Tag Archives: Blessed John Paul II

Reagan, the Pope, America and the USSR

On March 30, 1981, just outside the Washington Hilton, right down the street from
the White House, Ronald Reagan, the 40th president of the United States, leader of the free world, was shot by a would-be assassin.

Dr. Paul Kengor

On May 13, 1981, just outside the Vatican, in the heart of St. Peter’s Square, Pope John Paul II, 264th occupant of the chair of St. Peter, leader of the world’s largest group of Christians, was shot by a would-be assassin. It was the feast day of Our Lady of Fatima.

These were, of course, shocking moments that rocked international headlines. We know today what an anxious world did not know then — that both men came perilously close to dying. Had they perished, the 20th century would not have ended as it did.

For Americans, for Europeans, for Protestants and Catholics, and for many others worldwide, the momentous and tranquil termination of the Cold War was the most remarkable event of the 20th century — a century in which more than 100 million people were killed by communist governments.

The American public got a taste of John Paul’s significance to Ronald Reagan when the nation’s new president, still recovering from the shooting, stepped to the podium to speak at Notre Dame University on May 17, 1981, only days after the pontiff had been shot. Reagan began his remarks by acknowledging not his own health but that of the Pope.

Next came a stunning statement in the president’s prepared text: “The years ahead are great ones for this country, for the cause of freedom and the spread of civilization,” Reagan said. “The West won’t contain communism; it will transcend communism…. It will dismiss it as some bizarre chapter in human history whose last pages are even now being written.”

Ronald Reagan saw Pope John Paul II as his partner in a battle that was spiritual as much as political. He also saw Poland as the crucible where the battle would be fought and could be won — and with the indispensable help of the Polish pontiff.

The Pope and the president would meet to discuss that joint mission on June 7, 1982. “It was always assumed the president would meet with the Holy Father as soon as feasible,” said Bill Clark, Reagan’s closest aide and a devout Catholic. “Because of their mutual interests, the two men would come together and form some sort of collaboration.”

Reagan had long coveted such an idea. Not only had he recognized as early as June 1979 that the Pope was key to Poland’s fate, but among his earliest goals as president was to make the Vatican an ally. The Reagan administration was the first to diplomatically recognize the Holy See.

The two men talked alone for 50 minutes in the Vatican Library. The attempted assassinations were raised right away. Cardinal Pio Laghi, the apostolic nuncio in Washington, later recounted that Reagan told John Paul: “Look how the evil forces were put in our way and how Providence intervened.” Clark confirmed that sentiment, saying that both men referred to the “miraculous” fact that they had survived. The two men, Clark said, shared a “unity” in spiritual views and in their “vision on the Soviet empire,” namely “that right or correctness would ultimately prevail in the divine plan.”

The June 1982 meeting was the first of many. A substantial effort and collaboration thus ensued. The major players included Clark, CIA director Bill Casey, Ambassador Vernon Walters and Cardinal Pio Laghi. That collaboration helped bring about the historic events of 1989. That year is remembered for the fall of the Berlin Wall. In truth, however, the collapse began earlier that year, in June, with elections in Poland — the first free and fair elections in the Communist Bloc. The communists did not win a single seat. Just a few months later, in November, the Berlin Wall fell.

The Cold War was over without a missile fired, without the nuclear Armageddon that everyone feared for so long. Extraordinarily, that entire totalitarian system, which destroyed so much and so many, went down peacefully. It was a testimony to the work of names like Thatcher, Gorbachev, Yeltsin, Walesa, Havel — and Reagan and John Paul II.

These two men, a Catholic and a Protestant, a Pole and an American, at the Vatican and at the White House, stood out and stood together. They together resolved to stop the atheistic Soviet empire. It was a historic partnership and a historic victory.

DR. PAUL KENGOR is professor of political science and executive director of The Center for Vision and Values at Grove City College. His latest book is A Pope and a President: John Paul II, Ronald Reagan, and the Extraordinary Untold Story of the 20th Century.

The dynamic evangelist

Allen Hunt’s remarkable journey from megachurch pastor to Catholic dynamo . . . .

As the pastor of a successful megachurch and the grandson, great-grandson and nephew of Methodist pastors, Allen Hunt never had reason to consider becoming Catholic.

But the seeds planted by a Dominican priest and fellow graduate student at Yale University sprouted 15 years later to lead Hunt into the Catholic Church, where he now labors in the fields of evangelization and catechesis.

New Evangelization

Allen Hunt

Allen Hunt

Hunt works as vice president of strategy at the Dynamic Catholic Institute, where he helps develop content and set long-term direction. Lately, he’s been working on a program designed to give young people who receive Confirmation more than a “check-the-box” experience, but one which infuses them with the beauty and genius of the sacrament.

In addition, Hunt designed and presented the series “Passion and Purpose for Marriage” and has played a key role in the institute’s fundraising efforts.

“His life and experiences have all led him to this place and this time — and prepared him for this work,” said Matthew Kelly, the institute’s president and CEO.

Hunt and Kelly met through business management author Patrick Lencioni in 2008, and the men soon realized they shared a passion for the New Evangelization.

“I was immediately struck by the gifts God has given him to guide and inspire people into a relationship with God,” Kelly said, adding that as he got to know Hunt better, he became convinced the former pastor belonged at Dynamic Catholic.

“When I explain to people what we’re doing at Dynamic Catholic, most people get it, but some people get it right at the core of their being because Dynamic Catholic articulates something that they have long known. Allen is one of those people.”

Hunt concurs. “It’s my whole life,” he said of his work to help Catholics and non-Catholics alike discover what the Church offers. “It’s a wonderful thing to be Catholic.”

Conversion of heart

Hunt’s conversion story began while he was working on a doctorate in New Testament and ancient Christian origins at Yale and became friends with Dominican Fr. Steven Boguslawski. The friendship opened a window into Catholicism for the Protestant pastor, especially when the priest suggested that he and Hunt give a Lenten retreat to a community of cloistered Dominican nuns.

When Hunt met the sisters, he said he was instantly struck by their radiance. “It took me a minute to realize I was in the presence of the physical manifestation of holiness.”

On the last day of the retreat during a question-and-answer session, one of the sisters queried Hunt: “You sound really Catholic, so I have to ask: Why aren’t you part of the Church?” When Hunt explained he didn’t share the Catholic belief about the Eucharist, she challenged him to recall a verse in 1 Corinthians in which Jesus is quoted as saying “this is my body” as he breaks bread and gives it to the apostles at the last supper. The nun then asked Hunt, “Allen, what don’t you understand?”

“That was the initial seed of faith that God planted in the back of my soul,” Hunt recalled. “Fifteen years of water and sun and fertilizer eventually carried the day.” However, it was not until he entered the Church and was invited back to the cloister for a series of lectures that he discovered the sisters had been praying for him all along.

“I didn’t have a chance,” he quipped.

After his studies at Yale, Hunt went on to become senior pastor of Mount Pisgah United Methodist Church in Alpharetta, Ga. — the third-largest United Methodist congregation in the country. Over time, however, he grew increasingly uncomfortable with Protestant worship’s dependence on the pastor, the sermon and the music. In addition, through reading and reflection, he became convinced of the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist and started going to Mass when he was on vacation. He also sought out Catholic resources for prayer and preaching preparation.

Ultimately, Hunt said, he was drawn to Catholicism by the real presence, the hierarchy, and the unity of the one, holy, Catholic and apostolic Church. This, he said, contrasted with the fragmented nature of Protestantism and his experience of being in a denomination where everything seemed to be up for a vote every four years.

“In the Roman Catholic Church,” he said, “while there is an uncomfortable tension, there is still a sense that all are part of the Church, though we may disagree. And there is one hierarchy and Mass and Eucharist that bind us together like mortar.”

Even before Hunt became Catholic, Blessed John Paul II had caught his attention. He was struck by the man’s holiness and witness. As for Pope Francis, Hunt said, “I love him. The media are trying to frame him the way they want him to be, but he has the ability to cut through all that for his own bold, unique witness. In this media age, that is unusual. I think he also has reminded us to lead with love.”

A dynamic Catholic

L-R: Allen Hunt, daughters Grin (graduating from GATech) and Sarah Ann, wife Anita

L-R: Allen Hunt, daughters Grin (graduating from GATech) and Sarah Ann, wife Anita

Hunt entered the Church at the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Atlanta on Jan. 6, 2008. His wife Anita did not join him in converting, but Hunt said because she understood how he had reached his decision, she has remained supportive. Anita organizes all her husband’s events in Catholic settings and she accompanies him. They attend Mass and Legatus events together. The couple’s two daughters since have followed their father into the Church.

Tom Peterson, founder of Catholics Come Home, invited the Hunts to join Legatus’ Atlanta Chapter. Peterson says it took extreme humility and a sacrificial heart for Hunt to give up the lead pastorate of a thriving church that drew 5,000 worshipers every Sunday.

Hunt’s conversion, Peterson said, has been a gift to the New Evangelization. “Allen is blessed with a skill set, a talent and a charism to convey Christ’s word in a way that everybody can understand. He’s got the gift of preaching and the charism of teaching, but also has a zeal and passion for the faith that is contagious.”

Added Deacon Mike Bickerstaff, director of adult education at St. Peter Chanel Church in Roswell, Ga.: “His energy is a huge plus, but he’s also a great storyteller. We need more people who can weave a good story while engaging in evangelization. Allen can grab your attention and keep it.”

Matthew Kelly said he has been inspired by Hunt’s gift for what he calls “relational ministry.” “He just likes people. I know it sounds strange, but it is amazing to me how many people in ministry don’t really like getting to know people and don’t enjoy just being with people. Allen lives for this. He thrives on it and sees it as the core of the way Jesus approached people.”

JUDY ROBERTS is Legatus magazine’s staff writer.

Jimmy Sheehan’s mission to heal

Legatus’ 2013 Ambassador of the Year models passion and patient perseverance . . .


This is a story of patients and a doctor’s care, of suffering, patience and perseverance, of a man with a passion — and a bit of impatience.

All of those qualities have driven 74-year-old Dr. Jimmy Sheehan throughout his stellar career. With his wife Rosemary’s help, Sheehan has accomplished much: an impressive career as an orthopedic surgeon in his native Ireland, the design of a world-renowned knee replacement system that bears his name, and the establishment of private hospitals.

From carpentry to surgery

After performing some 12,000 knee and hip replacements, Sheehan retired as a surgeon in 2003. He could have enjoyed a life of leisure in some southern clime, but that wouldn’t be Jimmy Sheehan. A member of Legatus’ Dublin Chapter, he no longer dons surgical scrubs or sits down with patients for consultations, but he is actively engaged as executive director of the Galway Clinic, one of the private hospitals he has founded in Ireland.

“Our obsession is the patient’s journey and looking at everything through the patient’s eyes as to what happens in their journey through life as a patient,” he said in an interview after returning from the Legatus Summit in Phoenix, Ariz., where he received Legatus’ Ambassador of the Year award. “If you use that as a guiding principle everything else follows.”

Born in Kerry in 1939, Sheehan was a boy who liked to take things apart and put them back together. “I always liked working with timber,” he said.

When his interests evolved from carpentry to medicine, he found bone surgery attractive “because of the reconstruction nature” of it. Though there had not been any physicians in his family, Sheehan and all four of his siblings went into medicine — most as doctors and one as a pharmacist.

Sheehan qualified in orthopedic surgery in 1966, when artificial hips were in the early stages of development. “We were able to do something for hips but not for knees,” he told Legatus magazine, “and that led me into the development of artificial knees.”

The young doctor got an apprenticeship with Sir John Charnley, the British inventor of the Charnley hip prosthesis. Sheehan realized he needed “much more in-depth exposure to engineering,” he said in a 2010 article in the Galway Advertiser. And so he returned to university to study bio-engineering. He earned a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering and went on to establish a joint replacement unit at Dublin’s Cappagh Hospital. Surgeons began using the Sheehan Knee Replacement System in the late 1970s.

Private clinics

Galway Clinic reception area

Galway Clinic Atrium

In the early 1980s, financial difficulties in Ireland led to massive cutbacks in health care, largely a government-run enterprise.

“We had very considerable waiting lists for artificial joint surgery, as well as other high-tech areas such as open heart surgery” due to health care rationing, Sheehan recalled. “As a practicing surgeon I was frustrated with the lack of facilities, and it was that frustration that led to the development of Blackrock.”

The Blackrock Clinic, near Dublin, would primarily serve people with private insurance — about 30% of the population. Sheehan and his brother Joe, also a physician, and several colleagues felt this move could help alleviate some of the pressure on the public health care system.

Blackrock “was a groundbreaking initiative in the Irish context,” said John Reid, a Dublin attorney who serves as president of Legatus’ Dublin Chapter. “There wouldn’t have been as much a history of private hospital care in Ireland. Most would have been public hospitals owned by the state. Jimmy and Rosemary faced a lot of opposition from political parties and various people trying to put obstacles in the way of their setting up the hospitals.”

Blackrock’s success caught the attention of a group of people in the medically underserved West of Ireland. Here too Sheehan had to overcome local political opposition. But the Galway Clinic finally opened in 2004. Dr. Phil Boyle, who treats fertility problems at the clinic, attributes the success in part to Sheehan being “a hugely capable negotiator” and a keen planner.

“He did it on time and within budget, which is unheard of for any kind of project of that magnitude in Ireland,” Boyle said. “He spent a long time making sure he got all the planning correct, and he knew exactly all the expenses that were involved and calculated it perfectly.”

Sheehan’s wife of 46 years, Rosemary, was involved in the planning. “Rosemary said to me recently that for the hospital in Galway, which cost about 100 million euros, they did all the finances on the kitchen table,” Reid explained. “That would be typical of them.”

Today, Galway employs about 500 people and has 146 beds. It offers orthopedic services and boasts state-of-the-art radiotherapy, open-heart surgery, PET/CT imaging, laser eye therapy and robotic prostate surgery facilities. According to The Irish Times, the clinic recently showed a 25% profit increase in 2011.

Catholic mission

The Hermitage Clinic in West Dublin followed Galway. Sheehan created these hospitals to offer high-tech services and newly evolving services like interventional vascular surgery, but there also is a strong Catholic element to the clinics.

“One of my interests is that with the religious orders largely withdrawing from health care due to lack of numbers, I felt it was important that those of us in the laity took up that role, to propagate the culture of Catholic hospitals,” Sheehan said.

A prominent chapel is at the heart of the Galway Clinic, right off the main lobby, with wards surrounding it named for Our Lady of Knock, Blessed John Paul II, and Blessed Mother Teresa. A full-time chaplain provides spiritual care.

Sheehan ensures the “very strong Catholic ethos throughout the hospital, so that no procedures are undertaken that are in any way offensive to the Catholic belief.”

Boyle can attest to that. A student of Dr. Thomas Hilgers, the American doctor who developed Natural Procreative Technology, Boyle was the first doctor to bring NaPro technology to Europe. It’s an approach to treating infertility by using natural methods.

“When I went to apply for work in the Galway Clinic, he said that unless the fertility treatments I provided were in keeping with the Catholic ethos, he wasn’t interested in me working at the clinic at all,” Boyle said of his 2004 job interview with Sheehan.

Sheehan’s clinics do not offer in vitro fertilization or other such treatments. “People respect the fact that we make it absolutely clear that we are a Catholic hospital,” Sheehan said. “There’s no ambiguity about us. That’s an important aspect, that we’re happy to portray our faith.”

The clinics’ Catholic element is at the heart of Sheehan’s vocation as a health care provider, Reid said.

“His motivation is that every person is a child of God with a unique dignity,” he explained.

Sheehan told the Galway Advertiser in 2010: “The only reason we exist is patient care. Medicine is all about human relationships backed up by scientific fact. I regret to say that in medicine we’ve [become] somewhat oblivious to the needs of the patients and forgotten that the only reason we are there is for them.”

Legatus in Éire

missiontohealmugA founding member of Legatus’ Dublin Chapter, Sheehan actively circulates among the members and guests at meetings. His membership and his reputation as a “leading businessman and health care person is great for the reputation of the chapter,” Reid said. “And because people know he’s also a good Christian, he encourages people to live out their faith.”

The root of Sheehan’s success, Reid said, is his deep prayer life. In spite of a busy schedule, he explained, Sheehan makes “time for prayer, reflection and contemplation — and time before the Blessed Sacrament every day.”

As for Jimmy and Rosemary, their Legatus membership has been “very beneficial to us both,” the doctor said. “I was involved in the first meeting in Ireland almost 10 years ago, by invitation, and attended because I felt it should be supported. I’ve only missed one meeting. It encourages you, and I think even the recent Summit meeting was inspiring. You come back refreshed and motivated to participate more actively in faith-related aspects.”

Asked if he has a favorite Scripture passage, Sheehan pointed to the lines from St. Paul’s letter to the Romans which are prominently displayed outside the chapel in the Galway Clinic: “Sickness brings patience. Patience brings perseverance. Perseverance brings hope” (Rom 5:3-4).

Sheehan has admittedly been impatient at the lack of care many of his countrymen suffered. But he has persevered, using both medical skills and business acumen to do something about it.

JOHN BURGER is a Connecticut-based freelance writer and editor.

Philly: World Meeting of Families

Philadelphia archdiocese hopeful that Pope Francis will attend 2015 gathering . . .

Now that Pope Francis has been installed as the 266th successor of St. Peter, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia is hopeful the Holy Father’s first visit to North America is only two years away.

The Vatican officially announced on Feb. 25 that the City of Brotherly Love had been officially chosen to host the eighth World Meeting of Families in 2015.

Papal visit?

This marks the first time that the event, established by Blessed John Paul II in 1994, will be held in the United States. Hundreds of thousands of people from around the world are expected to attend. The event was last hosted in 2012 by Milan, Italy, where more than 1 million people from 153 nations gathered for a Mass with Pope Benedict XVI.

The announcement represents positive news for an archdiocese that has been unsettled recently by sexual-abuse scandals and Catholic school closings.

Archbishop Charles Chaput

Archbishop Charles Chaput

Faithful Catholics, Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput explained, long for an opportunity “to show their love of God and his Church to the world, to deepen God’s presence in their own families and to share Jesus Christ with a world that urgently needs him.”

The meeting, which seeks to celebrate the good news of the family and its intrinsic value to the good of society, will be held Sept. 22-27, 2015.

“The more we encourage and support the integrity of families, the healthier society becomes,” said Archbishop Chaput.

In a standing-room-only conference room crowded with cameras and media, Archbishop Chaput, in response to a question, stated that he fully expected the new pope to attend the meeting in Philadelphia.

Not just for Catholics

In 1979, John Paul II visited the Philadelphia region, which is home to an estimated 1.5 million Catholics. But, as the Philadelphia archbishop pointed out, the meeting isn’t only for Catholics.

“The World Meeting of Families is meant to be a gift not just to Catholics in Philadelphia, but to every person of good will in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and surrounding areas,” the archbishop said. “Everyone with a generous heart is welcome to be a part of it.”

Archbishop Chaput, in a lighthearted moment, said, “I’ve been asked why the Holy Father picked Philadelphia. The answer is simple. His Holiness didn’t tell me.”

But he quickly pointed out Philadelphia’s “uniquely rich” history as one of the birthplaces of the political ideals of human rights, religious freedom and human dignity. The issue of religious liberty was close to Emeritus Pope Benedict’s heart for many years, and he spoke about it many times throughout his pontificate.

“He’s always seen the strength of the family as a guarantee of human maturity and freedom,” noted Archbishop Chaput of the now-retired Pope. “The more we encourage and support the integrity of families, the healthier society becomes.”

He also pointed to Philadelphia as being home to two great American saints — Mother Katharine Drexel and Bishop John Neumann, whose legacies of Catholic education and service continue today in Catholic ministries.

Archbishop Chaput told reporters that the cost of the event in Milan was in excess of $15 million, and that a lay board would be working in coming months with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to raise funds for the expenses associated with the meeting.

The logo for the eighth World Meeting of Families was also unveiled on Feb. 25 — a bell with a cross and five distinct figures, designed to reflect “family unity, the city itself and also the city’s role as the birthplace of religious freedom in the United States,” according to a statement by the archdiocese.

MATT ARCHBOLD is a Philadelphia-based journalist. This article has been updated from the original version, published at NCRegister.com on Feb. 25. Reprinted with permission.

Integrity on the playing field of life

Paul J. Voss writes that baseball players linked to performance-enhancing drugs have been denied entrance into the Baseball Hall of Fame. While politicians and celebrities who lack integrity often get a free pass with regard to ethics, sports are different Christians, too, are called to a higher standard. We cannot simply be Sunday-morning Catholics . . .

Paul J. Voss

Paul J. Voss

Each January, the Baseball Writers’ of America Association (BBWAA) announces the results of the annual Hall of Fame voting. The 2013 ballot included some rather impressive names, including Roger Clemens (a seven-time Cy Young award winner), Barry Bonds (the all-time home run king), and Sammy Sosa (the only person in MLB history to hit more than 60 home runs in three different seasons).

Despite their gaudy numbers and impressive career achievements, not a single member of this esteemed trio earned even 38% of the vote (a player needs to be named on 75% of the ballot for admission into the pantheon of all-time greats). The writers had tossed a shutout of historic proportions.

These players, of course, do not have spotless reputations. Strong evidence links each athlete to the use of performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) and a growing consensus among sports writers seems to be emerging: Players who admitted to using PEDs, and even those strongly suspected of using PEDs, will not be admitted into the Hall of Fame anytime soon. In previous years, the writers tipped their hand, so to speak, by refusing to enshrine other Hall-worthy candidates (like Mark McGuire and Rafeal Palmeiro) who had been linked to PEDs. By opting not to admit the users (either admitted or suspected), the writers had ample justification at their disposal.

The BBWAA Election Rules state that “voting shall be based upon the player’s record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character, and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played” (#5). This rule obviously leaves some room for interpretation and, as a result, differences certainly emerge. However, the most dominant issue of this election was the use of PEDs and the bearing that drug use had on the words sportsmanship and integrity.

Sportsmanship suggests fairness, respect for an opponent, and graciousness in winning. It also mandates the proper adherence to the rules of the game and prudent disposition of energy. This aspect of sport often caught the attention of Blessed John Paul II, himself an athlete. In marking the 25th World Day of Tourism in 2004, he said: “The correct practice of sport must be accompanied by practicing the virtues of temperance and sacrifice; frequently it also requires a good team spirit, respectful attitudes, the appreciation of the qualities of others, honesty in the game and humility to recognize one’s own limitations.”

Professional athletes obviously strive for every competitive advantage and this desire, often fueled by excessive pride, can weaken any sense of sportsmanship or fair play. Lance Armstrong admitted as much in his recent interview with Oprah Winfrey. The BBWAA obviously felt that using PEDs violated the spirit of sportsmanship and fair play — even if “everyone was doing it.”

The word “integrity” comes from the Latin integritat, meaning “whole” or “complete.” In action and behavior, integrity implies (and even requires) a conspicuous attention to ethics and the quest for human excellence and flourishing. But if we even casually scan the landscape of American politics, business, entertainment and civic life, lack of integrity does not necessarily disqualify a person from high status, adoration or success. We can see myriad examples of complete disregard for integrity — behavior that often leads to worldly success and acclaim. How might we account for this disjunction between the Hall of Fame and everyday life?

The credibility of sport requires integrity from athletes, coaches, equipment manufacturers, referees and the rule book. Without a soundness from all stakeholders, the entire constellation of sporting activities collapses into farce. We value a level playing field, competent officiating, sensible rules and legal equipment in order to preserve the integrity of the game. We may have a cynical attitude toward politics, but our feelings toward sports remains genuine and honest. Thus, cheaters cannot and will not be tolerated.

What does this mean on a practical level for Catholics who desire to live a life of integrity? A life of integrity would reject the balkanization of faith. We cannot simply be Sunday-morning Catholics. In order to achieve integrity, we must integrate our faith into all aspects of our life. We cannot be faithful spouses only 50% of the time. Our role as mother or father is not simply a fashion that changes from one season to the next. In business, we need to treat stakeholders with honesty in every transaction. In the final analysis, the quality of our life — the assessment of our career — will include the amount of integrity we brought to the playing field of life.

PAUL J. VOSS, Ph.D., is president of Ethikos, a professional organization ’offering ethics training, and an associate professor of literature at Georgia State University.

John Paul: Saint & inspiration

Legatus founder Tom Monaghan reflects on being in Rome for the Pope’s beatification . . .

Thomas Monaghan

I was privileged to be in Rome on May 1 for John Paul the Great’s beatification. I was there as a part of a pilgrimage led by Steve & Janet Ray and Legate Teresa Tomeo. The pilgrimage was handled by Legate John Hale’s Corporate Travel Co. They all did an amazing job!

During the trip, I pondered the far-reaching impact of this man, whom I and many other Legates had the privilege of meeting. Many things come to mind, yet it’s hard not to think back to the first time I met him. In 1987, I had the opportunity to receive Communion from him in his private chapel. I will always remember that experience, of looking into his eyes as I was about to receive the Eucharist. It truly served as the inspiration for Legatus. I had the idea for Legatus within hours of that encounter.

I don’t think we will fully comprehend the impact that this incredible man had on the Church and the world until we get to Heaven. How could we? His efforts over the years to implement the teachings of Vatican II, for example, encouraged the laity to be more active in the Church and to take more responsibility for evangelization and leadership in the Church. This corresponds directly to Legatus’ mission to study, live and spread the faith.

Tom Monaghan, Teresa Tomeo, George Weigel, Steve Ray

Many of John Paul’s encyclicals call all Catholics to know our faith and to spread it. He coined the phrase “new evangelization,” which became a rallying cry for a whole generation of Catholics. And his encyclical Laborem Exercens (On Human Work), which talks of the inherent dignity of work, is especially pertinent to us in Legatus. (See related story on page 15.)

This only scratches the surface of his impact on humanity. I invite you to thank God with me for the tremendous gift that Blessed John Paul has been to the Church — and to ask for his intercession for the world, the Church and for Legatus.

Thomas Monaghan is Legatus’ founder and chairman. He is a member of Legatus’ Naples Chapter.