LEGATUS SUMMIT: Members from across the country rally to change the culture for Christ . . .
When Legatus members gather, they always grow in their passion for the mission “to learn, live and spread the faith.”
This happens at monthly meetings, but the 2015 Annual Summit multiplied that spiritual growth exponentially, according to Legates who attended the three-day annual conference hosted by Legatus’ Indianapolis Chapter.
The gathering – among the largest in Legatus’ 28-year history – drew nearly 650 Legates and guests from across the country to the Ritz-Carlton Beach Resort in Naples, Fla., from Jan 29-31.
One of the most notable elements of this year’s Summit was the diversity of topics presented by an all-star lineup of speakers that included New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan, author Jennifer Fulwiler, Los Angeles Archbishop José Gómez, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, and current Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, among others.
Topics ranged from chastity to same-sex attraction, from religious liberty to physical fitness, from atheism to the importance of the Mass, and from evangelization to the success of the free-market system.
In his homily during the opening night’s Mass, Cardinal Dolan saluted Legates for beginning their events with Mass.
“We can’t forget the words of Pope St. Pius X,” he said, “who reminded us that the greatest vehicle we have to sanctification is through the Mass and worthy reception of Holy Communion — which is the aim of Legatus. There are many excellent groups in the Church, but Legatus starts first with holiness of life and personal sanctification.”
Later that evening, Jindal discussed the challenges to religious liberty and reminded attendees of Ronald Reagan’s warning that freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.
“Every generation has to choose for itself to renew those principles of freedom because I believe we live in the greatest country in the history of the world,” the possible presidential contender said. “It’s not because of our DNA, it’s not because of our geography or our soil, it’s not because of our natural resources. It’s because our founders believed in limited government to secure, but not create, our God-given rights.”
Jindal, a convert to Catholicism, saluted Legatus members for its bold mission and dedication to the faith.
“What I understand Legatus to be is an organization of committed Catholics, committed to the Gospel, committed to Jesus’ instructions to us on how to live our faith, to care for the least among us,” he said. “I told [Legatus founder Tom Monaghan] that if this organization didn’t exist, it’s the kind of organization we’d have to create.”
One of the greatest challenges to the culture comes from the rapid advance of the LGBT agenda, several speakers told Summit attendees. C-Fam president Austin Ruse talked about the growing acceptance of gay “marriage.” (Read a summary of his talk here.) Also defending marriage was Courage in the Marketplace award winner Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage and a member of Legatus’ Philadelphia Chapter.
Huckabee, another potential presidential contender, devoted much of his talk to defending natural-law marriage.
“Until someone convinces me that there is a new standard [for marriage], and tells me who changed the standard, and by what authority they changed the standard, and what the consequences are of changing the standard, I’m just going to stick with what we’ve got,” he said.
Quite often people who hold to natural-law marriage, he said, feel alone in a left-leaning media-saturated culture.
“Part of the thing I want to say to people is, ‘No you’re not,’” he explained. “There is still a whole lot of America who think like you do. But even if the whole world changes, why would you come up with a standard other than the one that God laid forth?”
One of the most lauded speakers at the Summit was virtually unknown to attendees before his address. Former male model Paul Darrow told how he left the gay lifestyle, converted to Catholicism and now lives a chaste life dedicated to the Lord.
“I used to think I was happy being part of drug-filled parties in New York City penthouses, surrounded by famous movie stars,” he said. “But today I realize that’s nothing. I’ve never been so at peace, so full of joy than when I’m on my knees before the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament.”
The Summit also included a seminar hosted by Thomas Aquinas College entitled “On Human Dignity and Religious Freedom.”
Other speakers included Harry Kraemer, former CEO of Baxter International; Al Kresta of Ave Maria Radio; fitness author Chris Crowley; Fr. Robert Sirico of the Acton Institute; and comedian Tom Dreesen, who doubled as master of ceremonies.
Passion for the faith
Summit co-chair Sam Reed of Legatus’ Indianapolis Chapter said he was thrilled not only by the speakers, but by Legates’ enthusiasm for their faith.
“It was a privilege for our chapter to host the Summit, to meet folks from across the United States and talk about common concerns,” he said. “I don’t think the Summit missed a beat with regard to leadership and the issues that we’re concerned about as Catholic leaders.”
Legatus conference director Laura Sacha saluted the host chapter and all attendees.
“Legatus members are some of the most committed Catholics I have ever met, and seeing their enthusiastic attendance at this year’s Summit was truly inspiring,” Sacha said. “Their energy is contagious.”
Oklahoma City Legate Peter Hodges said the Summit experience met and exceeded his expectations.
“I expected to meet a lot of devout Catholics and have a good educational experience, and that’s what happened,” said Hodges, who was attending his first Summit. “It was time well spent.”
Reed commended Legatus staff and the members of his chapter for the record-setting sold-out gathering, which tied Legatus’ 25th anniversary event in 2012 for the best-attended Summit.
“Hosting the Summit really brought our chapter together,” Reed said. More than 20 couples from Indianapolis attended. “The camaraderie among members from across the country was remarkable. We have different geography, but our concerns and experiences are very similar.”
PATRICK NOVECOSKY is the editor-in-chief of Legatus magazine.
2014 Award Winners
Defender of the Faith
Archbishop Paul S. Coakley
Ambassador of the Year
Tom & Glory Sullivan
Officer of the Year
Maureen Adams (Phoenix) & Craig Henry (Lafayette-Acadiana)
Courage in the Marketplace
Bowie Kuhn Award for Evangelization
Cardinal John J. O’Connor Pro-Life Award
Kathy DiFiore, Dr. Angela Lanfranchi, Wesley Smith
Fort Wayne, Pittsburgh, Baton Rouge
Cleveland, Jersey Shore, Lexington, Phoenix, Portland