Tag Archives: Summit Speaker

Dan Cellucci – 2019 Summit speaker


Dan Cellucci, 36, is the CEO of the Catholic Leadership Institute, an apostolate that provides leadership training and consulting to more than 250 bishops, as well as thousands of priests, deacons, religious, and lay leaders across the country

Under Cellucci’s leadership, the Catholic Leadership Institute has embarked on an ambitious plan to define what the “Next Generation Parish” will look like in the next 10 years. Legatus magazine recently interviewed Cellucci, who will speak at the 2019 Legatus Summit.

What will you be speaking about at the Summit?

I’ll be speaking on the truth about where we are as a Church, as well as the research that we’ve been doing the last six years on parish life in the United States. We’ve surveyed over 100,000 parishioners in North America, so we have a really robust data set on what’s going on in our parishes and our Church.

What are some insights you will be sharing?

What we find and what we’re trying to help leaders recognize and respond to is that even with the people we are blessed to have in the pews, we have a lot of work to do to help them understand the truth, beauty, and goodness of the faith. They may be coming to church, but our research would show that they don’t necessarily know why.

Another insight I’ll be speaking to is just how important our leaders are and the effect that one pastor can have on a parish. Intuitively, I’m sure Legatus members know that, but statistically we have evidence to support that.

What is the Catholic Leadership Institute?

We are an apostolate that walks alongside our bishops, priests, and lay leaders in their challenges of leadership, whether that’s through training we provide, tools they can use, or even getting in the trenches with them and helping them execute a project or a strategy they want to implement. Our job is to really just equip them and inspire them to be who God called them to be.

What is going on with the Next Generation Parish project?

What we’re doing right now is basically picking 50 parishes in the United States to just invest everything we can into the leadership there, to walk alongside them and to see how much we can move the needle from a growth standpoint. We want to make sure that we’re not only providing relevant metrics for our priests, but that we’re also supporting them and doing something about it.

What is your message for Church leaders during this time of crisis and scandal?

I think the best advice is that of Pope Saint John Paul II, who said, “Be not afraid.” I think the crisis that we face is one of authenticity and courage more than anything else. All of us, certainly our bishops and priests, but all of us, are called to be courageous in this moment and to recognize it as a real opportunity for renewal, not to think that we can’t evangelize in this moment, because I actually believe this is the best moment to evangelize.

What have your previous interactions been like with Legatus?

I’ve been blessed to be a frequent presenter and guest at various chapters around the country. I always appreciate not only the caliber of speakers that Legatus attracts, but also just the caliber of conversation among chapters and really just the insightful questions as well as the degree of commitment that I see from Legatus members in their local Church. If there is one thing our research would say it is that that type of leadership on the part of lay men and women, like the men and women of Legatus, is absolutely essential to a vibrant Church.

Steve Ray – 2019 Summit speaker


Steve Ray sat on a hotel balcony, watching a group of pilgrims swimming and relaxing in the Sea of Galilee.

“Every time we come, there are always new things to discover and new things to learn,” Ray, 60, a well-known Catholic apologist, speaker, author, and filmmaker, said during a break from a pilgrimage in early October that he led to the Holy Land.

Ray, who was a Baptist before he and his entire family converted to the Catholic faith 24 years ago, will be speaking at the Legatus Summit in January, and will also lead Legatus’ Holy Land pilgrimage in 2019.

Known as “Jerusalem Jones,” Ray and Janet, his wife of 41 years, have been to the Holy Land more than 160 times. They also travel throughout the world, speaking at conferences. While in Galilee, Ray spoke with Legatus magazine.

What will you be speaking about at next month’s Summit?

The talk is going to be related to the upcoming pilgrimage, the working title being, “The Beauty and Truth of the Fifth Gospel.” When Pope St. Paul VI went to the Holy Land, he said, “This land is the fifth Gospel.” When you come here, it makes the other four pop into technicolor widescreen.

What is on the itinerary for the 2019 pilgrimage?

We’ll spend three nights in Galilee. We got a nice hotel right on the shore of Galilee so they’ll have access to the water. The first day we’ll go have Mass at the Mount of Transfiguration. We’ll renew our marriage vows in Cana, then we’ll have lunch in Nazareth. Then we’ll go to the Church of the Annunciation, where Mary was visited by the angel and given the good news, and where God became man. We pray the First Joyous Mystery in front of the cave at the altar where the angel spoke to Mary.

The next day, we have Mass at the Mount of Beatitudes. We go up to the Golan Heights and have lunch up there. We actually look out over the country of Syria and Lebanon and talk about the political situation going on here in the Middle East. Then we come back down and look at some more sites along the Sea of Galilee. The next day we have Mass at the place where Jesus said to “eat my flesh and drink my blood” in Capernaum.

How spiritually enriching can a pilgrimage to the Holy Land be?

There is no other place you can travel to where God actually walked with His own feet. I tell people, “You come here, you want to touch the land. But be careful, because the land is going to reach out and touch you.” This is sacred ground, this is where God himself walked, this is where the Mother of God walked. You can’t come here with an open heart and not be touched by it and changed forever.

You’ve been to the Holy Land more than 100 times. Does it ever get old?

Never. I always tell the pilgrims that I see it again for the first time through their eyes. It’s always exciting to see newcomers, people who have never been here before, and to see the tears well up in their eyes and the excitement when they realize this is where Mary and Jesus stood.

What projects are you working on now?

I have a new book coming out with Ignatius Press called The Papacy: What the Pope Does and Why It Matters. Also, we have nine of the Footprints of God movies done. I have one more to do. In 2020, we’re going to do Doctors of the Church. I’m also in the middle of another book with Ignatius Press on the Book of Genesis and we have pilgrimages already planned for the next five years, not only to the Holy Land but also to places likes Lourdes, Fatima, Guadalupe, Mexico, Poland, and Ireland.

Matt Birk – 2019 Summit Speaker


As an NFL player for 15 years, Matt Birk enjoyed a long, successful career, winning the Super Bowl with the Baltimore Ravens in 2013 and being named to the Pro Bowl six times.

Birk, 43, who played football at Harvard University before he was drafted by the Minnesota Vikings in 1998, is also a devout Catholic who was recognized for his community service work by winning the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award in 2011.

Birk remains passionate about his Catholic faith and is active in the pro-life movement. He and his wife, Adrianna, live in St. Paul, Minnesota, with their eight children, ages 2-16. Birk is a featured speaker at the Legatus Summit in January. He recently spoke with Legatus magazine.

What will you be speaking on at the Summit?

People are surprised to learn that football is a very spiritual game. The locker room is a very spiritual place. The NFL is this huge thing. It’s a highly visible job and you experience very high highs and very low lows. As a player, there’s a certain element of danger because it’s a physical game. For a lot of guys, myself included, faith is actually strengthened by playing football.

You have to tap into that because otherwise it’s really hard to survive in this fantasy world that’s the NFL, where you have money, fame, and all these people telling you how great you are. You need an anchor, something that keeps you grounded and keeps you focused on what’s real and what’s the truth. That’s where my Catholic faith came into play.

How did you become a practicing Catholic during your NFL career?

I went to a Bible study and started asking some questions. The chaplain mentioned that he used to be Catholic but that he left the faith. I took it personally from the standpoint that, “Geez, I better figure out what I believe.” That put me on my own personal quest for truth. I dug deeper, learned more and began to really appreciate the faith and sort of claimed it as my own.

What did you discover that made you claim the Catholic faith as your own?

Reading some of the arguments against the Church, I realized that the Scripture passage is true, that the Church is the pillar of Truth and that it will prevail against the gates of hell. All the things that have happened in the Church and all the sins of men 2000 years later, the Church is still thriving. To me, that was kind of like the truth that the Church is real, that it is the Church that Jesus established and that it will prevail over all evil.

What was it like to win a Super Bowl?

With that Ravens team in particular, three years prior we had gotten close but lost some games in heart-breaking fashion. There was a feeling on that team that we were all brought together at that time for some reason, that God was at work. There was this belief that there was a purpose to everything we were doing.

Were people surprised to learn that an NFL Pro Bowl offensive lineman attended Harvard University?

Oh yes, especially back then. Anytime they mentioned me on TV, they’d say, “Oh, Matt Birk went to Harvard.” It became sort of my tagline.

How did you get involved in pro-life work?

I speak a lot at pro-life events. I’m on the board of a life center here in the Twin Cities. I spoke at the March for Life a few times. I’m just trying to use my gifts and my platform to advocate for the unborn.

Have you had any prior interaction with Legatus?

I’ve known Legatus for a long time. I spoke at the Legatus Chapter in Naples, Florida last year. Legatus is a great organization. In the workplace, Legatus can be a gateway to the Gospel. I think it’s a great organization to help people stay the course.