Tag Archives: legatus

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.


 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.”


 “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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

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.

The battles of our time

This month we reflect on the service of our many members in the Armed Forces. First, thank you for your service! As a veteran myself, I always feel a sense of deference and humility when I receive these thanks for my service, because I did not pay the ultimate price. But I recognize how important it is to show appreciation to our veterans and their families for the many sacrifices, even those “smaller” ones, made for our freedom.

Stephen Henley

When I think of our veterans, I have a special appreciation for the chaplains. The vocation to be a priest and a chaplain is truly a daunting one. During my time in the Marine Corps, I had many chaplains, and all of them were great mentors to me. It is hard to think about chaplains in the Marine Corps without thinking about Fr. Vincent Capodanno, the Grunt Padre. Fr. Vincent was a heroic chaplain from the Archdiocese of NYC, who earned the Medal of Honor while attached to a Marine infantry unit in Vietnam.

Fr. Vincent was part of Operation Swift in the Que Son Valley, when the battalion of Marines to which he was attached encountered a large contingent of the North Vietnamese army. When he heard about Company M taking casualties and that they were about to be overrun, Fr. Vincent went to those Marines and Corpsmen to give them last rites. Unfortunately, with those Marines pinned down by an enemy machine gun, Chaplain Capodanno also perished in the firefight.

Fr. Vincent is now a Servant of God on his way to canonization.

In our own chapters, we have chaplains. They are not necessarily running into physical enemy fire like Fr. Vincent did, but the daily spiritual battle can be as fierce as enemy fire. Our priests are heroic men who constantly engage in battle for us. The chaplain in various ways reminds members not to be like the ship “which has made many voyages, escaped many storms, only to run on a rock in the very harbor, with all its lost overboard.” (St. John Chrysostom: Homily on Evangelical Perfection)

The local chaplain serves each chapter as its spiritual father. Chaplains ensure chapters are reciting the rosary, encourage members to take advantage of Confession, offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, ensure speakers are orthodox, and are available to guide members in spiritual direction. Our chaplains are willing to be there when we need them most, by our side in our own everyday battles. The role of the chaplain is so important in the life of our individual members and chapters; we must not overlook their importance.

In closing, join me in seeking the intercession of Fr. Vincent Capodanno’s protection of all our service members, past and present. Let us also use this opportunity to thank our own chaplains for their service and pray that Fr. Vincent will intercede to protect them, who seek to protect us in the battles of everyday life. Fr. Vincent Capodanno: Pray for us!

You can read more about Fr. Vincent Capodanno in his life story written by Fr. Daniel L. Mode, The Grunt Padre.

STEPHEN HENLEY is Legatus’ executive director.