Another sold-out Summit was prized by 400+ attendees this year, at southern California’s exclusive oceanfront Monarch Beach Resort in Dana Point.
With a customary kickoff on Thursday January 24, the Legatus Golf Tournament was enjoyed on the spectacular seaside Monarch Beach Links. Legates also had daylong options for relaxing at the resort’s spa retreat, enjoying warm sun at the pool, or walking the rolling trails around the resort and to the beach. Daily Mass, Confession, Adoration, rosary, and Benediction were likewise
Hosted by the four Orange County chapters – Orange Canyons, Orange Coast, Orange County, and San Juan Capistrano – the Summit was themed for the transcendentals of the Catholic faith: beauty, goodness, and truth. Special chapter-hosted events included an evening excursion/Mass at San Juan Capistrano Basilica and Mission, themed dinners including an outdoor clambake and lawn concert, and a finale-night formal
At a time when faithful Catholics are navigating unprecedented ‘rough seas’ in society and particularly in the Church, the Summit affirmed the importance of remaining in the ‘Barque of Peter,’ staying the course of the true faith, and living it
Ben Shapiro rocks opening night
Ben Shapiro’s opening night keynote launched the three-day, 13-speaker lineup. As he does so often in media appearances and live exchanges, the wildly popular conservative podcaster, radio host, and pundit fired up Legates’ appreciation for America’s successful Judeo Christian values – and today’s chief threats to them.
“The recent Covington debacle was really about the media’s desire to ignore the March for Life, and to castigate religious schools as evil,” he said, prompting thunderous applause. “We live in an age of the ‘crisis of me,” he said, adding that a contingent of Americans simply seek to destroy the roots of their civilization. “So they find meaning in attacks and anger.”
His knack for crafting affirmative arguments for religious truth – based on the irrefutable reality of natural law that even nonbelievers cannot oppose – was evident in his straightforward advice. “We have to defeat the media on their own terms,” he said. “And though we should defend the good names of our clergy, when appropriate, we should likewise call out sin where it obviously exists, and clean our own [faith] houses first.”
Catholic leadership demands authenticity
Catholic Leadership Institute’s CEO, Dan Cellucci, spoke on the paradox of acknowledging the Church’s current crisis without – at the same time – unwittingly betraying Her mission and adding to scandal.
“I admit, the last six months have been very difficult for me,” he said, given his position at the helm of the Catholic Leadership Institute, which trains and advises parishes and priests in effective evangelization. “But humiliation draws us closer to God,” he said.
“I have a neighbor who actually cannot believe that I do this as a full-time professional job,” he said, to delighted audience laughter. Noting that the neighbor-family had lapsed in their faith, and yet they’d continued to ask him questions and make comments, they all turned a corner without realizing it.
“Out of the blue, his wife asked us if they could come to Mass with us,” Cellucci said. “It just goes to show, like sports figures who wear jerseys to identify being on a team, other people need to see what’s real to us – who we are, where we stand.”
To be truly genuine for others, Cellucci advised: sharing the faith; speaking truth with love; succession planning (mentoring); supporting courageous leaders and prelates; and staying close to the Lord through the Church.
Spiritual muscle fortifies faith fitness
Super Bowl champion Matt Birk, longtime offensive lineman with the Minnesota Vikings and Baltimore Ravens, shared what it means to succeed at the highest level – in faith adherence, as in sports. He emphasized how habitual and dedicated Catholic faith practice – Mass, confession, Adoration, rosary, and prayer – trains a person’s spiritual muscle to be ready for stress and onslaught.
Today, CEO of Matt Birk and Company and father of eight, he drew the parallel between habit-forming training for NFL-level play, and building a fit faith-foundation that can withstand ravages of scandals and storms.
“There’s a lot expected of Catholics,” Birk said, “and a majority of our priests are great priests!” Listeners erupted in clapping and applause. “But … there are not enough priests to pull us out of this crisis in the Church – we the laity have to do it.”
“The Church itself – in all its faith practices – hasn’t changed. Fundamentals never change,” he said. “What changes is the attention we pay to them.”
Other compelling sessions featured:
- Steve Ray, on the beauty and truth of the 5th gospel (the Holy Land);
- Rita Cosby, on her WWII father as a ‘quiet hero’– and on the beauty of forgiveness;
- Dr. Elizabeth Lev, on the beauty of sacred art in an age of crisis;
- Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz, on clergy sexual abuse and the Church’s response;
- Sr. Stella Karalekas, on the dazzling value of a soul;
- Archbishop Paul Sayah, on peaceful interreligious dialogue in Lebanon;
- Fr. Larry Richards, on striving to be a saint;
- Lila Rose, on transforming the culture of life;
- Premier of the new film Unplanned;
- Patrick Wayne, on life and conversion of his father, actor John Wayne.
Newly named 2018 National President of the Year, Steve Cameron (San Juan Capistrano Chapter, and featured in this issue’s “Five Minutes” interview on page 48), also won the 2018 Ace of the Year Award for recruitment of the most new members in his Chapter last year.
The closing vigil Mass was celebrated by Archbishop Jose Gomez, of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Next year, Legatus will return to offering two Summits – Summit East in Naples, FL, January 23-25, 2020; and Summit West in Colorado Springs, CO, September 17-19, 2020.
CHRISTINE VALENTINE-OWSIK is Legatus magazine’s editor.