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 | By Theresa Stratford

Legatus is providing leaders purpose and faith formation

The groundwork has begun for a Legatus chapter with the Diocese of Charleston. A prestigious organization within the North American Catholic community for business leaders, Legatus provides a sense of camaraderie, friendship and a nourishment of faith among its members.

It all began with Tom Monaghan, founder of Domino’s Pizza, after he met St. John Paul II in 1987. He felt he was called to start a group that would bring Catholic business owners, company presidents and CEOs together in faith. He saw a need for those in leadership roles to have a place where they could live out their faith in like-minded fellowship; a place where they could practice Christian ethics while also enhancing marriages, families and of course their businesses.

Legatus chapters have popped up all over the country since then. Today, there are 5,000 participants in 100 chapters throughout the United States and Canada.

For the chapter in South Carolina to take off, there needs to be 20 official members. Nivedita Toth, chapter development officer with Legatus, said that it can take up to a year for chapters to form into a charter. She’s optimistic that the Diocese of Charleston, however, will reach this goal by fall of 2023. There are four criteria for membership:

  • Be a Catholic in good standing.
  • Hold a top position, like chairman, founder, president, CEO, owner, etc., with a qualifying company or operation.
  • The qualifying company will have a payroll with 40 or more employees or $1.5 million.
  • It will also have a revenue of $8.5 million or $2 million for financial or commission-based client services.

Toth said that the criteria is just a general description. She encourages business leadership to inquire about their unique situation. She also stressed that Legatus is not taking away from Carolina Catholic Professionals, which is a different organization for business leaders and members that serves the state. Legatus and CCP organizations encourage business professionals to connect with each other and to deepen their relationship with God.

While Legatus is specifically for leadership, they have a strict “no solicitation” rule, so networking is not a reason to join.

“We are more about friendship and formation,” Toth said.

There are many benefits for Legatus members. They participate in monthly events with Masses, pilgrimages, national biannual summits and small group forums. Members are also eligible for tuition assistance at some Catholic schools in the United States. 

Legatus had their first official meeting on Jan. 26 at the Diocese of Charleston’s Chapel of the Holy Family for Mass followed by a speaker and dinner in the Assembly Hall.

Sam Goodwin, a former professional athlete who was unjustly imprisoned in Syria, gave the keynote at the first meeting. The second meeting on Feb. 23 featured Dr. Barbara Nicolosi, who is the executive director of the Galileo Studio at Azusa Pacific University, a professor of cinema and founder of Act One. The meeting on March 23 featured Dr. Paul J. Voss, president of Ethikos, a consulting firm that specializes in culture, leadership and executive coaching, and Bishop Jacques Fabre-Jeune, CS, was the celebrant for Mass. Dr. Mario Enzler, currently working in Catholic education at the School of Business and Economics at Catholic University of America, was the headliner April 27. Nancy Economou, founder of Watts of Love, which provides solar-powered lamps to people without electricity all over the world, will speak at the May 18 meeting.

Maura Watson is a new member of the Charleston Legatus chapter. She is the executive vice president for talent, risk and communications at PenFed Credit Union. She also serves as a director of the Board for the Association of Former Intelligence Officers. Her husband Ben retired from the CIA as a directorate of operations officer. They have four grown children and seven grandchildren.

“I joined Legatus this year, and my husband Ben is also looking forward to attending the monthly meetings,” she said. “Legatus offers me the opportunity to be reinforced in my faith and in my vocation, a witness to my faith, through all facets of life including my professional life. I am hoping to meet and enjoy the companionship of others with a similar perspective here in Charleston. I look forward to experiencing good discussion, good humor and to seek to live the truth prayerfully with others.”

Mike Golden and his wife have also joined the Charleston Legatus chapter. Golden retired as CEO at Smith and Wesson and currently serves as vice chairman of its board; he is also the lead independent director at Trex Company. 

“I am excited about Legatus and getting to know the people involved,” he said. “As a senior executive, I always look for ways to meet and share with other CEOs and discuss issues of the day. I find that it doesn’t matter what business you are in, at the senior level the issues and challenges are all very similar. It’s good to talk things through with people in the same boat.”

“Legatus helps leaders grow in their faith,” Toth said, and it can help provide them with formation, community and purpose.

To attend an upcoming meeting, email

For information on Legatus in general, visit

Theresa Stratford is a freelance writer for The Miscellany. She lives in Charleston with her husband and three children and attends the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist. Email her at