Tag Archives: catholic leadership

Unstoppable gift of faith spawns bold witness

The theme for this month’s magazine, “Studying and Living the Faith,” comes straight from our mission statement: “To study, live, and spread the Catholic faith in our business, professional, and personal lives.” Studying and living the Faith is at the very heart of who we are as Legatus members. How we practically implement this can be explored in a variety of ways, but I think it is safe to say that the most applicable scenario now is not one that anyone imagined just a few short months ago.

Stephen Henley

The coronavirus pandemic feels like it has taken over the world, affecting every single person in one way or another. It has shut down our cities, halted the public celebration of Mass, and even taken lives, but it cannot take away our Faith. As St. Paul says, “What will separate us from the love of Christ? Will anguish, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or the sword? No, in all these things we conquer overwhelmingly through him who loved us” (Rom 8:35,37). No doubt bolstered by this truth, I have watched Legatus members redouble their commitment to studying and living the Faith amid this crisis rather than shrink back.

One great example of members studying the Faith has been our popular Catholic Leadership Through Crisis webinar series that began this spring. We have listened to bishops and priests, doctors, and presidents, absorbing each one’s perspective on what it means to be Catholic right here, right now. Truly understanding our Faith is a prerequisite to living it. The fact that these webinars have been so well attended by presidents and CEOs during a time when “business as usual” has been turned on its head is a testament to the true depth of faith among our members.

Though none of us would have chosen this situation, it has also afforded us a unique opportunity to move from simply knowing to living our Faith in an even more prominent way. As the world continues to grapple with this new and dangerous situation, it looks evermore toward its leaders for direction and example. So many idols have been demolished by the coronavirus – wealth, sports, freedom, and above all, the illusion that we are in control. People are shaken, afraid, confused. How can anyone be at peace? How can anyone have hope? We know the answer – and even more than that, we know the Person who is the answer. When Legatus members face, with a supernatural peace and a supernatural hope, all of the tough choices now thrust upon business leaders, their witness will shine like a bright light in the darkness. This is what living the Faith is all about. So we thank God who, in His omnipotence, can bring wonderful opportunity out of such a devastating situation, and we ask for the grace to embrace it, to embrace our mission as Legatus.

STEPHEN M. HENLEY is Legatus’ executive director.

2019 Summit showcases Catholicism’s timeless worth in unmistakable beauty, goodness, and Truth

Another sold-out Summit was prized by 400+ attendees this year, at southern California’s exclusive oceanfront Monarch Beach Resort in Dana Point.

With a customary kickoff on Thursday January 24, the Legatus Golf Tournament was enjoyed on the spectacular seaside Monarch Beach Links. Legates also had daylong options for relaxing at the resort’s spa retreat, enjoying warm sun at the pool, or walking the rolling trails around the resort and to the beach. Daily Mass, Confession, Adoration, rosary, and Benediction were likewise

Hosted by the four Orange County chapters – Orange Canyons, Orange Coast, Orange County, and San Juan Capistrano – the Summit was themed for the transcendentals of the Catholic faith: beauty, goodness, and truth. Special chapter-hosted events included an evening excursion/Mass at San Juan Capistrano Basilica and Mission, themed dinners including an outdoor clambake and lawn concert, and a finale-night formal

At a time when faithful Catholics are navigating unprecedented ‘rough seas’ in society and particularly in the Church, the Summit affirmed the importance of remaining in the ‘Barque of Peter,’ staying the course of the true faith, and living it

Ben Shapiro rocks opening night

Ben Shapiro’s opening night keynote launched the three-day, 13-speaker lineup. As he does so often in media appearances and live exchanges, the wildly popular conservative podcaster, radio host, and pundit fired up Legates’ appreciation for America’s successful Judeo Christian values – and today’s chief threats to them.

“The recent Covington debacle was really about the media’s desire to ignore the March for Life, and to castigate religious schools as evil,” he said, prompting thunderous applause. “We live in an age of the ‘crisis of me,” he said, adding that a contingent of Americans simply seek to destroy the roots of their civilization. “So they find meaning in attacks and anger.”

His knack for crafting affirmative arguments for religious truth – based on the irrefutable reality of natural law that even nonbelievers cannot oppose – was evident in his straightforward advice. “We have to defeat the media on their own terms,” he said. “And though we should defend the good names of our clergy, when appropriate, we should likewise call out sin where it obviously exists, and clean our own [faith] houses first.”

Catholic leadership demands authenticity

Catholic Leadership Institute’s CEO, Dan Cellucci, spoke on the paradox of acknowledging the Church’s current crisis without – at the same time – unwittingly betraying Her mission and adding to scandal.

“I admit, the last six months have been very difficult for me,” he said, given his position at the helm of the Catholic Leadership Institute, which trains and advises parishes and priests in effective evangelization. “But humiliation draws us closer to God,” he said.

“I have a neighbor who actually cannot believe that I do this as a full-time professional job,” he said, to delighted audience laughter. Noting that the neighbor-family had lapsed in their faith, and yet they’d continued to ask him questions and make comments, they all turned a corner without realizing it.

“Out of the blue, his wife asked us if they could come to Mass with us,” Cellucci said. “It just goes to show, like sports figures who wear jerseys to identify being on a team, other people need to see what’s real to us – who we are, where we stand.”

To be truly genuine for others, Cellucci advised: sharing the faith; speaking truth with love; succession planning (mentoring); supporting courageous leaders and prelates; and staying close to the Lord through the Church.

Spiritual muscle fortifies faith fitness

Super Bowl champion Matt Birk, longtime offensive lineman with the Minnesota Vikings and Baltimore Ravens, shared what it means to succeed at the highest level – in faith adherence, as in sports. He emphasized how habitual and dedicated Catholic faith practice – Mass, confession, Adoration, rosary, and prayer – trains a person’s spiritual muscle to be ready for stress and onslaught.

Today, CEO of Matt Birk and Company and father of eight, he drew the parallel between habit-forming training for NFL-level play, and building a fit faith-foundation that can withstand ravages of scandals and storms.

“There’s a lot expected of Catholics,” Birk said, “and a majority of our priests are great priests!” Listeners erupted in clapping and applause. “But … there are not enough priests to pull us out of this crisis in the Church – we the laity have to do it.”

“The Church itself – in all its faith practices – hasn’t changed. Fundamentals never change,” he said. “What changes is the attention we pay to them.”

Rousting roundup

Other compelling sessions featured:

  • Steve Ray, on the beauty and truth of the 5th gospel (the Holy Land);
  • Rita Cosby, on her WWII father as a ‘quiet hero’– and on the beauty of forgiveness;
  • Dr. Elizabeth Lev, on the beauty of sacred art in an age of crisis;
  • Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz, on clergy sexual abuse and the Church’s response;
  • Sr. Stella Karalekas, on the dazzling value of a soul;
  • Archbishop Paul Sayah, on peaceful interreligious dialogue in Lebanon;
  • Fr. Larry Richards, on striving to be a saint;
  • Lila Rose, on transforming the culture of life;
  • Premier of the new film Unplanned;
  • Patrick Wayne, on life and conversion of his father, actor John Wayne.

Newly named 2018 National President of the Year, Steve Cameron (San Juan Capistrano Chapter, and featured in this issue’s “Five Minutes” interview on page 48), also won the 2018 Ace of the Year Award for recruitment of the most new members in his Chapter last year.

The closing vigil Mass was celebrated by Archbishop Jose Gomez, of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Next year, Legatus will return to offering two Summits – Summit East in Naples, FL, January 23-25, 2020; and Summit West in Colorado Springs, CO, September 17-19, 2020.

CHRISTINE VALENTINE-OWSIK is Legatus magazine’s editor.

Unsung heroes: those who make things happen

Mary and I sat in the outer suite of the CEO’s office, making small talk to cover for our mutual nervousness. As president of a Catholic high school, Mary was there to ask for a gift to the school’s capital campaign; I was riding shotgun.

Gregory S. Jeffrey

With a Ph.D. in education and 20 years’ experience, Mary looked cool as a cucumber, save for a “poker tell” that only her closest associates had discovered: a blushing on the side of the neck, the kind people get when they’ve overexerted themselves.

The more we waited, the more it looked as though she had spent an entire Saturday in the Florida sun—and for good reason. The gentleman we were about to meet had a daughter at the school and we were there to ask him for a million dollars. Weeks earlier Mary and I did the math, and reluctantly concluded that without a gift of that magnitude the project just wouldn’t happen.

When the CEO finally saw us, he could not have been more gracious. He loved the school, the leadership and the project. But when asked for the gift, he smiled and explained that “I have three more people coming this morning to ask me for $1,000,000.”

Even for someone with 30 years’ experience in fundraising, his simple honesty was a wakeup call. I’ve since calculated the number of charities seeking such gifts relative to those who can make them. It is a ratio of about 30:1. Those are tough odds, but charities focus on a few key people because without them no expansion project would ever see the light of day. The entire physical infrastructure of the so-called ‘third sector’ would not exist without the lead gifts that make major projects possible.

I wish more people understood this.

Instead, it has become fashionable, especially among young adults, to speak in derogatory terms about the very people who built their universities, provided their college scholarships and endowed their professors’ positions. How did we get here?

The blame rests in the continued secularization of American culture. Reason, devoid of faith, leads to a puffed-up intellectualism quick to judge everyone but oneself.

In contrast, the spiritual life begins with the practice of humility. Say what you want about “Catholic guilt,” it has its place: virtue and vice are best understood when studied in the first-person. It’s the starting point of personal conversion.

Christian humility also informs the intellect. The speck in the other’s eye becomes abundantly clear only when you’ve first removed your own. Having honestly confronted one’s own sinfulness, humble souls are rewarded with a wider understanding of human nature.

But self-examination is not a pleasant task. Without the promptings of Scripture or a preacher, the secularist is never called to examine his own motivations. This impoverishes not only his soul, but his intellect— leading him to a false conclusion: If one is wealthy, the assumption is that he must be greedy. Therefore it’s OK to disparage him.

I find this shallow and irritating. If the secularist had an ounce of spiritual insight, he would know that greed has nothing to do with one’s pocketbook. It’s a matter of the heart. I’ve met plenty of middle-class people who were greedy; they just lacked the skills to exercise their vice with any degree of success.

In the final analysis, the assumption that wealth correlates with greed is just another form of prejudice. Sadly, in a secularist culture this trendy attitude won’t change any time soon.

Yet, despite the unjust rhetoric, the people who “make things happen” continue to give. I count them among America’s unsung heroes.

GREGORY S. JEFFREY is principal of Catholic Development Group, LLC.


Humility – antidote to “leadership kryptonite”

Superman has long been famous for his nearindestructible nature — superstrength, super-speed, X-ray vision, and a long list of other impressive attributes. As for weaknesses, well, there’s only one. Kryptonite.

Kevin Lowry

Although business leaders may not match Superman’s fictitious ability to leap over buildings in a single bound or stop a runaway locomotive, they have their own long lists of real-time attributes. They’re successful, smart, determined visionaries. They can rally others around common goals. They persevere when most give up.

But they can also have a weakness commensurate to kryptonite. Pride.

Think of Adam and Eve in the book of Genesis. Eve falls for the serpent’s ploy, and makes a prideful, egotistical choice, which she convinces Adam to follow. Voila, original sin for the ages.

Think of some of the highestprofile business failures of recent years. Enron comes to mind — an enormous company brought down by an extraordinary confluence of circumstances revolving around a series of regrettable, egotistical decisions. I read an interesting analysis recently by George Weigel, who makes the case that the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign was its own undoing, because loyalty was its highest value. Criticism (even of the healthy, constructive type) of the candidate was not tolerated. Could this have been due to pride? What would have been the antidote? Humility.

Jesus Christ Himself was the ultimate example of humility: “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves.” (Matthew 11:29) We may equate meekness and humility with weakness, but it’s not so. Rather, the humility of Christ sprung from His complete submission to God the Father. This ought to be our goal as well.

Think for a moment of Lucifer. The father of lies began as a fallen angel who refused to serve. Lucifer’s “non-serviam” has resounded throughout history. His lies cause us to draw inward, to prioritize ourselves, to neglect or refuse service to God and others.

So how does this play out in our lives today?

As Legates, we are Catholic business leaders, not simply business leaders who are Catholic. Being Catholic should make a difference in how we lead.

In my first book, Faith at Work: Finding Purpose Beyond the Paycheck, I recount one of my early career failures that helped me discover humility. I was working with a CPA firm, and audited the books of a company with a controller who was a “pompous, arrogant, foul-mouthed, rude, sexist, sanctimonious jerk.” No, he didn’t like me either.

At the culmination of my job, my boss gave me the flesh-shredding evaluation of a lifetime.

While in my mind, the entire episode had somehow become all about me, his evaluation helped me regain perspective by ingesting a large helping of fraternal correction, businessstyle. It was one of the best things that ever happened to me.

Although it has taken years, my awareness of humility in the workplace has sharpened.

Humility helps us to keep priorities straight, focus on serving God and others, and avoid selfabsorption. We’re all smart in different ways, and humility helps us to appreciate the gifts of others – and acknowledge them with sincerity.

Humble people make better teammates – when we’re humble we play off each other’s strengths rather than exploit others’ weaknesses. Humble leadership perpetuates a humble culture, and helps any organization be more effective. Humble leaders are open to correction – and therefore less susceptible to self-inflicted scandal and poor decision-making.

Humility not only helps us to imitate Christ in our vocation as business leaders, it helps us sanctify our work and fulfill our shared Legatus mission.

Pride is leadership kryptonite, but our Lord has shown us the most effective antidote: humility.

KEVIN LOWRY is an executive at RevLocal, a rapidly growing digital marketing company, and member of the Columbus Legatus chapter. His latest book is How God Hauled Me Kicking and Screaming Into the Catholic Church (Our Sunday Visitor). His website is gratefulconvert.com