Two new California chapters
Napa Valley and Hollywood chapters charter, add to Legatus’ growing West region . . .
Legatus’ fast-growing West region added two new chapters to the organization late last year as Legatus officially chartered its Napa Valley Chapter on Nov. 11 and its Hollywood Chapter the following night.
Legatus founder Tom Monaghan, who spoke at both events, told members that founding Legatus is possibly the best thing he’s ever done. Legatus now has 74 chapters — five of which are still in development — and close to 4,000 total members in the United States, Ireland, Canada, the Bahamas, Poland and the United Kingdom. The impact of so many Catholic CEOs striving to live their faith in every aspect of their lives has a powerful impact on the culture, Monaghan said.
At the Napa event, 22 CEO members and their spouses were invested as charter members following Mass at the Mont La Salle Retreat House in Napa. Each received a Legatus pin and a copy of Monaghan’s autobiography Pizza Tiger.
The chapter’s chaplain, Fr. Gordon Kalil, told members that they are called to proclaim the Gospel with their lives. “I went down the list of new members, and every person is doing that by their outreach, their charity, their mission of work, and their commitment to the faith,” he told Legatus Magazine. “We have members who have given up successful secular careers to further Catholic education. We’re establishing a BirthChoice clinic and Rachel’s Vineyard here. All of that is Legatus.”
Mary Cunningham Agee, a charter member of the Napa Valley Chapter, said the chartering is “leaven in the bread.”
“Napa Valley is all about wine, but there’s leaven in the bread here,” she explained. “Legatus is all about that. It’s about taking a group of wonderful human beings and giving them just a little encouragement to come together and make Christ the center of that.”
Tim Busch, a member of Legatus’ Orange County Chapter who spearheaded both new chapters, told Legates at both events that their chartering is just the beginning. Their charge now, he said, is to continue to grow their chapters in order that more CEOs will become committed to learning, living and spreading the Catholic faith.
“We have a lot of work to do,” he said. “We could triple or quadruple the size of Legatus in California because there are so many Catholics here who’ve never even heard of us and we’ve been around for 20 years. There are 32 million people in California and 35% of them are Catholic, so there are plenty who qualify as members. We could have 12 chapters in LA alone. It’s all about meeting people one-on-one, and the Spirit starts to move.”
Legatus’ Hollywood Chapter began meeting in late 2009 with the unique mission of attracting Catholic CEOs involved in the entertainment industry. Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahony celebrated the Nov. 12 chartering Mass and ceremony at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels with 20 CEO members and their spouses.
In his homily, Cardinal Mahony picked up on the day’s Gospel reading which talked about the end of time. “We need to live every day as if it were the last — and as Jesus’ witnesses in the world, we need to continuously influence the lives of others through our discipleship of Jesus. And that, of course, is one of the great hallmarks of Legatus — that you live your lives of faith with such strength and courage. We’re not afraid to be disciples of Jesus Christ, we’re not afraid to be countercultural by living for him. You have a very special place of influence for good in the world today.”
That influence for good in the world also has a powerful effect on Legatus members themselves, Busch said.
“I’ve been in Legatus for 20 years, and it’s changed my life,” he said. “For me and for many others, we might have gotten off track in our faith without Legatus. It’s impacted my life so much I feel compelled to bring it to others. It’s very difficult to sell, but when people get involved with Legatus, they’re hooked. I get letters all the time that people say Legatus changed their life. Tom Monaghan is a great mentor. You see God working through him.”
Monaghan, for his part, applauded the work Busch had done to build Legatus’ presence in the Golden State.
“He’s continually thinking out of the box,” Monaghan told members at the Hollywood chartering. “I shouldn’t be surprised that these chapters have taken off. He’s a great leader among Catholic laymen in the United States today.”
Patrick Novecosky is Legatus Magazine’s editor.