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Women with top focus

Ten percent of Legatus’ qualifying members are women. Three of them, Tillie Hidalgo Lima, Lisa Kazor-Christovich, and Pam Veldman, talked with Legatus Magazine about their professional journeys to the top. Although they have built impressive companies, all three agree that God and family are their greatest treasures.

Lightening Life Chores – For Better Business-As-Usual

Tillie Hidalgo Lima and her husband, Dave, are members of the Cincinnati Chapter. Tillie is the CEO of Best Upon Request (bestuponrequest. com), an on-site national concierge service provider for two business realms: for employers looking to improve employee recruitment, retention and engagement; and for healthcare providers, for improving their patients’ experience. It is a unique business that helps people to feel valued – serving employees, hospital patients, and pregnant/new mothers.

For employees, the service helps lighten outside responsibilities so they can better focus at work. It includes conveniences such as mailing packages, helping find a repairman, exchanging currency, taking a car in for an oil change, and much more. Non-medical patient concierge services help with things such as shopping for groceries for the family, buying and getting prescriptions, getting help with the admission process. The maternity concierge program for pregnant and new mothers helps with things from planning a baby shower to providing information on what to pack for the hospital.

Tillie worked for 13 years as a pharmacist and manager while their three daughters, Jessi, Natalie, and Sofia were young. Dave acquired the contracts of a concierge company that started in 1989 and then created the innovative concept of an employer-paid employeebenefit concierge program. “In ’96, he asked if I knew someone who was great with people and numbers, and gave me a wink,” Tillie explained.

She laughed and told him: “Dave, you can’t afford me.” However, they did indeed join forces. “My attention to quality, management experience, and looking out for customer well-being were a perfect fit.”

By 2002, Dave wanted Tillie to take over as the CEO. In 2003, BEST had 13 employees; now there are 135 in 44 on-site offices in 11 states. BEST became “Great Place to Work”-certified this year, and is receiving media attention and many awards.

Despite such success, Tillie’s heart was never far from home. In fact, the business has been a family affair. Their daughters would come by the office after high school and help out. Today, all three work at BEST. It was her daughter, Jessi, who developed the maternity concierge program. “She was able to deliver the Maternity Concierge proposal, then deliver her third baby,” Tillie explained.

Dave has taken on a behind-the-scenes role as a Holacracy coach, business advisor, and overall support person on the home front which includes picking up grandchildren after school. “I could not do what I do without him,” she said.

The two older daughters are married with children and everyone gathers most Sundays for family dinner with one strict rule: no business talk. Tillie’s Cuban-born parents, Alberto, 84, and Matilde, 79, often join them from Tampa, FL for the holidays. They came to the U.S. from communist Cuba to escape religious persecution when Tillie was just 10 months old. “My parents had friends shot by firing squads and put in prison,” she said. “There were many miracles of faith, courage, and love. My parents are my role models.”

Tillie’s personal values, the 7F’s, are “faith, family, friends, fitness, financial strength, freedom, and fun.” “Legatus provides a framework for us to grow in our faith,” she said. “Faith should determine how we live out our calling in every environment using the gifts we’ve been blessed with.”

Strong-Women-Led Company – With God First

Lisa Kazor-Christovich and her husband Dan belong to the Washington D.C. Chapter and have a blended family of six children and one grandchild. While Lisa was pregnant with her second child Jonathan, and her daughter Rebecca, was three, Savantage Solutions (www.savantage. net) was born in September of 1999. The company is an award-winning software development organization providing consulting, integration, technology, and support services to federal agencies. It has 100 employees with annual revenues approximating $17 million.

After college, with a degree in accounting, Lisa had gone to work for one of the big 8 firms and became the CFO. She created Savantage as a shell company and then merged a stock acquisition of one company and an asset acquisition of another. Her story of success includes healing from an abusive childhood and abusive first marriage. “When Rebecca was 18 months old,” she said. “I knew I had to figure out how I was going to change my life.” But then, she became pregnant with her son. “I went to therapy and started to sort my life out,” she said.

Lisa divorced when Rebecca was 5 and Jonathan 2. “I was a workaholic; it was my outlet,” she said. Her kids were often with her late at night at work. “I had a playpen and crib in my office; they would build playhouse in the cubicles.”

Four years after the divorce, Lisa met Dan at a conference. Dan was retiring from the Coast Guard and a friend of his who worked for Lisa made the introduction. “We’ve talked every day since,” she said. They married a year later in 2007 on a beach with a Baptist minister. After some church shopping together, Dan returned to the Catholic Church and Lisa went through RCIA. Their marriage was convalidated, after annulments.

Since Dan was retired, he not only helped me out at Savantage but also took care of the home front. “It was perfect,” Lisa said. “He managed our personal life and I had an assistant that managed the business side, so it maximized my ability to attend the kids’ events physically and mentally, too.”

Lisa considers the monthly Legatus meetings “a lovely spiritual date night.” She enjoys learning more about the faith and getting to know other Catholic business leaders. The value of giving back to the Church and community aligns perfectly with Savantage ideals. The company gives between 30- and 50-percent aftertax profits to charitable causes. “Just as we want to help our customers succeed, we also want to help our communities succeed,” Lisa said.

She credits Savantage’s success to God bringing so many of his “strong women” together—the leadership is 75 percent women. They even have a prayer chain at work. The company priorities are: God, family, work, and self, in that order. “And if you tend to prioritize yourself over God, family, and work,” Lisa said, “this probably isn’t the place for you.”

Building Family, Business, Faith On Sure Footing

Pam Veldman met her husband Bernie when they were teenagers. They now have five children (the youngest is in high school) and five grandchildren under the age of four. This year marks 20 years as co-owners of Dienen, Inc., Surestep ( and Transcend Orthotics and Prosthetics (, specializing in orthotics and prosthetics for children. Pam is vice president/COO and Bernie is the president/ CEO. They are members of the South Bend Elkhart Legatus Chapter in Indiana.

While Bernie served in the military as a U.S. Army Ranger, Pam worked as a legal secretary. After four years of service, Bernie went to work for The Tire Rack in South Bend, IN, also owned by Legates. Four years later, he was recruited by his future brother-in-law, who owned and operated an orthotics and prosthetics business. Bernie managed the fabrication lab while Pam worked from home doing transcription and caring for their three young children.

Bernie soon became a certified prosthetist orthotist, able to fit patients with corrective and supportive devices. Coincidentally, at this time, they noticed their oldest son had severe pronation which affected how he ran. Bernie developed a unique custom lower leg brace that corrected his pronation and allowed flexibility to run, jump, and play. It became known worldwide as Surestep.

Pam and Bernie were able to buy one office of their brother-in-law’s practice with the goal of serving as many children as possible while marketing the Surestep brace. “We started with just the two of us and two employees,” Pam explained. “Bernie provided patient care and traveled around the U.S. educating on the benefits of Surestep, while I ran the office and had our fourth child.”

Three years and one child later they built their current office, initially with only 25 employees. Today, they have about 130 staff members in that same office and another 100 employees at 13 Transcend locations throughout the U.S. Their Surestep products are sold to thousands of companies in the U.S. and 33 countries around the world.

“I have worn many hats over the years,” Pam said, “from managing human resources, billing, accounts receivables, customer service, trainer, coordinator, facilities design, board member, decision maker, trouble shooter, even a little IT, but my favorite hat is as mom.”

Most of their children work for the business now, while Pam and Bernie are looking forward to scaling back one day.

“Having our once-a-month [Legatus] ‘date night’ with a focus on faith rejuvenates us,” she said. “We love the opportunity to share our faith and learn more about it, and how to better incorporate our faith in our work and home life. We have gone on pilgrimage to Italy which was amazing. The other pilgrims were so wonderful; we think about them often. I benefited from going on the Women’s Enclave retreat recently with other women Legates, and the kinship and immediate connectedness was wonderful.”

PATTI ARMSTRONG is a Legatus magazine contributing writer



15 Shared Lessons

  1. Learn from mistakes, but keep emotions out.
  2. There is value in every movement, even the backward ones.
  3. Be generous in everything—time, money, knowledge, talent, etc. Isn’t that the best way to show gratitude to God for all He has bestowed?
  4. Build trust with the say-do ratio. Be transparent, authentic, and reliable. How you do one thing is how you do everything.
  5. Delight your team members, customers, and clients by anticipating their needs.
  6. Try your best, let God do the rest. Release and receive grace by embracing God’s plan for your life.
  7. Surround yourself with thought leaders – like a board of advisors, business coach, or CEO roundtable. Borrow brilliance. Iron sharpens iron, and asking for help is a sign of strength not weakness.
  8. Be a lifelong learner.
  9. As a CEO, be the Chief Encouragement Officer. Listen to your team, as they are sensors for your organization. Make people and culture your priority; results will follow.
  10. Follow the Platinum Rule: do unto others as they would want done unto them.
  11. Start your meetings with a mission moment.
  12. As long as you stay close to God through prayer, trust your instincts, even when those around you have more experience and advise you otherwise. If it doesn’t seem right, it probably isn’t.
  13. Trust God to put good people in your life and let them help you. You really don’t have to do it all alone.
  14. Look for God in the moment, not just in the rear-view mirror.
  15. If something needs attention as a team, get together and correct it. Don’t sit back and let things go undone.

Newest ambassadors flourish in North Georgia

Latest chapter in the south enjoyed pre-Thanksgiving gala

The North Georgia Chapter chartered on November 20 with 24 member couples, making it the third Legatus chapter in Georgia. Some 56 people attended the gala event, including new members, visiting members from the Atlanta Chapter, prospective members, staff, and clergy.

Held at St. Brendan the Navigator Church, the chartering Mass was presided over by both Father Matthew Van Smoorenburg, church administrator, and guest Father Gerardo Cebellos. Bishop Wilton Gregory and Chapter chaplain Father Lino Otero regretted that a conflict prohibited them from attending.

Being trustworthy servants

Father Van Smoorenburg spoke on the day’s Gospel, Luke 19:11-28, with a message especially relevant to the very mission of Legatus – to be trustworthy servants of God’s blessings. The Gospel told the parable of a king who summoned ten servants and gave them ten pounds with the directive to “Put this money to work until I get back.” Those servants who made a return on the money were praised, and those who hid it with nothing to show were chastised. The king then took away their initial investment and gave it to the more trustworthy servants.

After Mass, Father Van Smoorenburg inducted the new members, blessing them all. Legatus founder, Tom Monaghan, then personally greeted each new member-couple. Everyone continued on to the celebratory surf and turf dinner at Crooked Creek Country Club. Southeast regional director Ed Trifone described the evening as cool—only 45 degrees— but said, “The warmth of the celebration quelled the chill.” Following dinner, Trifone welcomed everyone and briefly spoke about the Legatus mission and vision for future growth before introducing Mr. Monaghan.

Chapter Expansion

Three of the new Chapter members, Mike Drapeau, Richard Hagler, and Ryan Foley, were from the original Atlanta Chapter, which formed the North Georgia group to accommodate many traveling long distances to meetings. Their first meeting was held April 18, 2017. An interim board was formed with David Palmer as president, and Mark Matia as vice president. They have switched those roles now.

Stephanie Benotti, chapter development officer during the the start-up period, explained that it took a bit longer than usual to get up and running – a testimony to the founders’ determination. “Their willingness to share their time and contacts was exceptional,” Benotti said. “Atlanta is one of those cities where executives travel a lot and are busy. But they [the founders] persevered and showed their dedication to live out their Catholic faith and spread it to other business leaders in the Church.”

Father Lino Otero has been the North Georgia chaplain from the start. “It is a joy to accompany the members with monthly Mass, Confession, spiritual direction, and occasional visits to their families,” he said. “They are faith-filled people who want to grow in their faith, and to have a positive impact in the Church and surrounding communities.”

According to him, Legatus members tend to be very active in their parishes. “Some of them have their own projects through other Catholic organizations,” he said. “Mike Drapeau, for example, works with a mission organization to support mission outreach in Cameroon, and helped build a Catholic school and hospital.”

Great potential to change the world

Tom Monaghan gave his customary inspirational talk, sharing glimpses of his childhood and goals for Legatus. In his ‘fireside chat’ following the main talk, Mr. Monaghan explained how he began Domino’s Pizza and how meeting Pope St. John Paul II for the first time inspired his vision for Legatus. Although he has been instrumental in starting many ministries, Mr. Monaghan said he believes Legatus has the greatest potential to change the world through influential and active leaders loyal to their Catholic faith.

“I share Tom Monaghan’s love for Legatus,” said Mark Matia, who moderated the fireside chat. “It’s pretty obvious our culture is hostile to Christianity, so I think it’s important that Catholics unite to create a kind of oasis. It’s a respite for my wife and me to be with people with a love for the Church, and who are successful people to boot.” David Palmer had the opportunity to drive Mr. Monaghan from St. Brendon Church to the dinner reception. “It was so nice to meet him,” he said. “He’s down to earth and very quick-witted. We connected on different levels, such as we both like to play ping-pong. It was nice to hear stories from someone who has achieved so much.”

Palmer credits his own commitment to Legatus with the realization of a need to get back to the basics of faith and integrity in the world. “It’s about leading by example and carrying what we learn into the workplace and our families,” he said. “My wife and I are thrilled to be a part of this.”

Patti Armstrong is a Legatus magazine contributing writer.

Understanding God’s special mission for those with influence

Father John Riccardo, 54, a priest of the Archdiocese of Detroit, will be a featured speaker at the 2020 Legatus East Summit.

Father Riccardo is the executive director of ACTS XXIX, a nonprofit he helped to form that is aimed at revitalizing parish life and helping pastors and their teams to reclaim their identity as missionary disciples. Father Riccardo recently spoke with Legatus magazine.

Without giving too much away, what are you going to be talking about at the Summit?

What I want to try to do is in the midst of the confusion that’s going on in the world we’re living in — and in the Church and the country — is to pull back from the weeds and to get clear once again on the big picture. And the big picture in my mind is to make sure we understand God’s plan for the world and our mission in it, most especially the mission that has been entrusted to people like those who belong to Legatus.

How would you describe that mission?

The mission is two-fold. For all of us, the mission is to understand that the work that happened on Easter Sunday was the work of the re-creation of the universe. What you and I are supposed to be doing right now is letting the Lord use us as instruments in his hands to continue to foster that work of re-creation in every sphere of life. For those who belong to Legatus, it’s that and then some. The line that comes to mind is the line in the book of Esther when Esther’s uncle says to her, “Who knows whether or not God has raised you up for such a time as this.” There’s an especially weighty task given to those who have influence, and I’m going to be talking about that, too.

What have been your impressions of Legatus?

I’ve spoken at Legatus meetings off and on ever since it started. The Legates are tremendous men and women with a real passion for the Gospel, and an eagerness to understand what God is asking them to do in these crazy times in which we live.

What did you do before entering seminary?

I worked in the auto industry. My vocation story is complicated. I never had an inkling to become a priest, but I had an encounter with Jesus that I could never deny. I went from being in a place of not going to church – even though I prayed – to Jesus inviting me to be a priest, which is something I had never genuinely considered in my life.

What was that encounter with Jesus like?

I was a typical early-to-mid-20s individual who was restless, trying to find something truly meaningful to do in my life, and wasn’t able to find that in the world. I was on my way back to grad school to get another degree to open another door, which I didn’t really care about because I didn’t want money, I wanted meaning. One day out of nowhere as I was praying, I felt like the Lord invited me to live single and to do it as a priest. And the moment He seriously asked me to do that, I knew that’s what I was looking for.

What is the mission of ACTS XXIX?

ACTS XXIX is a nonprofit we founded last year that does work with pastors and parishes across the country to bring about transformation and to help them reclaim their missionary identity. We feel the Lord has given us something unique to share with a segment of pastors and parishes around the country. It’s about priestly renewal, working with pastors and their teams to get healthy and then to get clarity on God’s plan for the world, and then to get out there and begin to discern the blueprint that He has for every parish.

Do you have any hobbies?

My passion outside of Jesus is golf, reading, and friends, not in that order.

Accessing the miracle of regenerative medicine

Regenerative medicine and unlocking stem cell biology will open many doors toward treating patients with orthopedic problems (and hopefully, one day, help patients avoid invasive surgeries). Philanthropy is pivotal in helping fund some of the important projects that sometimes cannot be funded through the NIH or other sources.

As a surgeon and a scientist, I see the field of regenerative medicine as extremely exciting because we are on the cusp of understanding stem cell biology. We are getting a window into how Mother Nature regenerates. It’s exciting because we have possibly unlocked certain mysteries of how cells differentiate into specific types of tissue. And once we understand it better—through basic hard work and science—we can steer those cells to do what we want them to do, which will help people avoid complicated and painful surgeries.

In orthopedic surgery we deal with things like broken body parts, muscle defects, spinal issues, bone fractures. Much of what we do is reconstructive surgery. If you tear your ACL, we can replace the torn ligament with a piece of tendon from another part of the knee. If you have spinal stenosis, we can do a spinal fusion. If your hips or knees are terribly arthritic, we can replace them. This is the current convention, and it gives many people tremendous relief from pain and suffering. But the next frontier should be not reconstruction, but regeneration. With the right amount of research, we will be able to regenerate cartilage, bones, tendons, muscle.

The field of regenerative medicine is evolving, and many institutions are looking at it, including Brigham. We aim to be one of the innovators and leaders in this field. Within our department’s vision is to launch a premier center for regenerative medicine, and we are in the process of recruiting a new director to spearhead the program.

Philanthropy is enormously helpful in these massive endeavors. Researchers are constantly endeavoring to get grants through the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which is our main vehicle for funding. But only about 10-15 percent of grants submitted actually get funded. Philanthropy is a way to bridge the gap so that scientists can do their research without having to constantly watch grant funding, having to let people go, and interrupting their studies.

DR. JAMES KANG, chairman of the department of orthopedic surgery at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) in Boston, specializes in spinal surgery. As a surgeon/clinician/scientist, he is an internationally recognized leader in intervertebral disc degeneration research, having done pioneering work in the biology and molecular mechanisms of disc degeneration, as well as devising novel therapeutic interventions using stem cells and gene therapy.

St. Francis De Sales (1567-1622)

Feast Day: January 24
Canonization: April 19, 1665
Patron Of Journalists, Teachers, The Deaf, Catholic Press, Catholic Writers

Centuries before Vatican II’s ‘universal call to holiness,’ St. Francis de Sales called it ‘heresy’ to say religious devotion was incompatible with the layman’s life of a soldier, tradesman, prince, or married woman.

“It has happened that many have lost perfection in the desert who had preserved it in the world,” he wrote in his 1609 spiritual classic The Introduction to the Devout Life.

Francis was born in 1567 to a noble family in the Kingdom of Savoy, near Geneva, Switzerland. His father envisioned a legal career for him, but Francis felt called to the Church. His father finally consented upon Francis’ heartfelt persuasiveness. He was thus ordained a priest, and later as bishop, shepherded the Diocese of Geneva.

He untiringly evangelized the Calvinist stronghold in Geneva. By preaching and distributing inspiring pamphlets on true Catholic teaching – the first known use of tracts for evangelization – it is believed the gentle-mannered Francis brought some 50,000 people back to the Catholic Church. In 1877, Pope Pius IX declared him a Doctor of the Church.

Marketing God: Inspired Strategies for Building the Kingdom

Donna Heckler
OSV Books, 128 pages

How is evangelization like marketing? You have a message, you want to get people’s attention, and you want them to respond by buying in to the message. Donna Heckler applies her broad experience in corporate marketing to the Catholic Church in this eye-opening book by offering successful business strategies to help the Church at every level do what it is called to do – attract people to the Gospel message and save souls in the process. In the end, it’s still a matter of individuals responding to grace, but there’s nothing like a good marketing plan to give the Holy Spirit something to work with.

Order: Amazon 

Everything old can be new again

Forty-six years ago, Peter Allen released the song “Everything Old Is New Again” which provides a commentary on the entertainment business, which has a way of reinventing and recycling popular things from the past. We have seen this many times with “reboots” of old TV shows, remakes of classic films, or songs we know we have heard before. In today’s dominating consumer culture, everyone from retailers to entertainers looks for ways to get people to buy their product, even when it is something we had in the past.

What if, however, there was another way of looking at this phrase, “Everything old is new again?” What if we viewed it through the lens of our faith and the Death and Resurrection of Christ? This would bring an entirely new meaning to the same words. In the book of Revelation, John, when describing his vision, says, “He who was seated on the throne said, ‘behold, I make all things new’” (Rev. 21:5). Isn’t Christ’s promise, through the economy of salvation as the new Adam, to make all things new again as they were, before the fall of man in the Garden of Eden? It is an essential part of our faith to believe that everything old will one day be new again.

As we begin this new year, I have a challenge for you. Whether it is your commitment to your faith that may have begun to become lukewarm, your relationship to your spouse, siblings, children, or friends, or your determination to be an active instrument of God’s love in this world by your words and actions – take what is old and make it new again. You can think of yourself as going “green” not by looking for a new path in 2020, but instead recycling and reinventing the one from 2019, this time correcting course at the points you failed to properly navigate before.

Peter Allen also has another great line in his song which says, “Don’t throw your past away, you may need it some rainy day.” We all carry our past with us and can only move forward when we embrace it, learn from it, repent for it, and change our ways. St. Paul never ran away from his past and often reminds us that he once was Saul, a great sinner.

The recipe I have provided embodies two of the themes I have laid out here. Brussels sprouts were often something we rejected as children, so I invite you to try them again but in a new way. You will find that our recipe calls for holding onto the used oil from the bacon which you otherwise would throw away, in order to use it again and bring new life to the Brussels sprouts. Don’t throw your past away; you may need it some rainy day… “Dreams do come true my friend, when everything old is new again!”

MONSIGNOR JAMIE GIGANTIELLO is the vicar for development of the Diocese of Brooklyn and host of the NET TV cooking show Breaking Bread ( and pastor of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel – Annunciation Parish, Brooklyn.

Apple Cider Vinegar Brussel Sprouts

This is a fantastic, simple side dish that goes great with a hearty winter meal! With a little sweet bacon and apple cider vinegar, it’s also a great way to get kids to eat their vegetables!


2 Tsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 package bacon, diced
½ Lb. baby Brussels sprouts – cleaned and boiled for 8-10 minutes
3 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1/2 Tsp. crushed red pepper
1 Tsp. black pepper
Sea Salt

Place some olive oil in a pan, followed by the diced bacon, on medium to high heat. Cook the bacon until crispy.

Cut the Brussels sprouts in half.

When the bacon is crispy, remove the bacon and place it in a bowl, but leave the melted fat in the pan. Be sure to remove all the bacon bits or they will burn.

Put the Brussels sprouts in the pan on high flame to make the sprouts become crispy on the outside. Let them cook for 7-10 minutes.

Return the bacon to the pan and mix well.

Add sea salt, apple cider vinegar, crushed red pepper, and a little fresh ground black pepper.

Pour the sprouts and bacon into a nice dish, serve while hot, and enjoy!

North Georgia chaplain had stunning call to religious life


Father Lino Otero, 52, a priest of the Legionaries of Christ, is the new chaplain of Legatus’ North Georgia Chapter, which chartered in late November.

Father Otero, a native of Nicaragua, was 14 when his family immigrated to Miami. A few years later, an intense religious experience led him to discern a priestly vocation. That path would ultimately lead him to join the Legionaries of Christ in 1990, and ordination in 2001.

In an interview with Legatus magazine, Father Otero shared his vocation story, his impressions of Legatus, and the reforms that the Legionaries of Christ has undergone in the years since revelations came to light that the congregation’s late founder, Father Marcial Maciel Degollado, led a double life and sexually abused boys and young men.

How did you become a Legatus chaplain?

It was mostly because of the recommendations from some of the founding members of the chapter. They invited me, and I started coming to meetings, and they came to like me. That’s pretty much how it happened.

What have been your impressions of Legatus?

I’ve been very impressed by the maturity of the members. These are people who take their faith very seriously. They’re very intent in raising their families in the Catholic faith. They’re people who are very concerned about the deChristianization of society, and they have the desire to do something about it.

When did you discern you had a vocation to the priesthood?

I never thought of myself as a priest growing up. On the contrary, becoming a priest was the last thing I thought I would do. I was very much opposed to the idea because I wanted to have a family of my own. When I was 17, I was invited, providentially, to attend a retreat at a Trappist monastery outside of Atlanta. It was on the third day of the retreat that I had the most enlightening experience in my entire life. It was a split second of an immense shower, an inundation of God’s love, that felt like a little piece of Heaven in my soul. After that, I could not imagine doing anything in my life but to dedicate my life to God.

How did you end up joining the Legionaries of Christ?

It was during my time in the diocesan seminary that I realized the experience that I had felt in that monastery corresponded more to the calling of a religious life with vows. So the question was, if God was calling to me religious life and not the diocesan priesthood, then where? I was discerning with a very holy diocesan priest who had been a teacher of mine at the seminary. Among the options that I presented to him, he recommended the Legionaries of Christ.

Do you feel you made the right decision?

Right from the very beginning. I felt everything that I received in my formation was a blessing. And like many of my companions, we suffered the shock of the revelations of our founder. But eventually, even that we grew to see as a blessing since it has given us the opportunity to be more humble, and to appreciate things much more. In my own life, I’ve been able to detach myself from viewpoints and perspectives that were too narrow. I participated in the renewal and reform of the congregation, which entailed a reconfiguration of the inner culture of how we live our lives, our spirituality, and our mission.

How would you describe the health of the Legionaries today?

I would say it’s better than ever. Because even though, in the old days, many young men entered and persevered because of the high ideals that the founder presented, eventually, as one grew older, a stifling air could be perceived in many. So now, all of that is gone. I think our perseverance rate is much higher because the priests feel that there is greater degree of possibility of self-expression, of more mature friendships and relationships, and a more balanced way of life.

The Divine Plan: John Paul II, Ronald Reagan, and the Dramatic End of the Cold War

Paul Kengor and Robert Orlando
ISI Books, 288 pages

Did the Soviet Union collapse under its own weight? No way, say the authors of The Divine Plan. It wouldn’t have happened without the vision and collaboration of two remarkable world leaders, Pope John Paul II and President Ronald Reagan. Each survived assassination attempts in the spring of 1981, and each came away recognizing their survival had a divine purpose – the annihilation of atheistic Communism, the cause of religious and political oppression, human-rights violations, and even death for hundreds of millions of people. Read this exhaustively researched work if you want to learn how the Cold War really ended.

Order: Amazon 

The power of encouragement

Sometimes all we need is the encouragement of just one person … for someone else to believe in us, to give us the confidence and motivation to believe in ourselves.

As many of you know, my dad died when I was four years old, and my mother was not in a

Tom Monaghan

position to raise my younger brother and me. So after living with a couple of different foster families, when I was in the first grade we were sent to St. Joseph’s Home for Boys, a Catholic orphanage run by the Felician sisters in Jackson, Michigan. I spent six and a half years in the orphanage. While I did not feel like I belonged there and resented much of what I had to endure, I am forever grateful for receiving a firm foundation in my Catholic faith… as well as the love and encouragement of Sister Berarda.

The first two grades of school were taught in the orphanage, and my schooling there began on a high note, thanks to the inspiration of a gentle, loving teacher, Sister Berarda. She in many ways became my surrogate mother, and I flourished under her love and care. She always encouraged me, even when my ideas seemed farfetched. I remember telling the class that when I grew up I wanted to be a priest, an architect, and shortstop for the Detroit Tigers. The other kids all laughed and said that was impossible, and that I could not do all three. Sister Berarda simply quieted them down and said, “Well, I don’t think it’s ever been done before, Tommy, but if you want to do it, there’s no reason you can’t.” That was inspiring to me and gave me confidence to believe in myself.

I think we can all look back over our lives, and point to someone specifically (or maybe to several people) who believed in us… and their encouragement and faith in us helped us to rise above a specific challenge or get through a particularly challenging time. This may have been a parent, grandparent, teacher, coach, or mentor in the business world. The important thing is that they expressed to us, through their words of encouragement, that they believed in us and their encouragement propelled us forward and gave us confidence to believe in ourselves or in some cases, we kept going because we did not want to let that person down.

As we begin this new year, let me challenge you to be that source of encouragement to people in your life. Due to your success in business, you have a platform that in many ways amplifies your influence. I can assure you that if you speak words of encouragement to those around you, it will bear much fruit.

TOM MONAGHAN is Legatus’ founder, chairman and CEO