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The foundation of ECYD in Ivory Coast – a story everyone should know

Fr. Alejandro Paez, LC, is originally from Monterrey, Mexico. He arrived in Ivory Coast as a result of a string of circumstances that seem very simple, but were undoubtably guided by the hand of God.

Everything started with the initiative of a Consecrated Woman of Regnum Christi who organized a group of Mexican girls to go on missions to Ivory Coast, a country that was not new to Regnum Christi, around the end of 2016.

The group of missionaries were looking for a chaplain who could go with them, and so they went to Fr. Carlos Gutierrez, LC, who was on the formation team at the General Directorate in Rome. Fr. Carlos was happy to accompany them on this special mission.

During a conversation with Fr. Alejandro while they were having a coffee together, Fr. Carlos realized he had to cancel the trip to Africa because it was at the same time as his annual spiritual exercises retreat. Fr. Alejandro’s curiosity prompted him to ask what the trip was for, and, when he learned what they were going to do, he offered himself to go as the chaplain.

It will only be one trip to Africa

When Fr. Alejandro offered himself to go to Africa in Fr. Carlos’ place, in his mind he was only going to go once. He could not imagine what the Lord was going to show him and what he was being called to begin.

Years earlier, Regnum Christi had been founded in this African country, but a series of events caused by the civil war and the passing of the priest who was involved in the missionary work in Africa led to a gradual shrinking of t

he Movement there until it had almost disappeared.  During the Solemnity of Christ the King in 2016, when the much smaller RC section of Ivory Coast would have a Legionary of Christ present for the last time, they could only hope that the Legionaries could return in the future (an uncertainty at that point).

To their surprise, about a year after that goodbye and thanks to the initiative of the Consecrated Woman bringing Mexican missionaries there, seven girls, two consecrated women, and Fr. Alejandro disembarked in July of 2017.

The group of missionaries arrived without knowing the history of the African section, but the enthusiasm that they had and the jerseys the missionaries wore that said “Share Regnum Christi” were a sign for the people that saw them arrive that God wanted to continue inspiring this charism.

The members eagerly presented projects to the people, from board games with the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, missals and liturgical books with the image of Regnum Christ, to a plan to open a park for children.

“It was very clear that the charism there was alive and flourishing.”

Fr. Alejandro returned to Rome with the desire to share what was happening in Ivory Coast and the need to accompany the vigorous community that had gone through so many challenges. In the end he was assigned to this mission.

Founding ECYD in an African country

The Catholic Church has been an important driver of social development for Africa. The parish priests are builders and agents of change for communities. For this reason the Church has the respect and love of the people.  In this context, it was natural for ECYD to be born in the Ivory Coast, with the charism of Regnum Christi developing through a few very committed members with great apostolic zeal.

The members launched the first camp for kids where they explained what ECYD was to them, with the support of Fr. Melchior Poisson, LC, and the members of the locality. At the end of the camp they proposed the Pledge of Friendship with Christ to the kids, and from that camp came out the first 10 members of ECYD from Ivory Coast. Now four of them are in charge of apostolates there.

Fr. Alejandro shared what is fundamental is to establish the proper conditions for the charism to grow, and grow in Africa. “You must involve the youth so that they are the ones who lead the apostolates, always with the support of a formation structure that helps them to enter deeper into the way of doing things with the Regnum Christi charism. In addition to formation, the members need to experience helping at the camps and see how to carry out apostolic work with kids, so that they feel naturally called to participate actively.”

“It is amazing to see how they exhibit a way of life that is unmistakably Regnum Christi and unmistakably African.”

During 2020 and the challenges of the pandemic, formation of the leaders continued long-distance. In 2021 they were able to start the camps and ECYD encounters again, where the youth receive formation and the sacraments, play games, and plan the apostolates that they are going to do.

Africa – the continent of hope

The Church looks at Africa with hope, and it would seem that this continent has not yet gotten used to the faith. Fr. Alejandro hopes that it won’t get used to it, since that can lead to indifference.

The first parish in Ivory Coast was founded in 1904, so the preaching of the Gospel and its effects are still very new, effects which Europe has already forgotten, like the dignity of the person and progress through the creative call of God to be fulfilled as persons.

“You can see growth in the communities where the Gospel has taken root.”

The faith in Africa is fresh and vigorous. This moves the people of Ivory Coast to share their love for the charism of Regnum Christi. In it they see the potential to change their surroundings and themselves.

“Regnum Christi is an apostolic body, but also a spiritual family – a community.”

Being an apostle on mission

Fr. Alejandro recounts how when he was a student at the Apostolic School, one of his great dreams was to go and found Regnum Christi in another part of the world, but the dream remained just the wish of a boy with a missionary soul.

During his formation he never imagined having the chance to develop this work of evangelization in Africa. He made his first trip to Ivory Coast just 6 months after being ordained a priest, and he thanks God for this special gift.

It has also been the perfect opportunity to focus on what is essential in bringing Regnum Christi to others and what is essential to the charism: helping people to have a real experience of Jesus Christ so that, in turn, they bring him to others.

Currently Fr. Alejandro is combining his doctorate studies with visits to Ivory Coast for ECYD camps. Fr. Dain Scherber, LC, who was ordained just this past May 7th, is now accompanying the Regnum Christi section in this African nation.

For information on how you can be a missionary on a Mission Youth mission to the Ivory Coast, check out their website.

Translated from the original Spanish

The foundation of ECYD in Ivory Coast – a story everyone should know Read More »

First ECYD Camp in the Ivory Coast 

Regnum Christi members and Legionaries organized a week-long camp for teenagers in the Ivory Coast this July. 

Dr. Alain Kouamelan, a member of Regnum Christi’s first team in the Ivory Coast gave a little background: “Ten years ago, my wife Roselyne began directing the NET program with the first collaborators we had here.  See now that after the crisis this restarts and grows in the ECYD it is very beautiful.” 

Brice Hervé Kouadió, Bernadin Ossohou, Gervais Onené and Rosa Maagné are members of Regnum Christi of Abidjan, Ivory Coast. They organized, on July 7-15 the first formal ECYD camp in Africa, in Bonoua, Ivory Coast. Br. Melchior Poisson, LC, directed the camp. 

Fr. Alejandro Páez, LC, chaplain of the camp, explained: “The objective of everything was to introduce children to the ordinary life of a member of ECYD, to show the goodness of work, the apostolate and team life, as well as present the type of relationship that a member of ECYD has with Christ.” 

Fr. Alejandro Páez, LC, continued with plans, “Next Holy Week we are going to start Missionary Youth with the young women’s section and we also continue working with the  families at the Kindergarten. The field of mission in Africa is vast and is an extremely fertile land with souls of great size, capable of a commitment that truly moves.  I hope that this first ECYD camp will be the beginning of a great evangelizing work in what the Popes have called the continent of hope.” 

The idea of Africa being a “continent of hope” comes from John Paul II in the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in Africa. The Pope said to the Christians of the African continent: “Today you are the hope of the Church that is two thousand years old: being young in the faith, you must be like the first Christians and radiate enthusiasm and courage, with generous dedication to God and neighbor; In a word, you must take the path of holiness. Only in this way can you be signs of God in the world and revive in your countries the missionary epic of the primitive Church. And you will also be fostering a missionary spirit for the oldest churches.” 

Back to the camp, each day, the 23 boys and girls who participated in the camp prayed the ECYD prayers, attended a guided meditation and participated in Mass.  ECYD and its spirituality were covered in talks, such as: (1) What is ECYD? (2) the pledge of friendship with Christ, (3) ECYD’s mission, (4) charity, (5) holiness, (6) the Eucharist, (7) love for Mary, etc. 

Apart from the recreational and spiritual formation activities, the teens were offered various workshops such as theater, guitar, cooking, singing, dancing, and movies with discussions. 

At the end of the camp, the teens’ parents were invited to participate in a closing ceremony to present ECYD and announce the launch of the year’s activities.  On that occasion, those who participated in the theater workshop presented the parents with a work representing the life of the camp and “one day in ECYD.” The participants of the singing workshop lead the songs at the closing Mass and those of the cooking workshop prepared the dessert for the meal with the parents after the mass. 

Fr. Jean Baptiste Akwadan, diocesan chaplain and one of the first members of Regnum Christi in the Ivory Coast, commented: “It is very beautiful to see that ECYD organizes the children into teams where they can continue to form and carry out the apostolates that they have learned in the camp. This is something that we have not seen in Africa in a long time and that, without a doubt, will help to form Christians who are more active and aware of their evangelizing mission.” 

Read the original on Regnum Christi news in Spanish. 

First ECYD Camp in the Ivory Coast  Read More »

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Alex Kucera

Atlanta

Alex Kucera has lived in Atlanta, GA, for the last 46 years. He is one of 9 children, married to his wife Karmen, and has 3 girls, one grandson, and a granddaughter on the way. Alex joined Regnum Christi in 2007. Out of the gate, he joined the Helping Hands Medical Missions apostolate and is still participating today with the Ghana Friendship Mission.

In 2009, Alex was asked to be the Atlanta RC Renewal Coordinator for the Atlanta Locality to help the RC members with the RC renewal process. Alex became a Group Leader in 2012 for four of the Atlanta Men’s Section Teams and continues today. Running in parallel, in 2013, Alex became a Team Leader and shepherded a large team of good men.

Alex was honored to be the Atlanta Mission Coordinator between 2010 to 2022 (12 years), coordinating 5-8 Holy Week Mission teams across Georgia. He also created and coordinated missions at a parish in Athens, GA, for 9 years. Alex continues to coordinate Holy Week Missions, Advent Missions, and Monthly missions at Good Shepherd Catholic Church in Cumming, GA.

From 2016 to 2022, Alex also served as the Men’s Section Assistant in Atlanta. He loved working with the Men’s Section Director, the Legionaries, Consecrated, and Women’s Section leadership teams.

Alex is exceptionally grateful to the Legionaries, Consecrated, and many RC members who he’s journeyed shoulder to shoulder, growing his relationship with Christ and others along the way. He knows that there is only one way, that’s Christ’s Way, with others!