Tag Archives: Patrick Novecosky

Family is the foundation

Legatus’ Great Lakes chapters gather for Marriage and Family Assembly

Detroit Archbishop Allen Vigneron preaches his homily at the Inn at St. John’s Chapel on June 3 during a gathering of Detroit-area Legates (Patrick Novecosky photo)

Detroit Archbishop Allen Vigneron preaches his homily at the Inn at St. John’s Chapel on June 3 during a gathering of Detroit-area Legates (Patrick Novecosky photo)

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.

synod-2“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.”

Regional gathering

Grand Rapids Bishop David Walkowiak (far right) speaks during a panel discussion with Bishop Earl Boyea, Archbishop Allen Vigneron and Bishop Daniel Thomas (Patrick Novecosky photos)

Grand Rapids Bishop David Walkowiak (far right) speaks during a panel discussion with Bishop Earl Boyea, Archbishop Allen Vigneron and Bishop Daniel Thomas (Patrick Novecosky photos)

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.

PATRICK NOVECOSKY is Legatus magazine’s editor-in-chief. This article includes reporting from The Michigan Catholic and The Catholic Chronicle.

Legatus wins three international press awards

2011_Logo_TRANS_150-BUFFALO, N.Y. — Legatus’ monthly membership magazine picked up three international press awards here on June 26.

At its annual convention, the Catholic Press Association of the United States and Canada presented Legatus magazine with a third-place award for Best Coverage of Religious Liberty Issues for the second consecutive year. Judging is conducted “by a group of experts and Catholic press professionals,” according to CPA guidelines.


Lance Richey

The religious liberty category called for three articles. Winning submissions included “Catholic health care: A thing of the past?” by Matthew Rarey (April 2014), “Cultivating the virtues of subsidiarity” by Lance Richey (June 2014), and “The Supreme Court’s remarkable affirmation of religious liberty” by Kevin Theriot (September 2014).

Kevin Theriot

Kevin Theriot

Judges wrote that Legatus‘ entries provided “a powerful counter-narrative to what is often believed is a liberal agenda defined by compassion alone.”

Editor-in-Chief Patrick Novecosky received Honorable Mention for his editorial entitled “Difficult times for Americans, desperate times for Iraqi Christians.”

Judges commended Novecosky’s work: “Very interesting and timely. Generally well written.”

Patrick Novecosky

Patrick Novecosky

The magazine also picked up an Honorable Mention nod in the General Excellence category, recognizing Novecosky and his staff: Sabrina Arena Ferrisi (senior staff writer), Judy Roberts (staff writer), Shawna Kunz (designer), Mary Ellen Klask (proofreader), and Matthew Rarey (former editorial assistant).

“A mixed agenda gives this magazine a surprising array of content: reports on regional news, major stories on efforts supported by the group and analysis of the Obama administration’s merger of the U.S. embassy to the Vatican with the embassy to Italy,” judges wrote. “Feature section on the culture of life, ethics, and healthnet complement book and music review sections.”

Legatus magazine has won 21 Catholic Press Association awards for graphic design, writing and its website since it gained CPA membership in 2005.

Founded in 1911, the Catholic Press Association is composed of 238 member newspapers, magazines, and newsletters throughout the United States and Canada. This year’s contest winners were chosen among 2,528 press submissions in dozens of categories.


The family that prays together

PATRICK NOVECOSKY writes about instilling a devotion to the rosary in children . . .

Patrick Novecosky

Patrick Novecosky

by Patrick Novecosky

Almost six years ago this magazine ran an article in Defending the Faith on why Fridays (like Sundays) are different than every other day. That article changed me. It changed my family.

The article prompted me to go deeper on Fridays to honor the day when Christ gave everything for me. I talked to my wife about it, and we decided to pray the rosary together after we put our children to bed. We also decided to stop eating meat on Fridays year-round. And since I work across from a parish, I resolved to go to Mass on Fridays.

Maybe a week or two after we started praying the rosary on Friday nights, my son (who was seven at the time) crawled out of bed, got a drink of water and another goodnight kiss. As he came around the corner, he looked at us and asked, “What are you doing?”

“We’re praying the rosary,” I told him.

“Can I pray it with you?” he asked.

Being the suspicious father, I suspected he just wanted to stay up a little later than usual. However, I acceded to his request and he joined us on the couch.

The following evening, he came up to me and excitedly asked, “Daddy, is it rosary night?”child-in-prayer

I was dumbfounded. My boy wanted to pray the rosary with us! He happily joined us the following Friday. Then, just a few weeks later, my five-year-old daughter got out of her bed for a drink of water while we were praying. “What are you doing?” she asked. Our jaws hit the floor, but we knew God was up to something good.

To make a long story short, our Friday rosary has turned into a family tradition. With five children between the ages of 11 years and 10 months, it sometimes resembles a circus more than a prayerful gathering. But, despite the distractions of our toddlers, we’re doing it — and it’s marvelous.

I tell this story because prayer is the glue that binds us. It binds us to Our Lord, and it binds us together as the Body of Christ. Family prayer binds us to each other.

Prayer deepens our love and affection for our children, and it’s a training ground for them so they learn to make prayer a part of their daily lives. The Culture of Death is pressing in on all sides. Family prayer — and prayer among believers — is truly our nation’s only hope.

PATRICK NOVECOSKY is Legatus magazine’s editor-in-chief.

Legatus & New Evangelization

Editor PATRICK NOVECOSKY writes that the culture war is a spiritual battle for souls . . .

Patrick Novecosky

Patrick Novecosky

by Patrick Novecosky

In case you haven’t noticed, we’re at war. We’re at war with radical Islam and we’re in the midst of a fierce culture war — a war of ideas over the best way to live.

What this all means, when you get right down to it, is that we are in a war for souls. The devil knows his time is shorter now than it’s ever been, so he’s hard at work trying to distract us from the reality of Christ’s victory on Calvary. Satan’s first trick is to convince people that God isn’t real. When that lie takes root, his Culture of Death spreads like wildfire.

The chair of the Democratic National Committee recently said that killing a seven-pound baby in utero is not only okay, it’s an expression of “personal liberty.” The New England Journal of Medicine reports that 18% of patient deaths in Belgium come from either lethal injection/assisted suicide or from being put into a deep coma and left to die. Nearly half of the euthanasia deaths in that country are not reported. And throughout the Western world, the fundamental building block of society — marriage and the family — is facing a full-frontal assault from secularists and the gay lobby.

It seems to me that Legatus was founded 28 years ago for a time such as this — the era of the New Evangelization. With 87 chapters and well over 5,000 leaders, Legatus is a small but powerful army of business and cultural leaders who are tasked with turning back the tide of secularism by learning, living and spreading the Catholic faith in their businesses, their families, and their communities.

The men and women of Legatus are born leaders — Type A personalities. As leaders being formed in the faith, Legates are a force for positive change in the world. By living our Catholicism courageously, we ourselves are changed to become more like Christ. The joy that comes from our prayer and deep friendship with the Lord — despite our own sufferings and the Culture of Death pressing in around us — is transformative. We are called to radiate that joy, which is infinitely attractive.

In fact, Pope Francis told young people at World Youth Day in Rio last year that joy is essential to winning the culture for Christ. “Evangelization in our time will only take place as the result of contagious joy,” he said.

We live in an illogical age where the best-reasoned theological arguments are not likely to sway people, but joyful Catholicism has a great chance of moving mountains and winning disciples to Jesus Christ. After all, the Church exists to evangelize and so do we!

PATRICK NOVECOSKY is Legatus magazine’s editor-in-chief.

Deep in the heart of Texas

Austin Chapter charters in March as the Lone Star State’s fifth Legatus chapter . . .

by Patrick Novecosky


L-R: John Hunt, Tom Monaghan, Tim & Patricia Von Dohlen, Bishop Daniel Garcia, Fr. Albert Laforet.

Austin is often described as a blueberry in a sea of ketchup — a solid blue city in a solid red state. So developing a Legatus chapter in the Texas capital certainly wasn’t an easy task, but a handful of determined Catholic business leaders made it happen.

The chapter chartered with 20 member-couples at The University of Texas Club on March 18 with Mass celebrated by newly ordained Austin Auxiliary Bishop Daniel Garcia, assisted by chaplain Fr. Albert Laforet. The after-dinner talk featured chapter president John Oberg sitting down with Legatus founder Tom Monaghan in a “fire-side-chat” question-and-answer session.

Taking root

When Brian and Bernice Follett joined Legatus six years ago and moved to Austin, they were longing for a chapter to call their own. Follett and former regional director Brian Von Gruben broke ground in Austin by meeting individually with then-Bishop Gregory Aymond and Fr. Albert Laforet in 2009.

“We met a few times before the bishop decided to assign Fr. Albert as our chaplain,” Follett said. “At the same time, other people were asking the bishop about starting a chapter here. It’s wonderful when you have several people doing that.”

With Bishop Aymond’s move to New Orleans in 2009, the chapter’s development was put on hold until last year. The first official chapter meeting happened on May 7, 2014, when about 30 prospects gathered for Mass, dinner and a presentation from Fr. Leo Patalinghug, the founder of the Grace Before Meals apostolate.

Jamie and Alisha Lagarde were one of the couples at the first meeting.

“I had heard of Legatus from a good friend in Austin,” Jamie Lagarde said. “The name Legatus was familiar to me. My friend convinced me that this was a Catholic organization where I could meet like-minded individuals who share a common faith background and experience.”

Lagarde, president of Sedera Health, joined after attending two chapter events. “The private Mass was quite powerful for me,” he said. “On one level, it’s a great date night for us that we now look forward to. On a more spiritual level, since my wife is not Catholic, the talk gives a great opportunity to discuss and learn more about our different perspectives and many times find common ground.”

Growing in faith


Austin Legates pose for a photo after their March 18 chartering ceremony at The University of Texas Club.

Membership chair Tim Von Dohlen says the chapter has been a blessing to him and his wife Patricia. Despite the challenges of living in an unchurched part of the state, he says Legatus is needed in Austin.

“Legates are called to be leaven,” he said. “We are called to stand up for the faith no matter what, and Legatus gives us the courage to do that.”

Bishop Garcia echoed that sentiment in his homily at the chartering event by calling on Legates to embody the mission statement to learn and live the faith in love and charity.

“It’s in the everyday relationships we have, especially when we encounter people we differ with,” he said. “We must love those people. It’s not an option. It doesn’t mean we agree with them. But it’s about how we treat each other.”

Von Dohlen, who was also instrumental in kickstarting the chapter’s growth last year, also saluted the other four Texas chapters who helped launch Austin by suggesting prospective members.

Chapter president John Oberg, who has been involved with several executive networking groups, says Legatus is a Godsend for him and many others.

“Legatus is a place to learn more about my faith and connect with other like-minded people,” said Oberg, who entered the Church in 2009. “Being new to the faith, learning is essential. I learn not only from the speakers, but also from the members. It’s been fantastic.”

PATRICK NOVECOSKY is Legatus’ editor-in-chief.

Legatus stirs the faith

Editor PATRICK NOVECOSKY says Legates who know their faith will not cave to the culture . . .

Patrick Novecosky

Patrick Novecosky

Legates are fighters. This should come as no surprise since most business leaders have Type A personalities. But we have a distinct advantage: the Catholic faith.

Legatus founder Tom Monaghan established Legatus with one interesting provision: no projects. Legatus doesn’t do fundraisers or endorse political candidates, and it doesn’t take up causes because it has only one purpose: to form Catholic business leaders in their faith. Once that process begins, amazing things happen.

Well-formed Catholic leaders have the potential to change the culture for Christ in a big way. And it only takes a little religious persecution for a tenacious Legate to stand up and say, “Stop!” When Chris and Mary Anne Yep were faced with an Illinois state contraception mandate a few years ago, they filed a lawsuit. When the federal government did the same, they filed another lawsuit. And they’re still fighting. (Click here for a related link.)

That kind of tenacity doesn’t happen by accident. It comes from a serious understanding of Church teaching on contraception and a deep conviction in the Church Christ founded — the Catholic Church.

The Yeps are not alone. Dozens of Legates have filed lawsuits against ObamaCare’s contraception mandate, and they’re winning. Just as we were going to press, Denver Legates Andy and William Newland received a permanent injunction against the mandate that employee health plans include coverage for sterilization and contraception, including some drugs that can cause abortions.

The March 16 permanent injunction from U.S. District Judge John Kane for the District of Colorado said the plaintiffs in the case were protected by the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act. In June 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the act protects closely held private companies with objections to the mandated coverage.

Without formation and conviction in Catholic teaching, there would be no reason to spend the time, effort and money to fight contraception mandates and other breaches of religious liberty. But when people understand the spiritual and psychological damage cause by contraception (not to mention abortifacients’ ability to kill the unborn), there is a great motivation to fight such unjust mandates.

The Newlands were bolstered by the peer and prayer support of their fellow Legates — and from the expert legal team at Alliance Defending Freedom, led by Legate Alan Sears. The Yeps are drawing similar support from members across the country. Monaghan has taken heat over the years for not allowing Legatus to get behind causes, but in hindsight his decision to focus on members’ growth in holiness has born abundant fruit with more on the way.

PATRICK NOVECOSKY is Legatus magazine’s editor-in-chief.

Little Boy

LITTLE BOY is a profoundly moving family film that is sure to move your heart . . .

littleboyLittle Boy
Starring Jakob Salvati, Michael Rapaport
In theaters April 24
Run time: 112 min
Rated: PG-13

When I was growing up in the ’70s, it seemed like good family movies arrived at our local single-screen movie theater every other week. Our family didn’t see many on the silver screen, but instead waited until they arrived on broadcast television (usually five to seven years).

So much has changed. Movies are on DVD or streaming within six months of hitting theaters, but the wait between good family films has become five to seven years! Well, the wait is almost over. The makers of Bella, the refreshing pro-life movie that has saved hundreds of babies’ lives since its release in 2006, are back with a patriotic film that honors faith, family and fatherhood.

In small-town California during World War II, seven-year-old Pepper Busbee (Salvati) and his father James (Rapaport) are about as close as can be. The family expects that Pepper’s older brother London (David Henrie) will go off to fight in the Pacific. But when he’s rejected, the boy’s father is called up to fight.

Devastated, the little boy decides that he will do whatever it takes to bring his dad home alive. After initially blaming a local Japanese man (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa) for his father’s plight, Pepper develops a surprising friendship with him. The boy’s inspiration comes from two priests (Tom Wilkinson and Eduardo Verástegui). The elder priest gives Pepper an assignment: Perform all of the corporal works of mercy — and pray for his father’s safe return.

Little Boy highlights themes of faith, hope and love in the face of adversity. This moving story will capture your heart and lift your spirits as it explores the profound love between father and son. More than that, this story honors the Catholic faith and is sure to bring a smile to your face and help you see the world differently.

PATRICK NOVECOSKY is Legatus magazine’s editor-in-chief.

Click for official website


Annual summit builds bonds

LEGATUS SUMMIT: Members from across the country rally to change the culture for Christ . . .


Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee speaks to Legates on Jan. 31

When Legatus members gather, they always grow in their passion for the mission “to learn, live and spread the faith.”

This happens at monthly meetings, but the 2015 Annual Summit multiplied that spiritual growth exponentially, according to Legates who attended the three-day annual conference hosted by Legatus’ Indianapolis Chapter.

The gathering – among the largest in Legatus’ 28-year history – drew nearly 650 Legates and guests from across the country to the Ritz-Carlton Beach Resort in Naples, Fla., from Jan 29-31.

Diverse Topics

One of the most notable elements of this year’s Summit was the diversity of topics presented by an all-star lineup of speakers that included New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan, author Jennifer Fulwiler, Los Angeles Archbishop José Gómez, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, and current Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, among others.

Topics ranged from chastity to same-sex attraction, from religious liberty to physical fitness, from atheism to the importance of the Mass, and from evangelization to the success of the free-market system.

In his homily during the opening night’s Mass, Cardinal Dolan saluted Legates for beginning their events with Mass.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan delivers his homily at the Summit’s opening Mass.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan delivers his homily at the Summit’s opening Mass.

“We can’t forget the words of Pope St. Pius X,” he said, “who reminded us that the greatest vehicle we have to sanctification is through the Mass and worthy reception of Holy Communion —  which is the aim of Legatus. There are many excellent groups in the Church, but Legatus starts first with holiness of life and personal sanctification.”

Later that evening, Jindal discussed the challenges to religious liberty and reminded attendees of Ronald Reagan’s warning that freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.

“Every generation has to choose for itself to renew those principles of freedom because I believe we live in the greatest country in the history of the world,” the possible presidential contender said. “It’s not because of our DNA, it’s not because of our geography or our soil, it’s not because of our natural resources. It’s because our founders believed in limited government to secure, but not create, our God-given rights.”

Jindal, a convert to Catholicism, saluted Legatus members for its bold mission and dedication to the faith.

“What I understand Legatus to be is an organization of committed Catholics, committed to the Gospel, committed to Jesus’ instructions to us on how to live our faith, to care for the least among us,” he said. “I told [Legatus founder Tom Monaghan] that if this organization didn’t exist, it’s the kind of organization we’d have to create.”

Defending Marriage

Gov. Bobby Jindal speaks on Jan. 29.

Gov. Bobby Jindal speaks on Jan. 29.

One of the greatest challenges to the culture comes from the rapid advance of the LGBT agenda, several speakers told Summit attendees. C-Fam president Austin Ruse talked about the growing acceptance of gay “marriage.” (Read a summary of his talk here.) Also defending marriage was Courage in the Marketplace award winner Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage and a member of Legatus’ Philadelphia Chapter.

Huckabee, another potential presidential contender, devoted much of his talk to defending natural-law marriage.

“Until someone convinces me that there is a new standard [for marriage], and tells me who changed the standard, and by what authority they changed the standard, and what the consequences are of changing the standard, I’m just going to stick with what we’ve got,” he said.

Quite often people who hold to natural-law marriage, he said, feel alone in a left-leaning media-saturated culture.

“Part of the thing I want to say to people is, ‘No you’re not,’” he explained. “There is still a whole lot of America who think like you do. But even if the whole world changes, why would you come up with a standard other than the one that God laid forth?”

Austin Ruse’s talk  was entitled No Better Time to be a Faithful Catholic.

Austin Ruse’s talk was entitled No Better Time to be a Faithful Catholic.

One of the most lauded speakers at the Summit was virtually unknown to attendees before his address. Former male model Paul Darrow told how he left the gay lifestyle, converted to Catholicism and now lives a chaste life dedicated to the Lord.

“I used to think I was happy being part of drug-filled parties in New York City penthouses, surrounded by famous movie stars,” he said. “But today I realize that’s nothing. I’ve never been so at peace, so full of joy than when I’m on my knees before the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament.”

The Summit also included a seminar hosted by Thomas Aquinas College entitled “On Human Dignity and Religious Freedom.”

Other speakers included Harry Kraemer, former CEO of Baxter International; Al Kresta of Ave Maria Radio; fitness author Chris Crowley; Fr. Robert Sirico of the Acton Institute; and comedian Tom Dreesen, who doubled as master of ceremonies.

Passion for the faith

Summit co-chair Sam Reed of Legatus’ Indianapolis Chapter said he was thrilled not only by the speakers, but by Legates’ enthusiasm for their faith.

“It was a privilege for our chapter to host the Summit, to meet folks from across the United States and talk about common concerns,” he said. “I don’t think the Summit missed a beat with regard to leadership and the issues that we’re concerned about as Catholic leaders.”

Legatus conference director Laura Sacha saluted the host chapter and all attendees.

“Legatus members are some of the most committed Catholics I have ever met, and seeing their enthusiastic attendance at this year’s Summit was truly inspiring,” Sacha said. “Their energy  is contagious.”

Oklahoma City Legate Peter Hodges said the Summit experience met and exceeded his expectations.

“I expected to meet a lot of devout Catholics and have a good educational experience, and that’s what happened,” said Hodges, who was attending his first Summit. “It was time well spent.”

Reed commended Legatus staff and the members of his chapter for the record-setting sold-out gathering, which tied Legatus’ 25th anniversary event in 2012 for the best-attended Summit.

“Hosting the Summit really brought our chapter together,” Reed said. More than 20 couples from Indianapolis attended. “The camaraderie among members from across the country was remarkable. We have different geography, but our concerns and experiences are very similar.”

PATRICK NOVECOSKY is the editor-in-chief of Legatus magazine.

2014 Award Winners

Defender of the Faith
Archbishop Paul S. Coakley

Ambassador of the Year
Tom & Glory Sullivan

Officer of the Year
Maureen Adams (Phoenix) & Craig Henry (Lafayette-Acadiana)

Courage in the Marketplace
Brian Brown

Bowie Kuhn Award for Evangelization
David Lukinovich

Cardinal John J. O’Connor Pro-Life Award
Kathy DiFiore, Dr. Angela Lanfranchi, Wesley Smith

Angott Award
Fort Wayne, Pittsburgh, Baton Rouge

Campbell Award
Cleveland, Jersey Shore, Lexington, Phoenix, Portland


Old Fashioned

This uniquely romantic film takes on 50 Shades in true David-and-Goliath fashion . . .

Old-FashionedOld Fashioned
Starring Rik Swartzwelder, Elizabeth Roberts
In theaters Feb. 14
Run time: 115 minutes

By the time this review lands in your mailbox, you’ll likely have seen dozens of print, television and online ads for the movie version of the best-selling porn novel 50 Shades of Grey. Groups like Morality in the Media blasted the film’s R rating as way too soft. It truly needs an NC-17 stamp, which would have killed its box office appeal.

Taking on this box-office behemoth in true David-and-Goliath fashion is a little film about old fashioned romance … and courtship, an archaic word that was flushed down the toilet thanks to the sexual revolution. Old Fashioned‘s writer-director-star Rik Swartzwelder told TIME magazine that he worked on the screenplay for a decade.

Swartzwelder describes the film as “not a religious film, per se” but “a film with faith,” which was financed by individuals who believed in the story. He stars as former frat boy Clay Walsh, who has given up his reckless lifestyle and settled down to run an antique shop in a small Midwestern college town.

Determined to put his partying ways behind him, Clay has become notorious for his lofty and outdated theories on love and romance. But when Amber Hewson (Roberts), a free-spirited woman with a gypsy soul, rents the apartment above his shop, Clay can’t help being attracted to her spontaneous and passionate embrace of life. New to the area, Amber finds herself surprisingly drawn to Clay and his noble ideas.

Both characters struggle to overcome their fears and deep wounds, which gives the film surprising depth. Like many of the newer slate of faith-based films, Old Fashioned’s faith element is subtle, not forced. And the story is evenly paced and refreshing. I expect critics will laud 50 Shades and excoriate this film. But if you’re looking for a heartwarming Valentine’s Day date-night flick, Old Fashioned is a hands-down winner.

PATRICK NOVECOSKY is Legatus magazine’s editor-in-chief.

Click for Old Fashioned‘s official website


Je suis Catholic

PATRICK NOVECOSKY writes that poking fun at others’ faith is highly uncharitable . . .

Patrick Novecosky

Patrick Novecosky

When free speech advocates took to the streets of Paris last month, their signs read “Je Suis Charlie,” French for “I Am Charlie.” Their noble but misguided enthusiasm caught the attention of many, including Pope Francis.

During an in-flight press conference on the way to the Philippines in late January, the Holy Father not only condemned the Islamists who murdered 12 people at the French satirical publication Charlie Hebdo on Jan. 7, but he also said there must be limits on free speech.

Pope Francis reaffirmed that “killing in the name of God” is a real “aberration.” While he agreed that everyone has the “right” — even the “duty — to speak his mind to help the common good,” he said no one should deliberately insult another’s religion.

After the attacks, Catholic League president Bill Donohue blasted the killers and took the magazine to task for profanely lampooning Islam and Christianity. “Those associated with Charlie Hebdo, are no champions of freedom. Quite the opposite: Their obscene portrayal of religious figures, so shocking that not a single TV station or mainstream newspaper would show them, represents an abuse of freedom.”

Radio host Hugh Hewitt and Megyn Kelly of Fox News excoriated Donohue for “blaming the victims” of the Paris massacre. Kelly also accused Donohue of blaming the victims saying, like Hewitt, it was similar to “blaming a rape victim for what she was wearing.” Both interviewers pointed to the First Amendment, which, interestingly, has no legal bearing in France.

While both interviewers missed Donohue’s point, Pope Francis made the same distinction as Donohue in his comments on the killings. He told the media onboard the papal plane last month that “you cannot provoke, you cannot insult the faith of others. You cannot make fun of the faith of others.”

“In freedom of expression there are limits,” he said. With a laugh and by way of example, the Pope said that if Alberto Gasbarri (the longtime Vatican papal trip organizer who was standing beside him on the plane) cursed his mother, “then a punch awaits him. But it’s normal, it’s normal.” As he was speaking, the Holy Father threw a mock jab in Gasbarri’s direction.

Both Donohue and the Holy Father made the same point. While it may be legal to poke fun at others’ beliefs, it is highly uncharitable. And it’s downright naïve to think that poking a snake in the eye won’t provoke a violent reaction.

PATRICK NOVECOSKY is Legatus magazine’s editor-in-chief.