Tag Archives: Meet the Chaplain

Houma-Thibodaux chaplain heads bishops’ committee against racism


Bishop Shelton Fabre of Houma-Thibodaux, Louisiana grew up as the fifth of six children. When he and his siblings had disagreements, his parents had a simple rule.

“My mother would say, ‘Unless there’s blood or the police involved, figure it out yourselves,’” Bishop Fabre said with a laugh while recalling his childhood in New Roads, Louisiana.

Now 57, Bishop Fabre recently celebrated the 30th anniversary of his priestly ordination. He has been the bishop of Houma-Thibodaux since October 2013, and is the chaplain of Legatus’ Houma-Thibodaux Chapter.

More recently, in his position as chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism, Bishop Fabre has overseen the implementation of “Open Wide Our Hearts: The Enduring Call to Love — A Pastoral Letter Against Racism,” which the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops approved at their November 2018 general meeting in Baltimore.

When did you first believe you were called to be a priest?

My call came from a priest. I was an altar server, around six or seven years, when the priest said, “You know, you should be a priest.” He said that to all the altar servers. But with me, it kind of stuck and it stayed with me from that point forward.

When did you enter seminary?

That is quite a story. I actually went to a high school seminary. I stayed three days, absolutely hated it and left. I said, “Okay Lord, I gave you a shot. I’m done.” I then went to a local Catholic high school. In my senior year, one of my brothers died of leukemia. That kind of event will have even a young person reflecting on life and suffering. So, I thought that maybe I wanted to be a priest after all. I went back to the seminary in college, and here I am today.

What was it about the high school seminary that you found off-putting?

I think I was just too young to leave my family. It was mostly homesickness. I just wanted to go home.

What was it like growing up as the fifth of six children?

There was always great activity in the house. Being one of six children, I think you learn to share everything you have, including a bedroom. The only person in our house who had her own room was my sister because she was the only girl. All the boys were shoved into one bedroom. You had your side of the bed and your area, but we learned to share what we had.

What lessons did your parents teach you?

My father was often asked which child he loved the most. My father had a response that always stuck with me. He always said, “The one who needed it most at the time.” I think that’s a great insight into both love and being loved.

What have been your impressions of Legatus since becoming a chapter chaplain?

I find that the people in Legatus are very faith-filled people who want to do the right thing. They are people who want to learn more, all that they can, about their faith. They are people who really do want to bring to their businesses, the Catholic faith. They are trying to deepen their relationship with Jesus Christ and bring that relationship to every aspect of their lives.

As chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Ad-Hoc Committee Against Racism, what makes this the right time for the Church to address racism?

I think that racism is an evil and a sin that we need to constantly be on guard against, rooting out of our lives and rooting out of society. I think this is another time when the bishops, and we all, need to be on-guard with regard to respecting the human dignity of each and every person. And that is what is at the very heart of “Open Wide Our Hearts.” The bishops make it very clear that racism is a life issue.

Meet the Chaplain: Concurrent pastor of two parishes also shepherds Detroit Chapter

Monsignor Charles Kosanke, the chaplain of Legatus’ Detroit Chapter, is the pastor of the Motor City’s two oldest operating parishes.

Monsignor Kosanke, 59, who was ordained a priest in December 1985, is also the chairman of Catholic Charities for the Archdiocese of Detroit and a member of the Catholic Biblical Association. He has been a Legatus chaplain for 14 years, and recently spoke with Legatus magazine.

How would you describe your experience as a Legatus chaplain?

I’ve had the opportunity to meet a lot of wonderful, dedicated and generous Catholics who support the Church and many other worthy charities. Our monthly program and speakers not only inspire and inform the members of the chapter, but I experience that same inspiration and knowledge as well.

How did you discern your vocation?

The birth of my vocation was really in my home parish, where my family was very involved, as well as my siblings and me. I was an altar server for many years, which gave me a close-up view of a parish priest. I looked into religious orders like the Capuchins, but I really felt called to be a parish priest in a diocese. So after high school, I entered the seminary. But though I never became a Franciscan, many of my parish assignments have brought me into contact with the poor and suffering.

What is your current assignment?

I’m the pastor of two parishes in Detroit: St. Anne Church, which was founded in 1701 and is the second-oldest operating parish in the United States, and the oldest church in Detroit. I’m also the pastor of Most Holy Trinity Church in Detroit, which is our second oldest parish founded in 1834.

In what ways is it unique for you being pastor of two historical parishes?

These two particular parishes are very special to the city of Detroit, not only for their history, but also for their legacy of service. Most Holy Trinity has one of the few Catholic schools left in the city of Detroit. It also has the longest operating free medical clinic in the country. In fact, Most Holy Trinity Church was the first hospital in Detroit because it was the place where they brought people suffering from the cholera epidemic in 1834. With St. Anne Church, the vision of Archbishop [Allen Henry] Vigneron is for St. Anne’s to become an apostolic center for the diocese, especially in the area of evangelization, with programs and services that would benefit all of the Catholics in Detroit.

How do you balance everything?

Two things are very important to me. One, is to get eight hours of sleep a night. Second, a daily holy hour in the morning. Those two things really keep me physically and spiritually strong, and keep me able to balance my various responsibilities. Plus, the parishes and Catholic Charities have very good staff, so it certainly makes it easier when you’re working with competent and dedicated people.

What do you do in your free time?

In my downtime, there are three things I like to do. I like to read, especially history. I also like to golf and swim.

What are you reading now?

I’m currently reading two books. One is called 1861, which is about the start of the Civil War after the election of Abraham Lincoln. The other is more Detroit-based, called The Dawn of Detroit: A Chronicle of Slavery and Freedom in the City of the Streets. These two books dovetail with one another about that time in history. Also, St. Anne’s was the only place of worship in the city of Detroit for 110 years, so anything that happened in the first 100 years of the city certainly has to do with my parish.

How would you describe your day-today life?

 When it comes down to it, my life is really the Church. It’s not like I’m a priest 40 hours a week and the other time is my own. I’m basically immersed in the Life of the Church, which gives me great joy.

Meet the Chaplain: Kansas City Chapter chaplain sensed priestly calling in 4th grade


Father Kenneth A. Riley, 53, is the new co-chaplain of Legatus’ Kansas City Chapter, which is set to charter in August 2019. The Chapter encompasses members from both Kansas City, Missouri and Kansas.

Father Riley, who has been a priest of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Missouri for 27 years, is also the diocesan vicar general for administration, the moderator of the curia, chancellor, and the judicial vicar. He recently spoke with Legatus magazine.

How do you juggle all your responsibilities?

Some days, I juggle it better than others. It’s really about what is the next deadline? What is needed most at the time? I try to give each of them a little bit of time every day but I also have great people I work with who really keep things moving too.

Did you always want to be a priest?

I thought about it in the fourth grade. I was an altar server. I loved it and thought, “Well, this would be kind of cool.” But that quickly went away and I then wanted to be a photojournalist and travel the world. I wanted to find local people, local stories, and just kind of walk with people and hear their stories, their lives, and see how God acts in the world.

How did you then discern the priesthood?

In junior high and high school, the idea of the priesthood kept coming back. I talked to my folks about it. I woke them up one night and told them I couldn’t get rid of this idea, that maybe God was calling me to be a priest. We had to shake my father awake. He said, “Okay, we’ll talk about this later,” and went back to bed. My mom and I stayed up for the night and talked it through.

Was there a moment when God confirmed for you your vocation?

In my junior year of Conception Seminary College, I had an experience coming back from the Rec Center. I went to the student chapel outside of a required prayer time and sat there. I had an experience of God laughing at me, but it was like one of those times where someone tells you a joke and you’re not getting it in the moment, but then it kind of clicks. I was very much at peace then that this is where God was calling me to be.

How did you get acquainted with Legatus?

Several years ago, when they were starting the group, they would meet at the cathedral, which is where I’m in residence, so I kind of knew them and would help out with confessions and Mass. They had a different priest chaplain for a number of years, and when he was reassigned, the bishop invited me to pick up the mantle and try to help the Legates as they move forward as a fledgling new chapter.

What have been your impressions of Legatus?

I love that there is such a prayerful spirituality and tone. I love the fact that they’re professional networkers who live their faith. I appreciate their faithfulness to the Church’s teachings, beliefs, and practices. I think lifelong learning is very important for all categories, and if you can do it with like-minded individuals of faith, that’s just a tremendous blessing for people.

Do you have any hobbies?

I like to go to the movies. I used to run a group for Catholics in the social media profession locally. I enjoy working and making faith connections with movies and television. Also, I like going out with friends for food and drink. I like to try different foods and converse over dinner. For me, that is very Eucharistic.

What is the value of media to evangelization?

We cannot not engage social communications and the media. This is the digital world we’re in. But we need to do it with charity and love, not hate and name-calling. At the same time, we have to call out people who do not speak the good, the true, or the beautiful, and continue to have the Gospel and the Good News presented there.

Meet the Chaplain: Lincoln chaplain first pondered priesthood in youth, when dad was ill


As a young man, Father James Meysenburg entered the seminary with the idea that he would attend for one year and then quit to prove to himself and others that he was not supposed to be a priest.

Today, Father Meysenburg, 55, is about to celebrate his 30th anniversary of his ordination.

“It didn’t work out the way I thought it would,” Father Meysenburg said with a laugh during a recent interview with Legatus magazine.

Father Meysenburg, a priest of the Diocese of Lincoln, Nebraska, became the chaplain of Legatus’ Lincoln Chapter a year ago. He is also the chief administrative officer of Pius X High School in Lincoln, Nebraska.

How did you become a Legatus chaplain?

I lived with the previous chaplain in residence at St. Joseph’s parish where he was pastor. If he was gone for some reason and couldn’t do the Legatus Masses, I would cover for him, so I got introduced to it that way. And because of my position here at Pius X, I knew probably half or a third of the people that were in the Legatus Chapter anyway

How would you describe your time as a Legatus chaplain so far?

It’s an impressive group of people to be around. I’m edified by their faith. I’m edified by how they try to bring their faith into their businesses and into their homes, especially in their families. I always appreciate the quality of speakers they have brought in over the years. That combination of being surrounded by real quality, faith-filled people, and having people who come in and give inspiring talks has been really wonderful. It’s been a real blessing for me.

When did you first suspect you were called to the priesthood?

Probably like most young boys, as an altar boy, you think about it. I quit thinking about it until my seventh-grade year, when my father got sick with colon cancer. That was when I started thinking about things to do with eternal life and what this world is all about. After my father died when I was in eighth grade, I kind of forgot about it, but it was always in the back of my mind. Then in my senior year of high school, I had a couple of people say, “Hey, have you ever thought about the priesthood?” I wanted to tell them to get lost.

Did you feel more comfortable about it when you entered the seminary?

No. I battled, wrestled, and tried to come up with every excuse I could as to why I should leave. It really wasn’t until I was two months away from my diaconate ordination that I had a sense that, “Okay, this is really an invitation. I can say ‘no’ and God will still love me, yet all the signs are saying that is what the Lord really wants me to do.”

What kind of assignments have you had as a priest?

I’ve been involved in education my whole priesthood. When I was newly ordained, the bishop at the time had two big priorities; one was vocations, the other was Catholic schools. All the priests were assigned to teach in Catholic schools because he wanted a priest’s presence to help with vocations. So I started teaching. After a year or so, I found that I really loved teaching. The bishop later told everyone to get an administration degree, so I went to the University of Nebraska and got my educational administration degree. 

Do you have any hobbies?

I like golfing. I wish I could say I was good at it, but I’m not. I am also a motorcycle enthusiast. I’ve enjoyed taking some great trips on a motorcycle. It’s been a few years now since I’ve been able to take a long trip, but I really enjoy it. Going up into the mountains with the bike, it’s really mind-clearing.

Meet the Chaplain: New Lake Charles chaplain a marriage tribunal judge


In Humble fashion, Father Ruben Villareal told Legatus magazine that he is “not very interesting.”

But the 31-year-old priest, who was ordained in 2015, is already a canon lawyer who, since July 2017, has served as a judge for the diocesan tribunal in the Diocese of Lake Charles in Louisiana.

Father Villareal, who thought about becoming a lawyer when he was younger, also teaches high school and college-level philosophy classes. Last summer, he was appointed to become the new chaplain of Legatus’ Lake Charles Chapter. 

When did you discern your vocation?

I first began discerning during my junior year in high school. I was trying to figure out what to do with my life after high school, so I began to pray about it. Immediately this idea came up, which was not a very attractive idea because I was thinking about having a career as a lawyer. I tried to make it go away, but it wouldn’t. So eventually, I looked into it. My pastor said, “Why don’t you give it one year? And after that, see what you think.” So I did that, and it became 11 years of studies. It turned out to be a good fit.

How did you go on to study canon law?

After I did two years of philosophy studies at our minor seminary in Louisiana and three years of philosophy at Catholic University in Washington D.C., I went to Rome to do my theology studies at the North American College. The way it works there, the theology degree is three years, but the American bishops require four years of studies. You have to begin something in your fourth year. Well, before the third year, my bishop said he would like to me to register to study canon law in my fourth year. I then stayed on two additional years to finish that degree. 

What is most challenging about being a diocesan tribunal judge?

Receiving petitions for declarations of nullity, though not all of them can be granted if the evidence is not there. For example, a few months ago, I had a man who was a year older than me sitting in my office. Things went south in his marriage but there really was no evidence for the declaration of nullity. There was nothing we could do, so I had to give it a negative. At the time he was 31, he’s got his life ahead of him, and his marriage of seven years just went south, completely out of his control, and I’m saying that at least in my opinion, he had no reason to think that he should get married again. Things like that are very difficult. 

What is more rewarding, being a diocesan tribunal judge or a high school philosophy teacher?

Teaching high school is much more rewarding. Seeing the kids light up when they finally understand something, philosophically or theologically. Getting to know them and figuring out how they think, how they see the world, that’s a lot more gratifying. 

What have been your initial impressions of Legatus?

So far, I’ve really been impressed with the overall ethos of Legatus. I see how it encourages the members to be involved in their community as Catholics, either through their businesses directly or inspiration to support a ministry. It really fortifies them to do what they’ve already been doing in many cases. I’ve also been very impressed with the speakers that we’ve had. Plus, I like the fact that Legatus goes out of its way to provide its members with the opportunity for Confession and Mass. 

Who are your spiritual role models?

I would say Bishop Fulton Sheen, Pope Benedict XVI, certainly John Paul II. I have a devotion to Our Lady of Humility and a huge devotion to St. Thomas Aquinas. 

What are your hobbies?

Usually, I read. I’m not terribly interesting. I don’t hike, run, or swim. I just like run-of-the-mill stuff, having conversations with friends and family, things like that.

Meet the Chaplain: Father Stanley Galvon – 2018 Chaplain Of The Year (West Region)

Former engineer, church volunteer had game-changing chat with his archbishop

Father Stanley Galvon, the Rector of Holy Rosary Cathedral in Vancouver, is a self-described “business junkie.” He is an avid reader of business authors Peter Drucker, whose writings have helped form the modern foundations of business corporations, and Stephen Covey, who wrote The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. 

Noting that Covey, a Mormon, introduced his coreligionists’ support for one another in business to a wider audience, Father Galvon wondered a year ago why Catholics had not done the same. When the Legatus chapter in Vancouver began, he jumped at the opportunity to serve as the chaplain.

 Father Galvon, 67, who has been ordained for 33 years, has been a vocations director and a parish priest. He was named the 2018 Legatus Chaplain of the Year for the West Region and recently spoke with Legatus magazine.

 When did you discern your priestly vocation? 

I was 29. I was volunteering at the cathedral as a young adult. Sometimes I drove the archbishop around to confirmations. One day, he looked at my hand, didn’t see a wedding ring, and asked if I had ever thought of becoming a priest. When I said no, he said, “Why not?” I said, “Well, I’m an engineer.” He said, “So what?” I told him that priests were skilled with psychology and sociology, and I was just an engineer. He said, “No. All priests have to do is pray and love God’s people.” So he told me to go see the vocations director.

And being a dutiful Catholic, I obeyed the archbishop. The vocations director suggested the seminary would be a good place to discern one’s vocation, and if I was happy there, that would be a good sign. Well, I was happy in the seminary, and I was ordained.

What did you do before entering the seminary?

I trained as an electrical engineer. I was an officer in the Canadian navy as a combat systems engineer on destroyers. I worked another three years with commercial petroleum companies. 

How did you become acquainted with Legatus? 

I was reading Stephen Covey’s book, and noticed how he was very eager to bring the ways of the Mormons in how they network with each other and support each other in business to a larger audience through his books. I thought to myself, “Why can’t Catholics do that kind of thing also, and network with each other and support each other, because we’ve been around a long time.”

So when Legatus surfaced in Vancouver, I was very pleased. The archbishop said he would need some help with the chaplaincy, and I was eager to say that I would love to assist with that.

Does your background in business help you as a Legatus chaplain?

Well, it certainly is a lived experience. I’ve seen there is a need to have clarity, a need to have vision and humility to work with each other. It’s good to talk about things such as best practices and to pray together about such things. Legatus is a wonderful vehicle for that.

Does your business background help you as a cathedral rector?

That’s where stewardship certainly is important, to know that it’s public money I’m responsible for. It’s not my money; it belongs to widows and orphans. So we have to be very prudent and effective in using it, saving it, and communicating about it.

Who are your spiritual heroes?

St. Catherine of Siena. She’s wonderful. There was a controversy of who was the legitimate pope, but she managed to sort things out with truth and kindness. That is a wonderful set of characteristics to have in facing difficulties. Also, Blessed Cardinal John Henry Newman, with his ways of persevering in his transition from Anglicanism to Catholicism, his being misunderstood but also being very prayerful and following his vision. 

What are your hobbies and interests? 

I like bicycling and cross-country skiing. My interests are more in serving the Lord with a business background rather than being a high-profile presenter in Church circles.

Meet the Chaplain: Monsignor Jim Vlaun – 2018 National Chaplain Of The Year

Like many legates, Monsignor James C. Vlaun, 57, is himself the president and CEO of a company.

Monsignor Vlaun heads the Catholic Faith Network, a television and media company owned and operated by the Diocese of Rockville Centre on Long Island, New York. He hosts several shows on the network, including “Religion and Rock,” a nationally syndicated radio show.

A Long Island native who has been ordained for 30 years, Monsignor Vlaun has also been the chaplain of Legatus’ Long Island Chapter for nearly 13 years and was recently named the 2018 Legatus Chaplain of the Year. He graciously spoke with Legatus magazine.

How did you get started at the Catholic Faith Network?

When I was newly-ordained, I was asked by my predecessor to take over a radio show that he was doing, called “Religion and Rock.” It was a show on a local rock and roll station that played rock and roll music around a particular theme, such as forgiveness. I would do the speaking in between the songs played during the hour-long show. And I’m still doing that radio show to this very day. It’s on the Catholic Channel on SiriusXM, so everybody can hear it.

 What do you find rewarding about Catholic media?

Media is constantly changing, so you have to continually adapt and renew yourself in this ministry, which is something I find very exciting, particularly in television, because how people view television has changed dramatically in the last 10 years or so. Now, it’s about on-demand, it’s about online presence, which is so important. Thanks be to God we have that and we’re able to be present and broadcast on other services such as Amazon Prime and Apple TV.

What was the most difficult thing about discerning your vocation?

One of the things I considered was that as I was getting older and maturing ever so slightly, I would probably have to give up all the things I like to become a priest. I love all kinds of music. I love media. I love television. I thought I would have to give all that up, but I felt a strong urge to say ‘yes’ to this call. The Lord must have been laughing in Heaven and saying, “No, you don’t have to give up any of this up. As a matter of fact, I’m going to use every single thing you have to build the kingdom of God.”

Does your background in running a Catholic media network help you relate to the Legates?

The unique thing about this is that I’m a CEO among CEOs, which is very interesting. I remember when I was first named the CEO of this place. I was reading the book Jesus the CEO. It was inspiring and interesting. But it wasn’t until I began to meet all these people who are leading business people in New York and how they live the Gospel that I learned myself a lot more of what it is to be a Catholic CEO and a priest-CEO.

How did it feel to be named the 2018 Legatus Chaplain of the Year?

I almost feel embarrassed by it because I don’t consider any of it ‘work.’ I consider it inspiring. Legatus has been a great experience for me. I’ve met so many couples who are living the example of what it is to be an ambassador for Christ.

Are there any hobbies you enjoy in your spare time?

Everything I do is integrated — my love of music, I like to go to the opera, and to concerts. I also love to cook, and I do a very popular cooking show on the network. It links the table and family together with the altar and the gathered community in Church. It links together with what I do in my work here too.

Who are your spiritual role models?

Among them would be Thomas Merton. When I have time to really read, I love to read Merton’s spirituality. St. Ignatius is one of my favorite saints. Dorothy Day, I find very inspirational as well.

Meet the Chaplain: Father Jonathan Duncan – Greenville Chapter

Father Jonathan Duncan is not an ordinary Catholic priest. His conversion from Anglicanism brought him into the Catholic Church on All Saints Day 2013 with his wife and their then-three young children.

Now a married father of four, Father Duncan, 36, is a former Episcopal priest who was permitted priestly ordination in the Catholic Church. As a priest of the Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, Father Duncan brings a unique perspective to his role as an assistant priest at St. Mary Church in Greenville, South Carolina and as the fulltime chaplain for St. Joseph’s Catholic School there.

Father Duncan is also the new chaplain of Legatus’ newly chartered Greenville Chapter. He recently spoke with Legatus magazine.

What made you “cross the Tiber” into the Catholic Church?

I ultimately came to believe what the Church said about Herself. Ministering as an Episcopal priest, I became acquainted firsthand with what it’s like to try to minister to people while not being under the authority of the magisterium, and not serving people with a consistent, solid deposit of faith. I began to see how without that, it was moral and theological chaos. 

How do people respond when they discover that you are a married Catholic priest with children?

With the people I’ve encountered, they’re happy to have one more priest. There are a lot of areas where priests are in short supply, so at the end of the day, I think they’re just happy to have another priest who’s available for the sacraments and for ministry.

Also, my wife and I make it very clear that we are not advocating or pushing for the Church to change its discipline on priestly celibacy. I’m thankful that the Church made an allowance, which is all it is, a provision, to allow me to be ordained. I would hold nothing against the Church if it didn’t have that allowance. I’m in no way saying that every Catholic priest should be married. In fact, the wives of other Catholic priests whom I know, my own included, will be first ones to tell you that on a wide scale this should probably not be the norm for Catholic priests, It’s because wives are the ones who endure when you have to be gone so many nights a week.

Does being married give you any special insights into the problems your flock faces?

In a way, yes, but I think there is also a value to objectivity. I can speak to someone who’s married from a certain bit of familiarity and experience, but at times you honestly need someone who’s outside of it, a celibate who can speak with a level of objectivity

 Who are your spiritual role models?

As an Anglican convert, it’s sort of cliche to say St. John Henry Newman, but I think Newman for sure in terms of that path of reflection and conscience. For me personally, there is also Archbishop Fulton Sheen. I was reading stuff about him even prior to coming in to the Church. And then there is Thomas Aquinas. In him, I think you see a real on-fire devotion to the Eucharist, to the Scriptures, to the faith. You have that ardent devotion coupled with ironclad reasoning, logic, and clarity of thought without any fuzziness. I appreciate that.

What have been your early impressions of Legatus?

 It’s been a wonderful opportunity to get to know a lot of Catholic leaders in business. In the community, and at the end of the day, I think you have to recognize that these are folks who through the businesses they’re creating, through the work they’re doing, these are people who are going to help shape the culture in our area and in our community. If that’s the case, we want to make sure those culture-shapers are being formed and shaped themselves in their Catholic faith.

Meet the Chaplain: Father Scott Adams – Jupiter-Palm Beach Chapter

As a young man, Father Scott Adams was close to being engaged to marry a couple of times, but those relationships never panned out.

“I had always wondered why those relationships weren’t working out. It was one of those things you don’t find out until later and you realize, ‘Oh, that’s why. The Lord had a different plan for me all along.”

After a business career in accounting and as a hotel general manager, Father Adams, 51, heeded the advice of friends to discern a calling to the priesthood. After a seven year process of discernment and seminary formation, Father Adams was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Palm Beach, Florida in May 2016.

Father Adams is currently assigned to the Cathedral Parish of St. Ignatius Loyola. He is also the chaplain of Legatus’ Jupiter/Palm Beach Chapter, which chartered on Dec. 11, 2018. Father Adams, a convert to the Catholic faith, recently spoke with Legatus magazine.

When did you first enter the Catholic Church?

I was around 25 years old. I was raised Baptist and later went to a Presbyterian church for a while. It was when I went out on my own and started looking for a church, that one day I went to a Catholic Church, and realized that it was what I had been seeking.

What was it about the Catholic faith that you found convincing?

One of biggest things for me were the sacraments, the supernatural breaking into the natural. The Eucharist, in particular, that it’s no longer bread and wine but the body of Christ. We can clearly see how Jesus instituted that sacrament. It’s really hard to get around John Chapter 6.

When did you first begin to think about the priesthood?

After I went through the RCIA program and became Catholic, I was involved in various parish ministries. Along the way, people, priests included, would ask me, “Have you ever thought of becoming a priest?” I never paid it much attention until I pretty much had to. When you hear it over and over again, you need to take it to prayer and take it seriously.

What was your discernment like?

I always thought I would be left off the hook. I thought, “Oh, I’m too old, they won’t take me.” But they accepted my application and I entered seminary. You do a lot of your discernment in seminary, but think I knew pretty early on in the seminary that this is what the Lord wanted me to do.

What have been some of your initial impressions of Legatus?

I think it holds an important place, particularly for the folks who are involved in it. Important is that notion of not only growing in your faith personally, but being able to share that and live it and spread it in all that you do. So many times in business, the deck is stacked against you. If you’re trying to lead a good Christian, Catholic, moral life, you’re often feeling compromised, and asking yourself, “In order to get ahead, what do I need to do?”

I think it’s also important for the Legatus members to recognize, which is so important in all aspects of our faith, that we are not alone. They can get together, support one another and recognize that there are other people who are struggling with the same things as they are.

Do you feel your business background helps you relate to Legatus members?

I think so. I’ve been in the same positions, where you have to sometimes make hard decisions, whether it’s employer-employee relations and you have to let someone go, or whether it’s in sales and you’re tempted to push the envelope when it comes to the truth. I think I can relate to them on certain levels, in a real way, where they can say, “Oh yeah, you know what I’m talking about.”

Meet the Chaplain: Father Andrew Spyrow San Francisco Chapter


At an age when many adults begin to see retirement on the horizon, Father Andrew Spyrow began a new life as a Catholic priest.

Father Spyrow, 58, was ordained in 2014 after a long career as a funeral director. He is the new pastor of St. Raphael Church, a mission church founded in December 1817 — the 20th mission in the 21-mission chain in Alta, California.

Father Spyrow is chaplain to Legatus’ new chapter in San Francisco, as well as the San Rafael Police Department. He recently spoke with Legatus magazine.

When did you know you wanted to become a priest?

It was actually something I had wanted to do since I was a little boy. My parents sent me to Catholic school from first grade all the way through college. I was taught by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet and also the De La Salle Christian Brothers. I can recall when I was in the first grade one of the priests from the parish who came over to the school to visit the kids, and I was so impressed that I knew then that’s what I wanted to be.

Why was your calling a “late vocation?”

This is a late vocation for me because I was a funeral director for over 25 years, but I always knew I had a vocation. And I give my parents, who recently passed and were married for 72 ½ years, a lot of credit with my vocation.

What made you decide to “take the leap” and enter the seminary?

A lot of my friends were De La Salle Christian Brothers and priests. As a funeral director, I worked a lot with parishes, so I got to know a lot of the Catholic priests in the archdiocese. There just came a point in my life where I had mastered my craft as a funeral director and I thought I could use my God-given talents for the Church. So I went in to see if I really had a vocation, and after seven years in the seminary, voilà.

Was there a spiritual dimension to being a funeral director?

Definitely. I graduated from college with a degree in business administration and religious studies. Going into the funeral business, I realized that it was really being on the cusp of this world joined to the next world. Death is such a mystery and it calls for a compassionate person to be with those families that may not know what next steps to take.

How did you come to be acquainted with Legatus?

With my background in business, the archbishop called me into his office and asked me if I would be the chaplain of Legatus. I didn’t know too much about Legatus at the time, but after talking to him and reading about it, I told him I’d be very happy to be involved in such a great organization.

What have been some of your early impressions of Legatus?

They have excellent speakers, who talk about what’s going on in the world today, and which allow Legatus members who are very influential in the community to be able to get a good Catholic insight into the human condition, and also as their roles as ambassadors in the marketplace.

Does your business background help you in your role as a Legatus chaplain?

That, plus my late vocation, has really helped me because I can help families where they’re at, as opposed to someone in their 20s who hasn’t lived in the world yet as a grown adult. I’m able to relate and able to listen, to be a ministry of presence to those around in every circumstance.

What is it like being the pastor of a California mission?

I meet people from all over the world, and it’s great to explain the purpose of this mission here, which was a hospital originally and built because the mission in San Francisco was in a cold environment. And I enjoy talking to student groups that come here for reports because I can tell them things that they may not come across in their research.