Catholic business leaders must know Christ, speakers say at record-breaking Summit . . .
Despite one of the biggest blizzards in recent history blanketing a third of the nation, the 2011 Legatus Summit realized a near-record turnout of over 500 attendees — including some 430 Legates, plus guests, VIPs and staff.
The Feb. 3-5 event, held at the Ritz-Carlton Beach Resort in Naples, Fla., drew a stellar line-up of speakers and provided members with daily Eucharistic adoration, Confession and Mass. Drawing on the Summit’s theme, “Communicating the Word,” speakers urged members to know Christ personally and make Him known.
Jesus is the Word
Speaking directly to the Summit’s theme, renowned preacher Fr. John Corapi told Legates that the Word of God isn’t something, but Somebody.
“In the eternal silence of the Trinity, God spoke only one word, ‘Jesus,’ and He has nothing more to say. The Word of God is Jesus.”
In his four one-hour sessions, Fr. Corapi encouraged attendees to study their faith. “If we’re going to communicate the Word, we need to know the Word,” he said. “And not just know it, but we must be one with the Word.”
The surest way to know the faith, he said, is to study the Catechism of the Catholic Church. “You can’t give what you don’t have. This is all the more important for you ambassadors. You’re leaders, point men. And the bigger the man, the bigger the target, especially when it comes to being stricken with fear and anxiety, two things I’ve heard from many attendees. But remember this: Without God, we are nothing. But when we are united to him, even at our weakest, we are strong.”
Equally compelling was Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, who had attendees alternately laughing aloud and getting misty-eyed. Thomas himself became emotional as he spoke about his maternal grandfather, a Catholic convert who raised him. But Thomas, one of six Catholics on the high court, also addressed fear.
“It’s easy for us to hide our faith today — people not wanting to wish each other a merry Christmas, make the Sign of the Cross at restaurants, guys who will only whisper to their wives, ‘I love you.’ Why should we be so afraid? Why should we hide the things that are — or should be — most meaningful in our lives?”
Thomas, who delivered his remarks in an easy, unrehearsed style, spoke of integrity anchored in Christ. “What word would you be communicating to your children by living a life without principle, without faith? What word would I be communicating if, as a judge, I didn’t live up to my own word expressed in that oath I took?”
The Georgia native lingered for more than an hour after his talk, signing books and chatting with members.
Renewed by the Word
Los Angeles Archbishop José Gómez, who celebrated the Summit’s opening Mass, applauded Legates’ efforts as ambassadors of Christ.
“Legatus represents the spirit of the new evangelization because this new evangelization is founded upon an ideal of holiness which sounds new, but is truly ancient: to faithfully fulfill our daily duties as Christians wherever we find ourselves,” he said in his address to members on the Summit’s second day.
“Saint Paul said, ‘Whatever you do, do for the glory of God.’ In Legatus, you know that we must do this for God, our communities and our country,” he continued. “You are leading efforts for the renewal of the American spirit and character, a renewal of the ideals this nation was founded upon.”
On the divisive issue of illegal immigration, the Mexican-born prelate said he understood the “anger and frustration” among many native-born Americans. However, he said, it’s essential to treat immigrants with Christian charity, papers or not.
Other speakers included the Knights of Columbus’ Supreme Knight Carl Anderson; Austin Ruse, president and founder of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute; Mother Assumpta Long, prioress general and a founding member of the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist; and Pulitzer Prize-winning author David McCullough, who encouraged a renewed appreciation of Americans who sacrificed to get the country out of similarly dark times.
Legendary college football coach Lou Holtz gave a rousing talk that linked faith and virtue, complemented by a good dose of humor.
“Life’s not complicated,” Holtz said repeatedly. “Life can be tough but it’s not complicated, believing as we do in a God whose essence is simplicity itself.”
Holtz, who also spent more than an hour patiently signing books and chatting with Legates, said that he has tried to live by three rules: “Do what’s right, do everything the best you can in the time you have to do it, and always show people you genuinely care.”
The Summit’s atmosphere and attendance mirrored that of last year’s record-setting event in Dana Point, Calif. Members appreciated the liturgies, which drew about 30 chaplains and prelates, including Legatus’ international chaplain Bishop Sam Jacobs; Bishop Roger Gries, OSB, chaplain of Legatus’ Cleveland Chapter; Bishop Frank Dewane of Venice, Fla.; and Archbishop Mieczysław Mokrzycki, former secretary to Pope John Paul II.
Summit veteran J. Kevin Hand, a member of Legatus’ Hollywood Chapter, has been to 17 annual conferences. “It’s been one of the best for spiritual growth, encouraging us to reach out and spread the Gospel,” he said. “Clarence Thomas set the tone with his openness about living one’s faith wherever one finds oneself in the world. Father Corapi spoke so compellingly about our role in counteracting opposition to God and his Church through proper formation of our faith lives.”
Shaji Chacko is an executive of an aluminum company in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. He joined Legatus last year.
“I feel very blessed to be here,” he said. “Christians should share Jesus Christ with the world. This has been a great time to reflect and learn how to more practically fulfill our mission. If you want to be driven in Catholic leadership, you can’t complain. You’ve got to get involved,” said the native of Kerala, India, whose first Christian community was founded by St. Thomas the Apostle. “Legatus helps me serve this end.”
Keith Armato served as Summit chairman, and his Chicago chapter hosted the event.
“It was a joy to add a Chicago flavor to the Summit,” he said. “All our speakers gave a very different presentation than they would to other groups. Legatus is special and this is evident to our speakers. To a person, the presentations were heartfelt and personal. Thus the speakers were able to connect to our members and share very personal reflections.”
Armato says the chapter tried a few different things at this Summit, which were well received.
“Our objective was not to plan a three-day event but enhance a successful Summit model that will serve us into the future,” he explained. “Our success will only be achieved when we are able to present an event that no Legate can pass up. Legatus is a family and if 10% of a family came to a Christmas or Easter dinner we would know that, although the home was decorated and the food was excellent, there was something important missing. We should only claim that we have achieved a success when 100% of our Legatus family joins us at the Summit.”
Matthew A. Rarey is Legatus Magazine’s editorial assistant.
Legates attending Mass on the second day of Legatus’ annual Summit received a double blessing during the liturgy with news of a papal blessing for attendees.
Principal celebrant Bishop Frank Dewane of Venice, Fla., read a letter from Pope Benedict XVI. Signed by the Vatican’s substitute secretary of state, Archbishop Fernando Filoni, the letter imparted the Holy Father’s blessings and encouragement.
“The Holy Father’s blessing and friendship is a gift to Legatus,” acknowledged Legatus’ executive director John Hunt. “Our spiritual filiation with His Holiness is a source of strength and comfort in these challenging times.”
This is the first time that the current pontiff has publicly praised Legatus. Pope John Paul II acknowledged Legatus three times during his weekly general audiences. He also met with members privately on several occasions.
Pope Benedict’s communiqué conveyed his prayers that “the members of this worthy Catholic association will be confirmed in their commitment to bear witness to the faith and to promote the values of God’s Kingdom within the business community.” Invoking upon Legates and their families “the joy and peace that flow from fidelity to Christ and his Church,” he “cordially impart[ed] his Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of abundant graces.”
2010 Award Winners
Ambassador of the Year: Dr. Richard Toussaint
Officers of the Year: Rusty & Cookie Reed
Courage in the Marketplace: Sean Flanagan
Cardinal O’Connor Pro-Life Award: Alveda King, Sam & Gloria Lee, Monsignor Philip Reilly
Bowie Kuhn Special Award for Evangelization: Sr. Rosalind Moss
Defender of the Faith Award: Archbishop Timothy Dolan
Campbell Award: Lincoln, Genesis, Orlando, Philadelphia, Orange Coast
Angott Award: Baton Rouge, San Juan Capistrano