Legatus’ Great Lakes chapters gather for Marriage and Family Assembly
With pressure to dissolve the traditional family coming from all sides in our secular culture, America’s bishops are asking Legates to use their influence to turn back the tide.
Detroit Archbishop Allen Vignoron said the deteriorating condition of the family is one of the main causes of blight and dysfunction in his archdiocese. He was addressing more than 300 Legatus members gathered for the first-ever Great Lakes Region Marriage and Family Assembly on June 3 at the St. John’s Center in Plymouth, Mich.
The public arena
The archbishop called on Legatus members, who often hold positions of civic influence, to be drivers of social change and promote policies to lift up the family.
“Elected officials are more likely to listen to [you] than pastors,” the archbishop said. “In your political involvement, as you speak to state and Washington congressmen and women, keep very much in mind that … any initiative that isn’t focused on the family or doesn’t advance family life is not going to help.”
Archbishop Vigneron was part of a bishop’s panel that included Bishop Daniel Thomas (Toledo), Bishop David Walkowiak (Grand Rapids), and Bishop Earl Boyea (Lansing), who served as moderator.
Bishop Boyea pointed out that with the pending Supreme Court decision on marriage, people have told him the Church should get out of the “marriage business all together.” He rejects that notion.
“We have a role in the public arena because we believe what we teach,” he said. “What we hold from God is not only good for us, but it’s good for our society, our world. We may at some point be pushed out, but let’s go out kicking and screaming.”
Bishop Thomas said he’s looking forward to the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia, where he served as auxiliary bishop prior to being named to Toledo.
“My hope is that the World Meeting of Families,” he said, “will be an impetus for nurturing our Catholic families to witness to other families the joy and the grace and the gift of being Catholic.”
He challenged Legates to “take the next step to be more radical disciples. The best way we can possibly ignite families in the faith is by Catholic joy well lived, and that joy, I am convinced, can convert hearts.”
The event, which drew members from six Michigan and Ohio chapters, began with Mass celebrated by Archbishop Vigneron in the former seminary’s chapel. Concelebrates included bishops from the panel, Legatus chaplains, retired Cardinal Adam Maida, Detroit auxiliary Bishop Michael Byrnes, and Bishop Steven J. Raica of the Gaylord, Mich., diocese.
Legatus’ Great Lakes Region director Nancy Haskell said the idea for the gathering came from her tenure as assistant director of the West Region. Los Angeles-area chapters gather annually, as do those in Orange County.
“There was a special dynamic that happened when members came together at the Christ Cathedral for the first time,” she explained. “I loved how it affected the membership. That night they decided they were going to make it an annual event. I knew we could do something similar here in Michigan.”
Haskell said Legatus’ other regions could easily adopt the model. In fact, she is planning to develop a similar program in other areas of her region.
Ann Arbor Chapter president Richard Genthe served as the evening’s master of ceremonies. The bishops, he said, came prepared and fielded some tough questions.
“It was encouraging to see that they have a game plan for confronting the culture we live in today,” he said.