Tag Archives: Dick Lyles

Fatima checks Catholic-leader authenticity

A few years ago, I helped several people put a business deal together. One of them was a rather prominent Catholic businessman. During the process, he acted in ways that raised a few eyebrows. His behavior spawned questions about both his ethics and his values. A long time personal friend of his was also involved in the deal. During a side conversation, I asked the friend if the businessman was, indeed, the good Catholic he was reputed to be. The response was, “Yes, he’s a really good Catholic. But when it comes to business, he just thinks business is business.”

Dick Lyles

As CEO of Origin Entertainment, I’ve been working for the better part of the past decade to bring our movie Fatima to the global audience. We’re telling the story from the point of view of the three shepherds to vividly show what they experienced in the context of the times. I knew it was an amazing tale before we started the project, but had no clue about how amazing the story actually is. Of particular interest to me has been the transformative impact of the events on the shepherds as they happened.

Like many people, I viewed the story as being somewhat linear. An angel told the shepherds to get ready for something big. Our Lady appeared. The word got out. The kids were hassled by a lot of unwanted attention as Our Lady appeared five more times, until 70,000 people witnessed The Miracle of the Sun. Oh, if it were all that simple.

In particular, the events of August 1917 sparked my interest because of the profound changes those events had on the character and attitudes of the shepherds. August was the only month when the apparitions didn’t occur on the 13th. August was the month the local administrator arrested them, put them in jail, and threatened them to death by boiling them in oil if they didn’t disavow their story. They were eventually released and the August apparition took place on the 19th. But from that time forward, the shepherds had a completely different demeanor. They became almost indifferent to the crowds and the activities surrounding them and focused almost entirely on praying, doing penance, and getting the message out. Their commitment to Our Lady’s message was unequivocal.

Ironically, Father Andrew Apostoli, C.F.R., who is one of the world’s leading authorities on Fatima, and I discussed all this over lunch on August 12 of this year, which was the hundredth anniversary of the children’s arrest. Father Apostoli believes that through those events the children became living martyrs, having satisfied the criteria for martyrdom. Without starting a major debate about martyrdom, if martyrdom largely consists of “the voluntary enduring or tolerating of death on account of one’s faith,” then during this period of incarceration, the children certainly crossed this threshold, even if those who threatened them did not ultimately carry out the threats. It can be argued that by agreeing to die for what they believed, they achieved martyrdom.

Whether or not the shepherds crossed the threshold of martyrdom, history makes it clear that through these specific events, they crossed a threshold of maturity in their faith that only a few have achieved. They internalized the words of Our Lady in a deeply profound manner. They became almost indifferent to the taunting, crowd noise and conversation around them and became singularly focused on living the mission for which they had been called.

All this begs an important question in my mind regarding Catholics in business. Aren’t we also called to internalize Catholic teaching and behave accordingly in everything we do? Few are ever called to martyrdom through their business activities. But all business people are called to be authentic Catholics in all we do, no matter who we’re dealing with or what the circumstance.

Heaven didn’t call upon Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta to be its messengers so they would cave in to worldly pressures, no matter how severe. Nor has God called Legates and their spouses to the business world so they could suspend their Catholicity in the name of business. We may never have to test our faith by facing the same call to martyrdom as did the shepherds, but we all are tested every day by more mundane challenges to put our faith aside in the pursuit of business objectives. We must view each of those challenges as a way to strengthen rather than weaken our faith in the spirit of Fatima.

DICK LYLES is CEO of Origin Entertainment, a Hollywood film company wrapping up production  of FATIMA, slated for 2018 release. He’s a prolific, award-winning author of nine books; host of “The Catholic Business Hour” radio show,; and was past membership chairman and president of the San Diego Chapter.

Changing the culture for Christ

These San Diego Legates have found fullness of life through nearness with death . . .

lylesmugAs classmates conducted combat missions in Vietnam, a Naval Academy midshipman back home planned and executed a mission to create rather than destroy — by proposing to his high school sweetheart at the 1968 Army-Navy game. Thankfully, the 19-year-old gave her “Aye, aye.”

Despite Navy’s gridiron defeat that day, Dick and Martha Lyles have proved a winning team since marrying after his 1969 graduation.

Arduous journey

Theirs has been a blessed, albeit arduous journey — Dick’s two deployments to Vietnam, his ensuing business career, three children and seven grandchildren, surviving a fire that destroyed their home, and discovering divine callings through brushes with death.

Members of Legatus’ San Diego Chapter, Dick and Martha told Legatus magazine that their encounters with mortality have encouraged them to devote themselves more fully to living and sharing the Catholic faith, which has been their lifelong bond and joy.

Tragedy struck in 2004 when Dick lapsed into a coma after an allergic shock to drugs treating a lung infection. He even stopped breathing for 10 minutes. Doctors told Martha there was nothing else they could do. “That’s when she pulled out all the stops,” Dick interjected.

She contacted everyone they knew, asking for their prayers. From their local parish all the way to Legatus headquarters, people offered Masses for Dick’s recovery. “I want more time with him here on earth,” Martha prayed to God. “We’ll do good together if You will let us.”

Two days later the infection had disappeared. Unbelievable, said the shocked doctors. The next day they brought him out of the coma. After several weeks of learning to eat, talk, and walk again, his recovery was complete.

The couple, however, has no doubt that it was a miraculous cure — with the reciprocal obligation to serve God and bring as many souls to Him as possible. The Lyles say they discerned their particular mission by embracing the new evangelization — the call to proclaim the Gospel anew using all available means of social communication.

Taking the call to heart, the Lyles are touching lives for the Lord in a variety of ways. One is Dick’s weekly radio show distributed by EWTN called “The Catholic Business Hour.” The program focuses on careers and business from a Catholic perspective. Another is through the faith-and-family-oriented columns that Martha writes for HuffingtonPost.com.

Martha’s diagnosis and recovery from breast cancer two years ago deepened the couple’s commitment to making the most of their lives. They devised a more comprehensive way to coordinate their efforts and to engage others to join the new evangelization. So last year they launched the Catholic Renewal Campaign to focus on culture, leadership and public policy.

Film and politics

lylesmug2Dick and Martha firmly believe that culture precedes policy — and that film profoundly impacts culture. So rather than deplore Hollywood degeneracy, Dick became CEO of Origin Entertainment several years ago and the couple founded The Genesis Initiative to produce movies, television shows, and documentaries with Catholic themes and values.

“Taking back the culture requires real investment,” said Barbara Nicolosi Harrington, executive director of Galileo Studies at Azusa Pacific University. “Dick appreciates that. He’s a business guru who can make great, high-quality films possible.”

Origin has two big-budget films in the hopper. For Sinners: The Fatima Story is about Our Lady’s 1917 apparitions in Portugal, and Mary, Mother of the Christ is a prequel to The Passion of the Christ.

The Lyles also believe that renewing America’s Christian culture requires political action. To this end, they are working to establish a network of Catholic political campaign managers who can help faithful Catholics get elected to local, state and national office.

The initiative is still in formation, but the Lyles are working with U.S. Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.) to develop a pro-family, pro-community legislative focus that could be actualized through an institute for campaign managers.

“We’ve written a book, gotten the technology together, and know the secrets of success,” Dick said. “We just need to put together the training programs, recruit people, and get it done.”

Faith and family

Dick said he especially loves Legatus for introducing him to like-minded Catholics. Dick and Martha worked with Philadelphia Legate Tim Flanagan, founder of the Catholic Leadership Institute (CLI), to develop CLI’s “Good Leaders, Good Shepherds” executive leadership program for Catholic clergy.

Kansas Archbishop Joseph Naumann has attended several CLI workshops, including one last summer where he met the Lyles.

“Dick and Martha impress me as a couple truly taking the new evangelization seriously, doing what they can in their spheres of influence to help re-evangelize our culture,” he said. The archbishop readily agreed to write the introduction to the Lyles’ new book. Answer Your Call, slated for release on March 1, is aimed at helping people become more adept at discerning God’s call and using their particular gifts to fulfill their purpose in life.

“Our job in life is to integrate God’s grace to achieve our purpose, which ultimately means achieving sainthood in this life and eternal happiness in the next,” said Dick. “We believe this is an authentic Catholic response to books like The Purpose Driven Life.”

Although Dick tends to be the public face of their efforts, the couple says they are completely complementary.

“For every time I’ve put Dick first, he’s put me first,” said Martha. “It’s a harmonious, almost musical relationship. We work hard at it, but that’s what strengthens our marriage.”

Even mundane moments, she said, serve to build up one another — like using car rides to discuss a chapter in their book or to discuss building a playhouse for their grandkids.

Rather than build a run-of-the-mill playhouse the kids would one day outgrow, the Lyles used a nine-hour drive to brainstorm the project. The result is a fantastic structure they call the “Earth Exploration Module,” where kids can don lab coats and examine the abundant nature in the couple’s 40-acre estate with a canyon running through.

“The grandkids love it,” said Dick. “In fact, we all love it. It’s what came out of one of the most stimulating trips we’ve ever taken. There’s never a moment to lose for faith and family.”

Matthew A. Rarey is Legatus Magazine’s editorial assistant.


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