Living the faith passionately
Sold-out silver anniversary Summit with all-star faculty highlights religious liberty . . .
From across the United States and around the world, over 600 Legates, guests, speakers, award winners and staff kicked off Legatus’ 25th anniversary year in style at the 2012 Summit.
The Feb. 2-4 event, held at the Ritz-Carlton Beach Resort in Naples, Fla., featured a provocative lineup of speakers and offered opportunities for daily Mass, Confession and rosary. Drawing on the Summit’s theme, “Living the Fullness of Faith,” speakers urged members to promote Catholicism not only in their personal and professional lives, but — for the Americans in attendance — as citizens of a country where religious liberty is gravely threatened.
After celebrating the opening Mass, Cardinal Raymond L. Burke, prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, encouraged attendees to realize their universal call to holiness and engage the new evangelization. Cardinal Burke addressed a Summit hot topic — the Health and Human Services mandate that insurance plans provide free contraception, sterilization and abortifacients.
“How many Catholics, instead of giving a strong witness to the truth which God has written on every human heart, daily lead their fellow citizens into confusion and error by acting publicly and obstinately against the law of God?” he asked after expressing gratitude for Legates’ faithful witness. “As citizens, we must pay attention to the public debate and support those Christian politicians who propose legislation which respects fully our human nature and thereby fosters freedom.”
Dr. William Donohue, president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, forcefully extended this theme.
“We’ve got a great Catholic Church, but it’s not going to be worth anything unless it stands up to the bullies in Washington,” he said, believing Legates will rise to the challenge. “You are the backbone of the Catholic Church. I’m worthless without troops, and you’re the best troops we have.” After accepting the Defender of the Faith Award, Donohue quipped, “I don’t know how I’m going to get this on the plane, but if I find a liberal I’ll hit him over the head with it!”
Next came Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, who told his conversion story in order “to encourage you to plant the seeds of the Gospel. We might not be called to reap, but we are called to sow. You can change someone’s life for all eternity if you plant those seeds.”
Father George Rutler, Legatus’ former national chaplain, reminded members that the real force behind evil policies doesn’t need to run for re-election.
After affectionately remembering deceased Legates who “are still part of our family: They continue to pray for us, as we do them,” the Manhattan priest took a serious turn. “Satan comes under many guises. But unlike Christ, who welcomed the little children, you can always spot the devil because he hates babies.”
Although he’s not Catholic, President George W. Bush’s belief in leading a conscientious, faith-filled life was exuberantly received when he addressed attendees on the Summit’s second day. “I don’t think the government should intrude on consciences,” he said, adding that “I believe all life is precious.”
As a man who has made hard decisions in business and public life, President Bush says he insists on the primacy of faith. “In decision-making you need faith to set the platform. Faith puts life in perspective. If you believe God won’t give you what you can’t handle, life is a lot less hard.”
He also told Legates one of his favorite sayings: “God is good, all the time.” Throughout his talk he often repeated “God is good,” enjoining the audience to enthusiastically respond, “All the time!”
Members reacted enthusiastically to the three-day event.
“What was the Summit for me? An inspiring and invigorating experience both spiritually and intellectually,” said Baltimore Chapter president Timothy Watkins, who attended with wife Susan. “The speeches, the liturgies, the fellowship — all of these set the course for us to grow in our faith and stand up for our rights as Catholics.”
Hail to the ambassador-in-chief
According to many Legates interviewed for this article, the Summit’s most moving segment was Friday’s tribute to Legatus founder Tom Monaghan in Ave Maria — home of Ave Maria University and Legatus headquarters. Bishop Sam Jacobs, Legatus’ international chaplain, celebrated Mass at the Ave Maria Oratory.
“As we celebrate, it’s time to recognize the accomplishments of Legatus and be proud,” he said during his homily. “Your lives have been transformed, and you’ve impacted the lives of other people you may not even know about until the Day of Judgment.” He also encouraged Legates to “take a stand” and not be “a silent majority” when it comes to defending the dignity of life.
That night at dinner, held on the campus of the university Monaghan founded, surrounded by hundreds of friends, Legatus honored its founder and chairman.
After the assembly watched a moving 10-minute tribute video, Detroit Legates Tony and Suzanne Rea presented Monaghan, on behalf of all Legates, with a pastoral cross that once belonged to Blessed John Paul II. Monaghan humbly accepted the gifts and accolades and thanked members and staff for their hard work in making the Summit so memorable.
“As I look back over the last 25 years of Legatus, I am inspired by all the men and women who have lived our mission and impacted countless others in the process,” he said at the Ambassadors Gala the following evening. “And looking forward to the future of Legatus — wow, just think what the next 25 years will hold! I truly believe that we can be a source of life and energy for the Church in accomplishing her mission of spreading the truth of the Gospel throughout the country and indeed the world.”
He also issued members a short-term challenge to strengthen Legatus in the long term: “I challenge every member to bring in at least one new member by March 25, which is my 75th birthday and the Feast of the Annunciation. As you know, almost all new members over the years have been recruited by existing members!”
Matthew A. Rarey is Legatus magazine’s editorial assistant.
2011 Award Winners
Ambassador of the Year: Patrick Molyneaux
Officers of the Year: Lou DiCerbo II, Manny Montanez
Courage in the Marketplace: Alan Sears
Cardinal O’Connor Pro-Life Award: Cardinal Raymond Burke, Steve & Vivian Koob, Dan Zeidler
Bowie Kuhn Special Award for Evangelization: Mother Olga of the Sacred Heart, Dr. Timothy O’Donnell
Defender of the Faith Award: Dr. William Donohue
Campbell Award: Colorado Springs, Northern New Jersey, Napa Valley, Detroit,
Angott Award: Baton Rouge, San Juan Capistrano