Tar Heel State charters its first Legatus chapter
Sharon Kucia had heard of Legatus in passing. As the executive vice president of a consulting firm, she travels the country helping Catholic dioceses and schools manage their resources.
On a stop in Savannah, Ga., a few years ago, Legatus member Marty Hogan invited her to a chapter event and she joined. But she recognized that with Charlotte’s tremendous population growth, a local chapter was possible.
“Being part of the Savannah Chapter was a good arrangement for a year or so,” she said. “I started talking to [Legatus’ South Region director] Brian Beckham about starting a chapter here, and things got rolling pretty fast. Everybody suggested names. They emailed me and invited people. It’s all been word of mouth and we’ve really grown organically.”
After Charlotte Bishop Peter Jugis gave his blessing to form a chapter in the diocese, a core group of Legates organized an informational meeting in August 2015, followed a month later by the first chapter event.
Kucia, who serves as the chapter’s first president, and her husband Eric were among 21 member-couples on hand when the chapter chartered on June 30. The event began with Mass celebrated by Bishop Jugis at the Cathedral of St. Patrick. After Mass and the chartering ceremony, the celebration continued at the Morehead Inn and Conference Center with dinner and a “fireside chat” with Legatus founder Tom Monaghan.
“We can’t stop bringing Christ to our culture because witnessing to Christ is a natural product of our love and our faith in Him,” Bishop Jugis told Legates in his homily. “May the inauguration of Legatus in our diocese help strengthen our witness to Christ Jesus in our local church.”
Kucia says Legatus is already helping build the local church.
“The monthly meetings have brought people together who didn’t know each together before,” she said. “These are like-minded people who didn’t have the occasion to be together before Legatus. There are true friendships here. At the end of the night, people aren’t running out the door to get home.”
James Hetzel agrees.
“We thought we knew all the Catholics in town, but we’ve met a lot of really great people through Legatus,” said Hetzel, president of The Catholic Company. “When you’re running a business, it’s very easy to feel isolated. It’s great to meet other men and women who are serious about their faith. We have nine children, so Legatus also gives us one night a month to go out.”
Richard Caron, the chapter’s program chair, was excited to help build the chapter in Charlotte. But more than that, he said, Legatus has helped deepen his spiritual connection with his wife Janet.
“We pray together and have Mass together,” he said. “It’s a date night where we engage with other like-minded executives. Every one of the speakers has made an impact on our relationship.”
Mike Soignet, a former executive at Domino’s Pizza, joined Legatus’ Ann Arbor Chapter in the early 1990s. He retired to Charlotte and rejoined Legatus late last year.
“The best thing about Legatus is that you’re around a lot people who share a common faith,” he said. “They encourage you to share your faith with others. That’s incredibly necessary today — especially in business.”
PATRICK NOVECOSKY is Legatus’ editor-in-chief.