Regnum Christi

Holy Week

A Los Angeles Priest Takes the Cross to the Streets, Literally

He is a soft-spoken native of New Zealand and priest of the Legion of Christ. His subtle accent and gentle spirit are the perfect combo for a man who spends a lot of time greeting people on the street.

You could say that Fr Peter is a mission priest through and though.  He is not a priest who wants to sit around in a parish rectory and wait for people to come. He’s not the “maintenance-church” type at all.  He is what Pope Francis would like to see, a shepherd out in the streets with the sheep.

When asked why he started doing this, he said: “I saw the need to go out to the people.  Just sitting in the parish and waiting for the people to come just wasn’t happening.  So many are too hurt, too confused or too busy.  Pope Francis says the world is like a battle-field hospital.  I just assumed we’d need to go out and bring the wounded home. They needed someone to help them.  So, we went out!”

While Pope Francis may have been a big inspiration for Fr Peter, it seems he was also inspired in 2014 by the encouragement of Bishop Daniel O’Connell, auxiliary in LA, who at the time was just pastor of St. Michael the Archangel parish.  What started at St. Michael the Archangel on Manchester Ave then we went to St. Frances parish on Imperial Highway and includes St. Odilia in South Central and now Skid Row.  Members of these parishes accompany Fr Peter with the cross.

According to Fr Peter, the cross of Jesus is its own catechesis. “By taking the cross to the streets, we are giving people a direct experience of the love of Jesus from the cross, people are coming closer to this sign of salvation.  That’s the message they need. Hope and salvation… and most importantly, that they are worthy of being loved.”

When out on the streets with a cross over his shoulder, Fr Peter says: “I see my own heart. Somehow, being with the people on the streets opens my heart; I feel strangely ‘alive’. The Gospel comes to life all around me. Many times I am reduced to nothing, to ashes, to the beginning. I want to cry out and solve all the problems around me small and big. I want everyone to have a home and food and clothing. I don’t want to see what I see.”

Part of the reason Fr Peter keeps going out multiple times each month, accompanied by now dozens of different people, is the gift of feeling Christ come alive as a missionary.  Many Catholics need this awakening.  For Fr Peter, his way of forming apostles is to give them this experience.  It helps people to no longer be passive in the pews, but on fire for Jesus. Fr Peter’s gentle demeanor and priestly heart comes out when he says “the ministry is like a highway of love, the Sacred Heart of Jesus pours his love out through our ministry.  I love the experience of being a bridge for the love of Jesus”

Fr Peter is an avid social media poster. His facebook feed is full of videos and heart-warming messages from the streets of LA. He doesn’t really know how many people are sharing and viewing his posts. Like much in Fr Peter’s life, that’s up to the Holy Spirit! “I post, and leave the rest to God” he simply says.

 

For more information:

– Find Fr Peter’s Facebook here:

How to Set-up a Holy Week Mission

– More info on Mission Youth Missions here.

 

A Los Angeles Priest Takes the Cross to the Streets, Literally Read More »

Ever Seen a Flash-Mob Way of the Cross? Yes, it’s a Thing.

Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco is a tourist hot-spot famous for clam chowder in a bread bowl and street performers.  Usually the street artists dwell more on the mundane and superficial, but on Good Friday, nobody would have imagined just how spiritual and deep a “performance” could become!

What happened was a flash mob.  It involves a large group of people planning a spontaneous event such as a song and dance in a public area.  They set themselves up secretly within the group as if they just happened to be there. However, one by one they shed their alter-egos and join into a performance that grows into a crescendo.

A group of Catholic millennials from Mission Youth, an apostolate of Regnum Christi, decided to take the flash mob idea and use it as a vehicle for a Good Friday Way of the Cross.  The venue would be Fisherman’s Wharf, a place brimming with tourists during Holy Week. In the weeks leading up to Good Friday, they planned and organized themselves.  Each one of them had a role to play: Jesus, Mary, soldiers, Simon, Mary, Veronica to name a few.  They memorized the script, donned their costumes and then secretly took up their positions among the tourists.  Lights, camera, Jesus!

“It was an unforgettable experience,” said one of the kids named Juliana. “I grew up hearing the story of Christ’s Passion, but last Holy Week, it came to life.”

A young Catholic priest was one of the inspirations behind the event. His name is Fr. Justin Kielhorn.  “I work with Millennials a lot.  They don’t want to simply be passive in Church. They want a Mission-Church.  They like to take their faith into the streets.  Kind of like Pentecost!”

The group also helped feed the homeless, gave out free coffees and hugs on Easter morning to cheer up those passing by, and even took the cross across the Golden Gate bridge.

 

 

For more information:

How to Set-up a Holy Week Mission

– More info on Mission Youth Missions here.

 

Ever Seen a Flash-Mob Way of the Cross? Yes, it’s a Thing. Read More »

A New Orleans Parish Thinks Outside the Box: Holy Week is Mission Week

Some have said that it’s not so much that the Church of Christ has a mission, but that the mission of Jesus Christ has a Church. That was very apparent this past Holy Week at Mater Dolorosa parish in New Orleans.

While some pastors might think of Holy Week as the time of year for adding extra liturgies to the church bulletin and extra flowers for the church sanctuary, some pastors are going back to the roots of holy week. It is a time to get their flock outside the church and spreading the Good News of the Passion and Resurrection of Jesus.  It is anything but a moment to simply gather the same volunteers to arrange flowers around the altar.  Holy Week is mission week, and this is how Fr. Herb Kiff, the pastor of Mater Dolorosa, thinks.

Together with a team of Regnum Christi members, his church welcomed over 100 young adults from the apostolate Mission Youth.  These kids agreed to stay overnight at the parish from Wednesday to Saturday of Holy Week.  They would spend the holy days on mission, and the work they did in and around the church was amazing!

“It was the best time of year for me as a priest. Because of these missionaries, we heard about eight hours of confessions on Holy Thursday alone!”, so said Fr Zachary Dominguez, a priest of the Legion of Christ who helped in the organization.

On Thursday the kids went to downtown New Orleans and opened wide the doors of St. Louis cathedral.  In the plaza in front of the church, just off infamous Bourbon street, are usually found tarot card and palm readers mingled in with panhandlers and homeless.  But on this night the Eucharist was exposed on the altar of the cathedral, a praise and worship band from Mission Youth set up shop in the plaza and began to elevate their songs of praise.  The rest of the parishioners from Mater Dolorosa filed out into the crowds of people, inviting everyone to come into the church, to light a candle or go to confession or just to offer a prayer.

“The church was full of people coming and going. One couple, tourists from Seattle, said this was the highlight of their trip!  And all of it because the young adults of Mission Youth were going out from the church inviting and engaging every passerby.  They have a lot of faith!” said Fr. Gregory Usselmann, another LC priest inside hearing confessions.

The next day in the same downtown area, the Mission Youth kids brought large crosses into the street intersections. The people passing by were invited to write down a prayer intention and nail the small piece of paper to the cross.  Later, the Regnum Christi people organized a Good Friday Way of the Cross procession through the downtown area.  The local police provided an escort and shut down roads as the more than 1500 people walked from church to church remembering the sufferings of Jesus.

All of this and more, from feeding the homeless to going door to door in the neighborhood around Mater Dolorosa to hand out invitations to the Church and the liturgy schedule.  There was an uptick in attendance this holy week.

“It was great to see a church no longer just a “church of Maintenance” as they say, but a church on mission”, said Fr Gregory. “If the church will make an impact in this post-modern world, we have to listen to Pope Francis and go out into the streets and plazas. We can’t sit back anymore and expect the people to come. That worked in the 50s, but not today.”

Holy week is never going to be the same in this parish. You can see the change and the renewal:  now at Mater Dolorosa, it is a “Mission” that has a church building, rather than a church building in need of “maintenance”.

 

For more information:

How to Set-up a Holy Week Mission

– More info on Mission Youth Missions here.

A New Orleans Parish Thinks Outside the Box: Holy Week is Mission Week Read More »

For Many Churches in North America, Holy Week is Becoming Mission Week

Holy Week is the most sacred time of year for Catholics.  Yet sometimes the holy days can go by as if nothing different was happening.  This apathy and indifference in parish life is a problem that Pope Francis is facing head-on. In his chief pastoral document, Evangelii Gaudium #49 he said:

“My hope is that we will be moved by the fear of remaining shut up within structures which give us a false sense of security, within rules which make us harsh judges, within habits which make us feel safe, while at our door people are starving and Jesus does not tire of saying to us: “Give them something to eat” (Mk 6:37).”

This message of Pope Francis is being heard loud and clear, especially by millennials.  They are leading the charge into the periphery: the highways and byways of the world.  They have a knack for leaving behind a church focused on, in Pope Francis’ words, mere “maintenance” and self-interest in favor of a church focused on mission!

Take the Mission Youth apostolate for example. Last Holy Week they helped Msgr. EdwardThein at the downtown Atlanta basilica of the Sacred Heart.  A hundred of these millennials, decked out in mission t-shirts and singing their very own theme song, spent Holy Week doing an astonishing list of mission work!

Here’s what they did:  they went through the streets and parks in the neighborhood and invited every person to mass, providing detailed lists of mass times and “welcome home” type materials.  They went to the local food pantries, homeless shelters, cancer wards and poor homes to cook meals and embrace all the needy with the warmth of the love of Jesus. They organized living stations of the cross through the nearby parks and downtown Atlanta.  They packed lunches for the poor, helped the Salvation Army, ran an Easter Carnival for underprivileged kids and were present helping at every church service of the holy days.

One of the organizers, a consecrated woman of Regnum Christi named Emily Roman, said “these kids have a mission-focus, their enthusiastic and full of life! Sharing Jesus with others is something they seem to enjoy doing.  What was amazing is that they themselves organized the mission and were running it. This was teen-led and teen-powered.”

“We’re definitely doing this again next year”, said Fr John Klein, one of their chaplains. He added, “Holy Week will now be Mission Week for us.  That’s what the Church is about, right?  Jesus said to go out into the streets to proclaim the good news.  That is literally what these kids are doing!”

 

For more information:

How to Set-up a Holy Week Mission

– More info on Mission Youth Missions here.

For Many Churches in North America, Holy Week is Becoming Mission Week 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!