Tag Archives: priesthood

For new Miami chaplain, it was an easy transition

“Business leaders need to have something in their life that reminds them to be faithful to the Lord.”

Father Richard Vigoa, 49, a priest of the Archdiocese of Miami, is the chaplain of Legatus’ Miami Chapter, set to charter this month.

Father Vigoa, parish administrator of St. Augustine Church and Catholic Student Center in Coral Gables, Fla., was ordained in 2008. For nine years, he served as the priest-secretary for Archbishop Thomas Wenski of Miami. In a recent interview with Legatus magazine, he described himself as a “workaholic” who probably doesn’t take as much time off as he should.

How old were you when you first thought of becoming a priest?

It was my pastor who first said something to me when I was age nine: “I think you should be a priest.” At the time, I told him, “No way, Father. I don’t want to be a priest. No offense.” But that kind of stuck in my mind. What did he see in me that he saw the potential of the priesthood?

When did you start discerning the priesthood?

It wasn’t until college. I was dating a young girl. I was even thinking about marriage. That didn’t work out, but I was very involved in my parish. Again, the pastor of that church told me, “You know, you have a vocation to the priesthood. Have you ever thought about being a priest?” I called the archdiocese and asked them if there was a day when I could visit the seminary. They told me to come by that weekend. So I made a pledge to the Lord: “I’ll give you one year. If I’m not happy after one year, then I’m outta here.” And I can honestly say, from Day 1, it felt like I was home. It was right for me, and it was where I was supposed to be. As they say, the rest is history.

How did you get acquainted with Legatus?

I was the priest-secretary for the archbishop of Miami for almost nine years. I was in my office one day this past September, and I received a letter from him saying, “I have appointed you to be the chaplain of Legatus.” We had talked about Legatus a lot. And, being his secretary, I was kind of aware of what was happening with Legatus in Miami.

What have been your initial impressions of Legatus?

I was already aware of some of the bigger donors here in the archdiocese. So for me it was easy to go into the role because I knew a lot of those people already. Also, a lot of my parishioners were either in the chapter or were interested in joining, so it’s very easy to slide into the role of chaplain.

What value do you see an organization like Legatus having for the Church?

Leaders, specifically business leaders, need to have something in their life that reminds them to be faithful to the Lord, to stay committed to holiness, and to continue to encourage, motivate, and engage others to know Christ better. If we can get the leaders in our community to be strong in their faith, that’s only going to make society better. It’s going to change culture, and it’s going to help the businesses they run to be effective and for the kingdom of God.

Who are your spiritual heroes?

Right now I’m writing a book on Bishop Fulton Sheen, on how he was the precursor to the New Evangelization. Pope St. John Paul II called him an apostle of the New Evangelization. There is no one who did it better in the 1950s than Fulton Sheen.

Understanding God’s special mission for those with influence

Father John Riccardo, 54, a priest of the Archdiocese of Detroit, will be a featured speaker at the 2020 Legatus East Summit.

Father Riccardo is the executive director of ACTS XXIX, a nonprofit he helped to form that is aimed at revitalizing parish life and helping pastors and their teams to reclaim their identity as missionary disciples. Father Riccardo recently spoke with Legatus magazine.

Without giving too much away, what are you going to be talking about at the Summit?

What I want to try to do is in the midst of the confusion that’s going on in the world we’re living in — and in the Church and the country — is to pull back from the weeds and to get clear once again on the big picture. And the big picture in my mind is to make sure we understand God’s plan for the world and our mission in it, most especially the mission that has been entrusted to people like those who belong to Legatus.

How would you describe that mission?

The mission is two-fold. For all of us, the mission is to understand that the work that happened on Easter Sunday was the work of the re-creation of the universe. What you and I are supposed to be doing right now is letting the Lord use us as instruments in his hands to continue to foster that work of re-creation in every sphere of life. For those who belong to Legatus, it’s that and then some. The line that comes to mind is the line in the book of Esther when Esther’s uncle says to her, “Who knows whether or not God has raised you up for such a time as this.” There’s an especially weighty task given to those who have influence, and I’m going to be talking about that, too.

What have been your impressions of Legatus?

I’ve spoken at Legatus meetings off and on ever since it started. The Legates are tremendous men and women with a real passion for the Gospel, and an eagerness to understand what God is asking them to do in these crazy times in which we live.

What did you do before entering seminary?

I worked in the auto industry. My vocation story is complicated. I never had an inkling to become a priest, but I had an encounter with Jesus that I could never deny. I went from being in a place of not going to church – even though I prayed – to Jesus inviting me to be a priest, which is something I had never genuinely considered in my life.

What was that encounter with Jesus like?

I was a typical early-to-mid-20s individual who was restless, trying to find something truly meaningful to do in my life, and wasn’t able to find that in the world. I was on my way back to grad school to get another degree to open another door, which I didn’t really care about because I didn’t want money, I wanted meaning. One day out of nowhere as I was praying, I felt like the Lord invited me to live single and to do it as a priest. And the moment He seriously asked me to do that, I knew that’s what I was looking for.

What is the mission of ACTS XXIX?

ACTS XXIX is a nonprofit we founded last year that does work with pastors and parishes across the country to bring about transformation and to help them reclaim their missionary identity. We feel the Lord has given us something unique to share with a segment of pastors and parishes around the country. It’s about priestly renewal, working with pastors and their teams to get healthy and then to get clarity on God’s plan for the world, and then to get out there and begin to discern the blueprint that He has for every parish.

Do you have any hobbies?

My passion outside of Jesus is golf, reading, and friends, not in that order.

North Georgia chaplain had stunning call to religious life

“HAD NEVER THOUGHT OF MYSELF AS A PRIEST … WANTED TO HAVE A FAMILY”

Father Lino Otero, 52, a priest of the Legionaries of Christ, is the new chaplain of Legatus’ North Georgia Chapter, which chartered in late November.

Father Otero, a native of Nicaragua, was 14 when his family immigrated to Miami. A few years later, an intense religious experience led him to discern a priestly vocation. That path would ultimately lead him to join the Legionaries of Christ in 1990, and ordination in 2001.

In an interview with Legatus magazine, Father Otero shared his vocation story, his impressions of Legatus, and the reforms that the Legionaries of Christ has undergone in the years since revelations came to light that the congregation’s late founder, Father Marcial Maciel Degollado, led a double life and sexually abused boys and young men.

How did you become a Legatus chaplain?

It was mostly because of the recommendations from some of the founding members of the chapter. They invited me, and I started coming to meetings, and they came to like me. That’s pretty much how it happened.

What have been your impressions of Legatus?

I’ve been very impressed by the maturity of the members. These are people who take their faith very seriously. They’re very intent in raising their families in the Catholic faith. They’re people who are very concerned about the deChristianization of society, and they have the desire to do something about it.

When did you discern you had a vocation to the priesthood?

I never thought of myself as a priest growing up. On the contrary, becoming a priest was the last thing I thought I would do. I was very much opposed to the idea because I wanted to have a family of my own. When I was 17, I was invited, providentially, to attend a retreat at a Trappist monastery outside of Atlanta. It was on the third day of the retreat that I had the most enlightening experience in my entire life. It was a split second of an immense shower, an inundation of God’s love, that felt like a little piece of Heaven in my soul. After that, I could not imagine doing anything in my life but to dedicate my life to God.

How did you end up joining the Legionaries of Christ?

It was during my time in the diocesan seminary that I realized the experience that I had felt in that monastery corresponded more to the calling of a religious life with vows. So the question was, if God was calling to me religious life and not the diocesan priesthood, then where? I was discerning with a very holy diocesan priest who had been a teacher of mine at the seminary. Among the options that I presented to him, he recommended the Legionaries of Christ.

Do you feel you made the right decision?

Right from the very beginning. I felt everything that I received in my formation was a blessing. And like many of my companions, we suffered the shock of the revelations of our founder. But eventually, even that we grew to see as a blessing since it has given us the opportunity to be more humble, and to appreciate things much more. In my own life, I’ve been able to detach myself from viewpoints and perspectives that were too narrow. I participated in the renewal and reform of the congregation, which entailed a reconfiguration of the inner culture of how we live our lives, our spirituality, and our mission.

How would you describe the health of the Legionaries today?

I would say it’s better than ever. Because even though, in the old days, many young men entered and persevered because of the high ideals that the founder presented, eventually, as one grew older, a stifling air could be perceived in many. So now, all of that is gone. I think our perseverance rate is much higher because the priests feel that there is greater degree of possibility of self-expression, of more mature friendships and relationships, and a more balanced way of life.

Retired Air Force chaplain embraces new Fort Lauderdale Chapter

MONSIGNOR JAMES DIXON SOON MARKS 50 YEARS AS PRIEST

Monsignor James Dixon may be a retired priest, but he will soon have a new role as the chaplain for Legatus’ Fort Lauderdale Chapter, which will charter officially in early 2020.

Monsignor Dixon is also a retired U.S. Air Force Colonel who served 23 years in the military. His final military assignment was at the Pentagon, where he served as chief of plans and programs for the Air Force chaplaincy service.

At 77 years old, Monsignor Dixon still walks five miles a day and he will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of his ordination in May 2020. He recently spoke with Legatus magazine.

How is the Fort Lauderdale Chapter coming along?

I think the Chapter is doing very well. We recently had a very good function and we’re getting close to the numbers that we need [for chartering]. Everyone is doing a great job, so I think we’re nearing the goal.

How did you get acquainted with Legatus?

I was at dinner a few months ago with a very good friend of mine who’s been associated with Legatus for a long time. He told me, “I’d like you to do me a favor.” I said, “Sure,” so he then said, “I’d like you to be the chaplain of Legatus.” I didn’t even know what Legatus was, but I had said ‘yes’ to him so I accepted the invitation. I wasn’t sure what I was getting into, but happily I got into something very worthwhile.

What have been your early impressions of Legatus?

I’ve been impressed with the kinds of people who are coming to the meetings and accepting the invitation. I’ve been getting to know them and I find them to be very sincere Catholic adults who want to do the right thing, who want to live and express their faith. They’re just good solid Catholic people.

How did you discern your vocation?

I don’t have a spectacular vocation story. I didn’t have to break up with a girlfriend. I wasn’t engaged, or on track to be a world-renowned scientist, doctor, or lawyer. I was just an ordinary person.

In my senior year of college, I started thinking about the priesthood. I went and talked to a priest, who said, “I have no idea whether you should go to seminary or not. But if you don’t, ten years from now when you’re married and have a couple of kids, you’ll always think back and ask yourself, ‘I wonder what it would have been like if I had gone to the seminary.’” I thought that was pretty good advice. Sixty years later, I’m still here.

What made you decide to join the Air Force as a chaplain?

For one thing, I really admired the people who were serving. I think the Air Force also appealed to me because very often, the work of an Air Force chaplain is pretty much doing parish work. On our bases, we run parishes pretty much like any diocesan parish. I liked parish work and I wanted to be a parish priest.

What are some differences between being a priest in the military and in civilian life?

One difference is that in the military, these men and women deal regularly with long absences. To move around every few years is a very normal thing for them. To have somebody in the family missing for months at a time, is a very normal thing.

Furthermore, on a more serious note, military people face the reality of death and they talk about death in a way that civilians don’t because they don’t really spend a whole lot of time thinking about death. For military people, this is a reality where even 19- and 20-year-olds will say, “If I don’t come back…” I think the military people hold on to life very carefully. They treasure it because they always have in the back of their minds the possibility of not being there one day. And often, they take their faith very seriously because of that.

New Bismarck chaplain sees how world longs for God

‘RELENTLESS’ CALL TO PRIESTHOOD BECKONED HIM AWAY FROM MEDICINE

Father Thomas Grafsgaard, 33, is the chaplain of Legatus’ Bismarck Chapter, which was just chartered in October. Father Grafsgaard, ordained on June 13, 2013, is pastor of Saint Joseph Church in Beulah and Saint Martin Church in Hazen, North Dakota. He grew up in Bismarck and dreamed of becoming a doctor before he heard the call to the priesthood. He recently spoke with Legatus magazine.

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

I’d always wanted to be a doctor, so I went to St. John’s University in Minnesota and got a biology degree. But during my junior year, I couldn’t stop thinking about the priesthood. I didn’t know why. I didn’t want to be a priest. I wanted a wife, a family, kids, and to be a doctor, but that call was relentless.

I studied abroad in Ireland in 2006, and it became pretty clear over there that God was calling me to the seminary. I’d say the call didn’t originate with me — it was definitely a call that God gave to me. I couldn’t imagine not being a priest now.

What is it about the priesthood that most brings you joy?

I certainly enjoy celebrating Mass. In hearing confessions, I am deeply edified and humbled by that. With the ministry of giving Christ’s mercy to people, it’s overwhelming, it’s such a gift that He left to His Church. I also enjoy being with people in every step of life. I could have a baptism followed by a funeral, wedding, or teaching in the classroom. Every day is different, and I love that. I’m learning new stuff every day, as far as what it means to be a priest and what it means to be a pastor.

What are some things you’ve learned in your six years as a priest?

I’ve learned the importance of simple kindness and charity, and also I’ve learned quickly how much the world longs for God. Being out in public, wearing the Roman collar, you see how much people are thirsting for God. To be a public witness to the reality of God and God’s presence in the world, it’s overwhelming and it’s very beautiful.

How did you get acquainted with Legatus?

Bishop David Kagan [of Bismarck] had contacted me, saying that there was going to be a meeting for people interested in an organization called Legatus. I knew nothing about Legatus and had never heard of it. But the bishop asked if I would be open to being the chaplain for our Chapter. From there, it just grew. I’ve come to really enjoy the Legates in Bismarck, and am very grateful to Bishop Kagan for having asked me.

What have been some of your impressions about the Legates?

I am edified by how much they desire to live their faith in the workplace, by being that leaven in society in living the Gospels and upholding Catholic social teaching. The Legates here in Bismarck have a tremendous desire to share, not necessarily by overt evangelization in the workplace, but in very subtle ways, to live the Gospel in a culture that is not always easy to do, especially in the workplace.

Who are your spiritual heroes?

Certainly, John Paul II. I was able to see him when I was a young high school student on a retreat-pilgrimage after my senior year in high school. Also, Pope Benedict XVI for his humility and his tremendous knowledge of history. I wrote my master’s thesis on Pope Benedict and the New Evangelization, so I’ve had a deep admiration for him for a long time.

What kind of spiritual impact did that retreat have on you?

You think the Church is big, but when you’re in North Dakota, you forget how universal the Church is, especially with the languages that are spoken, the cultures that Catholics live in around the world. I think that retreat helped me to understand more fully what it means to be Catholic.

Exemplary priestly celibacy models Godly fatherhood

Venerable Fulton Sheen once wrote that “Sex has become one of the most discussed subjects of modern times. The Victorians pretended it did not exist; the moderns pretend that nothing else exists.”

Our cultural fixation on sex, like other neurotic obsessions, has all the markings of a split personality. On one hand, sex is idolized as the ultimate good, an imperative for everyone, a necessary component of a successful and happy life. On the other hand, sex is trivialized as a recreational pastime, something as casual, fun, and meaningless as a video game.

 Holding this contradiction together has been the overarching aim of the sexual revolution, and with deadly effect. The euphoria over free love that swept through the Western world in the 60s and 70s ushered in new technological and legal demands, including ready access to effective contraception – so that sex could be enjoyed without consequences – and legal abortion, to make problematic embryos go away when contraception fails or isn’t used.

 If we wish to promote a culture of life, then, our remedy must go deeper than the legal protection of human beings who happen to still be in their mother’s womb. Our remedy will also address that split personality, both the idolization and the trivialization of sex. And believe it or not, priestly celibacy has an important role to play in the effort.

A celibate priest is, first of all, a living refutation of the idolization of sex. Do you ever wonder why so many non-Catholics are intensely interested in the question of priestly celibacy? It is not because they lay awake worrying about the sexual well-being of priests. Rather, it is because they know, deep down, that celibacy is an existential threat to the central dogma of the sexual revolution: that unfettered sex is an imperative of any healthy and happy life. When priests live their celibacy well, with joy, peace, and fidelity – as it is in the vast majority of cases – then the notion that sex is a human necessity is simply and emphatically debunked.

 Celibacy also refutes the opposite error of the sexual revolution, the trivialization of sex. In a book that I recently wrote entitled Why Celibacy? Reclaiming the Fatherhood of the Priest (Emmaus Road Publishing), I argue that celibacy is not primarily about being unmarried, but about loving in a radical and life-giving way, with a heart wide open in the exercise of spiritual fatherhood. In fact, celibacy is a living reminder that all men, including natural fathers, are called to spiritual fatherhood since their chief duty is to help their children get to heaven. Fathers are to raise not just children but future saints.

Celibacy, then, is a reminder that sex is anything but trivial. The beauty of human love between a husband and a wife is found in their breathtaking capacity to give life to immortal beings, something completely beyond their ordinary human capacities. Through their love, parents are made co-creators with God. This is why we do not say that human beings reproduce but rather procreate. They usher into the world children destined for heaven, whose souls are nourished, guided, and protected by their own parents and also, in a powerful and unique way, by the ministry of celibate priests, true spiritual fathers in the order of grace.

Protecting life means, fundamentally, protecting the human love that brings life into the world. The sexual revolution has left behind a devastating trail of human wreckage – broken hearts, broken bodies, and broken families. We need to begin the healing, recovering our sanity about sex which is neither an idol nor a plaything but rather a beautiful cooperation in the creative love of God. However paradoxical it might seem, priestly celibacy, well-lived, can help lead the way.

FATHER CARTER GRIFFIN is a priest of the Archdiocese of Washington, DC. Raised Presbyterian, he converted to Catholicism while attending Princeton University. After serving as a line officer in the United States Navy, he entered the seminary and was ordained in 2004. He is the Rector of St. John Paul II Seminary in Washington, DC.

The priest – husband of one Wife – for life

According to the Catechism (CCC 1579), priestly celibacy is a discipline found in the Western Church for those who are “called to consecrate themselves with undivided heart to the Lord and to ‘the affairs of the Lord’” (1 Cor 7:32). Eastern Catholic churches maintain a tradition that allows for married priests, but, as is also the custom in the Western Church, those who hold the office of bishop must be unmarried. Since it is a discipline that was introduced later in Church history by the Church’s authority, the presence of married clergy in Scripture does not refute it.

This discipline is also not an arbitrary one but follows Paul’s teaching that a married man is anxious about pleasing his wife whereas the unmarried man is anxious about pleasing the Lord (1 Cor 7:32-34). In fact, both Saint Paul and Jesus practiced celibacy, so taking vows of celibacy would follow Saint Paul’s command to “be imitators of me, as I am of Christ” (1 Cor 11:1).

Some Protestant apologists, however, claim Paul condemned celibacy, calling it a part of the “doctrines of demons” taught by those who “forbid marriage and enjoin abstinence from foods” (1Tim 4:1,3). In fact, Paul said that “a bishop must be above reproach, the husband of one wife” (1 Tim 3:2), which means, according to Todd Baker (author of Exodus from Rome: A Biblical and Historical Critique of Roman Catholicism), “Rome blatantly contradicts Scripture by demanding their bishops and priests must be unmarried celibates.”

The Catholic Church does not teach that marriage or eating meat is evil. In fact, it is because these things are good and pleasurable that it is praiseworthy when someone abstains from them to serve the Church for a season (such as during a Lenten fast) or for the remainder of an entire lifetime as in the case of clerical celibacy. The fact that Paul desired that all could be celibate like him (1 Cor 7:7) makes it highly implausible that he would have condemned voluntary vows of celibacy.

Baker dredges up the canard that priestly celibacy is responsible for the clergy sex abuse crisis that took place in the late 20th century.

The actions of the small number of priests who abused children, as well as the decisions of some bishops to transfer those priests and rely on psychological treatments instead of criminal prosecution, have caused great harm to innocent lives and great scandal to the Church. But these sinful acts do not prove that celibacy is sinful or that it was a motivating factor in the recent clerical abuse scandal.

Excerpt from Chapter 7, “The Priesthood” (pp. 153-57) in the recently released book, The Case for Catholicism: Answers to Classic and Contemporary Protestant Objections, by Trent Horn (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2017). www.ignatius.com

 

TRENT HORN, a convert to Catholicism, earned a bachelor’s degree in history at Arizona State University, then a master’s degree in theology at Franciscan University of Steubenville. He is a regular guest on the popular radio program “Catholic Answers LIVE,” and nationwide lecturer on the Catholic faith. Additionally he is author of Answering Atheism, Persuasive Pro-Life, and Hard Sayings.

Father CEO

The path to the seminary is different for every man.

Legatepriests-1

Legate Fr. Philip Schulze is ordained to the priesthood by Archbishop Leonard Blair on May 21. (Karen O. Bray/The Catholic Transcript photo)

But when a man enters the priesthood late in life, that path often includes life experiences that give these pastors a unique, inside view of the flock they lead.

Philip Schulze was ordained on May 21 at the age of 61 for the Archdiocese of Hartford, Conn. The longtime member of Legatus’ New York City Chapter recently reinstated with the Hartford Chapter. His story proves, if anything, that the second act of one’s life can be radically different from the first.

Although Legatus is an organization designed exclusively for the laity, a member is not removed if he or she pursues a religious vocation. Father Schulze is one of two priest Legates. A third is about to join the seminary.

Faith formation

Schulze grew up in Manhattan to an Italian Catholic mother and German Lutheran father. His dad converted to his mother’s faith early on.

“Living on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, materialism was in my face every day,” Fr. Schulze explained. “You can become very jaded quickly in New York if you’re not careful.”

Father Schulze’s parents were his first exposure to Catholicism.

“During her middle age years, my mother went to Mass most Sundays. My father followed. The faith was strong for them in the later years,” he explained.

After attending the Bronx High School of Science, he went to the University of Notre Dame.

“My Catholic faith grew well at Notre Dame,” he said. “My strong desire to go to there was because of its Catholic character.” During college, Schulze threw himself into his studies, focusing on the university’s five-year architecture program. He graduated in 1977 before going on to earn an MBA in investment analysis and real estate appraisal from the University of Wisconsin in 1984.

Schulze went on to have a highly successful career in real estate development — first with the multinational CIBC Wood Gundy, running their global corporate real estate division, and then for UBS as head of their corporate real estate division for private banking in the Western Hemisphere. Throughout his career, Schulze was single.

“The turning point came in 2006, when I realized that I had moved in this field as far as I wanted to go. I knew I needed a new plateau,” he said.

When the 2008 financial crisis hit, UBS private banking fell apart. Schulze’s company ended up downsizing, and the staff in his division was given a generous severance package. “People were using this time to find other jobs, but I remember thinking that I didn’t want to remain in the field,” he said.

Hearing the call

The future priest then began to think outside the box. Since he had always been a devout Catholic, the idea crossed his mind to become a deacon. But when Schulze went to speak with his parish priest at the Church of the Holy Trinity, he was directed to Fr. Glenn Sudano of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal.

Fr. Philip Schulze

Fr. Philip Schulze

“Speaking with Fr. Glenn was very helpful,” Fr. Schulze explained. “He told me that I definitely had a calling to the priesthood and that my paper-pushing days were over.”

Only a handful of seminaries in the U.S. take older men. Eventually, Schulze narrowed his options down to two seminaries: one in Santa Fe, N.M., and one in Hartford, Conn. He had a hard time discerning between the seminaries, but the answer came to him through two people. The first was at the 50th birthday party of his ex-boss.

“During the party, I was telling my friends that I had to decide between seminary in Hartford or Santa Fe,” he said. “My friend’s son, Connor — a precocious 11-year-old — pulled up a chair and told me, ‘You are going to Hartford.’ When I asked him why, he simply said, ‘You are!’”

The next day a friend called Schulze and basically told him the same thing, reminding him that he would be able to serve the highly educated workforce in Connecticut and New York very well as a priest with a business background.

Life of service

The new priest said he expects that he will be involved in the Hartford archdiocese’s property redevelopment corporation. How that will play out remains to be seen.

“I will leave everything to the Holy Spirit to guide me,” he said.

Fr. Andrew Johnson

Fr. Andrew Johnson

The vocation to the priesthood — with the added dimension of having a business background and a family life — also came to Fr. Andrew Johnson, 87, the parochial vicar at St. Thomas More Parish in San Francisco. The former attorney, accountant and investment advisor is a founding member of Legatus’ Las Vegas Chapter and served as chapter president for several years.

After the death of his wife, the father of six began to think about the priesthood.

“I was 68 years old and thought I was too old, but the call to the priesthood kept growing,” Fr. Johnson explained.

It was challenging to find a bishop to sponsor him, but then-San Francisco Archbishop William Levada welcomed him. Father Johnson was ordained at 73.

Though he believes that his experience as a family man helps him when counselling, Fr. Johnson doesn’t believe priests should be married.

“I was married and I know full well that if a child of mine got sick, I would drop everything for that child. You can’t do both: be married and be a priest,” he said.

New Orleans Legates Maureen and Leon Poché pose with their granddaughter in 2013

New Orleans Legates Maureen and Leon
Poché pose with their granddaughter in 2013

Life experiences in business and family are also a driving force for Leon Poché, a member of Legatus’ New Orleans Chapter who will enter the seminary in August. He was married to his wife Maureen for 35 years before she succumbed to ovarian cancer in 2015. They have two children and one granddaughter. By trade, Poché was a trained CPA who worked in the banking industry.

Poché had always wanted to be a deacon. But since he and his wife had been involved in a ministry preparing couples for marriage, he never entered diaconate studies because the program requires students to give up all other ministries.

“Towards the end of her battle with cancer, Maureen said, ‘I guess God wants you to be a deacon,’” Poché explained. He believes his background in the banking industry and his marriage will be helpful to others.

“There is a plan here somewhere. When someone comes to me as a priest — especially with the death of a loved one — I can help. I’ve been there. I know it hurts,” he said.

All three Legates agree that late vocations to the priesthood will never be the norm, but these men certainly add a richness and powerful empathetic element to the ministerial priesthood.

SABRINA ARENA FERRISI is a Legatus magazine staff writer.

Colorado chaplain’s common-sense faith

Monsignor Robert Jaeger loves serving Legatus’ Colorado Springs Chapter . . .

Monsignor Robert Jaeger

Monsignor Robert Jaeger

Monsignor Robert Jaeger
Colorado Springs Chapter

Ordained in 1990 at the age of 39, Monsignor Robert Jaeger became a priest after working in the secular world for a decade. He is currently pastor of St. Paul’s Parish in Colorado Springs (where he had served as an associate pastor after ordination) and vicar general and master of ceremonies for the Colorado Springs diocese. Previously, he served as vicar for clergy, pastor of Annunciation and St. Joseph parishes in Leadville, and pastor of St. Peter Parish in Monument.

Tell us about your call to the priesthood.

Prior to priesthood, I worked 10 years for the State of Nevada in the adult parole and probation department. I had an older brother who was a priest in Illinois and always had a good connection with priests and bishops. They were always very encouraging to me to become a priest. I thought about it for a long time and made some efforts earlier on in life — but not very sincere — attempting to be a priest. Ultimately, I went to seminary at 35 and felt I needed to be honest with God and answer the call on his terms, not mine.

What have you found to be the most fulfilling aspect of your priesthood?

I’m really big into Catholic education. There’s a Catholic school here in my parish. Catholic education is an opportunity to build a strong faith foundation in young people. It’s a great gift and a great way to learn more about your own faith and put it into action every day.

How did you become acquainted with Legatus?

Primarily through working for the diocese and through the previous chaplain, Fr. Mark Pranaitis. When he was transferred to Chicago, I said I would volunteer to be the chaplain. There happen to be a lot of people from my parish who belong to Legatus and we keep inviting more and more.

What impact has Legatus had on your diocese?

It has provided the opportunity to get better educated about who the Lord is and what He has done for all of us. It’s bringing a message to business people that it’s OK to be a person of faith — and that they need to bring the message of faith to businesses. It has built a nice little subset community that is actively promoting the faith life through what they do on a day-to-day basis.

You have a vocation, of course. Any avocations?

I enjoy traveling. I’ve been afforded that opportunity through the Church and have gone with the bishop on pilgrimages to Rome. I also play a little golf. I like scramble matches because I’m not a good long-ball driver, but I can chip and putt.

Are there any lessons you’ve learned as a priest that are especially apt for business leaders?

You have to be honest in all relationships and that’s what God asks of all of us. I’m a straight shooter. You can’t say, “I’m a good, strong Catholic only on Sundays.” You have to be a good, strong Catholic every day. I ask people all the time, “How do people know we’re Catholic?” They know by our demeanor, what we say, how we respond to things and how we treat people. I come from a pretty common background and try to make faith as practical as it can be. How do you live that in your business? Does your handshake, your word mean anything? That’s what faith is about.

Are there any devotions you recommend to Legates?

I enjoy praying the rosary and I think that’s very important. I have a devotion to St. Jude. I prayed to him and had others pray to him, too, before I went to seminary.

Priesthood never on chaplain’s radar screen

Atlanta chaplain Fr. Peter Rau says entering the priesthood was a natural fit . . .

Fr. Peter Rau

Fr. Peter Rau
Atlanta Chapter

Born in the New York City area, Fr. Peter Rau relocated to Atlanta when he was a mere 17 months old. Currently pastor of St. Peter Chanel Catholic Church in Roswell, Ga., Fr. Rau calls his fourth pastoral assignment “a very exciting time.” A fan of scriptural rosary and Eucharistic adoration, the priest loves being a part of his parishioners’ lives and the lives of Atlanta’s budding Legatus chapter, which is quickly growing toward its chartering.

Tell us about your call to the priesthood.

I always tell people my call was a direct invitation from Monsignor P.J. O’Connor, the well-known vocations director here in the Atlanta archdiocese.

One day in the seventh grade he asked me if I ever thought about becoming a priest. And I distinctly remember saying to him, “That’s the craziest thing you could ever do with your life.” Well, I’m embarrassed about that now. But it was always something I kept in the back of my mind. After college I entered the seminary and one year became two, which became three, and it was a natural fit.

How did you become acquainted with Legatus?

I’d known about Legatus, but when I became pastor of my current parish, which has a lot of professionals as parishioners, two members of the Legatus chapter in Atlanta approached me about becoming their chaplain. I accepted because I thought it was something very important to help professionals advance the Gospel in their own professions.

What impact has Legatus had on the Atlanta archdiocese?

I find encouraging the very fact that Catholic men and women are drawn to Legatus to be examples of the Gospel in the world. They’re following Jesus’ model of servant leadership, and they’re very active at the grassroots level at their parishes.

I’d like to see Legatus have more of a presence in Atlanta, that people become more aware of its presence. Right now the chapter numbers about 30, all married couples. Reaching out to those who aren’t married would be a good thing.

How do you approach your role as chaplain?

Right now simply getting to meet members and spreading the word about Legatus in my area. I’m the dean in my area of the archdiocese. Basically I oversee a cluster of parishes, so I’m getting the word out about Legatus. And I am there to address the chapter’s spiritual needs, too — hearing confessions, saying Mass, helping them hear Jesus and helping to make the teachings of the Church real within and beyond the workplace.

Are there any lessons you’ve learned as a priest that are especially apt for business leaders?

As a priest, I always say compassion and understanding are very important. And for members of Legatus, I think it’s important to help them keep foremost in their minds Whom it is they serve and to Whom they belong. It’s a great family we belong to. Helping them understand that on a deeper level is a duty I take seriously.

Are there are any devotions you recommend to Legates?

A good scriptural rosary. Blessed Pope John Paul II offered one. It’s a meditative recitation of the rosary, not just rattling off the mysteries. John Paul offered reflections on the mysteries, really getting into them and how they’re to be lived out.

I’m also a big proponent of spending quiet time in reflection before the Blessed Sacrament. It’s especially important in the rush of today’s world to have that quiet space. I’m so happy to have perpetual Eucharistic adoration in my parish and have people come at all hours to give the Lord that time they set aside.