By TAMI QUIGLEY Staff writer
“I’ve been to many Legatus meetings over the years. It’s so nice and comforting to see so many familiar faces from Legatus and other avenues of the Diocese,” said Bishop Alfred Schlert, featured guest speaker of the Dec. 6 meeting of the Lehigh Valley Chapter of Legatus at Lehigh Country Club, Allentown.
“It shows the caliber of people here involved in the life of the Church.”
The meeting was preceded by the celebration of Mass at the nearby St. Thomas More Church, Allentown. The evening continued with dinner and Bishop Schlert’s presentation.
Legatus is a group for Catholic senior-level business executives. Bishop Schlert was previously chaplain of the group. Msgr. John Murphy, pastor of St. Thomas More, is now chaplain.
“I feel very humbled to be your Bishop, and very proud but not for myself, but for the priests, deacons, seminarians and religious who make up the Diocese,” Bishop Schlert said.
“I have a great sense of awe at being able to be your Bishop.”
He said when bishops are assigned to a diocese that is new to them, “it’s like meeting the bride at the altar.” But because Bishop Schlert has always served in his home Diocese, “it’s been like a 30-year courtship.”
Bishop Schlert said the “mosaic” of his priestly life includes brother priests and people in the parishes he’s served.
Legatus is part of that mosaic, especially since he previously served as the group’s chaplain.
“I’ve always been edified by this group. You are people with the ability to influence the marketplace, and your decisions affect the lives of others. It’s edifying that people of faith have these roles … to be ambassadors for Christ, not just in church, but where the rubber meets the road,” Bishop Schlert said, adding it’s not always easy to make the Christian decision in the workplace.
Bishop Schlert said he’s launched the “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” effort in the Diocese, asking people to invite inactive Catholics to come back to church, knowing they will be welcomed.
“You influence people. They know whether you’re a person of faith,” Bishop Schlert said. “Be ambassadors for Christ – invite someone alienated from the Church to come home.”
Bishop Schlert said sometimes a person alienated from the Church can live under the same roof with you; sometimes they sit across the boardroom table.
“Take advantage of that moment of grace. Even invite them to come with you to church – they may not want to go alone.”
Bishop Schlert said at the recent U.S. bishops’ meeting in Baltimore, Maryland, bishops were told for every one person that comes into church, six leave.
“Other times when people left they often became Jehovah’s Witnesses or evangelicals. But now they become nothing – they are members of ‘none.’”
“I want full pews and full parking lots,” Bishop Schlert said.
“Everyone worships something on Sunday. Maybe it’s the NFL or going to the gym,” he said. “We need ambassadors of Christ to bring them home to church.”
Bishop Schlert wished Legatus members a merry and blessed Christmas, and said they can assure those they bring back to church they will be warmly received.
“Thank you for all your kindnesses to me,” he told members.
Ray Bishop, president of the Lehigh Valley Chapter of Legatus, said he and his wife Teri attended the Legatus Northeast Regional Gala Dec. 1 in Manhattan.
There, Bishop John Barres, fourth Bishop of Allentown and now Bishop of Rockville Centre, New York, told him of Bishop Schlert, “At the time he showed me how to be a bishop. That’s why you have the best bishop in the country.” Bishop Schlert served as diocesan vicar general under Bishop Barres in Allentown.
Legatus member John Boyer announced the chapter’s $500 donation to the Retired Priests’ Fund in Bishop Schlert’s name.
Legatus is an international organization of practicing Catholic laymen and laywomen, comprised of CEOs, presidents, managing partners and business owners, with their spouses, from the business community and professional enterprises.
The mission of Legatus members is to study, live and spread the Catholic faith in their business, professional and personal lives. Members of the Lehigh Valley Chapter meet 10 months a year for Mass, followed by dinner and a featured speaker. There is a summer social at a member’s home, and December i
s marked by an evening with the Bishop.