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Legatus Magazine

Cover Story
Christine Valentine-Owsik | author
Oct 01, 2019
Filed under Featured

Kansas City Connection Two-City Charter Heightens ‘Legatus Effect’ In The Heartland

In an unprecedented chartering, Legatus’ new Kansas City Chapter is the first to encompass two adjacent dioceses of the same name (Kansas City, MO; and Kansas City, KS). And the eve of the Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary (August 14) provided the perfect setting.

The special Mass and induction of the founding members was presided by both dioceses’ bishops, with over 50 in attendance at Our Lady of Good Counsel Catholic Church in Kansas City, MO. Bishop James V. Johnston (Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, MO) offered Mass, and Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann (The Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas)) delivered a stirring homily.

Naumann reminded the new Chapter-congregation that “it is the role and goal of every Christian to do the will of Christ – to give our own fiat [as Mary did].” He encouraged Legatus members to go to Mary for prudence in making hard decisions, and to “invoke her protection in the fierce battle for the soul of our nation.”

After Mass at twilight, Bishop Johnston inducted the 22 new Kansas City Chapter members; and Archbishop Naumann commissioned the Chapter officers, blessing them all. Then Legatus founder Tom Monaghan warmly greeted every new member-couple, each memorialized with an individual keepsake photo. The Chapter’s two chaplains, Fr. Ken Riley and Monsignor Stuart Swetland, along with the parish pastor, Fr. Adam Johnson and associate pastor, Fr. Andrew Mattingly, were also present.

Then everyone commenced for the grand celebratory dinner at Mission Hills Country Club.


 The Chapter began five years ago with just two interested members. But their contagious example and enthusiasm enticed many more. Even at the chartering celebration, two attending guests inquired about joining.

The Chapter’s fledgling support began originally in spring 2014 when then regional director, Stephen Henley, and former executive director, John Hunt, met with Archbishop Naumann and Bishop Robert Finn (formerly of the Diocese of Kansas CitySt. Joseph, MO), and received their wholehearted support to launch. Though the Chapter ebbed and flowed for several years, in 2016 with Legatus regional director transitions and a new chapter starter program, ‘Chapter founder’ Nelson Newcomer accelerated new-member momentum to the chartering milestone.

“Nelson and his wife Marcia were very pivotal,” says Chapter president, Bill Kirk, a partner at Rerum Novarum Capital. “Elizabeth and I had been Legatus members while I worked at Ave Maria University as VP/General Counsel in southwest Florida,” Kirk says. “When we moved to Kansas City and met Nelson, he encouraged me to take on the role of president in getting this new chapter going, and I was glad to do it. I really believe in Tom Monaghan’s life goal, and have adopted it as my own: to get to heaven and bring as many souls along with me as possible!”

“With Nelson and Marcia Newcomer’s ‘spark’ for rallying membership through the breadth and depth of relationships they have, it was truly fitting for them to be awarded the Founder’s Award,” says Central Region director Ken Darnell. But Nelson only wanted to hold an interim leadership role, in order to invite younger leadership to advance the Chapter forward. “And so Bill Kirk’s transition into the presidency was really seamless, given his valuable experience with the Naples, FL Chapter.”


 “What drew us to Legatus at first was the reverent celebration of Mass, the opportunity for Confession, and the quality and faithfulness of the monthly speakers,” says Kirk. “And because we still have young kids at home, we’re grateful to take time alone for those refreshing evenings of faith.” The Kirks were especially honored to have their young sons, Benedict and William, Jr., assist as altar servers during the chartering Mass.

The celebration dinner was not to be outdone. After a lively cocktail reception, members enjoyed a luscious entrée choice of sliced medallions of beef tenderloin with garlic shrimp; or grilled salmon and petite filet with lemon butter sauce. Dessert was a fitting finale of tiramisu topped with chocolate anglaise sauce.


In his customary after-dinner ‘fireside chat’ with new members, Mr. Monaghan described the extraordinary opportunities he’d had meeting several popes, especially Pope St. John Paul II – and how it shaped his vision for Legatus.

Of the many ministries in which Mr. Monaghan has been involved, he still sees Legatus as having the greatest potential to change the world – as members have significant influence nationally and internationally, with so many people in various realms.

CHRISTINE VALENTINE-OWSIK is Legatus magazine’s editor.


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