tables at Legatus meetings! “If you are who you should be, you will set the world on fire.” — St. Catherine of Siena
This May our International Board of Governors met for their second of three meetings a year. Our International Board of Governors is comprised of 11 members from chapters all over the country, from both large and small chapters in small markets as well as big. The board opted to use the opportunity to have the trimestral meetings in Los Angeles where four of our chapters meet from the Los Angeles area at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels. The gathering was hosted by our international ecclesial advisor, Archbishop Jose H. Gomez.
During this trip, our founder recalled the beginning of Legatus, noting that the basis of Legatus is the same today as it was from the start. Tom Monaghan began planning the meetings for the middle of the week, “because you were taking extremely busy, successful people and pushing them to go to Mass more than once a week. Then by having Confession and Rosary before Mass, you are further enriching the spiritual experience for the members.” Think about the example this presents to your spouse, children, parents and co-workers.
Regardless of what chapter you visit, the monthly chapter meetings have not varied from that first day in 1987. All meetings offer Confession, reciting the rosary, celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, enjoying a brief social period and a first-class meal, and the icing on the cake: an inspiring speaker. In its entirety, the whole evening is a masterpiece!
It must be acknowledged that there sometimes comes the temptation when there is a busy month, and we all have them often, when we start treating Confession and rosary before Mass as the buffer to ensure we are not late to Mass, versus the enormous grace it is, on its own, to pray and unite with fellow members of our chapter.
On this 30th anniversary of our founding, I urge you all, members, officers, chaplains and administrators of chapters, to encourage all of your members to take advantage of the whole experience. Legatus is not something to be cutting apart and taking bits and pieces, but rather in its entirety, it exists to help you be accountable to yourself and God as well as to hold your peers accountable in truly working to further your faith and finally, to bring as many souls to heaven as possible.
What all chapters offer is an experience, and if we are not giving our members the best experience of the month, then we fall short as an organization. “The world needs genuine witnesses in Christian ethics in the field of business, and the Church calls you (Legatus) to fulfill this role publicly with courage and perseverance.” Thank you for joining in this call to action from Pope St. John Paul II! To 30 years and beyond!
STEPHEN HENLEY is Legatus’ executive director.