Newest Florida chapter galvanizes faith-energy for founding members
A burgeoning Florida chapter that got derailed during the financial crisis of 2008 just celebrated its first holiday season as a new “ambassador village” of Legatus.
The Jupiter/Palm Beach Chapter chartered officially on the evening of December 11, with 22 founding members, beginning with praying the rosary, Confession, and Mass celebrated by chapter chaplain Fr. Scott Adams at St. Ann Catholic Church in West Palm Beach. The long-anticipated chartering ceremony immediately followed, as Legatus founder and chairman Tom Monaghan personally welcomed each new member.
A celebratory reception and dinner commenced at the world-renowned Mar-A-Lago Club in Palm Beach. During the lively cocktail and hors d’oeuvres hour, members and guests delighted in music by a guest pianist in the Club’s elegant White and Gold Ballroom.
After dinner, the chapter’s founding president, Frank Maurno, conducted a congenial ‘fireside chat’ interview with Mr. Monaghan. The inspiring question-and-answer session delved into the Legatus founder’s life-snapshots – such as how Mr. Monaghan’s Catholic faith intensified; his personal interactions with Pope St. John Paul II; his time running Domino’s Pizza then, the Detroit Tigers; and finally his reasons for starting Legatus.
Originally named the Boca Raton/Palm Beach Chapter when it began developing in 2008, the Chapter suffered a membership drop at the onset of the Great Recession – in tandem with Florida’s economic downturn during that time. Maurno and his wife got involved in 2013 and worked with core members to rebuild and re-enliven the chapter. Word spread excitedly once again.
“New members began to come from the north end of our county, so we eventually changed the name and location of start-up meetings.” Many Catholic business leaders want – and seek out – situations where they can interact with like-minded peers. “And so, one of the first things you notice at our meetings is the joy that’s so evident – the room gets very loud, filled with lively chat and laughter,” Maurno says. He admits that he sought out Legatus for the same reason – “I wanted a place where I could share ideas about family and work, but in the context of our faith.” He and his wife Michelle enthusiastically joined Legatus after attending an open house at their parish.
Though Maurno just stepped down in December as chapter president after 18 months in the role, he’ll still be strongly focused on the Chapter and its new-member development.
Southeast Regional Director Ed Trifone also applauds chapter development officer, Karen Saum, with bringing the chartering threshold to recent reality. “She did a terrific job in late 2018 in meeting with several interested couples who ultimately decided to join. Her energy, enthusiasm, and devotion to Legatus ultimately led to the increase in membership, and certainly inspired the Chapter to continue the momentum she started.” Trifone says they’ll boost her efforts by meeting with others who’ve expressed keen interest.
And most members’ engagement with Legatus has a common denominator.
“Legatus gives me strength,” Maurno says. “It is so uplifting to be in a room with folks much like myself who are fighting the same battles, and wrestling with similar issues.”
CHRISTINE VALENTINE-OWSIK is Legatus magazine’s editor.