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Summit on the Bayou

Religious liberty and the new evangelization took center stage at the Summit in Phoenix . . .

Raymond Arroyo

Raymond Arroyo

Despite its arid location, Legatus’ 2013 Summit had a distinct Louisiana flair — everything from Cajun food to a raucous Mardi Gras-themed evening presided over by the bead-tossing New Orleans native and master of ceremonies, Raymond Arroyo.

The three-day annual conference, hosted by Legatus’ Baton Rouge Chapter, drew more than 400 Legates and guests from across the country and beyond to the luxurious Phoenician Resort in Scottsdale, Ariz., from Feb. 7-9.

Religious Freedom

Speakers from former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush to Catholic historian George Weigel touched on the Summit’s dual themes of faith and freedom. In his Feb. 8 address, Baltimore Archbishop William Lori exhorted Legates to help the country return to its founding principles amid challenges to religious liberty. “In the spirit of the new evangelization, may I invite you to engage your network of family members, colleagues, and friends to understand more profoundly how religious freedom is threatened and to think of our political system with more than enlightened self-interest?” he asked.

Archbishop William Lori

Archbishop William Lori

The 1884 Council of Baltimore, he said, decided that there is a fundamental compatibility between the U.S. Constitution and “the Church’s understanding of the natural law.” However, Archbishop Lori noted, this view “has recently been called into question.”

The diminishing role of religion in America is leading to a different understanding of religious freedom than existed in the past, and this “is part of the challenge of the new evangelization to which Pope Benedict has called us in this Year of Faith and beyond.”

Bush, who spoke to Legates just one year after his more famous brother, talked about his conversion to the Catholic faith and how it has made all the difference in his life — both personal and political.

“But for my faith, I don’t know what the outcome [of my life] would have been,” he said. “My faith has brought me the greatest happiness of my life.”

Like many of the speakers and clergy who addressed Summit attendees, Bush said faith must inform every aspect of one’s life.

“If your faith means anything to you, it must inform your public policy,” he said. “We should encourage people in public life to stand on principle. At a time when we should be excited about the future, we have lost our optimism. I reject that completely.”

Call to Evangelize

Phoenix Bishop Thomas Olmsted

Phoenix Bishop Thomas Olmsted

In his homily at St. Thomas the Apostle parish, Phoenix Bishop Thomas Olmsted told Legates that the Church — and Legatus’ mission statement — asks them to be formed in the faith and to go out to the world as missionaries and evangelists.

“Legatus means ‘ambassador,’ one sent on a mission, an apostle,” he said. “At the end of every Mass, we are sent forth on this mission.”

Along with Bishop Olmsted and Archbishop Lori, Summit-goers attended Masses celebrated by Bishop Sam Jacobs, Legatus’ international chaplain; Cleveland Auxiliary Bishop Roger Gries, chaplain of Legatus’ Cleveland Chapter; and Fr. Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life.

Other speakers included Virginia attorney general Ken Cuccinelli, Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.), Relevant Radio’s Fr. “Rocky” Hoffman, author Matthew Kelly, Mother Miriam of the Lamb of God, and Los Angeles Dodgers’ general manager Ned Colletti.

Legates were also treated to a presentation of Legate Jason Jones’ new film Crescendo; a sneak peak of the History Channel’s The Bible, a mini-series produced by Hollywood super-couple Mark Burnett and Roma Downey; a panel discussion on religious freedom; and Evangeline, a full-fledged stage musical.

Ken Cuccinelli

Ken Cuccinelli

The Summit was an uplifting and faith-building experience, Legates agreed.

Salvatore and Josephine Caruso, members of the San Jose Chapter, attended their first Summit. The experience helped the couple to be “fortified in our faith and to better understand our responsibilities in our faith,” he explained. “As lay persons, what are our responsibilities? Faith is not something you just keep to yourself personally. It’s something you use in society for the greater good.”

Joe Melançon, who chaired the Summit with his wife Paula, said he was pleased with the way Legates responded to the event’s Year of Faith theme — The Door of Faith: A Summons to a Deeper Conversion.

“My greatest hope is that they, like Paul, will have a summons to a deeper conversion,” he said.

Tom Moran, a member of Legatus’ Orlando Chapter since 2006, said the Summit was a remarkable call to action. “It was encouraging direct action and involvement not by scare tactics, but by giving sound, intellectual basis for concern,” he said.

Keith Tigue of the Phoenix Chapter not only enjoyed having a Legatus Summit in his hometown, but was encouraged by the speakers and the entire Legatus community. More importantly, he said, Legatus helps him to be a better businessman.

“As business leaders, we really have to narrow down on what [God wants] and get out of the way and let God work through us and the dream He has given us in our business.”

In particular, Tigue said, Matthew Kelly’s talk on “The Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic” inspired him to do more. “It made me realize that I’m glad I’m doing this,” he said, “but I need to do better.”

PATRICK NOVECOSKY is the editor of Legatus magazine. This article contains reporting from Catholic News Agency and Ambria Hammel, staff’ writer for The Catholic Sun.


2012 Award Winners

Archbishop William Lori

James Sheehan

Tom Spencer

Ken Cuccinelli, Bill & Andy Newland, Weingartz Family, Christopher & Mary Ann Yep

Mike Caspino, John Reid

Richard Doerflinger, Chuck Donovan, Michael Schwartz

Baton Rouge, San Juan Capistrano

Western Massachusetts, Lexington, South Bay of Los Angeles, Detroit Northeast, Fort Worth

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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