It was billed as the nation’s “biggest Catholic pep rally,” and members who attended Legatus’ Annual Summit say it didn’t disappoint.
Legates from across the nation say they were motivated to embrace Legatus’ mission to learn, live and spread the faith during the three-day event at the Ritz-Carlton in Naples, Fla.
Fulfillment of all desire
Opening night speaker Dion DiMucci told attendees of the Jan. 26-28 gathering that all the success in the world doesn’t come close to the fulfillment one gets from friendship with Jesus.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member, who rocketed to the top of the charts in the late 1950s and early ’60s with a string of hits including “The Wanderer” and “Runaround Sue,” said that “when you don’t have God in your life, you try to find significance in wealth, power, pleasure and honor. It doesn’t satisfy. There’s a big difference between being successful and being fulfilled.”
DiMucci gave his testimony, recounting how he came to embrace his Catholic faith after recovering from years of drug and alcohol abuse. He pointed to Ralph Martin’s book The Fulfillment of All Desire, which helped him develop a real relationship with Jesus.
“These things that St. Thomas Aquinas talks about — the wealth, the pleasure, the power, the honor,” he said. “Once you rest in Christ, and you feel like you’re home, he shapes your desire for those things.”
Other speakers — from Matt Fradd and Fr. Larry Richards to Ralph Martin and William Simon, Jr. — asked Legates to step into the cultural battle.
“It is for you and I to bring the living face of Christ into the world, Bishop Frank J. Caggiano of Bridgeport, Conn., told Legates in his homily during the Summit’s opening Mass.
Scott and Kathleen Hummel, members of Legatus’ St. Louis Chapter, said they were bowled over by their first Summit experience.
“The opening Mass started the whole thing off on the right note,” Scott Hummel said, noting Bishop Caggiano’s homily. “It just cut right to the heart of what we believe as Catholics and what we’re called to as Legatus members — to be Christ to the world.
“When the bishop stepped off the podium and walked down the center aisle into the crowd, he looked right into my eyes. Kathleen and I looked at each other, and I thought, ‘This is not what we thought it was going to be. This is going to be significant, this is going to be powerful.’ And it was. The talks were so deep and rich.”
While some of the talks focused on the theme of “No More Comfortable Catholicism,” others ventured into business, economics and culture.
“Business are not about money. They’re about people,” Legatus member Tim Busch said in his talk, entitled Principled Entrepreneurship. “This is what what our Pope is talking about. We have the richness of economic theory in the Catholic Church.”
Tom and Glory Sullivan, longtime members of Legatus’ Jacksonville Chapter, have attended most of the Summits since they joined Legatus 17 years ago.
“What goes on here are three action-packed days of meetings and phenomenal speakers — just jump-starting your faith all over again,” Glory said. “That’s the hallmark of Legatus.”
Friendship and fellowship
Hummel was also taken aback by the extraordinary amount of joy, particularly from emcee Dr. Ray Guarendi.
“The welcome was extraordinary. The whole thing was so fun and joyful. I really didn’t expect that. I was expecting a more somber mood. I was laughing and crying the entire time. It was so powerful and just a smack in the head and heart. We explained to our St. Louis colleagues that this is one of the most remarkable things we’ve experienced in a long time.”
Brian Burch, a member of Legatus’ Chicago Chapter and president of Catholic Vote, said the Summit is the place to be for Catholic leaders.
“You leave feeling educated, you leave feeling inspired. It is truly one of the best Catholic events of the entire year,” he said. “If you’re Catholic and you are a business person and you want to find ways in which those can be better integrated, there’s no better place than at the Legatus Summit.”
Hummel said his experience was beyond his expectations.
“I came into the Summit feeling like a stranger, and I left feeling so special,” he explained. “My hope is that every single Legatus member could experience this at least once. It’s really that powerful.”
PATRICK NOVECOSKY is Legatus magazine’s editor-in-chief
2016 AWARD WINNERS
National President of the Year
William S. Orosz Jr. (Orlando)
Central: William W. Dandridge (Fort Worth)
Great Lakes: Jeff Pallini (NE Wisconsin)
Northeast: Laura L. Connell (Jersey Shore)
West: Dr. Paul Urrea (Pasadena)
National Membership Chair of the Year
Bob Schwartz (Ann Arbor)
Central: Joe Giglio (Lafayette-Acadiana)
Northeast: Grant Franjione (Pittsburgh)
Southeast: Ray Bradick (Orlando)
West (Tie): Byrnes Lambert (San Diego), Kristen Meyer (San Juan Capistrano), Ralph Linzmeier (Orange Coast)
National Program Chair of the Year:
Matthew Pinto (Philadelphia)
Central: Doran Oancia (Denver)
Great Lakes: Fran Morrissey (Rockford)
Southeast: Tom Peterson (Atlanta)
West: “Billie” Wilhelmina Jorgensen (San Diego)
National Ace of the Year
Kenneth Ballweg (Madison)
Central: David Lukinovich (Baton Rouge)
Northeast: Cece Donoghue (Fairfield County)
Southeast: Tom Wessels (Atlanta)
West (Tie): Ralph Linzmeier (Orange), Murray Neilson (Vancouver)
National Chaplain of the Year
Fr. Ryan P. Lewis (Omaha)
Great Lakes: Fr. Daniel Scheidt (Fort Wayne)
Northeast: Monsignor Robert T. Ritchie (New York City)
Southeast: Fr. William D. Byrne (Washington DC)
West: Fr. Maurice Harrigan (South Bay of Los Angeles)
Chapters with 100% Retention
Houma-Thibodaux, Jersey Shore, Lake Charles, New Orleans Northshore, Northeast Wisconsin
John & Patti DeFelice (Harrisburg), Steve & Mary Lou Spoerl (St. Charles), Murray & Patty Neilson (Vancouver)
Ambassador of the Year: Ralph Linzmeier (Orange Coast)
Campbell Award: Philadelphia, Rockford, Denver, San Diego, Atlanta
Angott Award: Ann Arbor
Cardinal O’Connor Defender of the Faith: Peter Kreeft
Bowie Kuhn Special Award for Evangelization: Tim Busch