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The high stakes of Catholic education

Our mission is to study, live and spread the Catholic faith. Each year, the September issue of our magazine is dedicated to Catholic education… not only because September marks the beginning of another academic year, but also because this is a topic of critical importance to the Church. It is of course the mission of our Catholic schools to provide an environment where the truths of the Church (along with the array of other academic disciplines) are faithfully taught to the next generation. Thus we see a very practical means of our promoting the studying and spreading of our Catholic faith.

Tom Monaghan

Along with the expansion of Legatus, this area of Catholic education has been where I have felt called to devote the vast majority of my time and resources since selling Domino’s Pizza more than 20 years ago. We all know that if you want to impact future generations, the battleground is in our schools. I was blessed to receive a faithful Catholic education when I was in grade school; it was a firm foundation for which I am very grateful. While I did not always live my faith the way I should have, the gift of this Catholic education served me as an unwavering guide.

As my time and resources permitted, it was natural that Catholic education became an area of focus. I started by getting involved in the local Catholic high school, and later built a series of private Catholic grade schools. During this time, I received a crash course regarding some of the struggles going on in Catholic education from a well-respected Catholic who was a good friend. For example, I had never heard of the 1967 Land O’ Lakes Conference or the statement issued by these leaders of Catholic universities from across the country. Obviously, this conference did not take place in a vacuum and was in a sense a sign of the turbulent time the Church and our society was going through in the ‘60s. With that said, this conference in many ways opened the doors for secular influences to creep into Catholic universities and a move away from the Church in the name of academic freedom and secular prestige. 

Thankfully, in 1990 Pope St. John Paul II’s Ex Corde Ecclesiae, the apostolic constitution for Catholic universities, finally began a renewal of Catholic identity in some Catholic universities. Almost 30 years later, we continue to wrestle with this issue, not only in our universities, but also in our Catholic schools at every level. So, as this new school year begins, I encourage you to pray for our Catholic schools and ask the Lord if there is anything He wants you to do to help them to be places where our future generations are formed according to the Truth.

TOM MONAGHAN is Legatus’ founder, chairman, and CEO.

Answering THE question

A note from the chairman: As I was thinking about a topic for this month’s column, the topic of sanctifying grace kept coming to me. We looked through the files to see if I had written about this and it was among the very first columns I wrote. Because some things bear repeating, we decided to run it again.

Tom Monaghan

Far be it for me to talk about people’s spiritual lives. I am not a theologian and I am much too imperfect myself to be preaching. However, it has always seemed amazing to me that we (or at least I) hear very little about sanctifying grace.

When I was in the ninth grade, Sr. Andrea asked the class, “How do you get to heaven?” I did not raise my hand very often in class and I did not this time. Many others did. One after another, they gave the wrong answer. For example, “by practicing faith, hope, and charity,” “by obeying the 10 Commandments,” “by loving God and others,” and so on.

Sister’s response was, “No, that’s not what I’m looking for.”

So I finally raised my hand, being very surprised that nobody in the class knew the answer. I suppose since I did not raise my hand that often, Sister promptly acknowledged me and I blurted out my answer.

“To die in the state of sanctifying grace.”

“Right,” she said, “that’s the answer.”

Today the answer is still the same. The Church’s teaching on sanctifying grace has not changed. We are business men and women, generally practical people, wanting to get to the bottom line and be successful, so here’s a bottom-line truth that we can be sure of.

Someone once said there is only one catastrophe in life and that is to lose one’s soul – to go to hell. Everything else is relatively unimportant. Why, on the most important question in life, did not the kids in my class know the answer? I suspect many Catholics today do not know it, either.

That is why regular Confession is so important. Chesterton said he became Catholic to get rid of his sins. That is what Confession (or Reconciliation) does. That is why, as a Legatus policy, we have Reconciliation available at the monthly chapter meetings.

The Holy Father urges Catholics to go to Confession at least once a month. Legatus makes that very convenient for us. Obviously, it has to be a good Confession. As we learned long ago, there are five requirements for a good Confession: 1. Examination of conscience (preparation); 2. Sorrow for sin; 3. Confessing all unconfessed mortal sins; 4. Fulfilling your penance (reparation); 5. Firm purpose of amendment. It’s a small price to pay for winning the big prize: eternal happiness in heaven, the difference between being spiritually alive or dead.

There are many ways to enrich one’s spiritual life, but the place to start is getting into the state of sanctifying grace and staying there.

TOM MONAGHAN is Legatus’ founder, chairman, and CEO.

Knowing and spreading your faith

As I have shared in past columns, I enjoy reading books. Every now and then, I come across a special one. Recently, I came across such a book. I was getting ready to go on vacation, so I stopped by the Catholic bookstore next to our chapel to find something for the trip. The title of a book on display caught my Attention: Forty Anti-Catholic Lies, A Myth-busting Apologist Sets the Record Straight, by Gerard Verschuuren, Ph.D.

Tom Monaghan

After a couple of chapters, I knew it was going to be a great book, and on finishing it I think it is a book every Catholic should read. It is very clear and well written, packed full of useful and interesting information, and it is understandable for a layman like myself.

As I read each chapter, I was impressed by the author’s knack for taking complex topics and explaining them in a clear and non-threatening fashion. When I travel, I try and strike up conversations with those I sit next to and after listening to how they are doing or letting them talk about their interests, I try and bring up something about faith. If they seem open, I will sometimes ask if I can mail them a book. Most of the time, they are open to the gesture. I think this book will work well for this type of evangelization, which I believe comes across as non-threatening because they get to read the book in the privacy of their own home. There are many former Catholics who have stopped practicing their faith and just need a little nudge to come back to the Church.

I am excited because I also believe this book will help Catholics who want to better understand their faith or to assist those who regularly experience anti-Catholic rhetoric being thrown their way. Another reason I think this book is well suited for ministry in the skies (the abovementioned practice of sharing one’s faith while flying) is because while Verschuuren presents the uncompromising truth about what the Church teaches, he does so in charity. I believe this will go a long way in not alienating non-Catholic readers because I do not think they will feel attacked.

To give you a flavor of some of the topics addressed, this book set the record straight regarding accusations about the Catholic Church ranging from the Church being oppressive to women to rejecting science… And accusations that Catholics worship statues and Mary to the Church inventing purgatory and many other commonly misunderstood subjects.

I will be giving copies to all the members of the board of governors at our meeting later this month, and I have already ordered plenty of copies to have on hand in my office to give away… all a part of studying, living, and spreading the Faith!

TOM MONAGHAN is Legatus’ founder, chairman, and CE

The state of our soul

I am writing this column on the heels of a very powerful State of the Union address by the president and the season of Lent soon to be upon us. It struck me that in a sense Lent is the spiritual equivalent of the State of the Union address for each of us and the state of our soul. In business, we are accustomed to preparing elaborate annual reports for our shareholders or our banks as a way of showing the health of our company or organization. In her preeminent wisdom, the Church has built into the liturgical year this time for us to examine how we are doing in our spiritual lives.

Tom Monaghan

I have told the story innumerable times of how as a young man, I came up with a set of priorities to help me sort out how I wanted to live my life… I called these my five personal priorities. I first came up with the list when I was a Marine, during a voyage from the Philippines to Japan… as I had plenty of time aboard the ship to reflect on my life and goals. These five priorities are: spiritual, social, mental, physical, and financial. As I look back, approximately 60 years since setting those priorities, I am more convinced than ever of the importance of keeping the spiritual priority at the top of the list.

So, let me encourage you to take this season of Lent and examine how you are living your priorities. It is very easy for us to simply go through the motions and do what we have always done for Lent… Instead, I suggest that each of us take this season as a time to assess how we are really doing in living the priorities we have set for our lives. And let us approach this season with the same vigor and dedication with which the president prepares his State of the Union address or we prepare the annual reports for our companies… because when all is said and done, the only thing that really matters is the state of our souls and souls of those Christ has placed in our lives.

TOM MONAGHAN is Legatus’ founder, chairman, and CEO.

Tres Magna

As we begin this new year, the theme of the magazine is Renewed Purpose. I am asking you to resist the temptation of simply chalking this up as another New Year’s resolution topic that is convenient because it is that time of year. Indeed, I believe the topic of this column, Tres Magna, is extremely important to each member of Legatus.

Tom Monaghan

We are all aware of our mission as an organization to study, live, and spread the Catholic faith. However, as we go beneath the surface and engage what this really means, it is about growing in personal sanctity, which is no surprise to any of us because that is the goal of every Catholic.

So what is Tres Magna? This is Latin for Big Three. Some of you will remember in March 2017 my column was entitled The Big 3 of the Spiritual Life, and I challenged you at that time to attend daily Mass, pray the rosary every day, and go to Confession monthly!

My conviction of the importance of each of these has only continued to grow! About a year and a half ago, when the International Board of Governors met in Los Angeles, our ecclesiastical advisor, Archbishop Gomez, said (and I am paraphrasing here), I see Legatus being like a lay religious order. That statement really resonated with me and put into words the sense of purpose, focus, and vocation to which I, too, believe Legatus is being drawn. This call is not complicated nor is it anything new to the church And for me Tres Magna helps to make this call, this practice very specific.

We are all aware that the Mass is the highest form of prayer (or member of Legatus. worship), and while daily Mass certainly is not mandatory, as Vatican II says, it is the source and summit of our faith…In terms of the rosary, not only have popes throughout the ages called us to this devotional practice, but in Church-approved apparitions from Lourdes to Fatima, Our Lady consistently exhorts (dare I say, begs) the faithful to pray the rosary daily. And finally, monthly Confession. This is a part of the First Saturday devotion that I wrote about in my last column, and which has been built into every monthly chapter meeting.

Each of us is keenly aware of the current crisis in the Church and the challenges that loom before us. If we ever had a doubt as to why we exist as an organization, I believe it is for such a time as this. So, I encourage you in the strongest way I know to COMMIT to Tres Magna! Do not let it be something you just try, but resolve to do it and encourage your fellow members.

TOM MONAGHAN is Legatus’ founder, chairman, and CEO.

Five First Saturdays

Last year the church celebrated the 100th Anniversary of the Marian apparitions to three young children at Fatima. Most Catholics are familiar with Our Lady of Fatima, have seen this image, and know that these apparitions have been approved by the Church. However, somewhat less well known is that when Mary appeared to the children, she asked them (and us) to do several specific things, and she promised if we (Catholics) observed her requests, there would be peace in the world. I want to share about one of her specific requests — making Five First Saturdays — that Mary asked of the Church during these apparitions.

The First Saturday devotion is separate from the First Friday devotion, although they are often confused. Many Catholics are not familiar with making the First Five Saturdays – In Reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, but it continues to be important today. As mentioned above, this devotion is in response to our Lady of Fatima’s request to make reparation to her Immaculate Heart, performed with the intention of reparation for blasphemies against the Immaculate Heart for at least five consecutive Saturdays.

There are many pamphlets (and even on-line resources) available that explain in detail the history and specifics of this devotion. However, the four elements that Mary requested are straightforward; they are (1) reception of Communion, (2) Confession (on or shortly before or after the First Saturday), (3) recitation of the five-decade rosary, and (4) mediating for 15 minutes on one or more of the mysteries of the rosary — for five consecutive first Saturdays.

Let me conclude with a quote from Fr. Donald Calloway, MIC, who is a modern-day champion of the rosary and Marian devotion. He wrote, “I highly recommend it (making the Five First Saturdays) as a great spiritual practice! Get a monthly tune-up with Confession, Mass, Communion and immersing yourself in the Mysteries of the Rosary, all offered in reparation for the many serious offenses committed against Our Lady. Make the First Saturdays throughout your life for love of Our Lady and reap huge spiritual rewards.”

TOM MONAGHAN is Legatus’ founder, chairman, and CEO.

Two friends dearly missed

As we complete the 30th anniversary of Legatus, 1987 – 2017, I take this opportunity to reflect on the lives of two great men and great Legates who recently passed from this life. Francis (Fran) Sehn, member of the Detroit Chapter, passed away at age 99 on October 29; and William (Bill) McIntyre, member of the Genesis Chapter, passed at age 81 on November 6. Coincidentally (or maybe not), their funerals were celebrated on the same day at the same hour… Saturday, November 11 at 11:00 a.m.

Tom Monaghan

Both of these men were close friends of mine, whom I admired and respected greatly. They were also both champions of Legatus. Fran and Bill were not only active in their respective chapters, but each of them did much to advance the mission and reputation of Legatus. Bill and his wife, Susan, were original charter members of the Genesis Chapter. In addition to serving as chapter president, Bill also served as Legatus’ vice chairman of the board of governors. Meanwhile, during our early years as an organization, as we endeavored to charter a chapter in Detroit, Cardinal Szoka wanted to know more about this new organization of Catholic CEOs before he gave it his blessing, so he sent a trusted confidante to check it out. The Cardinal sent Fran to find out more about Legatus and what we were all about; not only did Fran come back with a positive report, but he and his wife Celestine (“Sel”) would soon join the Detroit Chapter.

While Fran and Bill were very different, they had some striking similarities. They were both extremely successful in their respective professional fields, but they were also profoundly humble. They both were good listeners who were interested in others and what they could learn. Each was very involved in his local parish, archdiocese and community. And while they were pioneers in the business world, it was faith and family that comprised the true center of their lives.

Bill was buried with his Legatus lapel pin on and a Legatus runner draped over his casket, and as I read their respective obituaries, I found it humbling but telling that Legatus was mentioned in both. I believe these are not only a testament to their commitment to Legatus, but also a sign of the deep and meaningful relationships they had with their fellow members.

Personally, I am very grateful for the friendship of these two men; they will be missed. I am also grateful for their contributions to Legatus.

TOM MONAGHAN is Legatus’ founder, chairman and CEO.

On Philanthropy

The purpose of Legatus is to help its members be better Catholics. The Church and Scripture make it clear that regardless of the level of our wealth, we are all called to support the Church and our fellow man with our material resources, or in other words practice philanthropy. I hesitate to write about this topic, but do so because it is the theme of this month’s issue and because it is an important part of being a good Catholic, not because I spend part of my time raising money for the various institutions that I founded.

Tom Monaghan

We all know that there are many motivations for giving and myriads of organizations and causes seeking our support. When I founded Legatus, I was hoping that a manifestation of members being more engaged Catholics would be that they would not only be more charitable in terms of the level of their giving, but also more discerning in terms of the organizations / charities they support. Just as we explore where we invest our funds, I envisioned Legates would take the time to research the various needs and ministries out there and then give to particularly high-priority and effective causes that further the faith.

I am convinced that as more Legates give to highly worthwhile Catholic causes, that individually and collectively they will have an incredible impact on the Church and on their own souls. I believe that philanthropy is also something that is learned and needs to be modeled. As Legates practice philanthropy, I think they will inspire others in their local churches and communities to do the same and also hopefully model this practice for future generations.

As you know, the only cause Legatus can raise money for is Legatus – namely its endowment. There are two purposes for our Endowment Fund: (1) To provide a rainy day account in the event there is some sort of economic setback and (2) To fund international expansion after we cover most of North America with chapters. We mention it on our renewal forms, but we really have not pushed it much over the years. We raise about $10,000 per year.

TOM MONAGHAN is Legatus’ founder, chairman and CEO.

Why Catholic higher education

This time of year signals the beginning of another academic year for schools at every level. Ever since founding Ave Maria University and later Ave Maria School of Law (two separate schools), people have asked me why I started a new university and law school. Given this issue is focused on Catholic higher education, I thought I would share my answer with you.

Tom Monaghan

I have always had a passion for Catholic education, which I think can be traced back to the incredible impact it had on my life as a young boy. The instruction and formation that I received in the orphanage and Catholic grade school from the Felician sisters, particularly Sister Berarda, really served as a foundation for my faith development and as a moral compass for much of my life.

Years later when Domino’s Pizza started doing well, I was approached by many people with requests to support all kinds of projects designed to help the Church. I had to really think and pray about how I was going to use the resources God had given me to help His Church. I began getting involved in a variety of projects, including a couple Catholic universities… serving on their boards, etc. I also worked with the local Catholic high school in Ann Arbor, and then started a couple of grade schools (Spiritus Sanctus Academies), which I later turned over to the Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist.

However, it was when I was preparing to sell Domino’s that I had to think long and hard about what God was calling me to do with these resources He had blessed me with… because they were really His. I knew Legatus was critically important and I planned to spend the rest of my life helping it fulfill its mission. Next to Legatus, Catholic higher education emerged as the best way I knew that I could help the Church and society as a whole.

Building grade schools and high schools is critically important, but it is expensive. I knew that even with the proceeds from the sale of Domino’s, my resources were limited. So, I began to think globally… who are the ones who will be teaching and running the grade schools, high schools, colleges, law schools and seminaries? And where are they going to be formed? It was the idea of helping to mold the future teachers, principals, priests, religious, executives, etc. that really got me excited about the importance of Catholic higher education.

In addition, I thought not many people have the resources to start a new university or law school, so I felt a certain responsibility to do so. Therefore, I wanted to do everything in my power to found a university and law school, which would be faithful to the Magisterium and intellectual traditions of the Church and in turn to create a ripple effect that would be felt for generations to come.

TOM MONAGHAN is Legatus’ founder, chairman and CEO.

Honoring a friend and hero

On May 11, 2017, I lost a friend and hero mine when John (Jack) Donahue passed away at his home in Naples, FL. Many of you may remember him as the founder of Federated Investors or as the patriarch of the Donahue family, which includes 13 children, 84 grandchildren and 109 great grandchildren.

Tom Monaghan

There is much I could say about my profound respect and admiration for Jack because he was everything I aspired to be: (1) a strong Catholic, (2) a great family man – all his grandchildren still attend Sunday Mass, and (3) an incredibly successful businessman. To give you a glimpse of this great man, I would like to share with you something that he penned for his family back in 1996 on the occasion of his and his wife, Rhodora’s, 50th wedding anniversary… entitled Thoughts for a Lifetime.

In the realm of the spiritual, there are important thoughts on which to reflect. Always remember that your goal in life is to go to Heaven and to help others in every way possible to get there. You cannot repeat this thought often enough; it should be a part of your very being.

To achieve this goal:

1) Be determined to accept the will of God in everything that happens to you. Make every effort to discern the will of God for you, and make even a greater effort to follow wherever it leads.

2) Pray… Pray constantly. Nothing is more important than daily prayer for the preservation of the precious gift of faith you have received. Do not stop praying; for the day you stop praying is the day you will begin to lose your faith. This applies to everyone… even bishops, cardinals and the pope.

3) The Eucharist stands at the center of the Church’s life. The Church and Pope John Paul II have encouraged us to receive the Eucharist frequently; daily, if at all possible. There would be no Catholic Church without the Eucharist.

4) The Lord commanded us to “ love one another.” There are no qualifications in this command. It is not complicated nor subject to interpretation or rationalization. So, pray that you will always find it in your heart to “ love one another.”

In Summary… Seek Heaven as your primary goal in life. Seek to know and do the will of God. Pray so that you keep your faith. Receive the Eucharist as often as possible. Love one another.

TOM MONAGHAN is Legatus’ founder, chairman and CEO.