Tag Archives: thanksgiving

Newest ambassadors flourish in North Georgia

Latest chapter in the south enjoyed pre-Thanksgiving gala

The North Georgia Chapter chartered on November 20 with 24 member couples, making it the third Legatus chapter in Georgia. Some 56 people attended the gala event, including new members, visiting members from the Atlanta Chapter, prospective members, staff, and clergy.

Held at St. Brendan the Navigator Church, the chartering Mass was presided over by both Father Matthew Van Smoorenburg, church administrator, and guest Father Gerardo Cebellos. Bishop Wilton Gregory and Chapter chaplain Father Lino Otero regretted that a conflict prohibited them from attending.

Being trustworthy servants

Father Van Smoorenburg spoke on the day’s Gospel, Luke 19:11-28, with a message especially relevant to the very mission of Legatus – to be trustworthy servants of God’s blessings. The Gospel told the parable of a king who summoned ten servants and gave them ten pounds with the directive to “Put this money to work until I get back.” Those servants who made a return on the money were praised, and those who hid it with nothing to show were chastised. The king then took away their initial investment and gave it to the more trustworthy servants.

After Mass, Father Van Smoorenburg inducted the new members, blessing them all. Legatus founder, Tom Monaghan, then personally greeted each new member-couple. Everyone continued on to the celebratory surf and turf dinner at Crooked Creek Country Club. Southeast regional director Ed Trifone described the evening as cool—only 45 degrees— but said, “The warmth of the celebration quelled the chill.” Following dinner, Trifone welcomed everyone and briefly spoke about the Legatus mission and vision for future growth before introducing Mr. Monaghan.

Chapter Expansion

Three of the new Chapter members, Mike Drapeau, Richard Hagler, and Ryan Foley, were from the original Atlanta Chapter, which formed the North Georgia group to accommodate many traveling long distances to meetings. Their first meeting was held April 18, 2017. An interim board was formed with David Palmer as president, and Mark Matia as vice president. They have switched those roles now.

Stephanie Benotti, chapter development officer during the the start-up period, explained that it took a bit longer than usual to get up and running – a testimony to the founders’ determination. “Their willingness to share their time and contacts was exceptional,” Benotti said. “Atlanta is one of those cities where executives travel a lot and are busy. But they [the founders] persevered and showed their dedication to live out their Catholic faith and spread it to other business leaders in the Church.”

Father Lino Otero has been the North Georgia chaplain from the start. “It is a joy to accompany the members with monthly Mass, Confession, spiritual direction, and occasional visits to their families,” he said. “They are faith-filled people who want to grow in their faith, and to have a positive impact in the Church and surrounding communities.”

According to him, Legatus members tend to be very active in their parishes. “Some of them have their own projects through other Catholic organizations,” he said. “Mike Drapeau, for example, works with a mission organization to support mission outreach in Cameroon, and helped build a Catholic school and hospital.”

Great potential to change the world

Tom Monaghan gave his customary inspirational talk, sharing glimpses of his childhood and goals for Legatus. In his ‘fireside chat’ following the main talk, Mr. Monaghan explained how he began Domino’s Pizza and how meeting Pope St. John Paul II for the first time inspired his vision for Legatus. Although he has been instrumental in starting many ministries, Mr. Monaghan said he believes Legatus has the greatest potential to change the world through influential and active leaders loyal to their Catholic faith.

“I share Tom Monaghan’s love for Legatus,” said Mark Matia, who moderated the fireside chat. “It’s pretty obvious our culture is hostile to Christianity, so I think it’s important that Catholics unite to create a kind of oasis. It’s a respite for my wife and me to be with people with a love for the Church, and who are successful people to boot.” David Palmer had the opportunity to drive Mr. Monaghan from St. Brendon Church to the dinner reception. “It was so nice to meet him,” he said. “He’s down to earth and very quick-witted. We connected on different levels, such as we both like to play ping-pong. It was nice to hear stories from someone who has achieved so much.”

Palmer credits his own commitment to Legatus with the realization of a need to get back to the basics of faith and integrity in the world. “It’s about leading by example and carrying what we learn into the workplace and our families,” he said. “My wife and I are thrilled to be a part of this.”

Patti Armstrong is a Legatus magazine contributing writer.

Being everyday-thankful to God increases compassion

Thanksgiving Day is about family, food, sharing, and, most of all, love. Although Thanksgiving is considered a secular holiday, the feast day subconsciously evokes love for one another and an overall heartfelt appreciation that transcends our senses. In paraphrasing our Baltimore Catechism: Our hearts and reason tell us that there’s a God that made us and all things and keeps them in existence. Yes, we all work to provide for ourselves and our families, but ultimately, we know that it is the divine providence that makes the blessings possible in our homes. In Cor.1:10, St. Paul says: “But by the grace of God, I am what I am…”

More important than the feast of food on Thanksgiving Day is the intimate sharing with loved ones that happens around the dinner table. It’s as if one can make tangible the love at the table and scoop it up from a bowl. It’s that overwhelming awareness of how blessed one is, in bounty of love, food, and blessings, that makes Thanksgiving Day so special. However, when the plates are empty, the word “Thanksgiving” is put on pause for another 365 days.

Today, it’s easy to take for granted the blessings that our Good Lord has bestowed upon us because we have come to expect them, like clothes, food, shelter, employment, and more. But we must keep the value of being thankful at the forefront of our minds. Try making a special meal of gratefulness each day with your family. As the family gathers at your table, realize that not everyone in the world has food to eat, or a roof over their heads. Therefore, a heartfelt prayer is very appropriate in asking God to provide for all those less fortunate. In prayer, exclaim to our Good Lord that you are truly grateful for all that He’s provided for you and your family. In making an effort to give thanks, we can appreciate the things that we have been blessed with and, at the same time, impress upon ourselves a sense of compassion and love for the less fortunate. As St. Teresa of Calcutta said: “It’s not how much we give, but how much love we put into the giving.”

The true challenge is to remain thankful year-round, not just on Thanksgiving Day. G.K. Chesterton ascribed to such a life: “When it comes to life, the critical thing is whether you take things for granted, or take them with gratitude.”

CHEF NEIL FUSCO is founder of Cucina Antica Foods, Corp., a specialty Italian food-products company. Raised on a farm in San Marzano in southern Italy, he learned his family’s production and cooking with the renowned San Marzano tomatoes they’d grown there since the 1800s. His recently released cookbook is May Love Be the Main Ingredient At Your Table (2017), with amusing and heartfelt stories about faith, family, and recipes from his Old World childhood

Osso Buco (Veal Shank) • serves 4


Salt and pepper to taste
4 veal shanks with bone, about 2 to 3 inches thick½ cup flour
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
4 carrots, peeled and cut into ¾-inch rounds
4 celery stalks, cut into 1-inch long pieces
½ cup port wine
½ cup Marsala wine
½ onion, diced
1 cup chicken stock, unsalted
2 tbsp. unsalted butter


Salt and pepper each veal piece, and lightly dredge in flour.

Heat extra-virgin olive oil, pan sear each veal piece, and set aside.

In a large baking dish, place seared veal. Spread cut vegetables around the meat, leaving the meat uncovered.

Salt and pepper vegetables to taste.

Add wine and chicken stock.

Cover and bake veal shanks for 1 ½ to 2 hours at 350°F.

For the last half hour of baking, slightly uncover. To check for doneness, pierce a shank with a fork. The meat should pull apart easily and feel soft and tender.

Remove meat from baking dish and keep warm.

Add butter to vegetable mixture, and cook in a sauté pan on high heat until sauce mixture thickens slightly.

Plate veal and serve topped with the vegetable sauce.

The harvest is plentiful, but laborers are (still) few

Harvest festivals have been celebrated for millennia. Throughout Europe feasting and celebrating after a successful harvest are as ancient as the harvest season itself. Jewish harvest celebrations include the Feast of Tabernacles, a time of joy, praise and thanksgiving to God for His blessings of fruit, grapes, and grain. Native Americans have ceremonies that give thanks to Mother Earth for successful harvests with hope for the next growing season. To Americans, the harvest season heralds crisp mornings, pumpkin pie, and Pilgrims seeking passage to a land rich with possibilities.

Captain John Smith’s descriptions of America’s bounty inspired the Pilgrims, who were members of the English Separatist Church – a radical faction of Puritanism, to depart for the New World. While the Pilgrims boarded the Mayflower with visions of religious freedom, recruits of the Merchant Adventurers (indentured servants and pioneers) were not the least interested in religious freedom; the Promised Land they sought was filled with fortune and material gain.

On September 6, 1620 the motley crew sailed; on November 11 they arrived on New England’s shores at Cape Cod. Though the Pilgrims came to fish, they did not have nets, tackle, or know- how. Native Massachusetts tribesmen taught the Pilgrims to construct fishing lines and nets from vegetable fibers and to craft hooks from bones. They caught and ate cod, clams, and other ocean fish, harpooned river sturgeon, and scooped eels from the streams following Squanto’s instruction.

In 1621, after a year of bitter cold temperatures, near-starvation, and illness, the Puritan settlers celebrated a bountiful harvest for three days with 90 Native Americans while giving thanks to God. For this “First Thanksgiving” feast, the leader of the Wampanoag people, Massasoit, contributed five deer. Governor William Bradford wrote that there were fish, wild turkeys, ducks, and geese. Colonial leader Edward Winslow recorded that the meal also included “lobsters, clams, eel, and Indian pudding made from corn boiled in molasses.” To a friend in England, Winslow wrote, “And although it be not always so plentiful as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want that we often wish you partakers of our plenty.” While this “First Thanksgiving” was a day of celebration, a truly Puritan “thanksgiving” would have been a day set aside for prayer, piety, and reverence to God for His Providence.

As we enter this harvest season, we remember Jesus’ words to His disciples: “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few” (Mt 9:37). Is our harvest plentiful because, like the recruits of the Merchant Adventurers, we focus on fortune? Or, has the Lord sent us as His laborers to sow seeds of morality and goodness that a bountiful harvest of souls may be won for the Kingdom of God?

Perfect Pumpkin Pie • prep time: 1 1/2 hours • Yield: 6-8 servings

The pumpkin pie we savor at Thanksgiving is a far cry from the colonial original. According to U.P. Hedrick in A History of Horticulture in America to 1860, pumpkin pie was traditionally made “by cutting a hole in the top of the pumpkin to permit the removal of the seeds and their surroundings, after which the cavity was stuffed with apples, spices, sugar, and milk, and the whole baked. Probably a pastry similar to the modern pumpkin pie was made by those who had flour for the crust.”

1 3⁄4 cups canned pumpkin
1 (9-inch) pie crust, unbaked 1 3⁄4 cup sweetened condensed milk
2 large eggs, beaten
2/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 tbsp granulated sugar
1 1⁄4 tsp ground cinnamon 1⁄2 tsp salt
1⁄2 tsp ground ginger
1⁄2 tsp ground nutmeg
1⁄4 tsp ground cloves

Preheat oven to 425 ̊F. In large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients except crust. Using electric mixer, beat at medium speed 2 minutes. Pour mixture into prepared crust. Bake 15 minutes. Reduce oven to 350 ̊F. Bake 50 minutes or until knife inserted in pie center comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool on
wire rack. Enjoy with your favorite whipped topping or seasonal décor.

CHEF JOHN D. FOLSE is an entrepreneur with interests ranging from restaurant development to food manufacturing, catering to culinary education. A cradle-Catholic, he supports many Catholic organizations including the Sister Dulce Ministry at Cypress Springs Mercedarian Prayer Center in Baton Rouge, LA.

MICHAELA YORK is vice president of communications for John Folse & Company.