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Meet the Chaplain: Fr. Charles Canoy – Ann Arbor Chapter

EARLY LEGATUS DIRECTOR AND MARKETING PRO ENTERED PRIESTHOOD AFTER IGNATIAN RETREAT

Father Charles “Chas” Canoy is the rare Legatus chaplain who actually worked for Legatus as a regional director in the 1990s.

Father Canoy, 45, the chaplain of Legatus’ Ann Arbor Chapter, was also once a marketer for General Mills who dreamed of getting married and starting a family. However, an Ignatian retreat he undertook helped give him the clarity he needed to enter seminary in 2001.

Today as pastor of St. John the Evangelist Church in Jackson, Michigan and as a Legatus chaplain, Father Canoy finds that his professional background helps him relate better to those whom he ministers. He recently spoke with Legatus magazine.

How difficult was it for you initially to give up your dream of having a wife and family?

It took a real dying to self for me to relinquish that vision I had for my life. It took doing the 30-day version of the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius for me to get over my selfishness, to trust in God’s will for me, and to say yes. You know, when you’re living your everyday life, I think it’s easier to dismiss God’s promptings and nudges during our short daily prayer time. But in such a long silent retreat with no communication with the outside world, it’s just you and God.

How much have you seen Legatus change since you were a regional director in the 1990s?

With a lot more chapters since the ‘90s, its reach has broadened and its membership has diversified. It used to have a strong Midwest feel, but with such developments like the rise of the western chapters and the unique flavor that all those Louisiana chapters add, the Summits have a more universal vibe than ever!

How does your professional background help you in your role as a chaplain?

Having that initial business background helps me to appreciate the great achievements our members have accomplished. I understand the significant influence they have in their workplaces. The bottom dollar and quarterly profits may be how the world measures the effectiveness of business leaders, but we all know that legacies and what makes effective men and women truly great lie not simply in the numbers, but in the lives they have helped fulfill and transform both in the here and now and for eternity.

What do you see as Legatus’ benefits?

More and more faithful Catholic business leaders are receiving the formation and support needed to live their faith more openly instead of being a “closet Catholic.” It’s difficult to be a bold witness when you feel like you’re the only one trying to do so. The forums really help the members learn from each other and persevere in swimming against the cultural currents in order to be those shining witnesses that our families and our communities need.

How has Legatus impacted your priesthood?

The members are so inspirational! With all their creativity and passion for building up God’s kingdom, compassion for the less fortunate, and joie de vivre, they are great examples of the faith lived out in the real world. They are great witnesses of how God works through the members of His body if we are only willing to say yes and to be available and invest our resources to accomplish his healing and saving work in the world.

What are your hobbies and interests?

I love playing golf and hiking in the great outdoors! I just finished my sabbatical in the UK and made sure I played some of those great links courses in Scotland. Legatus member Deacon Dan Hall even came over for a week to enjoy them with me. A big highlight and dream-come-true for me was breaking 80 when I played the Old Course at St. Andrews!

Who are some of your spiritual heroes?

Hands down, my biggest inspiration is St. John Paul the Great! We are truly blessed to have lived under one of the greatest pontificates in the history of the Church.

Full circle: From Legatus employee to chaplain

Father Chas Canoy used to work as one of Legatus’ regional directors . . .

Fr. Charles Canoy

Fr. Charles Canoy

Fr. Charles Canoy
Ann Arbor Chapter

Father Charles (“Chas”) Canoy once worked for Legatus, but he began discerning his priestly calling long before that. While working as a marketer for General Mills, he says, “God began nudging me toward a vocation that would not market Cheerios anymore, but would promote something that satisfies the hunger of the soul instead of the stomach.” Passionate about the New Evangelization (check out his YouTube channel), the Lansing diocesan priest tries to instill that passion in Legates as well as seminarians at Detroit’s Sacred Heart Major Seminary, where he teaches and is associate director for undergraduate formation.

Tell us about your call to the priesthood.

I’d dreamed of having a wife and family, so I had to discern whether a priestly vocation was really for me. I decided to study a couple of years of philosophy at Franciscan University, knowing that was something seminarians studied anyway. Later, a 30-day Ignatian retreat helped me to overcome my selfishness and fears regarding priesthood and to trust in the Lord. I entered the seminary and was ordained in 2005.

By the way, I met a young lady at Franciscan and we dated seriously. That ended, of course. But a year after I was ordained, she entered the Sisters of Life. Now we’re both very happy that God got his way!

How did you become acquainted with Legatus?

I actually worked as the Great Lakes regional director back in the late ’90s. My ex-girlfriend was from around Ann Arbor, and one day she said, “I’m taking you to Domino’s Farms for Mass today.”

Not knowing it was the headquarters of Domino’s Pizza, I thought, “Domino’s Farms? I’ve never heard of St. Domino before!” Anyway, after Mass the priest struck up a conversation with me about my background, and the next thing I know I’m set to have a job interview with Legatus.

How would you like to see the Ann Arbor Chapter progress?

Legates need to be comfortable and confident having a conversation about life’s struggles and how their faith and relationship with the Lord help them to meet those challenges and give purpose to them. I would like to see our chapter members enter into a few small groups — forums — in which they meet once a month to do just that.

How do you approach your role as chaplain?

I see my role as providing the foundational grace of the sacraments at each Legatus event. I also try to provide some context and continuity between the events by suggesting how a particular message given to the group at the monthly event may relate to past speakers, to their vocation in the world, or to what is currently going on in the Church locally or worldwide. Of course, keeping them in prayer is also an important task of a chaplain.

Can you recommend any particular devotion?

Yes: the practice of lectio divina and using the Ignatian method of placing yourself in the Gospel scenes as you meditate on the scriptures. Marian devotion and the daily rosary have also been a stable constant in my life, giving words to my prayer when I am too tired to have them for myself.

Do you have any priestly advice for business leaders?

Simply doing your work well glorifies God and garners the respect of those around you. But the Lord has also given you that platform in order to draw the people around you closer to him.

Developing your own relationship with Jesus gives you such a desire, as well as the insight on how best to share that gift with those around you.

MATTHEW A. RAREY is Legatus magazine’s editorial assistant.