by Jill Ragar Esfeld
MISSION HILLS — “It’s hard to describe the benefits of Legatus,” said the organization’s founder Tom Monaghan.
The Domino’s pizza entrepreneur and former owner of the Detroit Tigers spoke at the local chapter meeting at the Indian Hills Country Club in Mission Hills.
Monaghan said members often can’t put into words what the organization means to them, yet they enthusiastically thank him for starting it.
“But it wasn’t me,” he said. “It was the Holy Spirit.”
Indeed, Monaghan got the idea for the national organization after a meeting with Pope John Paul II in 1987.
Since then, Legatus has been bringing together Catholic business leaders and their spouses each month in a unique format that cultivates spiritual growth, Catholic formation and a dedication to business ethics.
This new local chapter is the first to combine two dioceses: the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas and the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph.
This month’s chapter event, which included couples interested in learning more about the organization, began with the sacrament of reconciliation, a rosary and a Mass at St. Agnes Church in Roeland Park.
Mass was followed by a cocktail reception and dinner at the country club.
After an invocation by Father Vincent Rogers, pastor of St. Andrew the Apostle Parish in Gladstone, Missouri, chapter president and member of Sacred Heart Parish in Tonganoxie Bill Graveman welcomed guests and talked about his own experience as a member of Legatus.
Regional director Stephen Henley also spoke, telling guests that Legatus offered them a place where they can take a break from the demands of business and be “spiritually fed.”
Legatus provides a unique venue where Catholics can feel comfortable sharing their faith as they discuss business, politics and current events, he said.
“This is a great place to hear quality speakers and get together with like-minded people,” he said. “We want to see this chapter grow because we need strong Catholic leaders.
“It’s the laity that’s going to bring in the new evangelization.”
Membership chair Bob Meyers, a member of St. Agnes Parish, introduced Monaghan as the evening’s speaker.
“Legatus is the most respected lay Catholic organization in the country,” Monaghan told his audience.
He said people often ask him what Legatus chapter members do — what projects they have.
“We only have one project,” he said. “And that’s to help members be better Catholics.”
The format of the presentation was question and answer. Monaghan found himself discussing topics ranging from how he met his wife of 53 years — delivering a pizza — to what it was like to own the Detroit Tigers.
He also discussed his role in the foundation of Ave Maria University and law school in Florida.
Monaghan talked about the name Legatus coming from the Latin word for ambassador and said, “I like the idea of our members being ambassadors for our faith.”
After a closing prayer led by Father Gary Pennings, vicar general of the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas, guests received copies of Monaghan’s book “Pizza Tiger” and were invited to have them personally autographed.