Tag Archives: San Francisco Chapter

Meet the Chaplain: Father Andrew Spyrow San Francisco Chapter

LATE VOCATION SPAWNED FROM LONG CAREER AS FUNERAL DIRECTOR

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.

From City By the Lights – to City By the Bay

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.

Meet the Chaplain: Fr. Anthony Giampietro – San Francisco Chapter

Father Anthony Giampietro, a priest of the Congregation of St. Basil, serves as development director for the Archdiocese of San Francisco. He has spoken and written on a broad range of issues, including Catholic bioethics, marriage and family life, and the Catholic intellectual tradition. Father Giampietro, 56, who was ordained in 1993, has spent half of his priestly life teaching in academia. He is the ninth of 11 children. His late father, Alexander Giampietro, was an internationally known artist and longtime professor at the Catholic University of America. Father Giampietro spoke with Legatus magazine staff writer Brian Fraga.

What are your duties as development director for the archdiocese?

I help people to understand the good works of the archdiocese and to encourage their financial support. I oversee the archdiocesan annual appeal and the priests’ retirement luncheon. In the past year, I’ve been cultivating what’s called the archbishop’s circle of donors — donors who are particularly committed to the archdiocese, to their parishes, to their annual appeal amounts, and who are prepared to do something over and above that. These donors give particular help to the archbishop in whatever areas he feels are important that particular year, whether it’s vocations, education or Hispanic ministry.

When did you discern you were called to be a priest?

For me, it was after my freshman year of college that it first entered my mind. It was not something that I immediately pursued. It wasn’t until after I graduated from college, and then I was in banking for a couple of years. That’s when I decided to pursue it.

How important is education for the Church’s mission?

Catholic education in general is vital, not only to the Church but to our society. More and more, it’s clear that we must take faith seriously. There are too many discussions about the role of faith in politics, the role of faith in international questions, whether it’s immigration or health care. We must take faith seriously, and the Catholic intellectual tradition has such conviction that good reasoning does not contradict authentic faith. All traditions — including secular atheism — can benefit from an encounter with that tradition.

As the ninth of 11 children, what was it like growing up on the younger end of the spectrum?

I really looked up to my older brothers and sisters. We’d have big meals around the table. For my parents, they really counted on the older children to help raise the younger children. It was a wonderful community of family.

Every single one of the 11 children is a practicing Catholic. My father combined many qualities that were attractive to us and to his students. He would invite professors over from the university where he taught, and my mother would cook a delicious meal. My father invited them over because he wanted to learn from people who knew more about some subject than he did. It was a joyful environment in which we combined family life, healthy intellectual conversation and delicious food.

How long have you been affiliated with Legatus?

I came to know Legatus in Houston about 10 years ago. Archbishop Cordileone asked me to be the chaplain of the San Francisco group, which has been quite wonderful. I think Legatus represents a tremendous initiative. We need people, laity, living their faith quietly, sometimes vocally, in politics, in business, in so many ways.

What are your hobbies and interests?

The love of my life used to be basketball, and from time to time I still play. I also love good movies, but I do pay attention to sports because there’s something about sports where it’s all out there. There is no hiding. Either you make a play or you don’t.

BRIAN FRAGA is Legatus magazine’s editorial assistant.