Tag Archives: Catholic business leaders

Read, read, read

As summer ends and students head back to school, Catholic education is our theme for this issue. I do not think the importance of Catholic education can be overstated, as it is so critical to shaping the minds and hearts of our children and young adults.

Yet, the process of studying and learning is never meant to end! As you know, a part of the induction into Legatus is the pledge to study, live, and spread the faith. Recently, I read To Light a Fire On The Earth by Bishop Robert Barron (with John Allen Jr.) and this quote struck me:

“… Barron’s unwavering belief in the importance of truth is why his standard response to anyone who asks his advice about how to get started as an evangelist is, read, read, read.”

I hope that all legates would put spiritual books on their reading list. At the head of the list I think should be the Bible and Bible commentaries such as the Navarre Commentaries and the series recently done by the faculty of Sacred Heart Seminary in Detroit called the Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture (www. CatholicScriptureCommentary. com).

Also near the top of the list of course would be the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC). In fact, we have a badge pin to recognize anyone who reads it from cover to cover. It can be done in little bits at a time and over a period of time.

I have also found that the lives of the saints are often very inspiring to read. However, some that were not originally written in English can be a bit awkward depending on the quality of the translation, so it can be helpful to read a review of the certain translation before purchasing.

There are many good Catholic books coming out every month. Ignatius Press, Tan Books,

Sophia Press, and others are all great sources. You will not find much in secular bookstores, but most are available on Amazon if you do not have a local Catholic bookstore near you.

Many prominent, former Protestants have told me they read themselves into the Catholic Church. We legates are already in the Church, but we can nourish our faith by taking advantage of this vast array of spiritual books available to us. If you have read a good book, let us know about it.

Read, read, read.

TOM MONAGHAN is Legatus’ founder, chairman and CEO.

Sharing the faith and growing Legatus

By virtue of our membership in the Church, we are all called to share our faith. Likewise, when we find something good, we are compelled to share it with others.

I cannot tell you how many Legates over the years have shared with me that Legatus has changed their lives! Or how many bishops have commented on the impact that having a chapter in their diocese has made. Who does not want Catholics in their community to be well formed and on fire about their faith? And if those Catholics are also business leaders who are blessed with gifts and resources to serve the Church and their communities, how can that not strengthen the Church?

As I mentioned in my last column, I am working closely with Stephen Henley and the Legatus staff (both at the headquarters and in the field) to have all the support and systems in place to both start new chapters and grow our existing ones. However, members know from personal experience that current members recruit the vast majority of our new members, and with such a small percentage of the population who qualify for Legatus, most advertising is not worthwhile. Since most people who qualify for Legatus have never been approached, most have not heard of Legatus, let alone know about our mission and the kind of support and spiritual growth that our members experience.

Cardinal Bevilacqua once called Legatus the most effective lay organization in the Church in the country… Just think about how much more effective it could be if there were more members.

I truly believe we have the potential to transform the Church by inviting fellow Catholic CEOs to join Legatus. As you reflect on the impact that Legatus has had on your life and the life of your spouse, I encourage you to prayerfully consider who you might invite to an upcoming chapter meeting… it could change their life — and the lives of countless others — forever.

TOM MONAGHAN is Legatus’ founder, chairman and CEO.

Poised for the future

This month, specifically on May 7, we celebrate the 31st anniversary of Legatus’ founding. I continue to be excited about the direction of Legatus and our calling to live out our mission in the Church and society.

Tom Monaghan

It is great to have the Legatus headquarters back in Ann Arbor and right across the hall from my office. The move took place 18 months ago and there have been many changes not only in the headquarters, but also in the field. The staff is very focused and I believe poised to help Legatus meet its fullest potential. Given what we have learned over the years, we have been tweaking some existing positions, as well as adding new ones.

We have added Chapter Development Officers (CDOs) to each of the five regions. CDOs focus strictly on chartering new chapters. We expect their efforts to pay off soon in the opening of more new chapters than ever before. As regions have grown, we also established the position of zone managers. Their role is to assist the regional directors in serving existing chapters by sharing best practices and other efforts. A consultant of the Table Group – a Patrick Lencioni Company has also been advising us (pro bono) regarding how best to make some of these internal organizational changes.

It is my determination that Legatus will soon be a well-oiled machine, giving chapters all the attention they need to thrive. The mission of Legatus is too important to leave its future to chance. Currently, some chapters are doing well, and others are struggling a bit. We want to do everything possible to assist each chapter to reach its full potential and be a source of life and an inspiration to its members.

The number-one objective of a chapter is to have great monthly meetings. This does not happen by itself, but takes relentless and consistent planning and effort. A key person in this effort is the chapter administrator (CA). This person follows up on the many details involved in putting on great meetings. We have been reinvesting in extensive CA training under longtime Legatus executive and training director Laura Sacha, who is overseeing this effort.

It is often said that Legatus is the most effective lay organization in the Church in the U.S. That is certainly its potential. The board of governors, Stephen Henley, and the staff are dedicated to that mission. Sometimes change is not easy, but I certainly hope that every Legate will understand as we make the needed adjustments and upgrades to this all-important organization.


TOM MONAGHAN is Legatus’ founder, chairman and CEO.

Entrepreneurship as a spiritual vocation

Implicitly, and at times explicitly, faithful parishioners assume that the only real “calling” is to some kind of full-time work in the Church. In this view, lay people don’t really have a vocation. In 1891, canon law offered a simple but devastating definition of the lay person: “Lay: not clerical.” Since then, especially under the influence of the Second Vatican Council, a far more positive view has emerged — one that plumbs the depths of God’s missionary objectives both inside and outside the Church.

Rev. Robert A. Sirico

Looking at the gift of business acumen in an alternative way, however, enables us to grasp its spiritual and moral potential. An entrepreneur is someone who connects capital, labor and material factors in order to produce a good or service. In The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism, Michael Novak argued that the entrepreneur’s creativity is akin to God’s creative activity in the first chapter of Genesis. In this sense, the entrepreneur participates in the original cultural mandate, given to God by Adam and Eve, to subdue the earth. The entrepreneurial vocation is a sacred call similar to that of being a parent, even if it’s not as sublime.

For several years, I have participated in programs designed to teach seminarians the importance of the free economy and the responsibilities of the entrepreneur. For many of these students, the ideas presented have led to eye-opening experiences. Students discover that the freemarket system is about creating wealth, about finding more efficient ways of serving others, and about providing people with jobs and investment opportunities. They discover that the chasm separating prosperity and morality is no longer insuperable.

In these seminars, I often mention George Gilder’s extraordinary book Wealth and Poverty. It can even be argued, I think, that Gilder is something of an intellectual entrepreneur. His book has been credited with being the intellectual force behind the 1980s’ supply-side revolution, which forced economists and policymakers to consider for the first time how government policy, especially in the area of taxation, affects human choices. The book’s popularity illustrates well how someone outside academia can exert tremendous influence on American economic life. In my view, however, Gilder accomplished something much more important by insisting that entrepreneurship is a morally legitimate profession.

Gilder regards entrepreneurs as among the most misunderstood and underappreciated groups in society. As visionaries with practical instincts, entrepreneurs combine classical and Christian virtues to advance their own interests and those of society. Gilder thinks it’s a mistake to associate capitalism with greed — an association with altruism would be far more accurate. When people accept the challenge of an entrepreneurial vocation, they have implicitly decided to meet the needs of others through the goods or services they produce. If the entrepreneur’s investments are to return a profit, the entrepreneur must be “other-directed.” Ultimately, business persons in a market economy simply cannot be both self-centered and successful.

Wealth and Poverty’s final chapter is perhaps the least read but most crucial. Here Gilder presents the theory that entrepreneurship is an act of faith, an inescapably religious act. Fusing traditional Christian morality with a celebration of growth and change helps us discern how knowledge and discovery are essential elements of enterprise.

Long before Wealth and Poverty was published, an entire school of economics had grown up around Joseph Schumpeter’s insight into entrepreneurship. According to Schumpeter, it was entrepreneurship — more than any other economic institution — that prevented economic and technological lethargy from retarding economic growth. He thought that the function of entrepreneurs is “to reform or revolutionize the pattern of production by exploiting an invention … for producing a new commodity or producing an old one in a new way, by opening up a new source of supply of materials or a new outlet for products, by reorganizing an industry.”

Entrepreneurs, as agents of change, encourage the economy to adjust to population increases, resource shifts, and changes in consumer needs and desires. Without entrepreneurs, we would face a static economic world not unlike the stagnant economic swamps that socialism brought about in central Europe.

The economic analysis that has its roots in Schumpeter’s work taught that entrepreneurs are impresarios, visionaries who organize numerous factors, take risks, and combine resources to create something greater than the sum of its parts. Entrepreneurs drive the economy forward by anticipating the wishes of the public and creating new ways of organizing resources. In short, they are men and women who create jobs, discover and apply new cures, bring food to those in need, and help dreams become realities.

FR. ROBERT A. SIRICO is the founder of The Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty. This article is reprinted with permission from his 2001 essay The Entrepreneurial Vocation.

The Legatus Story

The genesis of the world’s most influential Catholic business leaders’ organization . . . 

In 1984, two important, successful and influential American business leaders, each at the pinnacle of his accomplishments, had a conversation that changed their lives. That encounter has now changed the lives of untold thousands, its repercussions felt as far away as the Vatican.

Bowie Kent Kuhn was in the final year of his tumultuous 15-year term as the fifth commissioner of Major League Baseball in the United States. The 58-year-old was preparing to leave the cauldron of the administrative side of the sporting world and return to the practice of law in New York. Kuhn, a devout Catholic, decided to attend a spiritual retreat in New York. Perhaps the quiet contemplation the retreat provided would chart the next chapters in his life.

Kuhn invited a good friend to come along with him on the retreat. Thomas Stephen Monaghan, founder and CEO of the phenomenally successful Domino’s Pizza, was also quickly approaching a turning point in his life. He had accumulated an impressive array of life’s trophies, the result of his hard work ethic and shrewd successes in the international pizza arena. One of the 47-year-old Monaghan’s prized trophies was his beloved Detroit Tigers, who wound up at the top of the baseball world in 1984, proud stewards of the title “World Series Champions.” Like Kuhn, Monaghan was also a devout Catholic and found the invitation for several days of spiritual nourishment to be well timed.


The retreat was attended by a good number of chief executive officers. That fact impressed Monaghan and its impact stayed with him long after the retreat was over. The New York retreat led to more retreats for Monaghan, slowly opening up and defining a dimension in his life that he had not paid rigorous attention to in the years preceding. Following the seemingly unremarkable retreat, Kuhn moved on to his law practice and the two men remained close personal and professional friends.

But Monaghan had a number of mountains still to climb. Active in the Young Presidents’ Organization (YPO), Monaghan valued the camaraderie of heads of businesses sharing educational growth experiences in a forum of peers. YPO provided non-confrontational  information sharing where business issues could be discussed, solutions to problems offered and answers to leadership issues provided in a confidential environment.

In 1987, Monaghan was a respected member of YPO and was invited to be a guest speaker at a YPO “University” convocation to be held in Venice, Italy. Monaghan had recently celebrated his 50th birthday, the point at which YPO members “graduate” out of the organization, and he looked upon the event with some regret given his appreciation for the YPO.


The first Legatus Mass, summer 1987

Over the years, primarily through his philanthropic endeavors, Monaghan had become friends with Archbishop Edmund Szoka of Detroit. When Szoka heard that Monaghan was on his way to Italy, he asked Monaghan if he would like to attend Mass in Pope John Paul II’s private chapel at the Vatican.

“Pope John Paul II was my Number One hero and I jumped at the chance!” Monaghan wrote later, describing the event that so changed his life and the lives of others in 1987. Monaghan says that during the Mass with the Pope and continuing afterwards, an idea popped into his head.

“It occurred to me that there ought to be an organization like YPO for Catholics but without an age limit,” he wrote. The self-help and sharing nature of YPO would bring benefits to CEOs of corporations and organizations regardless of age. But there was a bigger, more encompassing component that Monaghan saw as a potential draw. The members of this new organization would find the spiritual nourishment of a kind and quality that Monaghan had experienced in his New York retreat with Kuhn three years before.

“I knew that it was right and I had to do it,” Monaghan says with obvious enthusiasm. “It was all that I thought about for the next month or so.” During his visit to Venice, where he addressed YPO, Monaghan was busy making notes and developing a model for this new, as-yet unnamed organization for Catholic CEOs. He proposed a structure whereby members would meet monthly with an agenda that included Mass. The speakers would be of sufficient quality to attract CEOs and the topics would be of interest to a Catholic audience.

It was imaginative. Catholic CEOs often complain about lack of time to attend to spiritual matters and the dedicated practice of strengthening their faith. This new organization would afford them the opportunity to partake of the Eucharist together.

In another moment of genius, Monaghan also added the proviso that the meetings — and membership in the proposed organization — would include spouses who were encouraged to attend and take an active role in a partnership that would see a sacred reinforcement of traditional values in an atmosphere of spirituality. It seemed to be a winner from the starting gate.

Also appealing to Monaghan, as a segment of YPO he felt would be especially valuable to his Catholic members, was the idea of an annual conference. Ongoing workshops, retreats and seminars would round out the information-sharing components.

There was yet more in the imaginative mix. Regular pilgrimages would also be part of the new organization, featuring traditional religious shrine destinations, including Fatima and Lourdes.

Monaghan also shrewdly realized that the people he was targeting were already successful men and women at the top of their fields and their own business organizations, so their time commitment and personal energy would be limited. As a result, he made it clear from the outset that Legatus was not to be a fundraising organization with gala events geared to raise money for special projects.

Legatus would be a Catholic organization for CEOs in which they would share pertinent information while engaging in spiritual formation and camaraderie with men and women who shared the same values and faith traditions.

Garnering Support

“When he came back from Rome, he called me and told me that he had a special visitation from the Holy Spirit,” says Tom Angott, a Michigan friend of Monaghan. “He said he wanted to do something big for the Church.” Angott would subsequently become one of the founding members of the organization Monaghan wanted to establish.

The matrix for the organization was clear, defined and obvious. But the true struggle in making it a reality was in bringing like-minded individuals along to share in the dream and build the passion for accomplishing what was admittedly a significant goal. If Tom Monaghan did not convince enough leaders of the organization’s value, it would have remained a wonderfully imaginative idea and nothing more. History is littered with brilliant ideas that were stillborn. Legatus was to be something more. Much more.

This article is an abridged version of the beginning of “Legatus 1987-2012: Twenty-Five Years of Fidelity to the Catholic Church.” Order your copy by clicking here.