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2019 President of the Year had life-changing reversion to his faith

HANK CHRIST OF THE HARRISBURG CHAPTER CREDITS BIBLE STUDY FOR ENLIVING HIS LOVE FOR THE LORD

Legatus’ 2019 National President of the Year is Hank Christ, who in December completed a two-year term as president of the Harrisburg Chapter.

Christ, 69, lives in Wrightsville, Pa., with his wife, Edna. Together they have three grown children, one who lives nearby and two who reside in Chicago. Christ enjoys playing golf and traveling with his wife to the Windy City to see their grandchildren.

Christ is also chairman emeritus of McConkey Insurance and Benefits, a company he joined in 1976. He is an active volunteer in his community and in the Harrisburg diocese, for which he helps organize a ministry for young adults. He recently spoke with Legatus magazine.

How does it feel to be named the 2019 National President of the Year?

I’m a team guy. So to me, this is an award for the chapter. We put together a strong board and basically paid attention to things. We set goals, monitored those goals, and had a plan for recruiting new members. When you pay attention to things, good things happen. We have a good team and everybody did a great job.

Our chaplain is Bishop Ronald Gainer. He is an incredibly dynamic man, and we all love him. It’s a big part of our success. We’ve been awarded for growth each year.

How did you get acquainted with Legatus?

I got a letter from the bishop back when they wanted to start the Chapter about four years ago. He asked me to come up for a dinner and a meeting, and when the bishop asks you to come, you come. Afterward he asked me if I would like to belong to Legatus, and I said, “Yes, I would.” 

Has the Catholic faith always been an important part of your life?

I never faded away from the Church, but my relationship with the Church and the Lord changed in the early 1990s. I had a conversion experience. I started studying the Bible, and it had an impact on me. A friend of mine encouraged me to study The Bible Timeline by Jeff Cavins, which is a 24-week program on the story of salvation history. Basically, you learn the story of salvation through reading 14 books of the Bible. If you take it seriously, it’s life-changing. It’s quite a commitment, but it’s worth it.

How did that program change your life?

I used to go to Mass on Sunday to get my ticket punched. That program made me want to go and have a relationship with the Lord. So it started getting me into things like cultivating more of a prayer life, going to daily Mass several times a week, and going to adoration at least once a week. 

How has your deepening faith impacted your professional life?

 Our company has about 100 employees. Everyone knows I’m a Catholic. Every one of my customers knows I’m a Catholic because I talk about the faith. I let them take from those conversations what they want.

What you like to do in your free time?

We’re involved in the Harrisburg diocese’s Theology on Tap program, which is for young adults in their 20s and 30s. We get together, have dinner and a speaker. I work out the details with the restaurants. I book the speakers. I get the marketing data together and advertise the program through Facebook. We basically try to stay behind the scenes when the meeting occurs. The young adults who go to it have started their own Bible study programs, are going to Mass together, and are forming good Catholic relationships. We’re privileged to be involved in that.

“We Met Through Legatus”

Members of Legatus are many things: leaders, business owners, directors, philanthropists, and at least in two cases, matchmakers.

Henry and Mary Gundling of the Napa Valley Chapter and Jim and Julie Lenahan of the Milwaukee Chapter played matchmakers to their sons who met their future wives at Legatus events. In both cases, it took a bit of gentle persistence, but once the couples met, there was an immediate spark.

Gabe and Catherine Gundling

“My wife, Mary, and I came to know and respect Chuck and Ellen Haas through Legatus,” Henry explained. “We had also met their daughter, Catherine, on several occasions.”

Over the years, he and Mary, and other family and friends had tried to introduce their son Gabe to nice young women. “Apparently, he was too engrossed in building his business and content with his dog’s companionship to care,” Henry said.

One day, Henry and Mary visited the hospital where Catherine worked as a dietician to see a newborn grandchild. “The first person we met as we came into the hospital was Catherine,” Henry said. “She was so kind, friendly, and beautiful! I thought to myself, ‘Okay, one last try.’”

Henry checked with Ellen and Chuck to see if it was okay with them. They had met Gabe a year earlier during a weekend visit at the Gundling’s oceanside house. “We were impressed with his work ethic, sense of morality, and love and loyalty to his dog, Lucy,” Chuck said. “Ellen grilled Gabe about his love life and we had a nice weekend together, not knowing that he would be the future husband to our only daughter.” (They also have two sons.)

It was April of 2017. Catherine was twenty-eight and had recently ended a long-term relationship. Gabe was thirty-six. “I had been busy working on my business,” he admitted. He owns Lake Tahoe Balloons, hot-air balloon rides with five locations in California. By the time he was thirty-three, getting married was on Gabe’s radar, but nothing had worked out.

Catherine knew that Gabe had been given her contact information, but he never called. The reason was that when he learned that Catherine was traveling to South Korea in May for a friend’s wedding and an extended vacation, he decided that the timing was bad.

In June, Catherine’s father was giving a talk at the Legatus meeting about a solar cooking project he started in Uganda. Henry invited Gabe knowing that Catherine would be there. Their parents introduced Gabe and Catherine during the social hour, and they were seated together for dinner. “It was surprisingly easy, and just clicked,” Gabe said. “Catherine was interesting, and she was cute, so I saw potential from the beginning.” “At the end of the evening, we felt encouraged by two things,” Henry said. “Gabe and Catherine were deep in conversation and the last guests to leave the room, and as we were walking to the car Gabe said to me, ‘Chuck is the real deal.’”

The next day, Gabe called to ask Catherine on a date— a five-mile hike with their dogs. Despite the 105-degree heat that day, it went well and ended up at a casual restaurant where their dogs were welcome in the outside seating.

Catherine was immediately interested but unsure if Gabe felt the same until he bought an expresso machine for his house. She had ordered expresso on their first few dates. “That’s when I knew he was serious,” she said. They were married on May 5, 2019 and are expecting their first baby this April.

Gabe believes that his father was not the only matchmaker, but that his late grandmother was also on the job. “She was the matriarch of the family,” Gabe explained. “On the day of her funeral, I was in high school. I asked her to keep track of our family and to someday help me to find a bride.” The day that Gabe and Catherine met at the Legatus event was his grandmother’s birthday.

Jessica and Matt Lenahan

Jim Lenahan was the chapter president in 2014 when Jessica Zignego became the Milwaukee Legatus chapter administrator. She worked with him planning her first event, the annual July picnic. “Jim and Julie were the first Legatus couple I got to know, and we became friends,” Jessica said.

Likewise, they saw Jessica as a friend, but also as a potential daughter-in-law. “She is extremely organized and strong in her faith,” Jim said. “Both my wife and I thought what a great match she would make as our son is very faith filled. I have always felt that a strong faith is the key to any relationship.” Matt, however, had a girlfriend at the time.

The following summer, Matt attended the annual picnic with his parents. He still had a girlfriend, however. Congressman Paul Ryan was speaking at the event and Jessica mistook Matt for one of his staffers when she was passing out name tags.

“He came up to me and said, ‘Hi, I’m Matt Lenahan,’” she recalls. “It surprised me that he was as attractive as he was.” They chatted only briefly since Jessica was busy working. She learned that in addition to working for the family business, Matt was an assistant football coach at a school her brother attended, and he was on the board of the Women’s Care Center pregnancy center.

“I was not expecting any interest on his end,” she said. “I thought he was out of my league.”

Matt had also been taken by surprise when he met Jessica. “My dad tried to play matchmaker before with me and my brother,” Matt said. “I just brushed it off. From the very start he was always talking about Jessica. I didn’t even know much about her other than she was a runner. The first time I met her, I thought she was very beautiful, and I was impressed. I had another picture in my mind. It made me a little nervous.”

Matt attended another Legatus event in October. Unbeknownst to Jessica, he was single now and had gone specifically to see her. They again talked briefly during the social. Matt called a few weeks later using the reason that he was putting together a “Professionals in Action” group to increase awareness at the Women’s Care Center. Jessica would make a good fit.

“At dinner, we talked about everything but the Women’s Care Center,” Jessica said. The relationship took off from there.

“From a very young age, I had prayed to God for the right mate,” Jessica said. “I used to complain to my sister about the type of man I wanted compared to the kind that were out there. She told me that I was unrealistic. Having a strong faith was huge to me. Matt checked off on every single box.”

Matt said of Jessica, “I never met anyone who shared so much in common with me.”

There soon arose potential hurdles, however. Jessica loved the Latin extraordinary form of the Mass and Matt had not been exposed to it. But after eight months of prayer, asking God for guidance, Matt also fell in love with the Latin Mass.

Another issue was that Jessica had leukemia when she was three. It was possible that she would never be able to have children. Matt decided what mattered most was that they loved each other.

“They became engaged in September 2017, and were married a year later on September 1, 2018. On October 4, 2019, they welcomed their precious son Connor James into the world.

PATTI ARMSTRONG is a Legatus magazine contributing writer.

New warmth permeates North Dakota

It was a little over two years ago when Legatus central regional director Ken Darnell reached out to Bishop David Kagan of Bismarck, North Dakota, to gauge the bishop’s interest in starting a Legatus chapter there. Some 13 years earlier, Bishop Kagan had been a Legatus chapter chaplain for the Rockford, Illinois Chapter, and it left a lasting impression on him.

“He was well familiar with Legatus and was extremely supportive of having a chapter in his diocese,” said Darnell, who added that the bishop then promptly sent letters to several prospective Legatus members.

“It makes a huge difference to receive a letter like that from your bishop,” Darnell said.

Steady two-year growth towards charter

Since those early days in the summer of 2017, Legatus’ Bismarck Chapter has seen steady, incremental growth.

On October 22, the Chapter held its official chartering event at the University of Mary, beginning with Confession, rosary, and Mass in Our Lady of Che Word Chapel, followed with cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, a hearty five-course dinner, and Mr. Monaghan’s traditional ‘fireside chat’ – nestled by a Great Plains crackling fire – in the Harold Schafer Leadership Center. Afterward, new members enjoyed an after-glow event at University of Mary president Monsignor James Shea’s residence. Monsignor Shea, an in-demand speaker at many Legatus chapters, was also a concelebrant at the chartering Mass.

“Legatus is one of the best-kept secrets in the Catholic Church,” said Dr. John Warford, president of the new Bismarck Chapter. Warford, an orthodontist, former mayor of Bismarck, and former Dean of the University of Mary Business School, said the invitation he received two years ago from Bishop Kagan “piqued his interest.”

“I didn’t know much about Legatus, but upon further investigation into it, I thought it would be a perfect fit for me and my wife Jennifer,” said Warford, who decided to join after attending the Chapter’s second meeting.

“Legatus is a vehicle for attendees to increase their faith,” Warford said.

Dr. Raymond Gruby and his wife of 50 years, Joyce Gruby, are the co-chairs of the Bismarck Chapter’s Program Committee. They were among the first couples to become members.

“Everything about Legatus seemed to be excellent,” said Dr. Gruby, an orthopedic surgeon who led a practice. He and Joyce said they have made several friendships with the other couples who attend the Chapter’s monthly meetings.

Bond of faith fortifies friendships

“I think people look forward to seeing one another after a month has gone by, and then catching up on each other’s lives,” Joyce said. “There is a real intimacy in our group, a real caring for others. And of course, we have that great bond of our Catholic faith, and it’s very beautiful.”

The Diocese of Bismarck encompasses the western half of North Dakota. Despite its large territorial area, the diocese represents a modest demographic for prospective Legatus members.

“The people who have joined are terrific. And it’s been a blessing for me to get to know them, not only as Legatus members but as friends,” said Darnell, who spoke of the strong Catholic community in Bismarck.

“They’re just good people,” Darnell said. “They don’t wear their success on their sleeves. They’re strong in their faith and have great values.”

Keeping standards high, content solid

Warford said the key to building the new chapter in Bismarck requires one-on-one relationship building. He spoke of the importance of keeping standards high and not watering down membership requirements or content of the monthly meetings.

“Rather, we want to strive to create a Legatus chapter that is extraordinary. Sustainability is important, and I hope for incrementally large growth as time goes on,” Warford said.

Drawing compelling national speakers to Bismarck can be a challenge given traveling logistics. Still, the Chapter has been able to land nationally known Catholic speakers such as pro-life leader Abby Johnson and lay evangelist Ralph Martin, the president of Renewal Ministries.

“We want to continue to pursue the best speakers,” Warford said. “We also have an extraordinary local pool of speakers.”

“Our focus is on developing relationships and exhibiting Legatus to people who could be potential partners in this,” said Gruby, who added that the monthly opportunity to attend Mass together, pray the rosary, enjoy a meal, and hear a talented speaker has invigorated his own faith.

“It’s been an excellent experience in that regard,” he said.

Joyce Gruby said spending an evening with other Catholic couples whom she and her husband can relate to professionally and who share a desire to grow in the faith has been an edifying and enriching experience.

“It’s just inspiring to all of us, to strengthen and grow in our faith,” she said. “And the speakers, of course, are instrumental in that as well.”

BRIAN FRAGA is a Legatus magazine staff writer.

Kansas City Connection Two-City Charter Heightens ‘Legatus Effect’ In The Heartland

In an unprecedented chartering, Legatus’ new Kansas City Chapter is the first to encompass two adjacent dioceses of the same name (Kansas City, MO; and Kansas City, KS). And the eve of the Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary (August 14) provided the perfect setting.

The special Mass and induction of the founding members was presided by both dioceses’ bishops, with over 50 in attendance at Our Lady of Good Counsel Catholic Church in Kansas City, MO. Bishop James V. Johnston (Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, MO) offered Mass, and Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann (The Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas)) delivered a stirring homily.

Naumann reminded the new Chapter-congregation that “it is the role and goal of every Christian to do the will of Christ – to give our own fiat [as Mary did].” He encouraged Legatus members to go to Mary for prudence in making hard decisions, and to “invoke her protection in the fierce battle for the soul of our nation.”

After Mass at twilight, Bishop Johnston inducted the 22 new Kansas City Chapter members; and Archbishop Naumann commissioned the Chapter officers, blessing them all. Then Legatus founder Tom Monaghan warmly greeted every new member-couple, each memorialized with an individual keepsake photo. The Chapter’s two chaplains, Fr. Ken Riley and Monsignor Stuart Swetland, along with the parish pastor, Fr. Adam Johnson and associate pastor, Fr. Andrew Mattingly, were also present.

Then everyone commenced for the grand celebratory dinner at Mission Hills Country Club.

GROWTH FROM CONTAGIOUS ENTHUSIASM

 The Chapter began five years ago with just two interested members. But their contagious example and enthusiasm enticed many more. Even at the chartering celebration, two attending guests inquired about joining.

The Chapter’s fledgling support began originally in spring 2014 when then regional director, Stephen Henley, and former executive director, John Hunt, met with Archbishop Naumann and Bishop Robert Finn (formerly of the Diocese of Kansas CitySt. Joseph, MO), and received their wholehearted support to launch. Though the Chapter ebbed and flowed for several years, in 2016 with Legatus regional director transitions and a new chapter starter program, ‘Chapter founder’ Nelson Newcomer accelerated new-member momentum to the chartering milestone.

“Nelson and his wife Marcia were very pivotal,” says Chapter president, Bill Kirk, a partner at Rerum Novarum Capital. “Elizabeth and I had been Legatus members while I worked at Ave Maria University as VP/General Counsel in southwest Florida,” Kirk says. “When we moved to Kansas City and met Nelson, he encouraged me to take on the role of president in getting this new chapter going, and I was glad to do it. I really believe in Tom Monaghan’s life goal, and have adopted it as my own: to get to heaven and bring as many souls along with me as possible!”

“With Nelson and Marcia Newcomer’s ‘spark’ for rallying membership through the breadth and depth of relationships they have, it was truly fitting for them to be awarded the Founder’s Award,” says Central Region director Ken Darnell. But Nelson only wanted to hold an interim leadership role, in order to invite younger leadership to advance the Chapter forward. “And so Bill Kirk’s transition into the presidency was really seamless, given his valuable experience with the Naples, FL Chapter.”

REFRESHING EVENING OF FAITH

 “What drew us to Legatus at first was the reverent celebration of Mass, the opportunity for Confession, and the quality and faithfulness of the monthly speakers,” says Kirk. “And because we still have young kids at home, we’re grateful to take time alone for those refreshing evenings of faith.” The Kirks were especially honored to have their young sons, Benedict and William, Jr., assist as altar servers during the chartering Mass.

The celebration dinner was not to be outdone. After a lively cocktail reception, members enjoyed a luscious entrée choice of sliced medallions of beef tenderloin with garlic shrimp; or grilled salmon and petite filet with lemon butter sauce. Dessert was a fitting finale of tiramisu topped with chocolate anglaise sauce.

WORLD-CHANGING POTENTIAL

In his customary after-dinner ‘fireside chat’ with new members, Mr. Monaghan described the extraordinary opportunities he’d had meeting several popes, especially Pope St. John Paul II – and how it shaped his vision for Legatus.

Of the many ministries in which Mr. Monaghan has been involved, he still sees Legatus as having the greatest potential to change the world – as members have significant influence nationally and internationally, with so many people in various realms.

CHRISTINE VALENTINE-OWSIK is Legatus magazine’s editor.

Exclusive capitol event another unforgettable success

Legatus was well represented this year at the annual National Catholic Prayer Breakfast on April 23 in Washington. D.C., with a 40-participant delegation on hand. This was just one of the highlights of the 2019 Catholics at the Capitol excursion hosted by Legatus’ Conferences and Events office. Representing 20 chapters from across the country, the group gathered initially on April 22 at the landmark Marriott Marquis – Washington D.C.’s largest hotel. The evening began with the opening vigil Mass at the historic Immaculate Conception Church, where Legates led the rosary from the front pews as the wider congregation assembled.

COVINGTON, KY’S SANDMAN FAMILY SPOKE

After Mass a welcome reception and dinner for the delegation featured special guests Tom and Julie Sandmann. The Sandmann’s teenage son Nick, a student at Covington Catholic High School in Kentucky, was the victim of completely false reporting and character defamation by national media outlets reacting to pictures of him attending a demonstration after the March for Life. Tom and Julie shared their raw story of survival and fortitude before a spellbound dinner audience.

PREMIUM PRAYER BREAKFAST SEATING, PRIVATE TOURS

The next day the Legatus delegation enjoyed premium seating in the center-front of the ballroom for the Prayer Breakfast. A record 1,400+ people attended this year’s event, so the VIP seating was a big value-add.

Remarks from Abby Johnson, White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, Bishop Thomas Olmsted, and FOCUS founder Curtis Martin highlighted a packed program. After Mass, the delegation boarded a motor coach for a private tour of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. Lunch that day was at Maloney Hall, home of the Catholic University of America’s Busch School of Business, followed by a faculty panel.

GEORGE WEIGEL FEATURED DINNERFINALE PRESENTER

An afternoon of free time led to an unforgettable evening at the legendary Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse located in the heart of D.C.’s upscale CityCenter neighborhood. Dinner at one of the highestrated restaurants in the District was enjoyed by all, while George Weigel spoke on the Church’s contemporary challenges and how they relate to Catholic history.

The evening extended with Legatus members enjoying close fellowship and very fine wine, courtesy of Tom Monaghan, to enhance their time together.

WHITE HOUSE, MUSEUM OF THE BIBLE WALKS

The last day of the excursion began with rosary and Mass at the Catholic Information Center on K Street, followed by a walk through the White House, including a look out over the famous South Lawn just moments after the take-off of the Marine One helicopter.

A final stop was the Museum of the Bible, one of D.C.’s newest and most popular attractions, for a private lunch reception and tour hosted by the museum’s executives. This second annual installment of Legatus’ Catholics at the Capitol excursion was a great success, enjoying sold-out participation, and a spiritually uplifting time by all.

BY JOHN KNOWLES

Brian Burch – 2018 Defender of the Faith

Co-founder of catholicvote.org helps Catholics apply faith to public issues

As the President of CatholicVote.org and a married father to nine children, the youngest being a three-month-old, Brian Burch doesn’t have a lot of time for hobbies.

“Life goes by too quickly. Thankfully as Catholics, we believe there is something after this. Otherwise, it would be very odd,” said Burch, 43, who in 2008 cofounded CatholicVote.org, a nonprofit aimed at presenting a Catholic voice and perspective in the public square.

Burch is also a member of Legatus’ DuPage County Chapter in Illinois. In that capacity, Burch received the 2018 Defender of the Faith Award at the Legatus Summit in January. He recently spoke with Legatus magazine.

How did you feel about being named the 2018 Legatus Defender of the Faith?

I felt both honored and undeserving at the same time, given the caliber and prestige of many of the past recipients. But certainly, I’m grateful for the recognition of the work that, not myself on my own, Catholic Vote has accomplished over the last decade in trying to serve the Church and to help Catholics better understand and apply the teachings of our faith to American public life.

What is CatholicVote.org’s mission?

It’s in the world of public policy and law, which incorporates elections and the virtue of prudence, which is often misunderstood. This is why it’s important that lay people carry out this work. The Church doesn’t have specific blackand-white answers on every political question. It involves certain principles that must be faithfully applied to the greatest extent possible by people of good will seeking the common good.

How would you describe CatholicVote.org’s work in the last ten years?

The longer you are involved in politics, the more you grow to be chastened a bit by the reality of how difficult and how cyclical things sometimes seem to be. At the same time, the fact that the Church, in spite of its extraordinary mistakes and lack of courageous leadership on the part of some, remains a critical and viable voice in the public culture and in the public debate on issues of perennial importance is a testament not necessarily to the work we do, but to the triumph of the truth despite our human condition.

What are some issues you see playing a critical role for Catholic voters in the 2020 elections?

There’s the basket of issues that apply to any election that involves what the Church calls the foundational issues. In any serious moral culture and in an American context, that includes the sanctity of life, the continued efforts to protect the autonomy of religious institutions and persons of conscience, and certainly protections for the traditional understanding of the family.

Of course those issues extend to all sorts of other issues that involve prudence, such as the good of the economy. Increasingly health care will be a prominent issue driving the debate. Immigration will certainly be there. Federal judges have also been cited as an important issue for Catholics.

Mixed up in all those particular policy debates is also the question of what kind of country we hope to become. I think that debate in many ways is playing out in the minds of many Catholics today when they hear some proposals, particularly on the Left, to revolutionize the way we understand our economy, protect the environment, provide medicine, while throwing into doubt the ideas of gender, the family, of traditional institutions such as churches and the role of religion itself.

When did you join Legatus? Has it benefited your spiritual life?

I’ve been a member for about two years. To have an opportunity to pray the rosary, go to Mass, to hear from a fantastic speaker is itself a gift, but the caliber of speakers and the relationships we’ve established with the members of our chapter have really been a wonderful aid in living out our faith in the midst of the chaos of this world.

Non-solicitation policy and speakers

Last month I was visiting a chapter on the East coast and as sometimes happens, I was unfamiliar with her and her organization. She was a “local” speaker, so I was a little hesitant. Now, in full disclosure, some of the best talks I have heard visiting chapters have been from the local area. This is a great way to watch the budget, but even more, the speaker also knows the people/culture and can often resonate well with the members.

Stephen Henley

Now this speaker spoke on chastity and marriage and her own conversion story, which was hugely impactful. So much so that the chapter gave her a standing ovation. But then the dreaded happened: she finished her talk with the “ask.” This speaker gave such a great talk, and then crossed the line because she proceeded to solicit for funds for her organization.

Of course, I am a little more sensitive to the “ask” as I am a protector of our “nonsolicitation” policy, but this policy is sacred in Legatus. I often refer to our meetings as a “safe space” for this reason. I have heard from many of you about how much you value and appreciate the genius of this rule in all Legatus chapters. To this speaker’s, credit, she probably didn’t know any better, which is why it is up to us to make this policy clear.

As you embark on planning 2020’s speaker selections for your chapter, it is important, regardless of how many chapters a speaker has spoken at, that we revisit this “no fundraising, no soliciting” policy (the written policy can be found on the secure portion of our website under “resources” or by contacting your regional director). I further encourage either the president, CA or program chair to make it a policy of calling the speaker a week or two before the event to discuss the chapter, its demographics, review the chapter’s themes for that month or year, and lastly, to highlight these crucial policies.

To conclude, I am also pleased to announce the hiring our new regional director of the West region, Angela Chargualaf. Angela joined the team on March 14 to begin the transition from former regional director, Ty Soto. Angela is married to Jeff and the mother of a 20-year-old son and 17-year-old twins in Lake Forest, CA (Orange County). Although new to this position, Angela has been working as a chapter administrator for two chapters, Orange Coast and San Diego. Angela was named the Chapter Administrator of the Year in 2018 for the West Region. Elevating Angela to the role of regional director is a testimony to the chapters she serves, but further to the importance and role of chapter administrator in each chapter. Both chapters experienced 92 percent retention and an average of 13 percent net growth in 2018.

May you and your family be blessed as you celebrate the true meaning of Easter, from the reflection of Good Friday to the joy of Easter Sunday and the promise of eternal life.

STEPHEN HENLEY is Legatus’ executive director.

Securing the future

Happy New Year! We have just had our 2019 Annual Summit, which is the highlight of all our national events and a joyful gathering of more than 450 Legatus members from across the continent. At the Summit, we announced exciting news that in 2020, we will be going back to having two Summits a year. As a result of our growth, we want to make the Summit available to more of our members. Each Summit will not be identical, so we would love to have as many members as possible at both events.

Stephen Henley

I want to take the time to also touch on our endowment fund. In your renewal invoices, we give the option for members to donate to the fund. The fund is meant to ensure the growth and longevity of Legatus. Each year, we have members give between $15K-$30K. Your previous generosity in giving above and beyond your dues is nothing short of inspiring, especially as we continue to aim even higher in our goals. Each of you is part of a chapter that, at one point, was in development. We recently ran the numbers on what it takes to develop a chapter and it is a NET cost of $50K. This is by far the largest expense in our budget. However, how can we say “no” to growth when we can see the impact on all our lives and the amount of souls it has brought back to Christ? Throughout our 32 years, Legatus has had a great benefactor in its founder, Tom Monaghan, who has given over $13 million to Legatus and continues to pay his own way in all ways (dues, Summits, pilgrimages). But we are self-sufficient now and should not continue to count on his generosity.

Our goal in 2019 is to develop at least 12 new chapters, which equates to a net cost of $600K. Our national budget is not built with a surplus of $600K, so where do we get it? Either a chapter founder funds the development (we have had many of these before, such as Tim Busch or Joe Canizaro), we utilize funds from the endowment, or we raise dues $200/ member. I believe our two best options are to find chapter founders and to increase our endowment.

A possible fourth option is for those chapters that have excess funds year to year, to sponsor and/ or adopt a developing chapter. This is a way for a chapter to be involved in the future growth directly and put their excess funds to the best investment out there.

Between pages 38 and 39 of this issue, you will find an envelope where you can make a fully tax-deductible donation to the Legatus endowment fund. Please consider making a gift, and also consider naming Legatus in your will. You know the impact and potential Legatus has in our world. Let’s work together to secure that for many years to come!

STEPHEN HENLEY is Legatus’ executive director.

Newest Florida chapter galvanizes faith-energy for founding members

A burgeoning Florida chapter that got derailed during the financial crisis of 2008 just celebrated its first holiday season as a new “ambassador village” of Legatus.

The Jupiter/Palm Beach Chapter chartered officially on the evening of December 11, with 22 founding members, beginning with praying the rosary, Confession, and Mass celebrated by chapter chaplain Fr. Scott Adams at St. Ann Catholic Church in West Palm Beach. The long-anticipated chartering ceremony immediately followed, as Legatus founder and chairman Tom Monaghan personally welcomed each new member.

A celebratory reception and dinner commenced at the world-renowned Mar-A-Lago Club in Palm Beach. During the lively cocktail and hors d’oeuvres hour, members and guests delighted in music by a guest pianist in the Club’s elegant White and Gold Ballroom.

After dinner, the chapter’s founding president, Frank Maurno, conducted a congenial ‘fireside chat’ interview with Mr. Monaghan. The inspiring question-and-answer session delved into the Legatus founder’s life-snapshots – such as how Mr. Monaghan’s Catholic faith intensified; his personal interactions with Pope St. John Paul II; his time running Domino’s Pizza then, the Detroit Tigers; and finally his reasons for starting Legatus.

Originally named the Boca Raton/Palm Beach Chapter when it began developing in 2008, the Chapter suffered a membership drop at the onset of the Great Recession – in tandem with Florida’s economic downturn during that time. Maurno and his wife got involved in 2013 and worked with core members to rebuild and re-enliven the chapter. Word spread excitedly once again.

“New members began to come from the north end of our county, so we eventually changed the name and location of start-up meetings.” Many Catholic business leaders want – and seek out – situations where they can interact with like-minded peers. “And so, one of the first things you notice at our meetings is the joy that’s so evident – the room gets very loud, filled with lively chat and laughter,” Maurno says. He admits that he sought out Legatus for the same reason – “I wanted a place where I could share ideas about family and work, but in the context of our faith.” He and his wife Michelle enthusiastically joined Legatus after attending an open house at their parish.

Though Maurno just stepped down in December as chapter president after 18 months in the role, he’ll still be strongly focused on the Chapter and its new-member development.

Southeast Regional Director Ed Trifone also applauds chapter development officer, Karen Saum, with bringing the chartering threshold to recent reality. “She did a terrific job in late 2018 in meeting with several interested couples who ultimately decided to join. Her energy, enthusiasm, and devotion to Legatus ultimately led to the increase in membership, and certainly inspired the Chapter to continue the momentum she started.” Trifone says they’ll boost her efforts by meeting with others who’ve expressed keen interest.

And most members’ engagement with Legatus has a common denominator.

“Legatus gives me strength,” Maurno says. “It is so uplifting to be in a room with folks much like myself who are fighting the same battles, and wrestling with similar issues.”

CHRISTINE VALENTINE-OWSIK is Legatus magazine’s editor.

From City By the Lights – to City By the Bay

Two major coastal cities are home to the newest Legatus chapters, as a fresh wave of faith enthusiasm swells far and wide.

Legatus’ third chapter in New Jersey — the seventh in the New York City metro — the Newark Chapter chartered officially on the brisk evening of Wednesday, October 24 with 21 founding members. With enthusiasm high for Legatus throughout the central Northeast region, Newark is the region’s fifth new Legatus chapter to form in the last three years (since December 2015). All five of the latest Northeast chapters each attained their chartering threshold in under 10 months.

Beginning with rosary and Confession at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Ridgewood, NJ, followed by the opening Mass celebrated by founding chaplain Fr. Bob Stagg, new members were each officially congratulated and photographed with Legatus founder and chairman, Thomas S. Monaghan, during the twilight induction ceremony.

A hearty celebratory reception and dinner followed at nearby Roots Steakhouse, featuring autumn hors d’oeuvres, specialty cocktails, gourmet entrees of chicken, fish and filet, finalized with sumptuous carrot cake. Then Mr. Monaghan began his cozy Fireside Chat with the group, welcoming new Legates’ questions and comments and engaging each personally. This is at the heart of Legatus – camaraderie and comfort at the intersection of business and faith.

The Newark Chapter actually began taking shape in late 2016. Longtime Legatus members Brian and Janine Deane told Northeast Regional Director John Knowles of their desire for a chapter closer to home in far northeastern New Jersey, within their own archdiocese. Previously they’d been driving over an hour each way to attend Legatus meetings. So when Joseph Cardinal Tobin became bishop of Newark in early 2017, Knowles began a dialogue with him and ultimately received His Eminence’s blessing to launch a new chapter there.

After a strategy meeting with the Cardinal in summer 2017, it was agreed that Fr. Bob Stagg, Pastor of Presentation Church in Upper Saddle River – one of New Jersey’s largest and most active parishes – would serve as the Chapter’s founding chaplain.

The fast-developing Chapter held continued meetings in 2017 and ‘18, attracting new members at a rapid pace.

“Northeast Chapter development officer Matthew Keeny worked this year with Newark founding members Mario and Sue Costabile in rallying even more founding members,” said Knowles. “Fr. Stagg and Deacon Andy Zucaro, another founding member, celebrated memorable Masses for the new developing chapter, and always maintained a high spiritual focus at our formation meetings.”

Newark’s founding president, Lewis “Sweet Lew” Mulvaney, said he was drawn to Legatus because he found its members to be spiritual and sincere. “That’s important for a Catholic longtime businessperson.” Mulvaney says he aims to spread the ‘hope of the Catholic message’ not only to his chapter, but to whomever he encounters having questions about the faith.

The following evening on October 25, the new 21-member San Francisco Chapter met in the crisp, sunny late-afternoon for rosary, Confession, and opening Mass at St. Dunstan Parish in Millbrae. The special-occasion Mass was concelebrated by His Excellency Salvatore J. Cordileone, Archbishop of San Francisco; Auxiliary Bishop Robert Christian; and Fr. Anthony Giampietro – who had worked as chaplain with the Chapter during its formation years. The Archdiocese’s new Benedict XVI choir enhanced the Mass with soaring, traditional hymns throughout, with classical organ accompaniment. The Benedict XVI choir has been part of the Archbishop’s initiative to reintroduce sacred music back into the Mass.

Immediately following was a black-tie gathering at the exclusive Green Hills Country Club in Millbrae, CA, approximately 20 miles south of the city. White-gloved servers delighted Legates at the opening reception/cocktail hour with special hot and cold passed hors d’oeuvres. Mr. Monaghan personally signed copies of his recent biography, Monaghan: A Life, as he greeted new members in the adjacent Fireside Room. The grand dinner event, flanked with chairs in white ‘dresses’ with black bows, featured cedar-plank smoked salmon and filet mignon, with a dessert finale of sacher torte. And the evening capped off with the much-anticipated, personalized Fireside Chat between Mr. Monaghan and his newest family of Legatus members.

West Regional Director Ty Soto, says, “The new San Francisco Chapter is really a much-needed ‘shining light’ right now, in the midst of a very anti-faith, anti-Catholic culture.” It is the West Region’s 16th Legatus chapter.

San Francisco Chapter president Dan Vogl was among the earliest founding members of the Chapter beginning in 2015. He saw it as critical that successful Catholics also openly embrace their faith.

“Most business leaders and executives I meet keep their faith hidden,” Vogl says. “Many older businesspeople seem to be tired, and not willing to commit to what they perceive as another financial and time commitment. But even some younger businesspeople that I have encountered fear the perceived consequence of mixing business with religion.”

But Vogl added, “The great news is that those who have joined the new chapter have all expressed that it has been a blessing and answer to their prayers.” Each new member was also presented with a special rosary, made of Italian silver-oxidized blood-red crystal beads, featuring a red enameled Cross and St. Michael centerpiece.

CHRISTINE VALENTINE-OWSIK is Legatus magazine’s editor.