Balm of Faith
The Czachorowskis: “Christ’s face is visible throughout our day”
The inspiration he receives through Legatus is about more than business, according to him, but about family too — both his and those of his employees. “At times, we’ve had to make the right choice as opposed to the best business decision for making the most money,” he said. “That is how we want to run our business, to make decisions for them as well as everyone around us.”
David is partner with his father Bill, who began Zack Excavating Inc., a heavy excavation company. He and his wife Aimee, an attorney, joined Legatus in 2016 and his dad and mom, Mary Ann, a pharmacist, followed last year.
Bill and Mary Ann also have a hobby farm that includes 22 Angus cattle. Mary Ann raises chickens and donates eggs for their parish’s twicemonthly breakfast and also to a homeless shelter.
They have many obligations to keep them busy but said that Legatus adds to their lives. Bill said that he and Mary Ann often avoid socializing through business but Legatus is different. “I am glad to have the connection of faith on this level,” Bill said. “Legatus reminds me that I have a responsibility to carry God’s message into the work place.”
David and Aimee just welcomed their fourth child on Easter Sunday and their eldest is only nine. “Legatus forces us to get a babysitter to go out,” David said. “It’s a good way to step back and reflect on all that we’ve been blessed with.” He said that the main theme he and Aimee have taken from Legatus is that their daily work is not separate from the Church. “The Holy Spirit does not just speak to us on Sundays,” he said. “Christ’s face is visible throughout our day.”
The Michalaks: “Don’t get too busy for spiritual things”
Penny and Mike Michalak were charter members when the Louisville, Kentucky Chapter chartered last year. During 31 years of marriage, they founded a family business named MiPenico, in which they own 15 Little Caesar’s Pizza restaurants with approximately 400 employees. They are the parents of 16 children, 10 of them adopted. Four of the children have Down syndrome which inspired them to start a private accredited, Catholic school: Immaculata Classical Academy, which has an enrollment of 200 and was granted Catholic status by their bishop in 2016.
Mike and Penny also began the charity, AngelsInDisguise.net which celebrates the gift of Down syndrome and has helped with adoptions of 70 children. And, they just became grandparents to identical twins. Yet, Mike and Penny make time for Legatus.
“God has been involved in our business from the beginning,” Penny explained. “Legatus was a natural connection.” She said she was especially moved by Tom Monaghan’s message not to get too busy for the spiritual things and to say ‘yes’ to whatever God is calling one to do.
Legatus’ passionate pro-life stance is especially close to Mike and Penny’s heart, given the high rate of abortion for babies with Down syndrome. When Mike’s Uncle Ray was born, one of 14 children, his parents were told to put him in an institution. Instead, he stayed home and was a beloved member of the family. The family considered him so special that when Mike and Penny’s sixth biological child Elena (child #9) was born with Down syndrome in 2008, their 10-year-old son Simon (child #3) considered the 1 in 100 odds for his 41-year old mother and announced: “So we hit the jackpot!” Their other three children with Down syndrome were adopted from Poland.
Mike said he was impressed when Tom Monaghan visited their chapter and was asked what he wanted them to do. “He said he wasn’t going to tell us what to do, except to live our life in grace and stay close to the sacraments, then God would let us know.”
The Browns: “We have to transmit our Catholic faith …a gift to us and to the world”
Jacqueline Brown and her husband Daniel, the parents of two boys from China, joined the Jacksonville, Florida Chapter last year. Daniel is owner and COO of Miller Electric Company based in Jacksonville with offices throughout the country. Jacqueline, a psychologist, has also been a featured speaker for the Portland Chapter. From 2010 to 2017 she worked with Delores Barr Weaver Policy Center serving women and girls who have experienced trauma and entanglement with the criminal and juvenile justice systems.
According to her, Legate families have many blessings and advantages missing in families she once served. It was Legatus’s call to integrate the Catholic faith into the secular world that attracted her and Daniel.
“There is so much darkness in the world,” she explained. “The numbers are staggering; 1 in 3 girls suffer sexual abuse before adulthood and 1 in 6 of boys.” Although she’s seen the depth of darkness, Jaqueline said that we have a faith that gives us hope. “Jesus conquered death, but we have to accept that evil exists,” she said. “If we transmit nothing else, we have to transmit our Catholic faith because it is such a gift to us and to the world.”
Jacqueline could not push religion on clients, so she would let them lead. If they mentioned God or prayer, she used that to ask their beliefs and help them identify good values. Jacqueline felt called to leave that work last year and is now working on the fourth book in her The Light series – dramatic fiction with Catholic values. The audio books are being produced by the daughter of Ann Fitzgibbon, a Legate in Portland Oregon.
The Greens: “Even our children want to hear about the [Legatus] speaker when we get home”
Paul and Sherry Green were founding members in 2014 of the DuPage County, Illinois Chapter where Paul is the chapter treasurer and a senior partner at Ernst & Young. They have five children, having just adopted a three-year old boy with Down syndrome from China this past March.
Among their other four children, three are in high school, and one is a college freshman. The entire family traveled to China to experience the adoption process together, documenting it in a blog at HowieGoesGreen.weebly.com.
“My wife initially went on a trip to China with our adoption agency as an advocacy trip,” Paul explained. “While she as at the orphanage, she heard about a little guy who was left at a church in Shanghai. Sherry wanted to meet the boy. ‘That’s him you are playing with,’ she was told.”
It was clear from the start, according to Paul, that Howie was meant for them. “He is the most loving, happy little guy,” Paul said. “Last night, we had work colleagues over for dinner. My daughter brought him to meet everyone and he just opened his arms to them.”
Sherry credits Legatus with helping her and Paul schedule quality time together. “We’ve never been good about having date nights,” she said. “At the meetings, we always have good conversations and even our children want to hear about the speaker when we get home.”
Sherry also noted that she and Paul appreciate spending time with like-minded people. “It’s a safe place,” she said. “We have so much in common and can talk about things like our faith and abortion. Even in my family and among Catholics we can’t always do that.”
“Legatus has emboldened me to bring my faith to work,” Paul said. For example, a young lady at work had shared with him that she was considering living with her boyfriend even though she was Catholic. Paul sent up a prayer and then expressed his own views on the beauty and importance of marriage. Three weeks later the women thanked Paul and let him know she wasn’t going to move in. Three months later they were engaged and got married in the Church.
“I would not have done that before I belonged to Legatus,” Paul said. “We went to the national conference and there was a focus on being ambassadors. The speakers were so amazing and inspiring, sharing what they have done with their faith.” He said it gave him the confidence to engage with people about his faith.
“Legatus means ‘ambassador’ and the name is appropriate for what we are called to do,” he said. “We are to step back and think about bringing our faith into the world which needs it so much. The Lord gives us those opportunities and when we take advantage of them, it builds on itself and we are inspired to share our faith even more.”
PATTI MAGUIRE ARMSTRONG is a Legatus magazine contributing writer.