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 | By Theresa Stratford

Legatus chapter in Charleston becomes a charter

On Jan. 26, 2023, the first official meeting for Legatus in Charleston was held at the Chapel of the Holy Family. Legatus met every month in 2023 and early 2024, each meeting featuring a different speaker who talked from the heart and whose words could resonate with the new-found members of this Catholic fellowship.

Legatus is a prestigious organization for North American Catholic business leaders and entrepreneurs. It provides a sense of camaraderie, friendship and a nourishment of faith among its members. The organization is for people with careers in leadership to gather, support each other and live out their faith in like-minded fellowship. Its members can practice Christian ethics while enhancing their marriages and families. There are 5,000 participants in 100 chapters throughout the United States and Canada.

Now, over a year later, the Charleston Legatus group has been solidified with its charter. Only 20 official members were required for the group to become a charter. With the overwhelming support for the chapter in the first year, they reached their membership goal and celebrated with Mass and the official ceremony of the charter on March 21.

Although the date simply marks the launch of Legatus in Charleston, it signifies much more. 

John Byrnes, who joined in May of 2023, is president of the Charleston Legatus chapter. He is the current president of Christ Our King — Stella Maris School in Mount Pleasant. He pointed out that members began to invite other candidates to consider membership and therefore momentum grew quickly.

“The speed of chartering points to local Catholic business leaders’ desire for genuine connection,” he said. “Chartering is just the beginning. The Charleston Legatus Chapter is the 90th chartered Legatus chapter. We can refer candidates for membership — both for the Charleston chapter as well as the other chapters across the country. … Moreover, Legatus national staff will continue to assist us with growth so that we can support Catholic business leaders within our community.”

He said what drew him to Legatus was the sense of community and fellowship. 

“I think it is fantastic that we can get together as a group of Catholic executives to follow the Legatus motto of ‘To study, live and spread the Catholic faith in our business, professional and personal lives,’” he explained.

The charter ceremony featured a keynote by nationally known speaker Deacon Harold Burke-Sivers. Stephen Henley, Legatus national president, also attended the meeting along with Bishop Jacques Fabre-Jeune, CS, and Very Rev. Gregory B. Wilson, vicar general and rector of the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist. Father Wilson is the chaplain of the Charleston chapter.

After the meeting, charter members and officers were inducted during a cocktail reception and dinner at The Mills House Hotel.

Membership encompasses a broad representation of sectors. Byrnes noted that some of the members serve in the medical field like hospital division heads. He said that other members hold senior-level corporate positions or oversee a diverse array of for- and nonprofit businesses — for example, commercial real estate businesses, manufacturing companies and education service providers. Membership is composed of working and retired business leaders.

Timothy J. Dockery, program chair of the Charleston Legatus chapter, also works as the executive director of the Catholic Community Foundation of South Carolina and as secretary for the diocesan Office of Stewardship and Mission Advancement. He is new to the Charleston area, but has been a member of the Legatus chapter in Naples, Florida, since 2020.

“As newcomers to Charleston, my wife Susan and I are excited to make new friends who share our faith and our values,” Dockery said. “We enjoy the fellowship and camaraderie and to do it in a setting where we learn more about our faith, or are uplifted by the speakers’ faith experiences, makes it that much more enjoyable. Our hope is simple — that we get to heaven, and Legatus is one of the gifts from the Holy Spirit that will help us.”

Amy Justis is the president of CMIT Solutions of Charleston. She joined the Charleston chapter in September of 2023 and now serves as treasurer.

“I am looking forward to getting to know other Catholic leaders in the Charleston area,” she explained. “Getting to know other like-minded Catholics will be personally and spiritually rewarding. I am very happy that Legatus is focused on helping members better understand the Catholic faith and that it provides a forum for sharing ideas on how to live that faith. I am excited about the Legatus Forums, particularly the women’s forum, since it will be another great way to build relationships with Catholic women,” she said.

“I can't think of a better way than an evening of the rosary, confession and Mass followed by fellowship, dinner and a great speaker with my spouse and fellow Catholic business leaders,” Byrnes concluded.

To attend an upcoming meeting, email, or for more information, visit