Legatus’ first decade in Western Massachusetts
Twenty couples gathered on May 2, 2006, with our bishop and first speaker, Tom Monaghan, who announced that the new Western Massachusetts Chapter had perhaps the singular honor of the fastest charter in Legatus’ history.
By God’s providence, May 2 is also the feast day of St. Athanasius, bishop and Doctor of the Church. This “Father of Orthodoxy” was a deacon at the First Council of Nicea (325 AD). It’s interesting to note that centuries far removed from that consequential moment in the Church, our local chapter has counted five permanent deacons and their wives as simultaneous members in the past decade. A quote attributed to Athanasius and applicable to all Legates, indeed every Christian: “One cannot possibly understand the teaching of the saints unless one has a pure mind and is trying to imitate their life.”
As Legates charged with promoting the Catholic faith in family, business and community by prayer, study and work, all members endeavor to imitate saintly holiness and to strive daily for virtuous living. Our monthly speakers (over 100 to date) have urged us to sanctity. They include esteemed religious figures Cardinal Sean O’Malley, Mother Assumpta Long, Fr. J. Bryan Hehir, the late Fr. Benedict Groeschel, Archbishop Timothy Broglio, Monsignor Robert Weiss, Mother Olga of the Sacred Heart, and visits with cloistered nuns at a local Dominican monastery and with the Order of the Visitation of Holy Mary at their monastery here in the diocese.
The Western Massachusetts Chapter has also been inspired by the words of Ambassador Raymond Flynn, Tom Peterson, George Weigel, Patrick Novecosky, Marcellino D’Ambrosio, Michael Warsaw, Immaculée Ilibagiza, among many others. As is the Legatus custom, our bishop is an annual featured speaker, and our chapter is exceedingly grateful to the bishop for his unfailing commitment to encourage local Legates to fulfill their mission to be “ambassadors” of the Catholic faith.
Members and all involved in Legatus would readily attest that the monthly Mass and meeting are the highlight of all activities. It’s through Confession, rosary, Mass and prayer that the message of Legatus is most pronounced. In our chapter, so representative of other chapters, we are fortunate to have members who are faithful, loyal and energetic. They are good friends and provide valued support to one another. We invite and introduce guests at every meeting. Each year we try also to have a social gathering, usually in the summer or at Christmas, sometimes both, where family members and prospective members attend.
Additionally, I have been privileged to participate in several annual Legatus Summits. A Summit in many ways is like a retreat, a time away to renew all things in Christ, with opportunities for Confession and Mass, quiet prayer in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament, Catholic witness from all the speakers, and good company with men and women of faith from across the nation.
In 2009, the Western Massachusetts Chapter led by our then-member of the Board of Governors, hosted the annual Summit in an international location — Bermuda — a place known to be somewhat warmer than Massachusetts in late January.
Anyone in attendance at a Summit cannot help but be uplifted by the clergy and religious present, the keenly interested laity, and the attentive Legatus staff who ensure a prayerful and productive event for participants. The staff serves the mission of Legatus each day. Never is that more evident than when they collectively put the exclamation point on the conclusion of the always-successful annual Summit. As a Summit prayer has urged:
“Almighty and eternal God, we come to you with abiding faith and trust, striving daily to fulfill St. Paul’s call to be ambassadors for Christ. We ask that you keep us ever mindful of your presence and providence. In your goodness, bless our efforts, forgive our failings, and strengthen our resolve to be holy servants of the Catholic Church. Graciously listen to our Summit prayer as we renew our dedication to promote Gospel values in every circumstance of life. United with the Blessed Virgin Mary and with St. Joseph, patron of the Universal Church, may we give you glory.”
Grateful for a decade of local members worshipping God, changing the culture, and influencing the consistent promotion of Catholic values, our chapter looks forward to future grace-filled opportunities to study, live and spread the Catholic faith — and with St. Paul to “strive for peace with everyone, and for that holiness without which no one will see the Lord.” Ad multos annos, Western Massachusetts Chapter!
MONSIGNOR CHRIS CONNELLY is the chaplain of Legatus’ Western Massachusetts Chapter and the Vicar General and Moderator of the Curia for the Diocese of Springfield, Mass.