Tag Archives: St. Thomas More

St. Thomas More (1478-1535)

Feast Day: June 22
Canonization: May 19, 1935

Thomas More, patron saint of lawyers and politicians, was born in London in 1478, son of a prominent attorney and judge during the reign of Edward IV.

Those connections helped his future station. In 1504, he was elected to Parliament, representing Great Yarmouth and London. In 1514, More became a Privy Counselor.

Beginning in 1517, young King Henry VIII befriended More as close confidante, promoting him to important posts, knighting him in 1521, and appointing him undertreasurer of the Exchequer. More would later be the first layman appointed Lord Chancellor.

A devout Catholic husband and father, More was known for piety and skills as theologian and writer. But his reputation did not stop King Henry VIII from imprisoning his former chancellor for refusing recognition of Henry’s “marriage” to his mistress, Anne Boleyn. More also refused an oath recognizing Henry as the head of the Church in England.

Imprisoned over a year in the Tower of London, More was convicted of treason and beheaded in July 1535. His last words were, “I die the king’s good servant, but God’s first.”

The courage of St. Thomas More

John Hunt applauds Legatus members for their profound courage in defending the faith . . .

John J. Hunt

John J. Hunt

Cour-age, noun, the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., without fear; bravery.

Each year Legatus honors a number of outstanding members. I had the privilege of presenting the 2012 Courage in the Marketplace award to the Weingartz family (Detroit Northeast Chapter) and to Bill and Andy Newland (Denver Chapter). Christopher and Mary Anne Yep of the Chicago Chapter had previously received the Courage in the Marketplace award at our 2013 Summit.

These Legates exhibited extraordinary courage for their bold decisions to file lawsuits against the U.S. government in defense of their religious freedom, which is under attack in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare). As I became aware of the paths these individuals followed in making such a decision, I was particularly impressed that their lawsuits were filed on behalf of their companies, all family-owned businesses. In varied  ways, the lives of these courageous individuals — and the businesses they founded — will likely be forever changed by their decisions.

Facing difficulty, danger, pain, etc., without fear — that’s courage. Legates in the 21st century are called by God to be courageous in our daily lives, sometimes in small and insignificant ways; sometimes in life-changing ways. Courage can present itself in a number of ways, but it will present itself.

Personal courage to “do the right thing in business transactions, ethically and morally” is an opportunity that is part of the activities of a functioning marketplace.

Corporate courage for business leaders means recognizing the burden we bear for our employees and associates – to provide a fair wage, benefits and working conditions that contribute to elevating their quality of life.

Spiritual courage means understanding that each of us has to grow in love for and service to Our Lord, a relationship that is a lifetime in the making but is cultivated by a day-by-day struggle punctuated whenever possible by Mass, rosary, prayer, etc.

Cultural courage means defending the truths of the Natural Law and the teachings of our faith visibly and boldly in a way that exhibits the depth of our love for the truth.

St. Thomas More is a model for all who cultivate courage as a virtue. While being trusted and respected by King Henry VIII, More would not compromise the truth and teachings of the Catholic faith. The saint would say that he was “the king’s good servant, but God’s first.” Might we say as much?

JOHN HUNT is Legatus’ executive director. He and his wife Kathie are charter members of Legatus’ Chicago Chapter.

Bringing Boys Town to Rome

Omaha chaplain Fr. Ryan Lewis is leading Fr. Flanaghan’s cause for canonization . . .

Father Ryan P. Lewis

Father Ryan P. Lewis
Omaha Chapter

Raised on a farm outside Omaha, 38-year-old Fr. Ryan P. Lewis was called to the priesthood early and ordained at 25. The canon law expert served as archdiocesan vice chancellor before becoming pastor of St. Thomas More in Omaha. His favorite part of the parish job is the school, where he teaches junior-high religion. Perhaps it’s no wonder he was chosen to lead the tribunal paving the path for the canonization of Boys Town founder Fr. Edward Flanagan, another priest devoted to the young.

Tell us about your call to the priesthood.

I had an early vocation. For me it was really asking the question, “OK, I’ve been told there are qualities in me to be a good priest, but is it for me?” So I went to college seminary right out of high school, where I learned how to pray and discern. After that I went to the North American College. Cardinal Timothy Dolan was rector all my five years. He had an enormous influence on me — the joy with which he lives his priesthood, his zeal for bringing folks to the faith and re-energizing those already in it. When I was vice chancellor, one hat I wore was media relations. I followed his approach to dealing with the media: be open and engage them, never be afraid.

How did you become acquainted with Legatus?

About 10 years ago George Weigel addressed the chapter. I’ve known George since my days in Rome, and the Legatus folks were kind enough to invite me to his talk. I was impressed. Later I met Tom Monaghan when I was studying canon law at the Catholic University of America — another positive encounter with Legatus. Two years ago our original chaplain got reassigned outside the archdiocese. When Archbishop George Lucas asked me to serve, I immediately accepted.

What impact has Legatus had on the archdiocese?

I can cite two examples of us having an impact this year alone. First, we co-sponsored an event with Creighton University Students for Life — a talk by Shawn Carney, co-founder of 40 Days for Life. We also met at a Planned Parenthood clinic, where I led everyone in an hour of prayer. There are a lot of local Catholic efforts to protest abortion prayerfully and peacefully, and I thought it was important for Legates to get involved. They’re pro-life, of course, but it was the first time most of them were out there on the front lines.

How do you approach your role as chaplain?

I bring a working-class, football-coach-type mentality to my chaplaincy. I stress the fundamentals: prayer, Mass, Confession, devotions like the rosary and reading Sacred Scripture. I really try to challenge them.

You have a vocation, of course. Any avocations?

I love to play golf. It’s my favorite thing to do when I get a day off. I’ve played with members of Legatus. I also love to walk and read. Right now I’m reading a biography of Fr. Edward Flanagan, Father Flanagan of Boys Town: A Man of Vision.

That wouldn’t be a random selection, would it?

Nope. On March 17, Archbishop Lucas formally opened Fr. Flanagan’s cause for canonization and named him Servant of God. He commissioned a tribunal to look into Fr. Flanagan’s life and writings with an eye toward sending the findings to Rome as a way to kick off the process that we hope leads to his canonization. He appointed me head of the tribunal. It’s very exciting but very daunting. Aside from examining his voluminous writings — mostly correspondence and articles — we have almost 200 folks to interview, and that number could grow. It’s a very thorough process, so it’s hard to predict when we’ll finish.