Tag Archives: legatus pilgrimage

A year in review

As we head into the season of resolutions, I think it is a good time to recap 2018 for Legatus and share some of our accomplishments, shortcomings, and our goals for the year ahead. As I begin my third year as executive director/president of Legatus, it has truly been an honor to serve you, our members, and to help ensure the continued growth and success of Legatus, and ultimately, achieving our goal of steering as many souls toward heaven as possible.

Stephen Henley

Since I began in this role, our chairman and CEO, Tom Monaghan, has reiterated the operational goals: better chapters and more of them, in that order. Regarding the order of better chapters: through the life of Legatus, we have chartered over 100 chapters, but for various reasons, too many chapters have closed prematurely. Upon examination, we determined that this is where it is on us as an organization to ensure our chapters are providing the experience for members that keeps their chapters alive and fruitful.

One part of this effort was the increased role of our chapter administrators. We have all grown to value them, but we simply were not giving our chapter administrators the precise tools to do their job most effectively and support growth in their positions. I now believe, with the proper support through the chapter boards, along with their national liaison and the online training modules, we will continue to see better results.

The role of the chapter administrator is the reason why our renewals were ahead of any year previously and the reason we finished at 88.5 percent renewal.

The second component to our operational goals is more chapters. This year to-date, we have chartered chapters in Louisville, Tulsa, San Francisco, and Newark, and are on the cusp of chartering five more before year-end: Kansas City, Bismarck, North Georgia, Greenville, and Jupiter/ Palm Beach. I project that by year-end, Legatus will have had a growth of around 3-4 percent.

I am delighted to say that we also have formulated a new model for development. Over the past five years, Legatus has been geared in new-chapter growth mode. Unfortunately, at times, this had been at the sacrifice of current chapters. We had to figure out how to grow new chapters while maintaining the integrity of our current ones. I have enlisted the expertise of Nancy Haskell to oversee all new development. This means that regional directors and zone managers will be focused on current chapter growth and sustainment. Nancy, having chartered over 15 chapters herself, knows what it takes to cross that goal line. Our chapter development teams will be more focused and more effective, while at the same time, being less costly.

We are proud to see what we have accomplished this year and look forward to the challenges ahead. From the Legatus headquarters in Ann Arbor, I pray you all have a blessed Christmas and fruitful New Year!

STEPHEN HENLEY is Legatus’ executive director.

Pro-family message of Our Lady of Guadalupe

Last month, Legatus members and their families traveled to Mexico City for our annual Guadalupe pilgrimage. I have been to Mexico City on this pilgrimage three times now, and each pilgrimage leaves something with me. The Shrine of our Lady of Guadalupe, which is the home of the tilma of Juan Diego, is a very unique pilgrimage site. It is the most visited Marian pilgrimage locale in the world and as is sometimes pointed out, the only place we can still see the physical evidence of an apparition of our Blessed Mother.

Stephen Henley

One of the most unique aspects of the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe is the ribbon at her waist. In ancient times, this attire for an Aztec woman would signify that she was pregnant. This would mean that this, then, is the only apparition where Mary appears pregnant with Jesus. During the pilgrimage, I spent time reflecting on this aspect of Mary as the mother of God, and on Our Lady of Guadalupe as the patroness of the unborn.

I tie this image of Mary with child to that of the Holy Family. Among other characteristics, being pro-life means being pro-family. When visiting the Shrine, aside from seeing thousands of pilgrims, there are many Mexican families traveling together to make this pilgrimage. Not only parents with their kids, but several generations, great-grandparents, grandparents, extended family. There are fewer images in our world that can speak more to real pro-life belief, than that of a family praying together.

Children, regardless of circumstance, are a real, tangible gift of God’s powerful love. Mother Teresa once said, “we must remember that life begins at home and we must also remember that the future of humanity passes through the family.” The family is the first Church, and an example for the world of God’s presence and love. In the historical moment of tolerance in which we find ourselves, it was a relief and a reassurance to see so many families come together united in Christ.

Our Lady of Guadalupe sends us a powerful message, an example of love and sacrifice for family to nations and cultures that have great need of her. Let us take this time to focus on family as a symbol of God’s love in our world.

STEPHEN HENLEY is Legatus’ executive director.

Take a revelry in the beauty of Catholicism

This October, Legates can enter the inner orbit of the Catholic Church, during the exceptional Legatus pilgrimage to Rome where all will see the Church, both behind the scenes and on the world stage. The tour group will venerate the unassuming relics that seemed so insignificant to the mighty Roman Empire: the bones of St Peter—the fisherman killed in the wake of a mad emperor’s ambition—in the Vatican Scavi, the slivers of ancient wood that held the infant Christ in St. Mary Major, and the simple linen cloth that absorbed the blood of Christ in the Eucharistic miracle of Bolsena. Then pilgrims will marvel at how these humble seeds bore glorious fruit in the breathtaking basilicas and works of art.

Walking through the Coliseum, marveling at the crumbled vestiges of Imperial Rome, the Legatus group will learn how the Romans, who worshipped men as gods, came to believe, thanks to brave witness of the early Christians, in God-made-Man. A few steps further and we’ll stand before St. John Lateran, the first legal Christian church and the cathedral of Rome.

The centerpiece of the trip will be Vatican City state, where pilgrims will dive deep into the beauty and history of the Church, even as history is being made. In a private after-hours visit to the Sistine Chapel, the Legatus group will stand alone before the glorious paintings of Michelangelo revealing in powerful forms and brilliant color the invisible beginnings and ending of our great story of salvation. They will visit the enclave of the Swiss guards and learn the history of Europe’s oldest private army. Don’t let the colorful uniforms deceive— this group of young men offered their service to the pope 500 years ago and still proudly promise to protect the pope with their lives today. Legates will see their armory containing the ancient weapons used to save the life of Pope Clement VII to the brand-new, state-of-the-art helmets forged just this year.

Even as the group tours and learns and basks in beauty, they will witness the Church renewing herself.

Mostly the Legate tour group will partake in the joy of the Christian faith, expressed in the soaring frescoes of the great basilicas, the delightful fountains donated by generous popes, and even the fun of learning how to make pizza together!

Come and revel in the ancient true faith that remains vibrant and living, to renew hearts and spirits in the beauty that is the Catholic Church!

For more information on the Legatus 2018 Rome Pilgrimage Oct. 5-12, contact Kendall Ripley at Corporate Travel for details (866-468-1420) or kripley@ctscentral.net

ELIZABETH LEV is an American art historian living in Rome, and teaches art history at Duquesne University’s Italian campus and at the Pontifical University of St Thomas Aquinas. She is a commissioner of the Tourism board of Rome and a consultant on art and faith for the Vatican Museums, for whom she authored Vatican Treasures: Art and Faith, a film that was presented to Pope Benedict XVI. She also works as a Vatican analyst for NBC.


… and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with ability and intelligence, with knowledge and all craftsmanship, to devise artistic designs, to work in gold, silver, and bronze, in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood, for work in every craft. Exodus 31: 3-5


Pilgrimages evoke our earthly journey toward heaven and are traditionally very special occasions for renewal in prayer. Catechism of the Catholic Church, #2691