Tag Archives: Catholic faith

Business and faith: A match made in heaven?

I recently served on A discussion panel where Catholic business leaders explored the degree of compatibility between faith and business practices, including corporate charitable giving. A distinct mix of opinions was expressed. In an era when it cannot be agreed that 2 + 2 = 4, can business people be as divided as the rest of the country? Or perceive that faith presents different dictates to different people? Is there no common denominator?

Probably not, but let’s try two ideas on for size.

My dad, a businessman and one of the most charitable people I’ve known, always spoke of “helping the least of our brethren.” Judging from our mailbox at home while growing up, it seemed that every mission around the world depended on his good will.

Try one more. “Children are a gift from God,” said Mother Teresa, whom my wife and I met many years ago while volunteering at Caligat, her “Home for the Destitute Dying” in Calcutta. She was remarkable in her approachability, energy, and good humor.

Perhaps not all readers would agree with my dad and Mother Teresa, though it’s hard to argue with the Gospels and a saint. Thus, in exploring the alignment between business and faith, it might be instructive to ask business people to assess their actions, processes, and charitable commitments through the lens of how well they are serving the least of our brethren, including children.

Looking through this lens, I would submit that in the sea of all the good things that businesses and their people do, there are two opportunities that are overlooked: improving education and addressing fatherlessness.

Improving education has many definitions. Many businesses donate books, provide reading tutors, and teach STEM classes. All good. But to me, real improvement will rely on market forces – yes, good ol’ competition – when poor kids and their parents are given the freedom to select from a menu of public, private, religious, cyber, and home educational options that fit their circumstances and preferences. But the forces of the public school monopoly are strong, vocal, and well funded. Some school choice advocates have declared this the civil rights issue of our day. But where are voices of business leaders, whose instincts I have to believe, despite divisions, lean toward free markets? I don’t hear them.

Nor do I hear business leaders weighing in on fatherlessness despite nearly 20 million kids in the U.S. living without their dads. Most are being raised by single mothers, nearly 50 percent of whom live in poverty. Too many families, the key building blocks of society, are shattered. Too many kids live desperate lives marked by loneliness, neglect, gangs, drugs, crime, pregnancy, hopelessness, failure in school, and lack of love. In the mid-1960s, the vast majority of children lived with both parents. To be sure, some were poor and faced enormous challenges.

But with two parents in their corner, they at least had the fighting chance that too many kids today lack. What happened? We could debate the causes forever. But sadly, and with tragic consequences, our culture seems to have concluded that dads are obsolete and unnecessary, to be tossed onto some 21st-century trash heap with other anachronisms. And so too many of our kids suffer without the love, hard work, protection, discipline, and guidance of their fathers – while we delude ourselves that mothers can do it all.

What can businesses do? Plenty. There are numerous agencies, non-profits, private groups, and individuals doing heroic work both to offer kids a better education and rebuild fatherhood. In supporting any of these initiatives with their drive, creativity, and intelligence, business leaders can help many of the least of our brethren while witnessing to what our faith prescribes.

BILL MCCUSKER is Founder & CEO of Fathers & Families, Inc., whose mission is improving the lives of children, mothers, and families by building awareness of the importance of fathers, and by helping fathers be better fathers. He is recently retired from the business world where he spent 36 years in executive and marketing leadership roles. www.fathersfamilies.com.

Live your Catholic faith confidently in business

“Dividing the demands of one’s faith from one’s work in business is a fundamental error which contributes to much of the damage done by businesses in our world today.” So said the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace in its Vocation of the Business Leader. This sentiment will come as no surprise to Legates, who have committed themselves to learn, live, and spread the Catholic Faith. But living one’s faith in the business world raises two fundamental questions: What does our faith say about how we practice business? And how can we protect our businesses when we make the decision to live our faith in the workplace?

The answer to the first question flows from the Church’s teachings that all human life is sacred, and that the dignity of the human person is the foundation of a moral version for society. We are called to treat our employees, coworkers, customers, and even competitors as brothers and sisters in Christ, because that is what they are. As a Catholic business owner or executive, you will never look into someone’s eyes without seeing someone whom God loved into being

That sounds like a great principle. But the implementation can be difficult. Is there a specific level of benefits that we’re called to offer employees? Should an employee’s immoral conduct outside of work affect his or her hiring? Are there moral obligations that run with our advertising? How about with the quality of the goods and services we offer?

Fortunately — and surprisingly for some — the Church addresses these and many other practical business questions in Papal Encyclicals (e.g., Rerum Novarum), writings of pontifical councils, papal addresses, and other materials. An excellent compendium of these resources is A Catechism for Business, edited by Andrew Abela and Joseph Capizzi. The source materials may not tell you what is a “just wage” for a software engineer at a high-tech company in 2019. But they will provide the Catholic Church’s teachings for thinking about and making such a determination.

The trickier question is how to protect your business from attack when using faith to run your business. Following Christ’s law in the public square is increasingly dangerous in a culture seeking to stamp out religious exercise. Just ask Hobby Lobby, Masterpiece Cakeshop, and many other businesses that have been forced to defend their religious practices in court, sometimes all the way to the Supreme Court.

Here, too, there is guidance in An Employers Guide to Faith in the Workplace, published by Alliance Defending Freedom. (A free copy is available at ADFlegal.org/campaigns/faithin-the-workplace, with an updated version coming in early 2019.) The Guide provides advice regarding the sharing of religious information and literature in the workplace, characteristics that may be considered when making hiring and promotion decisions, and how to support marriage and family in your business without violating federal law.

Helpfully, the more religiously you run your business, the greater your legal protection. For example, in Hobby Lobby’s litigation involving the ACA’s contraceptives mandate, the Supreme Court cited Hobby Lobby’s owners’ written statements of religious faith and purpose in ruling in the company’s favor. Such a statement not only expresses a business owner’s core religious beliefs, it serves as clear evidence of those beliefs should an employee or customer ever question them in a lawsuit.

JOHN BURSCH owns Bursch Law PLLC and serves as vice president of appellate advocacy at Alliance Defending Freedom. He has argued 11 cases in the U.S. Supreme Court and frequently represents companies and business owners exercising their religious faith in the public square. He is a past president of the Grand Rapids Chapter.

Maintaining Lasting Faith – FOCUS

In just two decades, the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS) – begun by Denver Legate Curtis Martin – spread to 137 college campuses worldwide. Post-graduation impact spans a lifetime.

Nineteen years after the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS) began as a Catholic ministry serving students on a single college campus – Benedictine College – the organization has grown to more than 660 full-time missionaries serving on 137 college campuses in the U.S. and abroad. Known for its Christ-centered evangelization, discipleship and friendships, the work of the apostolate has an impact long after students graduate. It goes with them wherever they go.

Catholic envoys to students, young adults everywhere

FOCUS operates using recent college graduates who devote two or more years of their post-collegiate life to serve as missionaries on campuses in 38 U.S. states, two campuses in Austria and one in England. FOCUS estimates that by 2022, some 75,000 students who have been through FOCUS programs will have transitioned into their own Catholic parishes and communities.

Former FOCUS missionaries, Kevin and Lisa Cotter, of Denver, CO, described their experience with the organization as pivotal in their own faith formation.

“Within a few days of being on campus, I met my FOCUS missionaries,” said Lisa. Originally from Overland Park, KS, she attended Benedictine College in Atchison, KS. There, she participated in FOCUSled Bible studies, as well as FOCUS’ mentorship program, Discipleship. During her sophomore year, she led a FOCUS Bible study. Lisa so enjoyed her experiences with FOCUS that she attended a FOCUS National Conference during her freshman year.

Attending that event with approximately 500 fellow students in Omaha, NE, Lisa remembers thinking, “I had no idea there were this many college students who are interested in their faith!”

“It was really encouraging to know that I was not alone in my Catholic faith,” said Lisa. “It gave me a lot of hope.”

She said attending the conference again during her junior year solidified her faith.

“Who do you say that I am?”

“I realized that living for Jesus wasn’t just a ‘club’ I was in during college, but that I had to commit my entire faith to Him, even when I was no longer surrounded by my FOCUS community,” said Lisa.

Her husband, Kevin, agreed.

“These conferences helped me to see the impact of FOCUS across the country,” said Kevin. “This helped me see how I could contribute to the Church in a similar way and prepared me to have the role that I’m currently in.”

Kevin currently serves as senior director of curriculum at FOCUS’ Denver support center. He’s authored three daily devotional books, and he and Lisa have published Dating Detox through Ignatius Press/Augustine Institute.

Following graduation, Kevin pursued his master’s degree through the Augustine Institute, and then he and Lisa returned to Benedictine to serve as FOCUS missionaries for two years.

Lisa and Kevin have three children. Lisa operates her own apostolate, Made to Magnify, and is a Catholic author, speaker and podcaster. She’s attended 13 FOCUS conferences. The couple hosts weekly Bible studies in their home for 10-12 young adults from their parish, Our Lady of Lourdes.

Expanding parish involvement

FOCUS alumni find myriad ways to take ownership of their faith. Many continue to evangelize in their own spheres, families, and contribute to local parish life.

Audrey LaVoy, of Tracy, MN, got involved with a FOCUS Bible study during the spring of her freshman year at South Dakota State University in Brookings, SD. She discovered it through an announcement in a Newman Center bulletin. That involvement led her to FOCUS’ Discipleship program and to attend the 2013 SEEK Conference in Orlando with her two older brothers.

“I used to think that I was already very Catholic, because I believed in God and we went to Mass and CCD regularly, but I didn’t incorporate it into the rest of my life,” said LaVoy. “I thought that friends who attended daily Mass in high school, that that was just for them. Only they wanted to be that involved. I was good enough where I was at.”

“FOCUS taught me how to continuously learn and go deeper,” she added. “There’s always more that you can gain in a deeper relationship with Christ.”

LaVoy graduated in 2015. She and her husband Mark have financially sponsored three different FOCUS missionaries, helping them to pay for their living expenses.

“By doing that, we’re helping them to reach others,” said LaVoy.

In addition, she’s also a song leader and helps teach CCD at her parish, St. Mary’s.

Effecting religious vocations

Other alumni have embraced religious vocations as a result of their involvement in FOCUS. In fact, more than 600 alumni have pursued the priesthood or religious life. One of them is Father Brian Lager, pastor at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Plainville, KS and St. Thomas Catholic Church in Stockton, KS.

Originally from Angelus, KS, Fr. Lager attended Benedictine College on a football scholarship. He was first introduced to FOCUS as a freshman.

“I saw they were offering Bible study on Wednesday nights,” said Fr. Lager. “I had attended CCD on Wednesday nights, so I thought I might as well keep it going.”

“I was one of seven kids and we went to Mass every Sunday, but it wasn’t a living faith,” explained Fr. Lager. “It was passed on to me. I didn’t know how I was going to do that in my own life. FOCUS made it come alive.”

After graduation, Lager served as a FOCUS missionary at the University of Nebraska and Troy University in Troy, AL.

“He who has ears, let him hear…”

While serving as a missionary, he heard the call to the priesthood.

“I was praying an hour of adoration every day,” he said. “When the Lord knocks long enough, you just can’t say no anymore.”

Lager entered St. John Vianney Seminary in Denver in 2006, and was ordained in 2012 for the Diocese of Salina, KS.

“FOCUS gave me a worldview in which we go out and evangelize and share our faith,” said Fr. Lager. “In everything I do as a pastor, and every decision I make, the goal is how do we evangelize? Is it something attractive or is it something ugly? How are we presenting ourselves in our community?”

He explained how that plays out in his parishes.

“When I look for employees, teachers, or those who do ministry, I want people who can win others over, even if it’s just answering the telephone,” said Fr. Lager. “Even in our meetings or finance council, it’s not just about how we are using our money, but how are we bringing about the growth of God’s kingdom here on earth? I never would have had that mentality if I had not been a part of FOCUS for so long.”

“FOCUS is the most effective organization I know in evangelizing students and launching them on a path of life-long mission, said Margot Kyd, a retired executive from Sempra Energy, who serves on FOCUS’ board of directors. “It has given me much hope for the future of our Church.”

Recovering awareness for Christ

“FOCUS is reclaiming our college campuses for Christ and reigniting a fire of love for Christ among tens of thousands of college students across the country,” said Kyd. “This growing army of young people are sharing their faith in authentic, relevant ways that are attracting our youth in droves and changing the direction of their lives toward virtuous lives rooted in love for Christ.”

That, she said, will have a lasting impact.

“Church leaders are recognizing the growing number of dynamic leaders among FOCUS’ alumni and increasingly exploring ways to leverage this potential for the Church,” Kyd concluded.

TIM DRAKE is a Legatus magazine staff writer

Faith Walking with Reason – Foot Lamps for Life

At the outset of his 1998 encyclical Fides et Ratio (“Faith and Reason”), Pope St. John Paul II characterized faith and reason as “two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth.” God, he continued, places in our hearts the desire to know the truth, which is God Himself; it is by coming to know and love God that we can come to know the truth about ourselves, our world and the meaning of life.

Both faith and reason are needed to know the truth, the pope explained in his encyclical, expressing the fruits of a long Catholic intellectual tradition that includes saints like Augustine, Aquinas and Bonaventure. By faith, we accept what God has revealed to us; by reason, we use our intellects to reflect abstractly on our world and our experiences. Faith and reason, therefore, are essential allies in our search for truth.

Just as “grace builds on nature,” as St. Thomas Aquinas taught, faith builds upon reason and elevates it. As Pope Benedict XVI said in a 2007 Angelus talk, “Faith presupposes reason and perfects it, and reason, enlightened by faith, finds the strength to rise to knowledge of God and spiritual realities.”

That harmony of faith and reason is the basis for the Catholic liberal arts tradition.

Cultivating the mind

Cardinal John Henry Newman, the great 19th-century convert from Anglicanism, was an advocate of liberal education, particularly within the framework of the Catholic faith. He envisioned a “real cultivation of mind,” a “perfection or virtue of the intellect” that is “impregnated by reason.”

At his opening lecture to students of a Catholic university he had helped found, Newman extolled the benefit of such an education. “[T]he man who has learned to think and to reason and to compare and to discriminate and to analyze, who has refined his taste, and formed his judgement, and sharpened his mental vision will not at once be a lawyer, or a pleader, or an orator, or a statesman, or a physician, or a good landlord, or a man of business, or a soldier, or an engineer, or a chemist, or a geologist” but will do so “with an ease, a grace, a versatility, and a success, to which another is a stranger,” said Newman.

This education in faith and reason does something more than make us better at our professions or duties: It helps us become more virtuous. The human virtues “are firm attitudes, stable dispositions, habitual perfections of intellect and will that govern our actions, order our passions, and guide our conduct according to reason and faith,” according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church (#1804). Moral conscience, which directs us toward virtue and away from evil, is a “judgment of reason” (#1778).

And “the goal of a virtuous life,” says the Catechism in quoting St. Gregory of Nyssa, “is to become like God.”

Made for greatness

At Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas, the goal of this preparation for life is embodied in a single catchword: “greatness.” It keys off a saying popularly attributed to Pope Benedict XVI: The world promises you comfort, but you were not made for comfort. You were made for greatness.

“The foundation of Catholic education is Jesus Christ, who is the highest possible expression of greatness,” said Benedictine president Stephen Minnis, a member of the Kansas City Chapter of Legatus. As a result of this education in faith and reason — invented by the Benedictines, whose monastic schools of the early Middle Ages were precursors to the modern university — “Western Civilization flowered in unprecedented truth, beauty and goodness,” he noted.

The college reminds students of this call to greatness through its academic programs, sacred art, student life, and career preparation. Its Gregorian Fellows Leadership Program, for example, aims to promote Catholic identity in public life “by forming a new generation of Catholic leaders who unite faith and reason in their work,” according to the college website.

At John Paul the Great Catholic University in San Diego, California, formation in faith and reason provides a pathway toward transforming the world. “We have an intentional focus on preparing students to impact culture for Christ after graduation,” said president Derry Connolly, a member of the San Diego Chapter of Legatus. That focus requires two tightly integrated components: leading students to encounter Christ, and facilitating this encounter through the intellectual and human environment within the campus culture.

Students also “must become highly skilled in their professional discipline” if they are to make a positive impact on the broader culture, he added.

Preparing for the ‘real world’

William Fahey, president of Thomas More College of Liberal Arts in Merrimack, New Hampshire, said a Catholic education too often is seen as a luxury.

“The Catholic has an obligation – a joyful and satisfying obligation – to enrich and care for his or her soul and mind,” said Fahey, a member of the Northeast Chapter of Legatus. While students need to discern a vocation and perhaps pursue specialized studies, the typical education provided to undergraduates at most colleges and universities “does not present the human person as a Catholic should understand him.”

Young Catholics face many grave and serious questions that require both faith and reason in order to discover the truth, Fahey indicated. On many secular and even Christian campuses professors “no longer believe in truth or rational discourse,” which only serves to perpetuate doubt and confusion.

A Catholic education, on the other hand, “is one in which the teachers proudly declare that men and women are rational creatures, but as with any characteristic, the capacity to reason must be formed, trained, exercised, and challenged with a sound community,” said Fahey. “You cannot learn either the faith or the truth from those who have neither faith nor interest in abiding truth.

“I can’t think of any preparation for the ‘real world’ as rich as a Catholic liberal arts education.”

Deacon Larry Oney, founder of Hope and Purpose Ministries and a permanent deacon in the Archdiocese of New Orleans, likewise affirms the value of a Catholic education.

“I think that education is one of the powerful arrows in the quiver of the Church because education is a way to shape the minds of the young people to rationally develop an appropriate worldview that is disposed toward faith,” said Deacon Oney, a member of the New Orleans Chapter of Legatus. “It is only as we ponder the things of God that we develop a true and lasting relationship with God and feel a deep connection with our faith.”

When people encounter the living God, the experience can engage the emotions, but that emotional “high” is not sustainable, he said. That’s where education in thinking and reasoning come in.

“Reason helps the faithful continue after the emotional high wears off—they can begin to study the Scriptures, participate more fully in Mass, and partake of the sacraments on a new level,” he said. “Their personal commitment to their faith is stronger having both their emotions and their reason engaged…. It is our reason that allows us to remember how our hearts were engaged and follow that with perseverance in the faith.”

Catholic education, he concluded, “gives a person the tools they need develop their power of reason to continue their faith journey throughout life.”

GERALD KORSON a career Catholic editor and journalist, writes from Indiana

Behind Every Good Soldier…

There is a reason why Ave Maria School of Law is considered a top military-friendly school by organizations like Victory Media.

“All of us here are of a mind to honor veterans. We want veterans at our school,” said Kevin Cieply, the president and dean of Ave Maria School of Law.

Military-friendly law school led by a veteran

Cieply, the president of Legatus’ Naples Chapter and a retired Army Judge Advocate General officer, said Ave Law has made a concerted effort to appeal to veterans who are interested in a law career. The law school has done that in various ways, from naming its library the Veterans Memorial Law Library to establishing a resource center and designated parking for veterans.

“We want to attract people who are going to go out into the world and be change-agents and bring faith to the practice of law,” Cieply said, adding that faith-filled veterans are a perfect fit for that mission.

“We’re talking about people who just don’t talk about serving others, serving their communities and serving the nation,” Cieply said. “These are people who have actually proved that that’s what they want to do and that’s what they can do.”

Second-to-none financial investment

Perhaps nothing signifies Ave Law’s commitment to having veterans in the classroom more than the school’s financial investment in their education.

Ave Maria School of Law provides the monetary difference between the government tuition benefits the veterans receive and the school’s tuition costs, meaning essentially that qualified veterans can attend the law school for free, with no limit on the number of veterans who can be accepted into the program.

Under the federal Yellow Ribbon Program, educational institutions such as Ave Law provide additional financial support for veterans whose Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits do not cover all of the tuition and fees at private degree-granting schools. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs matches each dollar of unmet charges the institution agrees to contribute, up to the total cost of tuition and fees.

Ave Maria School of Law funds all eligible veterans who participate in the Yellow Ribbon program at the maximum benefit level, giving them a legal education that is free of tuition and fees.

With law schools across the country, including Ave Law, becoming more selective with students in recent years, Cieply said Ave Maria School of Law has enough room and scholarship money for qualified veteran-students. He noted that the school’s founder, Tom Monaghan, a Marine Corps veteran who is also the founder of Legatus, has committed financial resources to assist veteran-students who are not eligible for or have already used up their benefits under the Yellow Ribbon Program.

“By doing these types of things, we hope to attract more veterans to our campus,” Cieply said. “But also, I’m hoping to be a place where we can symbolize that we’re a law school that wants to not only turn out veterans to the practice of law, but also be a place where veterans are honored, where we’re seen as a law school that does the right thing in respecting veterans.”

Current and former military personnel who have attended Ave Maria School of Law said they have seen firsthand the school’s commitment to veterans, which makes them feel that the Naples campus is a perfect fit for them.

Like-minded faculty and principles

“They’re very military-friendly. Many of the faculty have strong military background, and a lot of them understand their students who are serving in the Reserves,” said Nancy Nevarez-Myrick, a 2016 graduate of Ave Law who attended the school while serving in the U.S. Army Reserves as an officer in an airborne tactical communications unit.

Nevarez-Myrick, 31, who is now preparing to enter the U.S. Air Force as an active-duty JAG officer, said she had always thought about attending law school and was attracted to Ave Law when she visited the campus. In addition to having supportive professors and staff members, Nevarez-Myrick said the law school never failed her in making sure that she received all her financial aid benefits.

It also helped that her professors understood her commitments as an Army Reservist and gave her opportunities to make up class work when necessary.

“I felt like my professors understood me and the school understood me when I was giving my time to serve my nation,” Nevarez-Myrick said.

Even non-Catholic veteran feels at home

Joseph Bare, a retired Army veteran who just completed his first year at Ave Law, said he decided to attend the school after visiting the campus and finding that the school’s principles and values matched his own.

“Most veterans you would find share a pretty common value set, and I think you would find a lot of that fits with Ave’s principles, mission and values,” said Bare, 47, who is not Catholic but found himself at home on a campus that he describes as tight-knit and very supportive.

The school has taken great steps to helping veterans and continuing to look for things that the school can do to meet the needs of veterans, to be
that right fit for veterans who are looking for a law school,” said Bare, who would like to practice civil litigation in the area of individual rights and liberties. Bare said he was always interested in the law but delayed that pursuit because he loved his military career.

Exemplary presence of vets

Cieply said veterans such as Nevarez-Myrick and Bare bring maturity, motivation, duty and many other intangibles to the classroom and to the Ave Law community.

“Veterans bring a sense of service. You know they’re willing to do things for others,” Cieply said. “They bring a sense of maturity. They’ve been out in the world and have actually done some things. They’ve had to learn how to continue with life in a stressful environment, and make other parts of their life balanced, which is very difficult at law school.”

Along with the unique insight and good personal examples that the veteran-students bring to Ave Law is a commitment to physical fitness and carving out time during their studies to keep themselves “fit to fight.”

“We love to have that atmosphere in the school where people are being physically fit and at same time engaging 100 percent in their studies,” Cieply said.

When it comes to military service, Ave Law reflects its home state of Florida, which has the third largest population of veterans in the country with 1.5 million veterans, according to the school’s website. The law school currently has 11 veterans in its student body and another four expected to attend classes this fall.

Along with Cieply, two other JAG officers have had leadership roles in the law school. Ave Law’s board of directors also has several veterans, including a two-star admiral.

“It’s obvious they have a very strong commitment to veterans and to military history,” said Bruce Barone, the immediate past president of the Legatus Naples Chapter who is also a founder of the Veterans Memorial Law Library. Barone described the veterans’ presence on campus as a “natural, positive fit.”

“The program is phenomenal. It’s designed to appreciate and honor people who have provided time and their life to military service,” Barone said. “And the program offers a tuition-free legal education, which if you think about it is pretty incredible.” L

BRIAN FRAGA is a Legatus magazine staff writer


For God and Country

“Is this a joke?” the Navy recruiter asked Dr. Christopher Nessel. “We don’t usually get calls from physicians who want to join the Navy reserve.” Instead, calls would come in from men and women who want to become doctors and willing to serve their country in exchange for school tuition. Since Nessel was already a physician why would he want to join the military?

Nessel is now a Legate from the new Bucks County, Pennsylvania Chapter working in research and development at a large health care company. When he called the Navy recruiting office in 1996, it was no joke. It had been a lifelong desire of his to serve his country in the military.

As a young boy attending St. Anselm School in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Nessel dreamed of joining the military. He also had a competing desire, however, to become a physician. By high school, his love of physics, chemistry, and biology pointed him in the direction of medical school.

Nessel graduated from Temple University School of Medicine in 1994. He trained in general surgery at Brown University. Yet, he did not feel his aspirations were complete yet. His desire to give back to our country in appreciation for so many opportunities remained as strong as it had been when he was a boy.

Inspired by uncle in WWII

Although career aspirations often develop out of admiration of childhood role models, there was none of that for Nessel. “I am the only physician in my family and no one in my immediate family was in the service,” he explained. “There was a paternal uncle killed in World War II and my parents gave me the middle name of Charles after him, but I knew little about him as a child.”

His uncle, Charles Nessel, was shot down over Europe as part of the Army Air Corps, which existed before the Air Force was created in 1947. “My uncle joined the service before his 18th birthday,” Nessel said. “It was the nature of WWII; there was a fervent patriotism then.”

Nessel had graduated from high school in 1981, a time when patriotic fervor in the U.S. had cooled somewhat, but he remembers being influenced by a love of country in grade school. “Serving our country was something viewed very positively and as an obligation,” he said. “ rough my life, in the same manner that we owe recompense to God, there has been the understanding of an obligation to our country.” He referred to the motto: pro Deo et Patria — For God and Country — as the inspiration for his own service.

A call to arms notwithstanding

The surprised Navy recruiter was pleased but cautious regarding Nessel’s interest to join. Reservists are obligated for 4 years of service, 1 weekend every month and a 2-week stint during the summer. More importantly, the recruiter wanted Nessel to understand that at any time, he could be called up and deployed to a dangerous part of the world.

“My situation was not unique,” Nessel said. “there would always be the possibility in the back of my mind that I could be called up. And this affects family members too. Everyone’s loved ones are affected when they serve in the military.” Nessel explained that in this way, families also make sacrifices and it’s harder for them in some ways because they don’t always know what is going on.

Nessel said he believes everyone should be willing to sacrifice in some way for our country in thanksgiving for all the freedoms we enjoy here. “When I think of my life as a practicing Catholic and the opportunities I had to go to college and medical school, there are blessings innumerable,” he said“. “There could be many ways to give back, but the way that was closest to my heart was to serve in the military. There are few privileges greater than wearing the uniform of an officer in the United States Navy.”

Regardless of the potential risks, Nessel never wavered— God and country came first. He was concerned, however, that his ongoing training in general surgery not be interrupted. In the reserves, short of deployment, it would not be.

Since the application process was lengthy—15-18 months— there was plenty of time for Nessel to change his mind. Right before he raised his right hand to swear an oath of allegiance to the United States as a Navy officer in 1997, he was reminded that his service could include deployment. Nessel took the oath and was commissioned a lieutenant.

Sole incentive: desire to serve

Being a physician in the military is somewhat unique from other service jobs, according to Nessel, specifically because it is not different from what he did as a civilian physician—treating sick people.

“Most people who serve in the reserves do something very different from their civilian work with some exceptions,” he said. “Say you are a tank mechanic; on the civilian side, there are no tanks.”

In 2000, Nessel was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Commander. He completed a total of 8 years of service which ended in 2005.

Nessel described his time in the military as modest because he did not get deployed. What was uncommon about his service, though, was that he enlisted with no scholarship or monetary incentive. Nessel’s sole purpose was to serve his country as a physician.

His siblings sometimes kid him that during eight years in the Navy, he never went to sea. “It’s true,” Nessel said, “but I had the distinct honor of wearing the uniform of an officer. That privilege is almost beyond words. In 2012, my then- fiancée asked me if I could be married in uniform.” He married Kimberly in 2013, in uniform. They are now the parents of 4 children.

Real perspective on heroes in uniform

Those years in the Navy gave Nessel a sense of the kind of men and women who are defending our nation. “ e men and women I met were not there for great pay, short hours and great living conditions,” he said. “ ey were there because they wanted to serve.”

Nessel quoted Admiral Chester Nimitz’s description on March 16, 1945 referring to the incredible sacrifice of the Marines who fought at Iwo Jima: “Uncommon valor was a commonvirtue.” That,Nessel said, is what he witnessed among the men and women who serve our country in the military.

Part of what Nessel said he admired was the fact that people were there to serve despite the common desire these days to want to be in charge. “In the military, it’s readily apparent from the lowest seaman to the highest admiral, that we were all there for service,” Nessel said. “It’s very impressive.”

Another thing that impressed him is that young adults are tasked with handling very expensive and important equipment. “They are given as much as they can handle in the service,” Nessel said. “It’s not usually like that in the outside world.” L

PATTI MAGUIRE ARMSTRONG is an award-winning author and Catholic journalist, TV and radio commentator, and mother of 10.


New Light in the City by the Lake

On the evening of June 15, the newest Illinois Legatus Chapter – Downtown Chicago – began its Chartering Ceremony with the rosary, Confession and installation Mass at the historic University Club of Chicago on East Monroe Street.

Some 22 new inductees participated in the induction and installation ceremony immediately following Mass, during which Legatus founder, Tom Monaghan, personally welcomed and took individual pictures with each founding Legate.

The sixth Legatus chapter in Illinois, the Downtown Chicago Chapter achieved its chartering threshold in short order.

Chapter president Neal McNamara, co-founder and managing partner of Chicago’s Virtas Partners (a newly launched consulting firm in mergers, acquisitions, finance and restructuring), and previously of the Chicago Chapter, said he was approached with the opportunity to help establish a new downtown chapter.

“I was struck by a scenario Tom recounted for us all, about a meeting of billionaires he participated in many years ago,” McNamara recalls. “As each one was profiling what he would do to change the world – money for this cause, cures for that disease – Tom said he had the overriding thought that none of it mattered if people didn’t ultimately get to heaven.” McNamara said that incredible remark will stick with him all his life. In helping launch Illinois’ newest Legatus chapter, McNamara said he’s honored and enthused to collaborate in furthering Legatus’ mission of ambassadorship for Christ in the marketplace.

The presentation for the evening highlighted a “fireside chat” between Tom and executive director Stephen Henley, who directed audience questions to Tom from their advance written submissions. Many of the new members delighted in engaging Tom on this more personal level, and experiencing the “family” collegiality of Legatus.

An equally welcoming meal featured Gulf shrimp shooters and fried artichoke heart appetizers during the cocktail hour – during which Tom signed copies of his newly released biography, Monaghan: A Life (by bestselling author Joseph Pearce, published by TAN Books). The delectable dinner reception followed, with a filet and lobster entrée with charred onions, spinach and mushrooms, and a dessert finale of milk chocolate crème brulee dressed with cherries and a pistachio cookie.

“Tom laid down the gauntlet to me at the chartering ceremony,” said McNamara, “telling me what the chapter with the highest growth was able to do last year. So I have my sights set on more than doubling in size in our first year.”

CHRISTINE VALENTINE-OWSIK is Legatus magazine’s Managing Editor.


Faith in the Family

Looking at recent Catholic Church statistics in the U.S., one might recoil in despair. The numbers show a Church in decline.

According to the Pew Research Center’s 2015 “America’s Changing Religious Landscape” study, 41% of American adults who were raised Catholic say they no longer identify with Catholicism. A 2010 Pew Forum study revealed that 45% of Catholics didn’t know the Church’s teachings on the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist.

Parents concerned about such trends might wonder how they can ensure their children will remain faithful. For busy executives, practicing the faith may present additional challenges that come with their careers.

Crisis of faith’s ripple effect

“There really is a crisis that is having a ripple effect,” said Marc Cardaronella, director of the Office of Discipleship and Faith Formation in the Kansas City-St. Joseph, MO diocese, and author of Keep Your Kids Catholic: Sharing Your Faith and Making It Stick (Ave Maria Press, 2016). “Those without faith are becoming parents and passing their lack of faith on.”

His answer? The example of countercultural, religious, active families.

Not only is Cardaronella the father of two teenage sons, but he also abandoned his Catholic faith as a young adult.

“I attended CCD and was confirmed,” said Cardaronella. “But gradually, I fell away as secularism pervaded everything else.”

Family fervor needed

In religious education, Cardaronella believes whole family catechesis bears the most fruit. He made use of it in a previous position as a director of religious education, utilizing the Family Formation program.

“Family catechesis is really powerful,” he said. “They come out of it with more knowledge than they would have sitting in a class with a textbook.”

Cardaronella stressed that while religious education is important, what happens at home is most powerful.

“Parents control what their children are reading and seeing, the service projects they are performing, and extracurricular activities,” said Cardaronella. “What do parents stress as important? Is a devotional life emphasized? Are they reading the Bible? Are they praying with their children and teaching them to have God at the center of their lives?”

Father Hezekias Carnazzo, founding executive director of the Institute for Catholic Culture, and an ordained Melkite Greek Catholic priest, highlighted two principles that he cites as key to passing on the faith.

Parents can’t give what they don’t exemplify

“You cannot give what you do not have, and you cannot love what you do not know,” said Fr. Carnazzo.

“Many serious Catholics ask, ‘what can I do to ensure my kids stay Catholic?’” said Fr. Carnazzo, who has five children. “This is a common way to deflect responsibility.”

“Passing on the faith isn’t just intellectual,” he stressed. “If I want my children to remain Catholic, I have to ensure they are living as Catholics. To the extent that I’m living the faith, and feasting and fasting and learning…. Where my life and love is, the children will follow.”

Catholic mother and blogger (Of Sound Mind and Spirit) Lisa Henley Jones, of Houston, Texas, said that consistently attending Mass as a family, praying, and injecting faith into everyday life are key.

“If we’re taking food to someone who has had surgery or who has just had a baby, we let our kids know that we do this because we’re called to this as part of being a Christian,” she explained. “We just make it who we are.”

Jones added that she’s found a Catholic summer camp helpful for her children, and she’s found a parish women’s retreat helpful to her as a wife and mother.

Role of the father

The role of the father is paramount. A Swiss government study from 2000 revealed that, “it is the religious practice of the father of the family that, above all, determines the future attendance at or absence from church of the children.”

The study found that if a father does not go to Church, no matter his wife’s faithfulness, only one child in 50 will become a regular worshipper.

If, however, the father goes to Church regularly, regardless of the practice of the mother, between two-thirds and threequarters of their children will become churchgoers.

Matthew James Christoff, a father of seven, founded The New Emangelization Project as a means of addressing the “man-crisis” in the Church. The website features interviews and resources for Catholic men’s ministry. Among the guiding principles, Christoff recommends parish-based and diocesan men’s-only support groups and events.

Following the success of the Protestant men’s group Promise Keepers in the 1990s, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a report concluding that men need to witness to each other in “a simple, direct, caring approach that allows men to tell their stories.”

“Men crave male companionship and will respond to opportunities to build brotherhood in the pursuit of Christ,” says Christoff.

Kevin Olson founded the men’s ministry Ecclesia Domestica. He’s provided Catholic retreats and seminars for men in two Midwestern dioceses, and said that he’s seen the impact his own participation in church has had on his four children, ages 9 to 19.

“My children know that they have a dad who isn’t going to quit,” said Olson, of Zimmerman, MN. “They know that I’m not going to abandon them or the faith…that I will keep plugging away and providing and protecting. It’s in our DNA to lead.”

“How do you get people to love the Church?” asked Olson. “If they have a desire for Jesus, they’ll have a desire for His Church.”

The prodigal child

Passing on the faith, however, isn’t a magic formula. Families cannot do A and B expecting to always get C.

Cardaronella stressed the danger in emphasizing the question of “how to keep your children Catholic?”

“You can do everything right, and some children still walk away from the faith. You can have a family where one kid becomes a priest and others have fallen away. They have free will,” said Cardaronella.

“When things go right, we think it’s because of what we did, and when things go wrong, we blame ourselves,” said Judy Landrieu Klein, mother of five, blogger (MemorareMinistries.com) and author of Mary’s Way: The Power of Entrusting Your Child to God (Ave Maria Press, 2016 ). “We’re playing God and acting as if it all depends on us. That’s faith in myself, not in God.”

Jones described the teen years as “really hard.”

“Just when you really need support, there’s a lack of it,” she said, explaining that while every family deals with struggles, few are willing to share them with others, perhaps out of a desire to protect the privacy of the children.

Jones turns to Saints Monica and Augustine.

“My go-to Saint is Monica,” admitted Jones. “She’s the saint for modern moms. In the midst of all these things going wrong, and her son rejecting the faith and God, she didn’t fall into despair. Instead she wept and just kept praying.”

St. Ambrose once told Monica, ‘It is impossible that the child of so many tears should perish.’

“It won’t always work out in our lifetime,” Jones added, “but we have to have faith that it will and just keep praying for our children.”

Blessed Mother’s parental model

Klein proposes the Blessed Mother as the perfect model for parents.

“No one understands the suffering that parents go through the way that Our Lady does,” said Klein. “Mary shows us the way we are to relate to God, receiving what God has for us in trust. So many times in our lives with our children, things don’t go well. That’s when we’re invited to surrender more deeply to God, and say as Mary did, ‘Let it be done unto me according to Thy will.’”

Klein agreed that we shouldn’t be asking the question of how to keep our children Catholic.

“That question is more geared toward ourselves,” Klein said. “The question should be: ‘How do we surrender everything in our lives to God, including our children?’”

“We’re not guaranteed a perfect story or outcome as far as we can see it,” said Klein. “In fact, we’re pretty much guaranteed the opposite and we’re told to carry our cross and follow Christ.”

“We think that we can exert things on the world and our children, but that’s not life, and it’s not Christianity,” said Klein. “Scripture tells us that we will have trouble in this world. The only authentic power the human creature has is surrender.”

TIM DRAKE is a Legatus staff writer.


Resources Apostolate for Family Consecration


Family Formation Whole Family Catechesis


Ineffable Power of a Still, Small voice…

Providence legate Jason Macari likes to think of perpetual adoration as the nuclear power plant of his parish. It’s an analogy he first heard Deacon Paul Lambert use during work on an adoration chapel for St. John Vianney Parish in Cumberland, RI, after the parish council voted to make 24/7 prayer before the Eucharist a top priority

‘…sense of power emanating from this place…’

“I had the sense of power emanating from this place as people were spending time in prayer with the Blessed Sacrament,” Deacon Lambert said. “. . . You can talk about parish missions, retreats or a catechetical program, but if 200 to 300 people are coming to the parish to pray one hour a week, I can’t think of anything more significant in terms of the spiritual life of a parish.”

Jason’s wife, Martha Anne, had experienced that power at her parents’ parish, St. Casimir in Elmira, NY, where her mother and aunt started the perpetual adoration program 25 years ago. Martha Anne had wanted to see it happen at St. John Vianney, but until now, the parish had only offered monthly adoration.

When perpetual adoration was suggested, Fr. Raymond Theroux, St. John Vianney pastor, confessed he was a bit skeptical that the parish of 2,400 families could fill the openings needed to maintain the ‘round-the-clock schedule. “We have a lot of good people, but I never really thought we would get enough to sign up for regular attendance.” After presenting the plan to the parish and several surrounding parishes, however, most of the time slots were filled with two “adorers” for each hour.

Evolution of a grand, prayerful space

For the adoration chapel, Father Theroux proposed using a former sacristy that had been converted to his office, saying he would be willing to relocate to the rectory. Initially, Jason, a parish council member who oversaw the project, thought they could paint and carpet the room, add some chairs and place the monstrance holding the Blessed Sacrament on a counter. “But one thing led to another,” he said, “and as I kept on looking, I really felt very strongly that the space wasn’t adequate.”

Because the room felt cramped, Jason asked permission to remove cabinetry and a low tile ceiling, revealing a cathedral ceiling above. As the room opened up, he said, “It felt much more grand and spacious and fitting for a prayerful space.”

Once that happened, Deacon Lambert added, “It was kind of the beginning of a mutual excitement about possibilities.”

The project snowballed when Martha Anne learned that the chapel at nearby Mount St. Rita Health Centre was being demolished and that many of its artifacts were available for the taking. Deacon Lambert recalled that the chapel had beautiful marble tile with gold inscriptions and when he saw one that read: “O Mystery of Faith, O Sacrifice of Praise, O Holy Bread, O Chalice of Perpetual Salvation,” he thought, “Oh boy, this could really work if we could fit it into the wall.”

After Jason confirmed the idea with some measuring, the next step was getting a group of parishioners to remove the tile, which was in four 2-by-4-foot sections, each weighing about 200 pounds. “None of us had done anything like this,” Deacon Lambert said. But after 30 minutes, the crew had dislodged the first piece, and over the next several hours, were able to remove the entire inscription intact. Then they got the idea to fill the wall behind the Blessed Sacrament with more tile. Jason came up with an estimate and in another day, they had the pieces they needed.

They also retrieved sections of a brass communion rail, including two gates, which were turned into custom kneelers for the adoration chapel. Another section of the rail will eventually be placed outside the chapel at the entrance.

With the cost of installing the tile and the addition of a separate heating and airconditioning system and four stained-glass windows, the budget grew from about $10,000 to $100,000. This required naming a committee to undertake a fundraising campaign that is close to reaching its goal. “It got more expensive,” Jason said, “but it became a more reverent space for the Blessed Sacrament.”

Fitting dedication on Mercy Sunday

The project took nearly nine months to complete. “It probably should have taken three or four months,” Jason said, “but it’s in God’s time and as we were thinking out loud about things and how they were going to be configured, it kind of took its own course. For the first few months, it felt like we weren’t doing anything but thinking through aspects of the chapel.”

Along the way, parishioners learned about the availability of the marble from Mount St. Rita’s and one of them, Mike Arico, devised a unique design for a monstrance that had been in use at the parish for 23 years. The top portion, which has a sunburst motif, is now embedded in a piece of tile and the base is in a wooden pedestal, tying it into the design of the church.

The result, Jason said, has been a “mini-church” that is part of, not separate from, the main church. His favorite feature of the chapel is the marble wall with the “O Mystery of Faith” inscription. “I love the inscription and I love the fact that the green marble is so grand and makes you feel like it’s a special place.” At the same time, he said, “There’s something intimate about the space. It’s just the right size. You feel like you’re able to be with God in a very intimate space. It’s not too big or too small.”

Those who cannot come to the chapel can view the monstrance and make a virtual holy hour online through a link to a live video stream on the parish’s website.

St. John Vianney’s adoration chapel was dedicated in April on Divine Mercy Sunday, and the theme of that feast is reflected in the four stainedglass windows that are being made and have yet to be installed. The windows depict the Divine Mercy image, the prodigal son in the gospel of Luke, Mary visiting Elizabeth and proclaiming God’s mercy in her Magnificat and St. John Vianney, known for his ministry of hearing confessions.

Although Jason’s background is in mechanical engineering, commercial real estate and consumer and medical products, he agreed to take on the job of general contractor for the chapel as a labor of love. “I’m not really a construction guy,” he said, “but it felt like a full-time job for a while.”

A cousin and several friends who are carpenters provided additional help, as did some of Jason’s employees at Macari Development, Inc., a real estate development firm.

Knowing He hears and is there

Now that the chapel is nearly complete and perpetual adoration is underway, Jason said he can’t help but think of Pope St. John Paul II, who once prayed that every parish would have a perpetual adoration chapel. “Watching it go into our church, I really started understanding what he was thinking when he said that. . . . Everything seems to work better and everyone seems to be more a part of the parish.”

He added, “I really believe it’s the foundation that everything else will be built on. Adoration is at the core of who we are as Catholics.”

For Martha Anne, adoration has taken her spiritual life to a different level. “Adoration allows me to go and constantly be in God’s presence and I know that God hears me. When I bring my intentions to Him, I really feel like He’s there and I feel like in adoration so many of my prayers are answered. It has made my spiritual life alive and when I leave that room, I don’t just leave Jesus there, I take Him with me. . . . He’s always in my heart and I can take him to others because I really feel such a deep spirituality when I come before Him in the Blessed Sacrament.”

For help in setting up a parish perpetual adoration program, contact the Missionaries of the Blessed Sacrament, Plattsburgh, NY.

JUDY ROBERTS is a Legatus magazine staff writer.

A grandmother’s faith

Patrick Novecosky honors his grandmother, who lived her faith by serving others . . .

Patrick Novecosky

Patrick Novecosky

When I was 13 years old, my brother and I caught a ride home from summer camp with another family from my hometown. My parents were busy that afternoon, so we were dropped off at my maternal grandmother’s house.

We had spent 10 days in the wilderness camping with a dozen other boys. We walked in the door and within 30 seconds, Grandma sent me to the bathroom for a shower while my brother was instructed to wait on the front step until it was his turn. We smelled that bad.

I was 23 when she passed away, and my aunts and uncles granted me the honor of delivering the eulogy at her funeral. My grandmother was a woman of deep faith. She was no scholar or theologian, but her faith was an integral part of her life. She had pictures of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary on her living room wall, and she was a solid prayer warrior.

My grandmother, Elizabeth Schmid, with my brothers Tim and Terry in 1976

My grandmother, Elizabeth Schmid, with my brothers Tim and Terry in 1976

More visibly though, Grandma lived her faith by serving others. When I was eight years old, my mother had twins. My parents already had four children between the ages of nine and two, so needless to say they were overwhelmed. My grandmother, who was nearly 69 years old at the time, came to live with us for nearly a month. My dad worked, my mother looked after the babies, and my grandmother did everything else.

In the eulogy, I paid tribute to her loving dedication. Grandma modeled Christ for us in an extraordinary way. As scripture says, Jesus came to serve, not to be served. When we live lives of joyful service to others, the rewards are immense. The early Christians knew it. Pagans converted because they saw how counter-cultural Jesus’ followers were. They gave without expecting anything in return, and they loved each other selflessly.

In our secular, post-Christian culture where young people value wealth, power and popularity over most anything else, joyful, selfless service is a rarity outside of faith-filled Christian communities. When we live our faith in a way that radiates Christ’s selfless love, we might be ignored or taken for granted. But on this side of heaven we’ll never know our example is changing the hearts and minds of others.

Grandparents have an extraordinary opportunity to shape the faith of the next generation. I’m not sure I ever thanked my grandmother for her Christ-like example, but it has remained with me. Even when I fall short on serving joyfully, it only takes a moment for me to recall her shining example. Thanks Grandma!

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