Tag Archives: stephen henley

Ways we can support our priests

Recently, Legatus Magazine polled members on what topics they would like to see addressed. One of the topics that surfaced was:

Stephen Henley

How can we, as laity, support our priests to be healthy, happy and holy?

As an imperfect layperson, I will humbly offer recommendations.

Pray: often, specifically. God willing, our prayers will sustain them in their hardest moments, those moments they find themselves in the desert.

Live your vocation as leader: in your business, at home, but spiritually as well. We are all examples to each other and the example we set helps to hold up those around us. Feeling needed in our vocation is something we all desire. Priests seeing that you are going to daily Mass, praying the rosary daily, availing ourselves to go to Confession, will help to edify our priests.

Be a friend: As a married man, I take for granted that I have a wife who is my ‘second opinion.’ When it comes to making decisions in my life, whether that be dealing with a work issue, writing this article, or with my kids, I can count on my wife to bounce ideas off of or to call me on something when needed. For many priests, however, they may not have such a person. They need personal interaction; they need people who are going to cheer them up when they feel down, or provide a dose of reality if needed.

Invite them to dinner: growing up, I can recall having our parish priest to a family dinner at least once a year. As a kid, I always thought it was something special. How many young men and women have been led to a religious vocation as a result of that dinner time with a priest!

In your chapters: you can support your priests in the life of your chapter by hosting a panel of priests. You could even host one of your monthly events at the local seminary. Many chapters create prayer buddies in the chapter that pray solely for local priests and seminarians.

Reach out: write to your priests (bishops and cardinals included), to commend them and thank them when they are doing the right things. Letter-writing is often thought of when things are going wrong, but it is just as effective when things are going well.

While it is easy to paint the clergy with a broad brush after the actions of some, it is the good and holy priests who will and do suffer. It is those priests we have to support, even more so in these times. As Ambassadors for Christ, it is within our vocation to lead the way in building up our clergy.

STEPHEN HENLEY is Legatus’ executive director.

Time to take an active stance

In early June, nearly 200 CEOs contributed to an advertisement in The Wall Street Journal, “urging companies to stand up for reproductive rights in the face of ongoing abortion bans in states across the U.S.” Their goal is to change the public’s view of abortion from that of “moral disapproval” to one of “positive good” for employees and business customers.

Stephen Henley

The current climate surrounding abortion finds itself in a moment unlike any before. This time is urgent and critical in our fight for the lives of the unborn and their mothers. Catholics and Christians alike are looking at new ways to respond to attacks on life.

Rightfully, one of our chapter presidents reached out to the board to discuss what we, as Ambassadors for Christ in the Marketplace, are going to do to counter this. Because Legatus has a “no solicitation, no fundraising and no special projects” policy to provide an environment where Legates can find safe haven from such things, as an organization we won’t engage on the same level as those CEOs represented in the article. However, while this means that Legatus is not providing a path to response, it does not mean we don’t believe you should respond: this is a perfect opportunity to be Ambassadors for Christ in the Marketplace. In the very near future, Legates will have a platform (Legatus Networks) to be able to opt into conversations like this for those that want to play an active role. Stay tuned for this exciting rollout in the early fall 2019.

As a “Christian witness,” you are called to stand up and fight for the unborn. How much stronger the Church is by having disciples do what Christ commanded us to do, to “go therefore and make disciples of all Nations…”. Imagine if Christ did not send the Apostles or the 72 disciples, but rather said, let us make a decree as the Church. Imagine if you, as a CEO, just operated your business from a passive position. Your business would collapse.

The actions of thousands of Legates will speak louder than the words of 200 in The Wall Street Journal. While those CEOs could be commended for taking a stand, what you choose to do now will have far more lasting effects than words printed in a newspaper. Legatus’ role is to offer catechetical sustenance through a group of likeminded Catholics and the sacraments. Monthly meetings should be a respite from the war of the world and nourishment to continue on in your fight, in this case, the fight for life.

We at Legatus, from those at headquarters in Ann Arbor to every member of each chapter, extend our encouragement, support, and hope that you will look for ways to answer the call to actively take a stand for life in your own communities. St. Catherine of Siena’s immortal words continue to speak to Legatus members: “If you are who you should be, you will set the world ablaze.”

STEPHEN HENLEY is Legatus’ executive director.

Evangelization through the Sacred Heart

The month of June is dedicated to the Sacred Heart. The Solemnity of the Sacred Heart is celebrated on the first Friday after the Octave of Corpus Christi and commemorates the love, suffering, and compassion of Christ for all humanity. Pope St. John Paul II, himself an inspiration for Legatus, had a profound devotion to the Sacred Heart. Devotion to the Sacred Heart was also an essential component of Pope John Paul II’s hopes for the “New Evangelization” called for by the Church.

Stephen Henley

“For evangelization today,” he said, “the Heart of Christ must be recognized as the heart of the Church: It is He who calls us to conversion, to reconciliation. It is He who leads pure hearts and those hungering for justice along the way of the Beatitudes. It is He who achieves the warm communion of the members of the one Body. It is He who enables us to adhere to the Good News and to accept the promise of eternal life. It is He who sends us out on mission. The heart-to-heart with Jesus broadens the human heart on a global scale.” There are those around us who do not have the faith we are privileged to hold. The Heart of Christ leads us, faithful Catholics, but also leads those who don’t recognize that they are being led. It lies upon us, those who know, to reach out to those who do not and bring them along to Christ.

As Christians, as Catholics, as Legatus members, we are all called to a life of evangelization. Mother Teresa once said, “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” We are called to specific vocations at just this time. Sometimes these “small things” can be as simple as a kind greeting to someone you always see but that you never acknowledge, or perhaps an invite to those neighbors that you always say ‘hi’ to, but never anything more. Perhaps invite a friend or family member who hasn’t been to Mass in a while to attend with you. Whether it is as overt as an invitation to Mass or as simple as a nod of the head, making a real connection with others is the beginning to evangelization and anyone can do it!

As Legatus members, we are challenged: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Mat 28: 19-20). Through the love of the Sacred Heart, we can and must go out into our own world and bring Christ to all we meet.

I pray you have a wonderful summer and that you seize every opportunity to bring Christ to those you meet!

STEPHEN HENLEY is Legatus’ executive director

Non-solicitation policy and speakers

Last month I was visiting a chapter on the East coast and as sometimes happens, I was unfamiliar with her and her organization. She was a “local” speaker, so I was a little hesitant. Now, in full disclosure, some of the best talks I have heard visiting chapters have been from the local area. This is a great way to watch the budget, but even more, the speaker also knows the people/culture and can often resonate well with the members.

Stephen Henley

Now this speaker spoke on chastity and marriage and her own conversion story, which was hugely impactful. So much so that the chapter gave her a standing ovation. But then the dreaded happened: she finished her talk with the “ask.” This speaker gave such a great talk, and then crossed the line because she proceeded to solicit for funds for her organization.

Of course, I am a little more sensitive to the “ask” as I am a protector of our “nonsolicitation” policy, but this policy is sacred in Legatus. I often refer to our meetings as a “safe space” for this reason. I have heard from many of you about how much you value and appreciate the genius of this rule in all Legatus chapters. To this speaker’s, credit, she probably didn’t know any better, which is why it is up to us to make this policy clear.

As you embark on planning 2020’s speaker selections for your chapter, it is important, regardless of how many chapters a speaker has spoken at, that we revisit this “no fundraising, no soliciting” policy (the written policy can be found on the secure portion of our website under “resources” or by contacting your regional director). I further encourage either the president, CA or program chair to make it a policy of calling the speaker a week or two before the event to discuss the chapter, its demographics, review the chapter’s themes for that month or year, and lastly, to highlight these crucial policies.

To conclude, I am also pleased to announce the hiring our new regional director of the West region, Angela Chargualaf. Angela joined the team on March 14 to begin the transition from former regional director, Ty Soto. Angela is married to Jeff and the mother of a 20-year-old son and 17-year-old twins in Lake Forest, CA (Orange County). Although new to this position, Angela has been working as a chapter administrator for two chapters, Orange Coast and San Diego. Angela was named the Chapter Administrator of the Year in 2018 for the West Region. Elevating Angela to the role of regional director is a testimony to the chapters she serves, but further to the importance and role of chapter administrator in each chapter. Both chapters experienced 92 percent retention and an average of 13 percent net growth in 2018.

May you and your family be blessed as you celebrate the true meaning of Easter, from the reflection of Good Friday to the joy of Easter Sunday and the promise of eternal life.

STEPHEN HENLEY is Legatus’ executive director.

Securing the future

Happy New Year! We have just had our 2019 Annual Summit, which is the highlight of all our national events and a joyful gathering of more than 450 Legatus members from across the continent. At the Summit, we announced exciting news that in 2020, we will be going back to having two Summits a year. As a result of our growth, we want to make the Summit available to more of our members. Each Summit will not be identical, so we would love to have as many members as possible at both events.

Stephen Henley

I want to take the time to also touch on our endowment fund. In your renewal invoices, we give the option for members to donate to the fund. The fund is meant to ensure the growth and longevity of Legatus. Each year, we have members give between $15K-$30K. Your previous generosity in giving above and beyond your dues is nothing short of inspiring, especially as we continue to aim even higher in our goals. Each of you is part of a chapter that, at one point, was in development. We recently ran the numbers on what it takes to develop a chapter and it is a NET cost of $50K. This is by far the largest expense in our budget. However, how can we say “no” to growth when we can see the impact on all our lives and the amount of souls it has brought back to Christ? Throughout our 32 years, Legatus has had a great benefactor in its founder, Tom Monaghan, who has given over $13 million to Legatus and continues to pay his own way in all ways (dues, Summits, pilgrimages). But we are self-sufficient now and should not continue to count on his generosity.

Our goal in 2019 is to develop at least 12 new chapters, which equates to a net cost of $600K. Our national budget is not built with a surplus of $600K, so where do we get it? Either a chapter founder funds the development (we have had many of these before, such as Tim Busch or Joe Canizaro), we utilize funds from the endowment, or we raise dues $200/ member. I believe our two best options are to find chapter founders and to increase our endowment.

A possible fourth option is for those chapters that have excess funds year to year, to sponsor and/ or adopt a developing chapter. This is a way for a chapter to be involved in the future growth directly and put their excess funds to the best investment out there.

Between pages 38 and 39 of this issue, you will find an envelope where you can make a fully tax-deductible donation to the Legatus endowment fund. Please consider making a gift, and also consider naming Legatus in your will. You know the impact and potential Legatus has in our world. Let’s work together to secure that for many years to come!

STEPHEN HENLEY is Legatus’ executive director.

A year in review

As we head into the season of resolutions, I think it is a good time to recap 2018 for Legatus and share some of our accomplishments, shortcomings, and our goals for the year ahead. As I begin my third year as executive director/president of Legatus, it has truly been an honor to serve you, our members, and to help ensure the continued growth and success of Legatus, and ultimately, achieving our goal of steering as many souls toward heaven as possible.

Stephen Henley

Since I began in this role, our chairman and CEO, Tom Monaghan, has reiterated the operational goals: better chapters and more of them, in that order. Regarding the order of better chapters: through the life of Legatus, we have chartered over 100 chapters, but for various reasons, too many chapters have closed prematurely. Upon examination, we determined that this is where it is on us as an organization to ensure our chapters are providing the experience for members that keeps their chapters alive and fruitful.

One part of this effort was the increased role of our chapter administrators. We have all grown to value them, but we simply were not giving our chapter administrators the precise tools to do their job most effectively and support growth in their positions. I now believe, with the proper support through the chapter boards, along with their national liaison and the online training modules, we will continue to see better results.

The role of the chapter administrator is the reason why our renewals were ahead of any year previously and the reason we finished at 88.5 percent renewal.

The second component to our operational goals is more chapters. This year to-date, we have chartered chapters in Louisville, Tulsa, San Francisco, and Newark, and are on the cusp of chartering five more before year-end: Kansas City, Bismarck, North Georgia, Greenville, and Jupiter/ Palm Beach. I project that by year-end, Legatus will have had a growth of around 3-4 percent.

I am delighted to say that we also have formulated a new model for development. Over the past five years, Legatus has been geared in new-chapter growth mode. Unfortunately, at times, this had been at the sacrifice of current chapters. We had to figure out how to grow new chapters while maintaining the integrity of our current ones. I have enlisted the expertise of Nancy Haskell to oversee all new development. This means that regional directors and zone managers will be focused on current chapter growth and sustainment. Nancy, having chartered over 15 chapters herself, knows what it takes to cross that goal line. Our chapter development teams will be more focused and more effective, while at the same time, being less costly.

We are proud to see what we have accomplished this year and look forward to the challenges ahead. From the Legatus headquarters in Ann Arbor, I pray you all have a blessed Christmas and fruitful New Year!

STEPHEN HENLEY is Legatus’ executive director.

Pro-family message of Our Lady of Guadalupe

Last month, Legatus members and their families traveled to Mexico City for our annual Guadalupe pilgrimage. I have been to Mexico City on this pilgrimage three times now, and each pilgrimage leaves something with me. The Shrine of our Lady of Guadalupe, which is the home of the tilma of Juan Diego, is a very unique pilgrimage site. It is the most visited Marian pilgrimage locale in the world and as is sometimes pointed out, the only place we can still see the physical evidence of an apparition of our Blessed Mother.

Stephen Henley

One of the most unique aspects of the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe is the ribbon at her waist. In ancient times, this attire for an Aztec woman would signify that she was pregnant. This would mean that this, then, is the only apparition where Mary appears pregnant with Jesus. During the pilgrimage, I spent time reflecting on this aspect of Mary as the mother of God, and on Our Lady of Guadalupe as the patroness of the unborn.

I tie this image of Mary with child to that of the Holy Family. Among other characteristics, being pro-life means being pro-family. When visiting the Shrine, aside from seeing thousands of pilgrims, there are many Mexican families traveling together to make this pilgrimage. Not only parents with their kids, but several generations, great-grandparents, grandparents, extended family. There are fewer images in our world that can speak more to real pro-life belief, than that of a family praying together.

Children, regardless of circumstance, are a real, tangible gift of God’s powerful love. Mother Teresa once said, “we must remember that life begins at home and we must also remember that the future of humanity passes through the family.” The family is the first Church, and an example for the world of God’s presence and love. In the historical moment of tolerance in which we find ourselves, it was a relief and a reassurance to see so many families come together united in Christ.

Our Lady of Guadalupe sends us a powerful message, an example of love and sacrifice for family to nations and cultures that have great need of her. Let us take this time to focus on family as a symbol of God’s love in our world.

STEPHEN HENLEY is Legatus’ executive director.

The battles of our time

This month we reflect on the service of our many members in the Armed Forces. First, thank you for your service! As a veteran myself, I always feel a sense of deference and humility when I receive these thanks for my service, because I did not pay the ultimate price. But I recognize how important it is to show appreciation to our veterans and their families for the many sacrifices, even those “smaller” ones, made for our freedom.

Stephen Henley

When I think of our veterans, I have a special appreciation for the chaplains. The vocation to be a priest and a chaplain is truly a daunting one. During my time in the Marine Corps, I had many chaplains, and all of them were great mentors to me. It is hard to think about chaplains in the Marine Corps without thinking about Fr. Vincent Capodanno, the Grunt Padre. Fr. Vincent was a heroic chaplain from the Archdiocese of NYC, who earned the Medal of Honor while attached to a Marine infantry unit in Vietnam.

Fr. Vincent was part of Operation Swift in the Que Son Valley, when the battalion of Marines to which he was attached encountered a large contingent of the North Vietnamese army. When he heard about Company M taking casualties and that they were about to be overrun, Fr. Vincent went to those Marines and Corpsmen to give them last rites. Unfortunately, with those Marines pinned down by an enemy machine gun, Chaplain Capodanno also perished in the firefight.

Fr. Vincent is now a Servant of God on his way to canonization.

In our own chapters, we have chaplains. They are not necessarily running into physical enemy fire like Fr. Vincent did, but the daily spiritual battle can be as fierce as enemy fire. Our priests are heroic men who constantly engage in battle for us. The chaplain in various ways reminds members not to be like the ship “which has made many voyages, escaped many storms, only to run on a rock in the very harbor, with all its lost overboard.” (St. John Chrysostom: Homily on Evangelical Perfection)

The local chaplain serves each chapter as its spiritual father. Chaplains ensure chapters are reciting the rosary, encourage members to take advantage of Confession, offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, ensure speakers are orthodox, and are available to guide members in spiritual direction. Our chaplains are willing to be there when we need them most, by our side in our own everyday battles. The role of the chaplain is so important in the life of our individual members and chapters; we must not overlook their importance.

In closing, join me in seeking the intercession of Fr. Vincent Capodanno’s protection of all our service members, past and present. Let us also use this opportunity to thank our own chaplains for their service and pray that Fr. Vincent will intercede to protect them, who seek to protect us in the battles of everyday life. Fr. Vincent Capodanno: Pray for us!

You can read more about Fr. Vincent Capodanno in his life story written by Fr. Daniel L. Mode, The Grunt Padre.

STEPHEN HENLEY is Legatus’ executive director.

Holiness is rooted in community

“Rejoice and be glad” (MT 5:12). Pope Francis spoke these words from the Gospel of Matthew recently in his Apostolic Exhortation, Gaudete et Exsultate. His new and inspiring work highlights the call to holiness in the world and how we must live this vocation with joy.

Stephen Henley

This last month, Legatus celebrated its 31st anniversary. At the same time, the Genesis (Toledo, OH) chapter celebrated its 30th anniversary. During the memorable celebration attended by over 120 members, Bishop of Toledo Daniel E. Thomas spoke to the chapter and offered congratulatory remarks along with a charge to the Toledo members. His charge to them is to take 30 minutes and read the Holy Father’s latest Apostolic Exhortation.

I would like to take this opportunity to pass that charge on to you, because it is truly is a work of the Holy Spirit. The idea of conforming one’s life to holiness is antithetical to what the world tells us. This is part of what makes Pope Francis’ call so incredibly important to us. Please allow me to highlight a few of my own reflections from the bishop’s presentation.

“Be holy, for I am holy” (Lev 11:44; cf. 1 Peter 1:16). Pope Francis calls on us first to be holy, for if we are living a false life, we are incapable of helping others to be holy. As such, we are all called; we all have an individual vocation to holiness. “A Christian cannot think of his or her mission on earth without seeing it as a path of holiness, for this is the will of God, your sanctification” (1 Thess 4:3). Each saint is on a mission, planned by the Father to reflect and embody, at a specific moment in history, a certain aspect of the Gospel.”

To be holy, and to remain holy, requires us to lean on one another, to form community. Moreover, this is the purpose of Legatus, to bring us into communio. Pope Francis tells us “when we live apart from others, it is very difficult to fight against concupiscence, the snares and temptations of the devil and the selfishness of the world. Bombarded as we are by so many enticements, we can grow too isolated, lose our sense of reality and inner clarity, and easily succumb. Growth in holiness is a journey in community, side by side with others.”

As I visit many chapters, I am often impressed by how many people comment to me how their lives have changed because of their involvement in Legatus. Yet, in Legatus, we don’t sell a product. What we “sell” is community.

Lastly, Pope Francis put us on guard against the “snares of the devil.” He reminded us that we are not simply in a battle against the world, but the most cunning deceiver of all. It is providential that Legatus is committed and we have dedicated our organization to St. Michael, and I encourage you all to continue invoking the protection of St. Michael in all the battles you face each day. In this way, then, we can come together to form that strong community so vital to our mission of holiness.


STEPHEN HENLEY is Legatus’ executive director.

Dedication to St. Michael the Archangel

The presence of evil in our world is indubitable. With difficult events in our own individual lives, the recent tragedy in Parkland, FL and the unrest on the global front, we do not need to look far to find the presence of the evil one, physically or spiritually.

The Book of Revelation provides us an antidote to the despair it is so easy to feel: St. Michael, the powerful intercessor against evil. We see St. Michael “fighting against the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they were defeated and there was no longer any place for them in heaven” (Revelation 12:7-9).

It was Pope Leo XIII who composed the prayer of St. Michael, after having a vision of the devil having a conversation with God in front of the Tabernacle. The prayer that Pope Leo created was so powerful that it was later approved for use during exorcism rituals. The prayer we know by heart today is a shorter version of the exorcism prayer. Pope Leo saw the need for this prayer during tempestuous times of the 19th century and though those times are long past, we see the continued need for this same prayer in our own day.

In 2016, one of our board members, at his last meeting culminating six years’ service, made the recommendation to the board that we dedicate Legatus to St. Michael the Archangel. It didn’t take long for the board, our ecclesiastical advisor, Archbishop José Gomez, and our International Chaplain, Bishop Sam Jacobs, to come up with a plan to implement this dedication in our organization.

Legatus was officially dedicated as a whole to St. Michael at our largest gathering of members — at the 2018 Orlando Summit this past January. Since then, we have distributed prayer cards and instructions to all chapters for dedicating each chapter to St. Michael. While we have so much joy and enthusiasm in our meetings, praying the prayer to St. Michael at the close of our time together reminds us that we also need the support of each other and our holy angels and saints to carry out our daily mission and great commission: to get to heaven and bring as many souls with us as possible.

With our goals of becoming an organization to be reckoned with as a support to the Church, the devil will be attacking us even more. It is important that we first work on our own interior lives to be an Alter Christus (another Christ) and be unified to Him, and then work with our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Prayer to St. Michael:

St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle. Be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do thou, O Prince of the Heavenly hosts, by the power of God, cast into Hell Satan, and all the evil spirits, who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls.


STEPHEN HENLEY is Legatus’ executive director.