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Legatus Magazine

Sabrina Arena Ferrisi | author
Mar 01, 2017
Filed under Featured

Kingdom builders

Legatus women come from different backgrounds and life experiences. Yet within that diversity, they are using their talents to increase the kingdom of God. Some do it within the business world, non-profit organizations, the media, and women’s ministries.

The one common denominator is that they have all responded to a personal call.

Catholic media maven

When Teresa Tomeo came back to the Catholic Church, she had to make a difficult decision: How would she use her journalistic talents? She had worked in secular TV and radio for 20 years, and the secularism she had been immersed in drew her away from the Church. However, a personal crisis turned Tomeo back to the faith she had set aside.

“My husband and I came very close to divorcing,” she explained. “Then he went to a non-denominational bible study.”

Everything changed after that.

The bible study brought Tomeo’s husband Dominick Pastore (now a deacon of the Archdiocese of Detroit) back to Catholicism. That, in turn, spurred Tomeo to study her childhood faith again. Once she returned to the Church, Tomeo said she knew she couldn’t continue her secular media career.

“I felt like a fish out of water, so I walked away in the year 2000,” she explained. “I knew God did not want me there.”

Teresa Tomeo interviews Alveda King at the 2013 March for Life

Tomeo soon began a new career as an author, Catholic motivational speaker, radio talk-show host (Catholic Connection on Ave Maria Radio for the past 15 years), and television host (EWTN’s The Catholic View for Women for the past six years). She also leads Catholic pilgrimages to the Holy Land and Europe, among other places.

As a member of Legatus’ Detroit Northeast Chapter, Tomeo encourages other Legates in their faith. She’s a frequent speaker at Legatus chapters across the country and has emceed a Legatus Summit.

Her latest book, Beyond Me, My Selfie and I: Finding Real Happiness in a Self-Absorbed World, looks at social media and how it causes people to turn inward. Her next book — Beyond Sunday — which will be published in May, is about bringing faith into everyday life.

With regard to journalism, Tomeo believes communication skills are vital to evangelization.

“I would never discourage anyone who wanted to stay in the secular media,” she said. “But if you aren’t strong in your faith, be careful. It’s not easy. We need to continue to engage the culture. We should have good Catholics in all the newsrooms in this country with a good background in ethics. The greater your experience in the secular media, the better you will be in Catholic media.”

When God has other plans

Marilyn Quirk was an Episcopalian when she went to Louisiana State University. Her goal was to study nursing so she could become a medical missionary.

But God had other plans.

Her friends set her up on a blind date with Pete Quirk, who was the first Catholic she had ever dated. When the relationship became serious, she had to discern what God was calling her to: marriage or missionary work?

Archbishop Gregory Aymond presents the St. John Paul II Award to Marilyn Quirk on Dec. 1, 2016, at the annual dinner of The Catholic Foundation of the Archdiocese of New Orleans.

“I met the future Bishop Stanley Ott [leader of the Baton Rouge diocese from 1983-1992] while I was at LSU,” Quirk explained. “He said that marriage was a vocation, and he had me go through the spiritual exercises of St. Ignatius Loyola to determine God’s call for me.”

She realized that God was calling her to marriage — and the Catholic Church.

After her conversion, Quirk joined the Catholic Charismatic movement. Through years of participating in women’s prayer groups and studying the documents of the Second Vatican Council, Quirk felt called to start a new kind of group for Catholic women who had received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit.

In 1981, she founded a group called Magnificat, which has grown to over 109 chapters in 12 countries. The group has touched the lives of thousands of women. Magnificat chapters meet four times a year while sharing a meal. At the meeting, a woman gives her personal testimony.

“Each testimony is so different,” she said. “It touches women where they are. It has been very exciting to see the growth of Magnificat. Women are incredibly joyful to be a part of sharing the Gospel.”

Quirk is the mother of six and grandmother of 13. In 2000, she received the Pontifical Award Pro Ecclesia and Pontifice. Recently, the Archdiocese of New Orleans honored her with the Pope St. John Paul II Award, which is given to extraordinary Catholic lay people.

Marilyn and her husband Pete are founding members of Legatus’ New Orleans Chapter, which chartered in 2000. Through the years, they have served on the chapter’s board in various capacities.

Business savvy

Sharon Kucia began her career after college doing consulting work for nonprofits, specializing in the philanthropy and development field.

In 2001, she randomly answered an ad for a faithbased consulting firm in Dallas.

“The consultant group was mostly Protestant, but they wanted a Catholic group,” said Kucia. This led her on the road to using her business skills to help build the Catholic Church.

Legatus founder Tom Monaghan presents Eric and Sharon Kucia with Legatus’ AMBY Award on June 30, 2016, for founding the Charlotte Chapter of Legatus

Kucia joined Legatus’ Savannah Chapter in 2013 and helped found the Charlotte Chapter in 2016, where she served as founding president.

Today, Kucia works for another consulting firm — The Pelican Group — which only works with Catholic organizations. She serves as executive vice president and president of the company’s Mission Advancement Services division.

“The Pelican Group is a specialty services firm dedicated to helping Catholic organizations optimize the acquisition and stewardship of their financial resources,” she explained. “The Mission Advancement Services division is responsible for conducting capital campaigns and major gift initiatives — as well as providing development counsel for dioceses, schools, parishes, and other Catholic organizations. Typically, with any client we help solve a problem, not necessarily sell a service.

“For some groups, we just help them with fundraising. With others, we help them manage their funds. We help dioceses restructure their school systems. With a lot of dioceses, we help them with long-term solutions.”

For example, Kucia recently worked with an archdiocese to raise $123 million for various projects.

“They wanted to raise money primarily for parishes and education,” she explained. “They were in the middle of closing and merging parishes.

Kucia said she loves that she is able to use her business skills to help build the Church.

“All of our people have managerial and development experience — and they have a heart for the Church,” she said. “Our people bring the knowledge and skill set that typically complement the existing staff of the organization. I am truly blessed to work with the Church. Every day we start our meetings with prayer. I really can integrate my faith and my work.”

SABRINA ARENA FERRISI is Legatus magazine’s senior staff writer.

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