Tag Archives: Bishop Kevin Rhoades

From zero to 60

Legatus’ Fort Wayne Chapter posts rapid growth and feeds members’ spiritual hunger . . .

Take a brand new Legatus chapter. Add a supportive bishop, a proactive board, and dynamic, faith-filled regular meetings, and what do you get? Extraordinary growth.

Engagement and expansion


Bishop Kevin Rhoades

Chartered in December 2013, the Fort Wayne Chapter received Legatus’ 2014 Angott Award for greatest growth at the Annual Summit in January. (Click here for a related story.) The new chapter was able to add 10 new member couples last year, growing from 41 to 61 members including spouses in a single year. How did they do it? Through a combination of factors.

“We have a very supportive and proactive bishop,” said Diana Parent, membership chair and president of Sperry Van Ness/Parke Group. “Bishop Rhoades is a big fan and supporter of Legatus. He attended multiple meetings in establishing the chapter.”

Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades of the Fort Wayne-South Bend diocese was instrumental in getting the chapter started.


Members of Legatus’ Fort Wayne Chapter gather during for their chartering photo on Dec. 16, 2013.

“I love Legatus and its mission,” he told Legatus magazine. “I love the idea of getting members together monthly for Mass, Confession, and a speaker where they can learn more about their faith and develop their own Christian community to support one another in faith. It’s a great model of serving the spiritual life of Catholic leaders, and I don’t know of anything else like it.”

In addition to the bishop’s support, members point to the pivotal role of the chapter’s board.

“We had a very active board locally and made a commitment that we would network as best we could with people in the community who might have an interest,” said past-president Tom Pentenburg, owner of Spherion Staffing in Fort Wayne. “We spread the word. It really wasn’t a hard sell: there are so many good features of Legatus and we had the backing of Bishop Rhoades.”

The board meets regularly, including a week before each chapter event to review the prospect list and make follow-up calls.

“It was an effort by our entire board,” agreed current chapter president, Deacon James Fitzpatrick, founding chair of Quality Dining, Inc. “With the assistance of our bishop, we put together a list of people who might qualify.”

The board also met for business lunches, working to create a list of about 60 potential members. Individual board members did one-on-one networking, and they asked new members if they knew of anyone else who might qualify.

Nancy Haskell

Nancy Haskell

“I think that personal touch always works,” said Fitzpatrick, who noted that Legatus’ Great Lakes Region director Nancy Haskell was also key in getting the new chapter off the ground.

“She helped identify companies and was like our guide and coach,” said Fitzpatrick. “She helped us follow Legatus’ rules, had good ideas, and was easy to work with.”

Haskell, who oversees 21 chapters in the region, said the chapter did an excellent job reaching out to potential members and having friends introduce them to the chapter. “They also offered good faith-filled evenings that included Mass, Confession, and fellowship,” she said. “They embraced the mission and shared it with others.

“They followed the mission textbook. They implemented it and let the Holy Spirit take over. They offer the sacraments, their chaplain is excellent, and they have a line for Confession! The board is really engaged. The regular board meetings are key for a successful chapter.”

First-class programs

Rather than holding one or two recruiting events throughout the year, the Fort Wayne Chapter brought new members in throughout the year, with as many as eight to 10 new prospects at some meetings.


George Witwer, program chair, accepts the Angott Award for chapter growth from Legatus founder Tom Monaghan at the Legatus Summit in Naples on Jan. 30.

Two of those new members were Steve and Laurie Grashoff. The couple had never heard of Legatus before being invited by Diana Parent and her husband.

“They invited us to a meeting in June 2014 as guests,” explained

Steve Grashoff, president of Peerless Cleaners. “Mass was at our parish, St. Vincent de Paul, and Fr. Leo Patalinghug was the speaker.”

Known as the “cooking priest,” Fr. Patalinghug is the founder of the Grace Before Meals apostolate. He prepared a dish and spoke about the faith. The country club where the meeting was held then prepared his dish and served it for dinner.

“My wife is a bit of cook, and I follow Fr. Leo on Sirius XM’s Catholic Channel,” said Grashoff. “It was an exciting evening.”

The Grashoffs joined the chapter a month later.

Another new member, Greg Erlandson, president of the Catholic publishing company Our Sunday Visitor, said that he’s already benefited from membership.

“It’s been great for fellowship and spiritual focus,” Erlandson explained. “Legatus is focused on business people who have a certain level of responsibility. It provides an environment where we can receive the sacraments, listen to a speaker, and discuss ideas of significance. There’s a bonding that takes place with other decision-makers. That’s been quite fruitful and has led, on occasion, to meeting with other people because of the contact of Legatus.”

Greg Erlandson

Greg Erlandson

Erlandson has also brought OSV’s resources to the chapter’s program committee.

“Our Sunday Visitor has access to a lot of authors,” said Erlandson. “We just had one of our best-selling authors, Susan Tassone, as a speaker, and we’ll be bringing in author Mike Aquilina.”

Bishop Rhoades added that he’s already seen benefits of the chapter for the diocese.

“Just in talking to members, I can see their ongoing formation as Catholic disciples taking place,” said Bishop Rhoades. “It’s really what I had hoped for.”

Chapter members mentioned several other elements that contributed to the chapter’s growth.

“We were given a very good chaplain,” said Parent. “Father Dan Scheidt has helped with membership recruiting and is a beautiful homilist. He provides the rosary and the sacrament of Reconciliation and Mass at every meeting. That’s made our events very worthwhile.”

Members praised the quality of the chapter’s speakers, including nationally known leaders like Mother Assumpta Long and author Matthew Kelly.

“The quality of our speakers has grabbed the attention of prospective members,” said Parent. “We can invite people, but they’re not going to come if they don’t find it worthy of their time.”

Bishop Rhoades identified another reason for the chapter’s growth: spiritual hunger.

“In our culture today, the Church and individual Catholics are facing increasing challenges,” Bishop Rhoades explained. “The growth shows that an organization like Legatus is really needed, and it shows the spiritual needs that people feel to have a regular event where they can gather socially, receive the sacraments, listen to a speaker on an important topic that’s relevant to their vocation and profession, and support one another.”

TIM DRAKE is Legatus magazine’s editorial assistant.

Legatus chapters make history

June 4, 2014: Two chapters charter on the same day, one with record membership . . .

Jamie and S. Craig Henry

Jamie and S. Craig Henry

More than 27 years after its founding, chapters in two states contributed to a record-breaking day in the history of Legatus.  For the first time, two chapters chartered on the same day, one  of them with a record number of member-couples.

Both the Lafayette-Acadiana (Louisiana) and South Bend-Elkhart (Indiana) chapters chartered on June 4. And Lafayette rallied to charter with 53 CEO members, besting the Orange Canyons Chapter’s 38 couples in November 2011. Both new chapters are dedicated to St. John Paul II.


Legatus’ fifth Louisiana chapter grew quickly after its first chapter event in February, when 13 prospective couples gathered and nine of them joined that night. Two months later, with about 16 couples already registered as members, the chapter hosted EWTN’s Raymond Arroyo as its speaker.

“Once they saw the format and the quality of speakers, it lit a fire under everybody,” said chapter president S. Craig Henry. “We’re fortunate because Lafayette has a very Catholic-rich culture.”

The area also has a booming energy sector and a large pool of young entrepreneurs, Henry said. The chapter’s average age is 50, and the youngest member is 30 years old.

Lafayette Bishop Michael Jarrell celebrated the chartering Mass at St. Pius Catholic Church. He was joined by Legatus’ international chaplain Bishop Sam Jacobs, Lafayette vicar general Monsignor Curtis Mallet, Baton Rouge chaplain Monsignor Miles Walsh, Fr. Bryce Sibley and Fr. Louis Richard.

Legatus founder Tom Monaghan (center) with members of the Lafayette-Acadiana Chapter

Legatus founder Tom Monaghan (center) with members of the Lafayette-Acadiana Chapter

The evening’s festivities continued at the City Club at River Ranch, where members were delighted to hear from Legatus founder Tom Monaghan in the form of a question-and-answer session led by their chapter president.

“People loved it,” Henry said. “Tom Monaghan was blown away by how many members we had. He challenged our chapter to be a Confession chapter because he really wants Legatus members to use the opportunity for Confession before their monthly Mass.”

Sheila Zepernick, whose husband Gus is the chapter’s vice president, said Legatus has been a great blessing to them.

“I’ve been inspired by all the young couples with busy families who want to be part of this and have a Catholic date night once a month,” she said. “It’s just beautiful. We don’t have date- night opportunity like this with any other organization.”

South Bend-Elkhart

A thousand miles north of Lafayette, Legates from Northern Indiana gathered for their chartering Mass with Fort Wayne-South Bend Bishop Kevin Rhoades at St. Patrick’s Parish in South Bend, Ind. He was joined by concelebrant Fr. Terry Coonan, the chapter’s founding chaplain.

The celebration continued at LaSalle Grill in downtown South Bend with remarks from Bishop Rhoades, Legatus executive director John Hunt, chapter president Kurt Meyer and others.

Bishop Kevin Rhoades (center) with members of the South Bend-Elkhart Chapter

Bishop Kevin Rhoades (center) with members of the South Bend-Elkhart Chapter

Meyer said he and his wife first heard about Legatus shortly after Christmas, just in time for the chapter’s first meeting in February with Legatus founder Tom Monaghan.

“I started researching Legatus and I said, ‘Julie this is for me. It’s the right time, right place. I think this is what God’s telling me to do: to blend my Catholic faith and my business leadership skills,’” he said. “Being able to blend your business skills with your faith is very hard in today’s world, but it’s more important than ever.”

Father Coonan agreed. “Legatus brings these important Catholics together to talk about things and learn how to survive the struggles of business life with your faith intact.”

Mike Witous, who joined the Grand Rapids Chapter last year, transferred to South Bend when it was launched earlier this year.

“When Tom Monaghan spoke to our meeting a few months ago, he said one of the reasons he started Legatus is because he wanted to give people a better chance of going to heaven,” he explained. “I wanted to help build this chapter for similar reasons.

“As Catholics it’s nice to be able to share your faith publicly and comfortably,” Witous explained. “Unfortunately, too often we are apologetic for being Christian these days.”

Bishop Rhoades, who presided over the Fort Wayne Chapter’s chartering last December, said he was delighted and surprised at how quickly two chapters developed in his diocese.

“Legatus has given a new impulse of faith, and I feel it tonight,” he said. “These people have busy lives and they see a lot. But this is impacting them in a way that other organizations don’t because it’s dealing with their spiritual life, their relationship with the Lord, with the Church.

“I think Legatus is going to bear a lot of good fruit in our diocese beyond this immediate circle. I expect we’ll see growth in numbers, but even more importantly a growth in virtue that can happen through membership in Legatus.”

PATRICK NOVECOSKY is Legatus magazine’s editor-in-chief.