20th Annual Legatus Christmas Gala Dazzles Record Crowd
On December 1st, over 200 Legatus members from 18 different chapters gathered in Midtown Manhattan for the 20th Annual Legatus Christmas Gala. The yearly tradition, begun in 1997 as a chance for Legatus members from different New York City-area chapters to come together annually for shared fellowship, follows the standard format of a Legatus chapter meeting with rosary, Confession, a cocktail reception, and then dinner with a featured speaker. The scale is exponentially greater, however, due to the large and diverse attendance and the grand locales: the historic Church of Our Savior for the sacramental portion of the evening, and the Union League Club across Park Avenue for the reception and dinner.
This year’s Legatus Gala featured Mass celebrated by Bishop Frank Caggiano, the fifth bishop of Bridgeport, Connecticut, and home to Legatus’ thriving Fairfield County Chapter. Concelebrating was Bishop John Barres of the Diocese of Rockville Center on Long Island and other priests including many Legatus chaplains. A reverent rosary was led by Dr. Max and Isabel Mercado of the Bucks County Chapter in eastern Pennsylvania, with many members receiving Reconciliation, which was available at multiple confessionals at Church of Our Savior. Bishop Caggiano’s stirring homily left all present spellbound and set the tone for the entire evening.
After Mass, the evening continued at the Union League Club, New York City’s world-famous city club. Legatus members dressed in black-tie enjoyed the company of hundreds of their peers from their own chapters and many others. Nine northeast chapters sponsor the Gala each year and make the event possible. They are: New York City, Long Island, Jersey Shore, Northern New Jersey, Hartford, Fairfield County, Pittsburgh, Bucks County, and Westchester County. These chapters were recognized during the program. The Gala project is managed and presented by the office of regional director for the Northeast.
Paul and Sherry Durnan, founders and longtime officers of the Long Island Chapter, served as masters of ceremonies. Father Chris Monturo, chaplain of the new Westchester County, New York Legatus Chapter gave the invocation. Tom Monaghan, founder and chairman of Legatus, spoke on the importance of the Legatus mission and the significance of the milestone 30th year of Legatus.
Lou Dicerbo of the New York City Chapter was recognized for leading the group that organized the first Legatus Gala 20 years ago. DiCerbo was presented with a navigational compass symbolizing his vision and leadership and then shared remarks from the podium.
Chris McMahon of the Pittsburgh Chapter, the Northeast’s representative on the Legatus International Board of Governors, introduced the keynote speaker, congressman Chris Smith of New Jersey. Smith spoke on a range of issues he works on in both the United States Congress and the United Nations, including human trafficking, protection of Christians being persecuted in the Middle East, and of course, protecting innocent life. Smith’s speech and presence were deeply appreciated by all.
The program closed with a moving benediction — in song —from Fr. Joseph Mele, Chaplain of the Pittsburgh Chapter, and recognition of John DiSanto of the Harrisburg Chapter, the 2017 Ambassador of the Year award winner. Many members stayed after at the Union League for continued camaraderie late into the evening.
The 2016 and 2017 Legatus Galas have been the best attended Galas ever, nearly doubling attendance from just a few years ago. It is a members-only special event and a celebration of the Legatus mission. Next year’s Legatus Gala will be held on December 7, 2018. All Legatus members are welcome and encouraged to attend this unforgettable occasion.