Twin chapter-additions shine on Florida’s gold coast
February was a big month for Legatus in south Florida, with two back-to-back charters splashing in Fort Lauderdale and Miami – making them the 91st and 92nd chapters to-date.
Archbishop Thomas Wenski of Miami, a longtime supporter of Legatus, celebrated both chartering masses – for the fort Lauderdale chapter on Feb. 19 at St. Sebastian church in fort Lauderdale; and for the Miami chapter the very next evening, Feb. 20, at St. Augustine church in Miami.
Both of Archbishop Wenski’s homilies emphasized the importance of a business career as a vocation and path to holiness.
“As members of Legatus, as professionals in the business community, and successful ones at that, you are certainly ‘in the world.’ And your careers are ways in which you can be and are ‘for the world’ without belonging to the world,” the archbishop said.
“As Catholics, your success in business cannot be judged solely on the bottom line – your business performance will be judged on that to be sure; but also, it will be judged on how it has helped you to achieve personal sanctification and how it has helped others achieve this as well,” Archbishop Wenski added.
The consecutive charterings capped many months of work to further Legatus’ presence in South Florida. In the Fall of 2018, Southeast regional director Ed Trifone met with Archbishop Wenski and members of his staff about launching new chapters in Miami and Fort Lauderdale.
The archbishop instantly said, ‘We need to get these chapters up and running,’” Trifone said, adding that the archbishop’s staff immediately helped to identify prospective members for the chapters.
“It’s really because of (the archbishop) and his staff fully embracing Legatus and the hard work of a team of chapter development officers led by Stefanie Benotti that we could get the chapters up and running so quickly,” Trifone shared. “Then once Monsignor James Dixon (Ft. Lauderdale) and Fr. Richard Vigoa (Miami) assumed their respective chaplaincies, we really gained momentum as they both recruited members.”
Laura Sacha, director of training and development for Legatus, said the new Florida chapters are “a great start” for Legatus this year.
“We’re blessed to have Archbishop Wenski embrace both charterings, and to have his support of Legatus, because it’s made a difference,” Sacha said.
WARM WELCOME IN FORT LAUDERDALE
At the Fort Lauderdale Chapter reception at the Lobster Bar Sea Grille, Chapter vice president Jody Moore interviewed Mr. Monaghan during the special and customary fireside chat, following a delectable lobster-tail and filet dinner.
“It was quite a pleasure and an honor for me,” said Moore, 58, who owns and operates a staffing agency. He said he had long looked up to Mr. Monaghan as a role model since reading about him many years ago in a Wall Street Journal article.
“I’ve looked up to him from afar for so long, so to actually meet him and see who he is in person, I was just so taken,” said Moore.
DELIGHTFUL RETURN TO MIAMI
Legatus previously had a chapter in Miami, but it had stagnated. Trifone described the new Miami Chapter as a vibrant, orthodox, and diverse group of committed Catholics who reflect the local community, and are dedicated to the rosary, Confession, and Mass— all important cornerstones of Legatus.
“There’s a tremendous amount of passion in Miami,” Trifone said. “Miami has one of the strongest, most varied Catholic populations in the country, so of course we want to have a thriving chapter there.”
Angel V. Gallinal, a Miami businessman and member of the Miami Chapter, said the group’s current and prospective members have “all the right makings of being a very successful chapter.”
“I’ve seen the projected program for the entire year, and there are going to be some very good speakers,” said Gallinal.
“It was a beautiful ceremony,” he added. “At the end of Mass, they called each of the chartering members who were present up. We received our pins and got to shake hands and take a photo with the archbishop, with our chaplain, and with Mr. Monaghan.”
Legatus founder, chairman, and CEO Tom Monaghan joined both chartering events, as did executive director Stephen Henley.
A short rainstorm fell after Miami’s chartering Mass, but the skies just as quickly cleared up as the Miami Legates made their way to the dinner reception at the famous Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables. The archbishop was on hand during the cocktail reception as Legates socialized and celebrated.
Also during both receptions, Mr. Monaghan personally autographed copies of his recent biography, Monaghan: A Life. The sumptuous dinner featured surf and turf, a hearty wedge salad, and silky chocolate mousse for dessert. He also engaged in a fireside chat moderated by Ed Easton, founding member of the Miami Chapter, and chairman of Easton Group, a real estate firm based in Miami.
“We got to hear a lot about Mr. Monaghan’s backstory on not only starting Legatus, but also starting Domino’s, Ave Maria University, and what he did with the Detroit Tigers,” Gallinal said. “There were so many great anecdotes. It was really terrific.”
BRIAN FRAGA is a Legatus magazine staff writer.