Regnum Christi

leadership

Regnum Christi Hong Kong: a Small Team with Great Dedication

Hong Kong is a unique mission territory for Regnum Christi. With a population of nearly 7.5 million people, the majority of Hong Kong inhabitants adhere to Chinese folk religions, like Confucianism and Taoism, or follow no religion at all. Only 10% of the population identify as Christians, and about half of those are Catholics. Despite its complicated ecclesial situation, Hong Kong presents itself as a bridge to China, whose influence, as one of the strongest global economies, on the future of the world and of the Church cannot be denied.

 

One of the priests assigned to this mission field is Fr. Joseph Tham, LC, who was born and raised in Hong Kong until the age of 15, when his family moved to Canada. After pursuing a science degree in mathematics, Fr. Joseph went on to graduate from medical school and became a general practitioner. After a visit to the Legionary seminary in Cheshire, Connecticut, in 1994, he decided to end his practice and become a Legionary priest, and was ordained in 2004. His background in medicine led him to the study of bioethics at Regina Apostolorum Pontifical University in Rome, and since 2010, he has been a visiting professor of bioethics at Holy Spirit Seminary College of Theology and Philosophy in Hong Kong. Despite the cultural and religious contrasts that often present challenges in his ministry in Hong Kong, Fr. Joseph sees hope and promise. “There is a warm welcome here for our spirituality and the apostolic methodology of Regnum Christi,” says Fr. Joseph. “Providence acts in an unexpected way, opening new possibilities at this moment in our history.” Along with his work at retreats, conferences, and pilgrimages, Fr. Joseph has combined his expertise in bioethics with his love for both art and his faith in a book titled Art for God, a collection of his ink paintings, calligraphy, and seals that explore the connection between heaven and humanity. He has recently presented his pieces in art exhibitions in Hong Kong and Kuala Lumpur, and has another exhibition coming up in Macau in September.

 

Regnum Christi has had a presence in Hong Kong since November of 2008, when the Legionary priests began visiting Hong Kong and mainland China. Throughout the years, they have given spiritual retreats on scripture and the sacraments, and have offered academic conferences on topics like bioethics and ethics within the field of business. In 2013, Fr. Joseph was joined by fellow Legionary priests, Fr. Gonzalo Miranda, Fr. Alex Yeung, and Fr. Michael Baggot, as well as consecrated member of Regnum Christ, Alberto Garcia, in an interreligious dialogue workshop organized by the UNESCO Chair in Bioethics and Human Right at Hong Kong Baptist University. Legionary priests have also served as chaplains on pilgrimages from Hong Kong to the Holy Land, Poland, Spain, Italy, and Greece, and have accompanied young people to World Youth Days.

 

The Legionary priests also work closely with the corporate world in Hong Kong. As of July 1997, Hong Kong is a special administrative region in southern China and has its own governing and economic system. Today, Hong Kong is one of Asia’s top economic and banking centers, and is ranked fourth among the world’s leading financial centers. Because of Hong Kong’s significant influence on the economy and international trade, there is a great need and desire for priestly accompaniment of entrepreneurs and professionals who seek theological, apostolic, and spiritual direction.

 

 

Recently, Regnum Christi Hong Kong hosted a Sacred Triduum Retreat in Hong Kong from Holy Thursday to Holy Saturday (April 6 – 8). The theme was “Centering My Life on the Paschal Mystery of Christ” and was led by Fr. Marco and Fr. Rafael Ducci, LC, who made his first visit to Hong Kong from Rome. Fr. Joseph, who initiated these annual triduum retreats twelve years ago, joined the retreat on Saturday.

 

Joan Foo Mahoney, an author and publisher living in Hong Kong and Kuala Lumpur, attended the retreat with her husband, Terry, and writes about it her experience in her newsletter Smitten by Faith:

 

“At the retreat, Fr. Marco taught us to look at our Christian faith as an organic whole, and not segment various aspects of our faith in accordance with the liturgical calendar of the Church. Instead, independent of the calendar, we should bring the Paschal mystery – the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ – right smack into the center of our lives. This will enable us to live our everyday lives in the Christian way, sharing the good news with others.”

 

And in April of this year, Regnum Christi members and friends followed in the footsteps of the Korean martyrs in a pilgrimage to Seoul and surrounding areas in South Korea. They also had a workshop in Macau where RC members meditated on and deepened their rootedness in the Regnum Christi charism, and participated in a lively exchange surrounding some of the issues to be addressed in the upcoming general convention to be held in Rome of next year.

 

Fr. Marco Cho, LC, has been serving in Hong Kong for just a little over a year and a half, taking up full-time residence there in January of 2022. He now serves as spiritual director for the new Regnum Christi team in Hong Kong, and is responsible for the formation of RC members, friends, and other English-speaking Catholics in Hong Kong.

 

 

 

The Regnum Christi community in Hong Kong is relatively new, and small – most of the members, of which there are about a dozen from Hong Kong and Macau, associated with Regnum Christi in January 2020, in a Mass presided by Fr. Joseph, Fr. Marco, and Fr. Thomas Montanaro. And the small size of the RC family in Hong Kong certainly presents its challenges. Fr. Marco hopes to eventually have a larger Legionary community and increased Regnum Christi infrastructure, in the form of a meeting space or center, as the movement grows in Hong Kong. In fact, the RC team recently held their first family “Come and See” day, where interested friends were invited to experience and learn more about Regnum Christi, and as a fruit of that event, many people are going through discernment through a team-led process and personal accompaniment.

 

In his work with this small but committed RC team in Hong Kong, Fr. Marco has found authentic human connection and genuine friendship. “I love working with these proactive people, who are willing to collaborate in the work of building the Kingdom, and who have grown to love our charism,” shares Fr. Marco. “Their commitment to the movement and the way they give their time and energy is remarkable, considering the heavy demands a big city like Hong Kong places on their time and resources. They have a great thirst for formation and a real dedication to living our charism in this secular metropolis.”

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Divine Mercy University Honors Senior Scholar and Founding Member, Dr. Paul Vitz, at This Year’s Commencement Exercises

Divine Mercy University (DMU) celebrated 151 graduates this year at its 22nd Graduation Mass and Commencement Exercises on May 20th, 2023, at St. Theresa Catholic Church in Ashburn, Virginia.

Mass was celebrated by Very Reverend Jamie R. Workman, J.C.L., Vicar General of Arlington Diocese, who encouraged the graduates to be fearlessly open to the transformative power of Christ’s love. “Love is a powerful force, and divine love all the more – it can captivate the human mind and will, it can invite, and it can transform lives,” he said in his homily. “Accompanying those who are seeking great healing themselves, we first have to recognize the healing that we need in Christ, and to not be afraid of the transforming aspects of his divine life that can take place within it, if we let it.”

Following the Mass, Fr. Charles Sikorsky, LC, JD, JCL, who has served as the president of Divine Mercy University for 16 years, provided the opening remarks of the commencement exercises. “In a world where so many are searching desperately for meaning and existential clarity, few paths provide for the good than the one that you have chosen,” said Fr. Sikorsky. “While this may seem like a daunting task, and one well beyond your capabilities, be not afraid, because you’ll never be working alone. Keep always open the doors of your hearts to Jesus Christ and his presence so that through your lives, the doors of so many other hearts will be open to his love, his mercy, and a new life that only he can give.”

This year’s commencement address was presented by Dr. Paul C. Vitz, Ph.D, senior scholar and one of the founders of Divine Mercy University. After 60 years of service to the psychological sciences, including 24 years at Divine Mercy University, Dr. Vitz will be retiring this year, and in honor of his contributions to the school and to the field of psychology and mental health, he was awarded an honorary doctorate.

Dr. Vitz is an internationally recognized psychologist who has devoted his life to an integrated approach to psychology and the human person from a uniquely Catholic Christian perspective, and is one of the founding members of the Institute for Psychological Sciences, now Divine Mercy University. Throughout his long career, Dr. Vitz has made major contributions to the integration of Catholic Christian theology and anthropology with the psychological sciences and mental health practice. Most notably, he has published, with two colleagues, A Catholic Christian Meta-Model of the Person, which blends the insights of three wisdom traditions – the psychological sciences, philosophy, and theology – to provide a framework for the whole person, and provides an integrative approach to understanding the human experience.

In his commencement address, Dr. Vitz reflected on his life dedicated to the field of psychology, which began nearly 70 years ago in 1953 when he was a psychology major in his freshman year at the University of Michigan. “Psychology has greatly improved since then,” said Dr. Vitz, “A lot of new changes have come in, and the nature of the human person has expanded. Each of these new schools found an important aspect of the human person that had been neglected.”

“Now, after the human person has been expanded, we come in with a meta-model, an  overarching representation of the nature of the person, in which the Christian faith is made clear, and we can allow redemption to be, in fact, the acceptance of Jesus in our life as our redeemer. So that’s where psychology has finally come to – it’s a new perspective, a large perspective, and a time to be explicit about our faith! Here at DMU, we are trying to make modern secular psychology something that will no longer be hostile to the faith, and that, in fact, can be used positively.”

Dr. Vitz concludes: “Of course, we can get very discouraged. Despite the conflicts and difficulties that come with being a psychologist or psychotherapist, we have to remember what our Lord said. Jesus said ‘I have overcome the world, be of good cheer. Don’t fear, be of good cheer.’”

Although he is retiring from Divine Mercy University, Dr. Vitz’ legacy of integrating the Catholic perspective with the understanding of the human experience will live on in the psychological sciences, in the school, and in the lives and mission of the students as they accompany those who are suffering, are present to those in need, and share the insights regarding the whole human person with everyone they encounter. “The Holy Spirit puts great men and women into society, especially when that society is crumbling, and he gave us Dr. Paul Vitz, to fit a very critical role in a very critical time in instituting the university,” said Thomas Cunningham, Chairman of the Board of Directors at DMU. “Now the Holy Spirit is looking to you, graduates, to fill that role.”

Divine Mercy University (DMU) is a Catholic graduate institution of higher education offering degree programs in psychology and counseling, founded in 1999 as the Institute for the Psychological Sciences. The university is dedicated to the scientific study of psychology with a Catholic understanding of the human person, marriage, and the family. The university offers Master of Science (M.S.) degrees in Psychology and Counseling, and a Doctoral (Psy.D.) degree in Clinical Psychology.

Divine Mercy University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award masters and doctorate degrees. Contact the Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, Georgia 30033-4097 or call 404-679-4500 for questions about the accreditation of Divine Mercy University.

The IPS doctoral program in clinical psychology (Psy.D.) is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of the American Psychological Association (APA). *Questions related to the program’s accredited status should be directed to the Commission on Accreditation: Office of Program Consultation and Accreditation American Psychological Association 750 1st Street NE, Washington, DC 20002 Phone (202)-336-5979 / Email: [email protected] / Web: www.apa.org/ed/accreditation

For more information about the degree programs at Divine Mercy University, contact 703-416-8300 or visit www.divinemercy.edu or [email protected].

Divine Mercy University Honors Senior Scholar and Founding Member, Dr. Paul Vitz, at This Year’s Commencement Exercises Read More »

The Source and Summit of Leadership

Before he became a priest, Fr. Nathaniel Haslam, LC, had other goals in mind: he planned to be a CEO, the founder of a Fortune 500 company, and a billionaire. It was with these lofty ambitions that Fr. Nathaniel graduated from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York with a degree in electrical and mechanical engineering and began his engineering career at Xerox, but just over one year later, he would be leaving his visions of corporate success behind to enter an entirely new life, that of a Legionary priest.

But for Fr. Nathaniel, joining the priesthood did not mean completely leaving behind the theme of leadership, which had so intrigued him from a young age and had led him in the beginning to pursue a career in engineering. “When God called me to the priesthood, it fascinated me that there was a congregation of priests dedicated to forming Christian leaders and apostles,” says Fr. Nathaniel, who, during his years in Rome, founded and directed the International Leadership Semester, a certified college leadership study abroad program at the Universita Europea di Roma. While there, he also helped organize and coordinate the first ever Vatican Executive Summit in June of 2011 in the Vatican Gardens, where 50 top international executives and economic leaders were invited to discuss the challenges of financial crisis and business ethics in the light of faith.

For the past ten years, one of Fr. Nathaniel’s main roles has been as the chaplain for the Lumen Institute, an apostolate founded in New York in 2005 by a group of business leaders and Legionary priests that forms Christian leaders to illuminate with the light of Christ the circles in which they live and work; over the past two years, Fr. Nathaniel has served as Lumen’s national chaplain as well. Fr. Nathaniel shares the story of one man whom he had met through his role as chaplain of the Lumen Institute; for this man, who has been a member of Lumen for five years, his faith was important to him, but like so many, he had divorced it from his day-to-day business dealings. Thanks to the grace of God and several years of spiritual direction through Lumen membership, as well as the peer-to-peer monthly meetings, he grew to allow Christ to be the center of his leadership:

“One of the most beautiful ways this man brings Christ into secular society is through the invitation of prayer. He is one of the most networked and connected individuals I know, and frequently meets successful business leaders for dinner. In every opportunity, he asks people if they would mind him saying a prayer to begin the meal. The responses he receives are almost always a grateful ‘yes,’ even from non-Christians. This is a simple but powerful example of a leader bringing his faith into the secular world.”

Indeed, since his ordination in Rome in 2010, Fr. Nathaniel has served over a thousand educational and business leaders, assisting them in leadership transformation to be men and women after the heart of Christ. And his new book, The Source and Summit of Leadership, is an overflowing and sharing of the many years Fr. Nathaniel has spent not only studying leadership, but also accompanying those men and women on their leadership journey. The book is also a response to the challenge to help all Catholics to embrace their call to develop their own leadership and to deploy it at the service of others. “Leadership is part-and-parcel of the Christian vocation,” says Fr. Nathaniel, “so none of us are exempt.”

This universal call of all Christians to leadership, regardless of status or position, is one of the main themes of Fr. Nathaniel’s book. An equally important theme is that leadership is not only a call, but a quality meant to be nurtured and developed. “Just as our baptismal gifts develop over time when we cooperate with the Holy Spirit, so too does our leadership capacity grow and expand. Integral formation (a hallmark of Regnum Christi members and the formation to which they commit) includes developing their leadership.” The Source and Summit of Leadership provides ample leadership knowledge and concrete actions to encourage readers to develop their “leadership muscles” and grow in their understanding of and capacity for leadership. The book also includes questions for individual reflection and group discussion to help readers explore the call, purpose, responsibilities, and transcendent nature of leadership to which every Christian is called.

Fr. Nathaniel is currently based in Houston, Texas, where acting as chaplain for Lumen is only one of his many ongoing roles. He also serves as the local chaplain for Legatus and Young Catholic Professionals, two organizations dedicated to serving and forming Catholic leaders.

As well, Fr. Nathaniel is beginning a four-year doctoral program in pastoral leadership, which he hopes will not only provide good personal enrichment but also possibly be a stepping stone to launch a new Catholic leadership institute! On top of this, in response to requests for another book, he plans to finish an autobiographical work which would highlight leadership lessons he has learned on his own life’s journey.

You can purchase Fr. Nathaniel’s new book, The Source and Summit of Leadership, as well as his first book, The Future of Leadership: Insights from the Writings and Speeches of Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI, on Amazon.

To find out more about Lumen Institute, or to check out Fr. Nathaniel’s monthly video on leadership, visit lumeninstitute.org.

 

 

 

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Making Men Moral: Lumen Institute Brings a Catholic Voice to the Business World

How do we, as Catholic leaders, respond to the crisis of the Covid-19 pandemic? This was the question on the hearts and minds of over seventy-five of America’s top executives as they met recently for an impromptu video conference to discuss their role in meeting the needs of their communities during this time of mounting concern and uncertainty. As members of Lumen Institute, these CEOs, CFOs, and partners in major banking, accounting, and legal firms discussed how they could—and should – as leaders in their fields, respond to this current national and global crisis in an effective way, one that reflects their confidence and faith in God and the Gospel.

This has always been the mission of Lumen Institute: to provide a much-needed faith-based perspective in the increasingly secular business world. Founded in 2005 in the heart of Manhattan by business leaders – some of whom are Regnum Christi members – and Legionary priests, Lumen continues to expand throughout the major cities in the United States, inviting its members and their families to be salt of the earth and light of the world in their homes, their professions, and their communities. 

For the past four years, Father Mark Haydu, LC, has held the position of national chaplain for Lumen Institute. In this role, he is busy creating study materials, providing one-on-one support, encouraging other Lumen chaplains throughout the country, and spiritually guiding the organization as a whole. Father Mark is well-suited for this role: in his master’s studies in Rome, his thesis work titled “Making Men Moral” focused on how leadership, and specifically political leaders, can influence the morality of the population, and how leaders have a specific capacity – and responsibility – to shape culture. “I tried to pay particular attention to how ethics and morals intersect with business and politics,” says Father Mark, “There were a lot of crossovers with what a business leader needs to do in setting a culture and moral compass for their business.”

Of all his various duties, from formation to administration, it’s the one-on-one mentoring that Father Mark enjoys the most. Lumen offers regular spiritual coaching to its members and their families as a way to help them grow in faith, virtue, and character, and to then transmit this to their work and communities. It is through this personal dialogue that Father Mark has the privilege of experiencing a profound openness to and hunger for Christ in the men he serves; in witnessing their deep and candid desire for Christ, “you can’t help but love serving them,” he says of the men he coaches.

Besides offering a speaker series, pilgrimages and retreats, and opportunities for service and fellowship, one of the most important elements of the Lumen organization is the Lumen circle. These gatherings, which occur in a small group setting, provide a space for members to examine current leadership challenges through the lens of ethics, virtue, and the life of Christ in the Gospel. In a society that is rich in technological connection, but often lacks real human relationship, Lumen circles provide a much-needed source of support and faith-based fellowship. “We meet the need of personal accompaniment to men who often have lots of acquaintances, but perhaps few moral leaders who can help them in what is most important – their faith and relationships,” explains Father Mark. “Lumen gives them a solid group of faith-based peers who can support them and challenge them in what we call a ‘veritas’ relationship.”

It is through these Lumen circles that Father Mark can most clearly see God’s work moving through the lives of the people he serves. “The Lumen circles really show God’s action: the conversations, the resolutions, and actions they take away from the meetings all show how God is consoling and challenging each of them.”

Lumen provides the space and opportunity for the Legionaries of Christ and the Consecrated Women of Regnum Christi – who support the wives and families of Lumen members – to serve those members of the lay community who are living and working in a professional climate that often reflects more of the world than the Gospel. Here, the Legionary priests and consecrated women help the Lumen members, and their entire families, live in the joy of Christ, and to bring this joy to their work and the world.

For more information about Lumen Institute, or to learn about their upcoming events, visit their website at https://lumeninstitute.org/. You can watch short videos on some of the core values of Lumen Institute, presented by Father Mark, at https://lumeninstitute.org/media.

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Helping Regnum Christi Get Down to Business

In all labor there is profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.Proverbs 14:23

An old newspaper editor once claimed that a charitable organization should call itself a not-for-profit, the point being that it doesn’t exist to make a profit. He said the term “non-profit” could apply to both charities and businesses. After all, there are businesses that despite their best-laid plans, turn out to be non-profits.

In the editor’s somewhat cantankerous insistence on precise language, there was a lesson for charities: just like a business, if you want to succeed you have to have more at least as much money coming in or going out.

There is a good deal of talk these days about the importance of charitable organizations operating on business principles. That means paying attention to the budgets, effectively managing people, and understanding terms like ROI.

According to a recent article in Inc.,the successful nonprofits of the future must operate like innovative business. And the magazine recommends five steps in the process:

  1. Think like a business.  How would you function if all your funding sources suddenly disappeared?
  2. Redefine “customer.”  In addition to those you serve, consider who could become a paying
  3. Package up offerings.  Think creatively about what you “sell,” whether a product, service, event, or experience.
  4. Don’t go it alone. Innovation is about partnerships.
  5. Create a sustainable business model.  Measure your organization like a business.

Forbes has a nonprofit council for senior executives of nonprofits (membership by invitation only). The council has offered 12 ways for a nonprofit to operate more like a for-profit:

  1. Raise Funds And Save Money
  2. Speak The Same Language
  3. Focus On ROI
  4. Build Models Of Earned Income
  5. Run Your NonprofitLike A Startup
  6. Generate Revenue Through Corporations
  7. Don’t Ignore Expenses
  8. Match Costs And Benefits
  9. Make The Mission Itself Profitable
  10. Make Investments In Member Needs
  11. Use Data To Make Decisions
  12. Be An Ecosystem Warrior

In typically direct fashion, Fast Company offers a three-point plan for improving the performance of a nonprofit:

  1. Impact through purpose
  2. Impact through talent
  3. Impact through innovation

Yes, there are many wonderful recommendations and lots of talk about applying business principles to nonprofits. But at Regnum Christ, two men are doing more than talking. They have made it part of their mission to coach localities and apostolates on how to be more effective, be better stewards of the resources they use – and thereby better fulfill the Regnum Christi mission to bring more souls to Christ.

Jeff Garrett of Omaha, is a cradle Catholic and member of Regnum Christi since 1999. He has been involved in adult education and formation, pastoral counsel, communion to the homebound, a member of the Archbishop’s Campaign for Development, and an ambassador for Cloisters on the Platte. In other words, this is an involved Catholic man. And you may have met him on the Regnum Christi website; he is the force behind The Regular Catholic Guy Show.

Jeff also is married; wife Donna is on the Regnum Christi Territorial Council. They have four grown children.

He also has been in the corporate world for more than 30 years, leading large and small sales teams, working in start-ups and in large corporations. These day, he does executive coaching helping men in the areas of work/life balance, leadership, CliftonStrengths, business vision, business planning and life planning.

“There are lots of different challenges in localities that I have seen in RC or experienced in the business world,” Jeff said. “The job of Section Director and Locality Director can be overwhelming and requires a lot of different skills. I was inspired to offer my experience to other localities – in addition to be involved locally

“One of the key things we do in RC is to help form leaders,” Jeff explained. “I feel this apostolate assists in helping the locality leadership develop and learn.”

So…if you a leader in a locality and would like a bit of business counseling, Jeff is your man. Or perhaps it is more accurate to say that he is one of your men. That’s because he has a partner in this apostolate, Atlanta’s Tom Clements.

Tom Clements was raised Catholica and has been involved with nonprofits for more than 20 years. He worked fulltime for Regnum Christi for three years, then spent nine years on the Movement’s Financial Advisory Council. These days, Tom offers his wisdom as a consultant to various apostolates and localities that are looking to improve their business acumen.

Among the apostolates that have benefitted from Tom’s coaching are Catholic Worldview Fellowship and Our Lady of Bethesda Retreat Center.

“Under the locality model we implemented a few years ago, we handed many assets and responsibility over to the localities,” Tom recalled. “But we didn’t have the resources to train people locally and realized we had a huge need for strategic and management consulting with apostolate sand locality leaders. That’s what I’m available to do.”

Tom, who admits he can be a bit of a contrarian, said the success of Regnum Christi in North America lies squarely with the willingness and ability of lay people to assume the leadership of localities and apostolates. That means lay people filling the management roles and minimizing the amount of time priests and consecrated women have to spend in jobs that take them away from their roles as spiritual advisers and evangelizers.

“As lay members of Regnum Christi, we have to relieve our religious and consecrated members of worrying about the business of running operations,” Tom said. “We have to keep in mind that the highest and best use of a priest’s time is providing spiritual direction, preaching retreats, and offering the sacraments. It isn’t going over balance sheets and other business work that a competent lay person can so.”

Tom spoke here from personal experience; he treasures his Legionary spiritual director.

Tom also suggested that apostolate and localities be prudent about putting new assets on the books, noting that Regnum Christi has experience the discomfort of high debt and worked hard to achieve a solid financial structure.

“We’ve made incredible progress over the past few years,” Tom said. “I believe with the strong efforts of lay, consecrated, and religious taking their proper roles as a team, the future is really bright.”

And if you want to get a feel for what Tom the consultant might tell you, check out what Tom the author said in his book: HOW TO RUN A NONPROFIT, The Go-to Guide for all Nonprofit Managers.

Tom and Jeff both believe they – and others like them – can help Regnum Christi achieve what business guru Peter Drucker said of a nonprofit three decades ago: “It’s product is a changed human being.”

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New Book Shares the Adventures of the Missionary of Wall Street

Sometimes you come across people with stories so compelling you wish you could sit down with them for an afternoon and just listen to them relate their adventures. Steve and Evelyn Auth are good examples.  He is an energetic Wall Street investor with a wry smile, and she is a warm and engaging prayer warrior who speaks softly and in a way that makes people pause to listen. You know there is something unique about this couple just by meeting them.

What am I, a chief investment officer of one of the country’s largest investment managers, doing hailing down strangers at night on the streets of New York City? “Are you Catholic?” my friends and I ask… -from The Missionary of Wall Street

Steve is indeed the Executive Vice President and a chief investment officer with Federated Global Equities. He earned his undergraduate degree at Princeton University, where he graduated summa cum laude, and his graduate degree at Harvard Business School, where he was a Baker Scholar. As a leading investor and financial analyst,  Steve is a frequent guest on CNBC, Fox Business News, and Bloomberg TV, but in his new book, The Missionary of Wall Street, published by Sophia Institute Press, Steve ventures out of his investment wheelhouse and shares an entirely different side of himself.

You can almost hear Steve’s New York accent and the hint of humor in his voice as he relates not only his story, but stories of some of the estimated 2.5 million New Yorkers that he, Evelyn, and a band of street missionaries have encountered over the last 10 years around Prince & Mott in SoHo.  Of those 2.5 million, over 10,000 people have come to confession during the missions, many for the first time since their first communion.  Many thousands more have been accompanied by street missionaries into a church to pray or light a candle.

The book shares the true and remarkable stories of the miracles that happen on the street when Catholics become missionaries in the city that is the epicenter of secular culture. They base their evangelization outreach at Old St. Patrick’s in SoHo, led by the inspiration of Monsignor Donald Sakano, the pastor.  Their primary goal is to engage fallen away Catholics and accompany them in taking their first steps back into the Church. Stationed on neighborhood street corners, they greet passers-by with a warm smile and the question, “Are you Catholic?”  The answer to that question (or more often the lack of an answer) determines what happens next. Steve estimates that for every person who says yes and stops to speak with a missionary there are about 40 who just ignore them or respond with a quick negative.

The harsh reality is that, for every successful encounter on the streets of SoHo, our missionaries are rejected or ignored or yelled at by a minimum of twenty passers-by, an average of forty, and on some nights eighty or a hundred.

On top of our own natural human reactions to that abuse in the streets, add the role of the devil. Rest assured, the devil is not happy about our new evangelization. Most of the souls we encounter are on some level of his slippery slope—some are near the bottom, convinced they’re lost, or even no longer aware of eternity and their impending lost future….Most are practicing a reasonably sophisticated form of rationalization, convincing themselves that, for some reason or another, their behavior is morally acceptable….

Before we head to the streets, I stop in the church to pray, maybe even do a daily confession. I put myself in the hands of the Holy Spirit and ask Him to carry me through. When I do this sincerely and with deep faith, I always find I have joyful, confident perseverance through the long night of darkness.

Once you have the habit of joyful perseverance, you’ll keep going even when everything seems to be working against you. Even the weather.

Then success will sneak up on you and surprise you.

In today’s world of me first, love—true love—is in short supply. Lost souls hunger for love. And when they sense true love in a missionary’s spirit on the street, inevitably they’re drawn in. -from The Missionary of Wall Street

Sometimes God uses the missionaries to reach people outside of the Catholic faith as well, like Khalid, whose story Steve relates in the book:

Prince and Mott, SoHo.
Tuesday of Holy Week, 2017

It’s a beautiful, joyful evening in SoHo. It appears summer has come two months early. The afternoon sun is shining warmly in our faces, and joy is in the air.

Then Khalid, a Muslim from Morocco, walks by.

“You Christians all want to kill us!” he tells one of our missionaries.

A heated discussion follows. We have lots in common. Abraham, the father of both faiths. God, who inspired Mohammed, is the same God we worship. Jesus is at least a great prophet in a Muslim context.

“But the world is going to hell! Too many of you are trying to get us!” Actually, he uses some much more colorful language, but I’m not going to repeat it.

“Khalid, can you stop using those kinds of words out here on the street? You’re bigger than this. You’re a child of God. Come on!”

Khalid is still hostile; and the language is no less colorful. “Khalid, you’re trying to rile me up, but it’s not going to work. I love you too much. You’re my brother. Love will always conquer hate.”

“No way!”

“Khalid, I want you to go into the church to light a candle before God, and to pray for me. Can you do this for me?”

It takes some talking and a lot of Christian love, but somehow, someway (the Holy Spirit, perhaps?), Khalid finds the strength to head into a church for the first time in his life.”

 

Steve has a compelling story of his own as a cradle Catholic who had a dramatic “re-version” almost 20 years ago. He is a Regnum Christi member, and a national board member of the Lumen Institute. He makes it clear that the cause of the missions’ success, and of each individual conversion he has witnessed, is not him, but Jesus Christ who calls the missionaries out into the streets and lets them actively witness what he is doing in the lives of the passers-by that they engage. The Missionary of Wall Street invites the reader out of the holy huddle and on to the cold and tough street corners of New York.  You get the sense that as he tells these stories, each more improbable and transformative than the last, Steve is just as amazed as the reader is.

 

These inspiring tales of Steve Auth’s faithful band of Catholic missionaries working the street corners of New York City reads like a 21st-century version of the Acts of the Apostles.”

Jim Towey
President – Ave Maria University

 

Woven among the stories is another key component of the book. Pausing from his narrative every now and then, Steve speaks directly to the reader as a would-be missionary, giving tips on how to engage in street evangelization effectively.  In an experienced but accessible way, he shares the key elements of running a street mission, essential strategies, and some do’s and don’ts that he has learned over the years. Having touched millions of passers-by in New York over the last decade as the missionary of Wall Street, Steve may very well touch millions more through those who read this book and are inspired to step out and become missionaries themselves.

The Missionary of Wall Street is available in paperback and e-book from Sophia Institute Press.

For a taste of what you’ll find in the book, watch a recent talk Steve gave at an Atlanta Regnum Christi Convention below.

New Book Shares the Adventures of the Missionary of Wall Street Read More »

Training Regnum Christi Members in Public Speaking

Fr. John Bullock, LC, has trained 15 women in the Cincinnati area to offer retreats and evangelize. This intensive two-year training is now bearing fruit.

The Initial Idea

Jenni von Lehman, a Regnum Christi member from Covington, KY, was one of the first to go through this training. “Fr. John was just coming up with ways that we could evangelize more effectively and [to] more people,” she said.

When asked how the idea germinated, Fr. John described a long thought process. “A lot of times my best ideas come from seeing someone else do something and thinking we could adapt that for Regnum Christi,” he said. “Back when Pope Benedict visited England, around 2012, Austen Ivereigh prepared a group of laypeople [to be] spokespersons for the Church. It was unofficial, of course. He trained them over three weekends in doing media interviews, as he knew the demand would be there once the Pope arrived.”

Fr. John saw several articles about how successful this initiative was, so he thought about how to train Regnum Christi members in similar things. Originally, he thought of just training them to offer retreats but then expanded to evangelization. He called it the Regnum Christi Evangelization Teams,so it wasn’t conceptually limited to giving retreats. Fr. Bullock even avoided taking a cookie cutter approach to what kinds of retreats, although most of the retreats that teams have given so far have been all-day Saturday retreats.

Training Teams of Speakers

Fr. John decided on a lengthy formation of 18 monthly sessions of three hours each, over two years. He focused on three areas of content. First, he offered catechetical instruction, in which he would quickly quote numbers from the Compendium of the Catechism, then go then go deeper into concepts.

Along with the Compendium, Fr. John used a number of other sources, including Austen Ivereigh’s How to Defend the Faith without Raising Your Voice, and Fr. C. John McCloskey’s Good News, Bad News: Evangelization, Conversion and the Crisis of Faith. As he got deeper into catechesis, he explained how to respond to hot-button issues.

Although catechesis is inherently theoretical, he wanted to be more practical in the other two topics. So, in the second element of his approach, he taught each member of the teams how to speak in public. They would be given assignments for talks of certain lengths or with certain elements. After they spoke, Fr. John and the others would give constructive criticism so they could improve. Jenni noted this included not only ordinary speaking but other ways of sharing the faith, such as blogs and radio spots. One of the women has even kept up the blog she started as homework for these classes.

The third element was practical organization, so that these members could organize retreats or similar events. Many already had experience organizing Regnum Christi monthly retreats, but others had to learn by trial and error — one early retreat had to be canceled due to miscommunication with the parish.

Fr. John had a few requirements for anyone signing up: they had to be Regnum Christi already, they had to come as team, and they had to commit to running events even before they had finished all the classes.

Three teams have gone through the training since the fall of 2014, and two of those teams continue to offer retreats. All 15 who have gone through the training so far are women, but Fr. Bullock said he would be open to men’s teams or mixed teams.

Fruits from These Evangelization Teams

Towards the end of their second year or shortly afterward, participants gave their first retreat. “Out of principle,” Fr. John explained, “I would not go to the retreat because I want them to be fully self-sufficient, not relying on our presence. That’s how we begin to multiply ourselves.”

Jenni and her team decided to start in Lent, as people tend to think more spiritually then. Describing her team’s first retreat in 2016, she said, “I was personally a nervous wreck with all the logistics and speaking; we had no idea how it would go. We weren’t going to talk about Regnum Christi and give a sales pitch, but the women were asking, so at the end we spontaneously decided to tell them about our experience in Regnum Christi.”

In response to this description of how Regnum Christi affects them and their families, three women signed up to receive more information. Those three women ended up joining Regnum Christi and being part of the second group to go through Fr. John’s training. Four or five other women from subsequent retreats are currently discerning Regnum Christi. Jenni’s team has offered four retreats so far and had 35-50 women attending each one.

Fr. Bullock explained how Regnum Christi methodology is reflected in the retreats. “I think the participants are drawn more quickly to Regnum Christ when they see a Regnum Christi member preach than when they see a Legionary or Consecrated because it removes the excuse, ‘They’re a priest or Consecrated so they have to speak like that.’” He said, “Women are moved seeing others who are moms and housewives just like them: ‘How did that woman get on fire for her faith? I can do that, too.’”

Jenni notes that her team is made up of ordinary women who just love Jesus a lot. She remarked that having five different perspectives and personalities involved in giving the retreat helps them keep women engaged throughout the day. They have a basic idea of Ignatian methods from their time in Regnum Christi but feel free to adapt it to their circumstances.

Fr. John said, “I think when we in the movement stick to our basic charism of forming apostles, God will bless it.”

Training Regnum Christi Members in Public Speaking Read More »

On the Leading Edge with Katie Lundstrom 

Where does a person go to get great leadership and management skills?  The places that come to mind are Harvard, Yale, University of Chicago, Stanford, and maybe a couple Big Ten universities.

Most people would not say “The Catholic Church.” Yet, from the parish level to the Vatican, leadership and management skills are essential for the Church to be successful.  And that also is true for religious congregations like the Legionaries of Christi – and lay movements like Regnum Christi.

Fortunately for our Movement, we have an apostle who knows a bit about leadership and management and is willing to share what she knows.

She is Katie Lundstrom, President and CEO of Firm Foundations – and active member of the DC women’s section.

Katie has worked for more than 25 years to help individuals and organizations transform into high performing industry leaders. She has experience in both public and private sectors, specializing in strategic planning, executive and team coaching, and performance management. Katie Lundstrom has worked closely with senior executives in many industries including the government professional services, non-profits, utilities, telecommunications, transportation, and healthcare.

In 2011, she started Firm Foundations as a way to focus in on her true passion – helping others achieve their full leadership potential. She started the company after seven days of spiritual exercises where she received a clarion call to start it – despite much fear and trepidation to go “out on my own”.

Firm Foundations specializes in multiple areas of expertise: strategic planning, change management, stakeholder engagement, strategic facilitation, executive and leadership coaching, and performance management.

As the leader of FFI, Katie works closely with every client, tailoring her approach to meet their needs and facilitating personal and professional transformation to achieve outstanding results. She has developed a team of partners and experts, who support and contribute to her mission of leadership development, building a firm foundation for success. She is known by FFI’s clients for “bringing out the best in everyone”.

That is something she is trying to do in Regnum Christi. For the Movement, she is something of a triple option.

First, she works close with the Mission Support Team. This is the group of professionals (both lay and religious) who manage the day-to-day operations of the Movement at the Territorial level. Members of the team have varied backgrounds, some with business experience.

But like most people who join Regnum Christi, their reasons for being part of the Movement are more spiritual than practical. As part of the support team, the leadership and management skills Katie is teaching are key to the proper stewardship of the time, talent, and treasure people bring to the Movement.

And she occasionally works with other groups in the Movement. She recently did a three-day leadership seminar in Germany with leaders of the Legionaries, Consecrated Women, and Laity of the European Territory, as well as a workshop with the Young Adults in Vienna, Austria.

Second, Katie is a key member of the teaching team for Catholic Worldview Fellowship. CWF is a unique combination: courses, workshops, personal coaching, leadership training, prayer, and travel. The 30-day program includes time in Germany and Rome. Don’t be surprised if some of the most effective leaders in the future of the Church are past participants.

Third, she has just been appointed the local RC director for the Washington locality. With this on top of everything else, you have to wonder how she got so involved. In light of her personal history, her passion for Catholic apostolate today might be a bit of a surprise.

Katie grew up in Woodstock, Illinois, a small town northwest of Chicago that isn’t quite sure if it is a suburb or “downstate”.

Woodstock is pure Americana: farmer’s market, folk festival, historic town square, antique mall, and one of the oldest operating theaters in the country: Woodstock Opera House.

She graduated from Miami University (Ohio), worked for five years in Chicago, then went back to school and got her MBA from the University of North Carolina. Fifteen years into her consulting career, she received her coaching certification to be a personal coach for leaders, something that had become her professional passion.

As for her faith life, Katie was raised Lutheran and sampled several Protestant flavors during college and after. She admits she tended to follow what was trendy in faith circles. But she learned that God was preparing her for a big change.

By the early 2000s, she was living and working in Washington.  She got involved in the local Episcopal Parish.  In fact, she got so involved that she became a member of the parish council.

It was a controversial time for the Episcopal Church, which elected the first openly gay bishop, Gene Robinson, to a diocese in 2004.  The controversy was so great that it threatened a schism in the Worldwide Anglican Communion, of which the Episcopal Church in the United States is a member.

Katie had been part of several church communities but had never experienced up close and personal the pain of a schism.

And somewhere back in her mind, she realized how awful it was when schism tore the church apart.  And while it had happened long ago, for the first time, she experienced personally how much the Church must have suffered at the break away of Protestants.

Ironically, a friend was in the process of converting to Catholicism. The friend recommended that Katie read Rome Sweet Home by Scott & Kimberly Hahn. Katie got the book, starting reading, and finished it the same day.

It stuck so many cords, as did what she had heard about the church’s teaching on theology of the body. Katie signed up for RCIA and entered the Catholic Church in 2006.

That is supposed to be the part where everything turns out perfectly. But it wasn’t that easy.

Katie had been part of ACTIVE church communities in the past. She was enthralled by the TRUTH of the Catholic faith, but it seem to lack warmth. She says for the first couple years she really didn’t do much but show up for Mass and sit alone in the pew.

But in 2008 she went on spiritual exercises at Our Lady of Bethesda Retreat Center, She was welcomed and felt comfortable with the people she met.  Fr. John Hopkins, LC, got her involved in a Regnum Christi study circle.

In January, 2009, Katie became a member of Regnum Christi. She joined at the moment the Movement would enter its period of initial shock and eventual renewal as the scandal of the founder unfolded.

All that trauma didn’t affect Katie.  She was accompanied in her faith journey by the RC family in the Washington locality:

“The people were amazing…they all have hearts like I want to have.”

On the Leading Edge with Katie Lundstrom  Read More »

Candy Nesbit: Wife, Mother and Business Owner

This is the story of a small-town girl from Connecticut and her symbiotic relationship with Regnum Christi and the Legion of Christ.

The relationship is symbiotic in that both parties have been beneficiaries and the life of neither would have been the same over the past three decades absent what each has contributed to the other.

The small-town girl is long-since grown into a wife, mother and owner of her own successful business. She is Candy Nesbit, who for more than three decades has been the travel agent, meeting planner, event creator and sometimes, Cheshire house mom to the Legion of Christ and Regnum Christi in North America – and often the rest of the world.

But to understand Candy’s story, you have to start with Charles Lucore. And to understand his story, you have to peel back one more layer in the history of Cheshire, CT.

Cheshire, CT

In March of 1957, the La Salette Missionaries bought 106 acres of farmland at 475 Oak Avenue in Cheshire. The property included a farmhouse, barn, silo and shed. They blessed the property and over the next couple years built a seminary for 125 young men.

Things went well for a few years, but declining vocations to the order forced a decision to close the facility. However, there was another religious congregation that was growing and leased a portion of the property in 1977, and eventually purchased the entire property and expanded the building.

That growing congregation was the Legion of Christ. And in addition to acquiring the property, the Legion made the wise decision to retain the relationship the La Salettes had with a local entrepreneur, plumber, electrician, and building owner: the afore-mentioned Chuck Lucore.

Chuck Lucore

Chuck helped the Legion run the facility and had become coach and mentor to the priests and brothers, teaching them how to repair things that broke – and how to maintain things so they didn’t break in the first place. He was a rather lukewarm Catholic when his relationship with the Legion began. But over the years, the exposure to the Legionaries brought him back to the faith with strength and gratitude.

In addition to helping the Legionaries directly, Chuck recommended a local travel agent, the afore-mentioned Candy Nesbit. This isn’t surprising; Chuck, who passed away in 2010, was Candy’s dad.

Candy Nesbit

During her high-school years in Cheshire, Candy worked in the local grocery store. She got to knowpretty much everyone in town. She went on to nearby Briarwood College for her degree, then started working at a travel agent.

Candy loved to travel and spent two years learning the business. Then her father intervened (he was the local businessman) and told her she ought to go out on her own and have her own agency.  He sweetened the deal by offering her free rent in one of his properties.

Thus was born Elite Travel Inc. It was 1980, the early years of the Legion seminary in Cheshire, and she became the person who booked travel for the priests and brothers, helping them plan events, and (little-by-little) becoming a key resource for the Legion – and eventually Regnum Christi – in the North American Territory.

Candy’s First Assignment

Her first “big” assignment came in 1991. On the 50th anniversary of the foundation of the Legion of Christ, Saint Pope John Paul II ordained 60 new priests in St Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican. At the same time, the first world Regnum Christi event was held in Rome, gathering thousands of members.

Candy’s assignment was to get 500 North Americans to Rome and back. In addition to making sure they were housed, fed and cared for in Rome and, as she recalls, “don’t do anything to embarrass the Legion.”

That event remains Candy’s most memorable – despite dozens of major events since – because it was the first, involved the ordination of many Legionaries she had known for years, and was a big step in deepening her own spiritual life.

Incorporating into Regnum Christi

During the week, an opportunity arose for the North American participants to incorporate in Regnum Christi. Fr. Lorenzo Gomez, LC, tried to convince her to join, but there was so much chaos with the travel details that she had to handle and she was just too busy, so it didn’t happen.  She also had been working a rather challenging schedule for the entire trip: in bed at 2 a.m. and up at 7 a.m.

Several years later, Candy planned a similar event for ordinations in Mexico City. Again, there was an opportunity to incorporate in Regnum Christi and she agreed. Ironically, the priest who guided her through the ceremony was…Fr. Lorenzo Gomez, LC.

Other Memories

Another of Candy’s favorite events (and a favorite of many Regnum Christi members around the world) was the Youth and Family Encounter in Rome, held in conjunction with the 1998 Pentecost Celebration of the lay movements called by Saint John Paul II. More than 10,000 members came from around the world, participating not only in Regnum Christi events, but in gatherings of more than half a million in St. Peter’s Square on consecutive days.

Candy was in the middle of it all, but notes that “whether you are planning for 100 people or 10,000 people, the amount of hours to plan really is the same.”

“Still, I look back on some of the events and can’t believe we did all of it,” Candy recalls. “It truly was by the grace of God.”

That isn’t to say there have not been challenges along the way. When you move thousands of individually minded travelers around the world, things can go wrong.

“One thing I struggle with is when we’re planning an event and my knowledge and experience tell me something should be done a certain way, but someone else has an alternative they are sure will work better,” Candy explains. She draws on an example from World Youth Day 1993 in Denver.

“We had rented an entire nearly ski resort to house Regnum Christi youth from all over the world,” Candy remembers. “Of course, we needed a fleet of buses to move them to and from the airport and various events.

“One of the Legionaries I was working with said he had a supporter who ran a bus company in Dallas and would send his buses to Denver and give us a great price. I had concerns, but gave in and the Dallas company hit the road.”

Candy’s concerns turned out to be well-founded. The buses from Dallas weren’t prepared for the high elevations and mountain grades of Denver; they all broke down. And Candy had to scramble to find more buses from another city in Colorado.

“Life would have been boring without the Legion in my life,” Candy admits. “And even when there were problems during an event, we handled it behind the scene so the participants were still having a great experience.

“We had a great team for the YFEs. I was always amazed by the numbers of volunteers who helped and made everything work.”

Candy was just 23 when she started working with the Legion. Today, she and husband, Richard, have been married 34 years and have grown children. And the Legionaries she has known have been a key part of her life.

“These men helped me, my mom, my dad, my family,” Candy says. “I’ve know many for years and saw them grow up and do so much for others.

“They are family. I don’t know what I would have done with them. Most of all, they brought me closer to Jesus.”

Candy Nesbit: Wife, Mother and Business Owner 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!