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.
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.