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.