Regnum Christi

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Holy Week Missions 2023: Over 2000 Missionaries Share Christ’s Love

Regnum Christi worldwide has a tradition of engaging in Holy Week Missions, uniting in a special way to Jesus’ self-gift through his Passion. Over the Easter Triduum, over 2000 Regnum Christi Holy Week missionaries across over a dozen localities around the United States, Canada, and Asia shared Christ’s love and served others in their communities – here are just a few of the missions that took place this year!

 

 

Regnum Christi Atlanta

 

Regnum Christi Atlanta had over 400 youth and adult missionaries turn out for missions at four locations in and around Atlanta. The Church of the Good Shepherd in Cumming, GA, hosted the Good Shepherd Catholic Church Holy Week Missions, and Mercy Missions Atlanta, a division of Mission Youth, put on a Holy Week Mission where nearly 200 youth and adults participated in missions from Holy Thursday to Easter Sunday in downtown Atlanta. St. Brendan the Navigator Catholic Church, which is served by Legionary priests Fr. Matthew VanSmoorenburg, Fr. Michael Shannon, and Fr. Paul Alger, hosted a variety of events, including an ECYD Middle School Holy Week Mission which included an Easter Egg Hunt after one of the morning Masses. Lisa Satory, an active Regnum Christi member in Atlanta, took the Holy Week Family Missions at St. Brendan’s to a senior living facility in Cumming, where they served lunch (with mimosas and a visit from the Easter Bunny!). Fr. Juan Pablo Duran, LC, led The Sermon in the Lot in downtown Atlanta, and missionaries also brought Easter cards and treats to 350 prisoners in the county prison.

Regnum Christi in North Carolina

 

St. Joseph Catholic Church in Raleigh had nearly 150 people come out for Holy Week Missions with Fr. Peter Devereux, LC, making sandwiches for those experiencing homelessness. In Cary, St. Michael the Archangel Roman Catholic Church hosted a Door-to-Door Prayer Mission.

Regnum Christi Chicago

 

Chicago’s Holy Week Missions took place at Everest Academy in Lemont, and the surrounding parishes, with over 100 missionaries, who filled approximately 260 Buckets of Hope to be sent to the recent tornado victims, and made over 300 lunches for Morning Star Mission in Joliet to feed the hungry. They also cleaned the grotto area at St. Mary’s retreat center for future retreatants, and visited and served the residents of Franciscan Village with a beautiful Easter lunch, where they distributed Easter baskets, played bingo, and prayed together. During a Cross Walk, missionaries knocked on doors and asked for prayer intentions, bringing the message and mission of Easter to downtown Lemont.

Regnum Christi Dallas

 

Fr. Benjamin O’Loughlin, LC, who serves as the RC Young Adult Team Director in the national RC Life Department and Director for the Regnum Christi Young Men’s section in Dallas, ran the young adult track for the Dallas Holy Week Missions, with nearly 100 people participating. The family and high school track, which included over a hundred participants, led by Fr. Jared Loehr, LC, out of St. Cecilia Catholic Church presented a living Stations of the Cross at a senior living center.

Regnum Christi Houston

 

This year, Regnum Christi Houston celebrated 30 years of missions, and kicked off their Holy Week missions with Mass and a commissioning ceremony, which included a blessing of mission crosses, on Palm Sunday at All Saints Catholic Church in Houston. Fr. Eamonn Shelley, LC, led a pilgrimage that started at the grotto at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church, and ended with lunch at Rita’s Cantina Mexican Kitchen. Nearly 500 missionaries signed up for missions in the Houston/Spring area – activities included packing and handing out lunch bags to individuals experiencing homelessness in downtown Houston, a live Stations of the Cross, a Cross Walk, and a Kids’ Festival on Easter Saturday.

Regnum Christi in Kansas City

 

The men’s and women’s section of RC Kansas City, along with the young men’s and women’s groups from Benedictine College joined together for outreach in the downtown Kansas City, accompanied by Fr. Brett Taira, LC, and Fr. Ryan Richardson, LC. The Kansas City mission divided into four saint-inspired groups, who took four different paths. For example, the St. Augustine map led into the bar district where many young professionals were enjoying a Friday evening drink; the missionaries were a reminder of the true meaning of Easter, and the death and resurrection of our Christ. Meanwhile, the St. Francis of Assisi map brought missionaries into the area of Kansas City with the highest population of people facing homelessness; here, the Missionaries brought relief of food and water, along with a smile and offer of prayers. On Saturday, the Kansas City RC men’s & women’s sections performed service at their host parish of St. Gabriel’s Catholic Church, spending the afternoon collecting cans for the food pantry, and going door-to-door sharing an invitation to the upcoming Easter Masses, and an offer of prayer. Missionaries involved in the work project cleaned up the rosary garden, front lawn, and landscaping of the church, as well as removed large tree branches that were obstructing the view of the church.

Regnum Christi Philadelphia

 

Palm Sunday in Philadelphia introduced a week of missions! Monday began with meal service at Sarnelli House, a community in Kensington that provides free food, clothing, haircuts, and hospitality for the homeless and abandoned. The day in Kensington continued with a Cross Walk and Mass. On Tuesday, missionaries served at St. Peter Church in Coatesville, and on Wednesday, they prayed outside of an abortion clinic in Camden for those suffering from the trauma of abortion, and participated in a Cross Walk across the Benjamin Franklin Bridge. Holy Thursday was spent back in Kensington, with a live Stations of the Cross, Cross Walk, Last Supper celebration, and adoration. On Good Friday, missionaries prayed for the respect for life at all stages, praying at a Planned Parenthood clinic and joining together to pray a Rosary for Life. Participants in the Philly missions had the option of staying overnight at Lady of Peace Parish in Folsom, PA all week long.

Regnum Christi North East Ohio

On Good Friday, members of St. Rose Catholic Church, Apostolado de la Cruz, and Family Mission Toledo performed a living Stations of the Cross through downtown Perrysburg, Ohio. They also visited Sunshine Communities, a nonprofit organization located in northwest Ohio that supports people of all ages with developmental disabilities, and held an Easter Egg hunt with the patrons there.

Regnum Christi Detroit

St. Damien of Molokai Parish in Pontiac, Illinois, hosted the 2023 Greater Detroit Family Mission. Approximately 100 missionaries participated in a variety of activities, which included visits to a shelter, soup kitchen, nursing home, and youth treatment center, as well as door-to-door evangelization, live Stations of the Cross, and a Seven Church Adoration pilgrimage.

Regnum Christi New Orleans

The Holy Week Mission in New Orleans began with a Missionary Commissioning Mass at Holy Name of Mary Church. Holy Thursday Events included a service project at Hotel Hope, which aims to move families from homelessness to self-sufficiency by providing a variety of aid and resources, followed by Mass of the Lord’s Supper and Operation Adoration at St. Louis Cathedral, during which passers-by were encouraged to come in and light a candle. On Good Friday, missionaries performed a live Stations of the Cross beginning at St. John the Baptist Church, and participated in a Cross Walk in Jackson Square. On Saturday, they served at New Orleans Mission.

Regnum Christi at Benedictine College

Benedictine College’s Regnum Christi section started Holy Week Missions in Atchison, KS serving the community with street missions, helping with local home projects, and visiting the elderly. Their section also connected with the Kansas City RC section for a day of street missions in downtown Kansas City.

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City Missions in Valencia, Spain – Sandra and Guille: “Seeing people you have stopped on the street coming to Church is something amazing”

For the second year in a row, Family Missions of Valencia organized its Holy Week Missions in the parish of the Valencian Martyrs. These are a different kind of missions, as Sandra and Guille explain, since in city missions, “we are more hesitant, embarrassed and afraid,” and plus, “city people are busy with another type of activity in the moment you stop them, and when you stop them, you cut off their activity…” In any event, as Family Missionaries have realized, “in either case, children are the ‘awesome instrument’ of God.”

Sandra and Guille, accompanied by their daughter María, have been doing missions with “Mission Family” for seven years. The Lord always makes himself present in a special way during missions, and these in particular were marked by “communion among the new missionary families and how the Lord sought them out, came out to meet them and surprised them, and they have come out more in love with him and very eager to do it again.”

A girl comes forward to receive her missionary cross

What has been special about these missions?

Normally we are used to doing missions outside of Valencia and spending the night away from home, but for the last two years they have been “at home,” which makes them different. We have gone out to do missions in the streets of Valencia, and the mission has also been very much within the group, as these were the first missions for many new families who came to be missionaries.

What have the missions consisted of?

The services took place in the Regnum Christi parish, Valencian Martyrs. There we helped out with everything our parish priest, Fr. Cortina, LC, asked us to do. But we also had moments of camaraderie in ECYD’s Club Faro and a day of fellowship and formation in Vall de Flors.

Are city people very different from small-town people when you approach them to talk about God?

Where they are from doesn’t matter at all, neither to them nor to us. We are more hesitant, embarrassed or afraid in the city, but at the same time, that makes the challenge more exciting.

City people are busy with another type of activity in the moment you stop them, and when you stop them, you cut off their activity… This is a difficulty from the outset, but sometimes that becomes an advantage because you startle them and they pay attention. In either case, we have found that children are the “awesome instrument” of God.

In the particular case of Valencia, what is the difference between missions in a parish assigned to Regnum Christi and another parish that isn’t?

In a Regnum Christi parish, you are “at home,” and you know the pastor well, which kick-starts teamwork. On the other hand, in small towns it is very satisfying to give people the possibility of participating in services to which no other priest would go if ours didn’t. Also, getting to know Regnum Christi awakens questions and curiosity. The joy is different, but present in both cases.

Mission Family assisted Holy Week celebrations in the parish of the Valencian Martyrs.

What impacted you the most in this missionary experience?

Communion among the new missionary families and how the Lord sought them out, came out to meet them and surprised them. They have come out of missions more in love with him and very eager to do it again.

Could you tell us an anecdote that you experienced with the people you worked with that touched your heart?

What is most exciting is when the Lord allows you to have the joy of realizing that you are an instrument. When you see people you have stopped on the street, who you know would not have accompanied Jesus in his Passion had you not stopped them, that is something very great. This makes you wonder why you stopped this person and not that one, why you said to them what you did… The answer is always the same: It is he who is at work in you… You just give your “yes,” and he does all the rest.

Originally published in Spanish here.

City Missions in Valencia, Spain – Sandra and Guille: “Seeing people you have stopped on the street coming to Church is something amazing” Read More »

“I Would Go Back in a Heartbeat!”: Living the Charism of Regnum Christi through RC Mission Corps

What better way to learn and live the charism of Regnum Christi than to spend an entire year dedicated to doing just that?

For Lisa Small, a Consecrated Woman of Regnum Christ, RC Mission Corps provides the perfect opportunity for young people to live, completely undivided, a year for Christ within the Regnum Christi spirituality and charism. She and Father Jaime Lorenzo, LC, serve as the National Formation Directors of the RC Mission Corps, working with a team of other Consecrated Women, Legionary priests, and former RC missionaries, to foster the Regnum Christi identity in the lives of the young people who have been called to give a year of their life to mission. This year, RC Mission Corps consists of 21 young men and women across seven localities, including the Philippines, who will spend the year experiencing team life, in-depth spiritual formation and prayer life, full-time apostolic work, and the support of personal accompaniment.

Ashley Huss is one RC Mission Corps alumna who was first introduced to the idea of spending a year of her life as a missionary when a few ECYD missionaries had come to town while she was in seventh grade. After meeting the missionaries, Ashley distinctly remembers telling her mom, “I want to be a missionary some day!”, and it was a desire she never forgot; throughout high school that call to mission continued to grow and mature as she herself did. Amidst the pressure to apply for college and make long-term plans for her life, future, and career, Ashley continually turned back to her initial call to serve Christ through RC Mission Corps.

“I always went back to my seventh grade self who had encountered those missionaries,” says Ashley. “I used to watch the RC Mission Corps promo video over and over again, trying to picture myself as one of them. I’d ask myself, “Could I do that?”, and the answer the Lord gave me was “Yes,” time and time again.”

Following that call that had been cultivated in her for several years, Ashley joined the RC Mission Corps in Washington, DC, in 2014, immediately after graduating high school. And the experience of being a missionary lived up to all her hopes and expectations; in fact, she enjoyed her first year so much, she decided to stay on for a second year.

“I loved and savored every moment of being a missionary,” says Ashley. “God was so good to me.” Throughout her two years in RC Mission Corps, Ashley grew in her awareness of God’s hand working in her life, established a consistent prayer life, and developed a thirst for a deeper and more integrated spiritual life. By spending time in daily prayer, adoration, and spiritual reading, as well as by experiencing the  accompaniment and friendship of the Consecrated Women of Regnum Christi, Ashely developed a zealous faith that she became eager to share. Her participation in the active apostolic life of an RC Missionary led Ashley to discern the call to youth ministry.

Immediately after serving as a missionary in Washington, in 2016 Ashely was hired as a full-time Youth Minister, and has been working in parish life ever since. While working in the parish, Ashley obtained her Bachelor of Arts in Theology from Holy Apostles College and Seminary, and recently became a full-time seventh and eighth grade teacher at a Catholic school in Napa, California, where she teaches theology, pre-algebra, and science. She also continues to coordinate the weekly youth group at her parish. And Ashley’s experience with RC Mission Corps continues to shape and inform her work both as a teacher and as a youth coordinator:

“As a missionary, I loved working with the teens in the youth groups we participated in, and teaching Confirmation. My love for catechesis and leading teens to Christ is continuing to be molded and shaped as I find God’s will for my life. I continue to share stories from my missionary year with my students and friends on a regular basis. I wouldn’t trade the time I spent as a missionary for anything, and I would go back in a heartbeat!”

And for Lisa Small, Ashley’s experience is what she hopes for all the RC missionaries who pass through the RC Mission Corps program, that the seed of faith and mission planted during their mission year continues to grow and bear fruit throughout their lives. Indeed, RC Mission Corps missionaries have gone on to serve their parishes and communities through faith-filled initiatives, like founding campus accompaniment programs and diocesan-wide apostolates, and serving in parish ministries. “My hopes for the program is that the missionaries continue to become the saints that God is calling them to be in their vocation and state of life, to get to know themselves better within their beautiful identity in Christ, and then to be able to live the fullness of the Regnum Christi charism and share that with others,” says Lisa.

If you are interested in bringing a group of missionaries to your locality next year, would like the team to help host an event such as a retreat or mission, or to find out more about the RC Mission Corps program, visit their website at rcmissioncorps.org. To meet the 2021-2022 RC Mission Corps missionaries, visit Meet The Missionaries. And you can read more about Lisa’s own experience with RC Mission Corps at RC Mission Corps: A Year-Long Mission That Lasts a Lifetime.

If you or someone you know is interested in becoming a missionary next year, check out the application and nomination forms at Apply (rcmissioncorps.org).

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Fr. Dain Ivory Coast Mission

Regnum Christi in the Ivory Coast

“How did I end up in the Ivory Coast? Honestly, by God’s grace.”

For over ten years, Deacon Dain Scherber, LC, originally from Minnesota, had been feeling drawn to the mission of supporting the Regnum Christi family in Africa, through his vocation to the Legionary priesthood. A newly professed religious at the time, Deacon Dain offered to go and serve in the Ivory Coast where Regnum Christi had recently been founded. But when nothing became of his offer, Deacon Dain figured God had a different direction in mind for his apostolic life, and let the idea of serving in Africa go.

Eight years later, however, in 2017, another Legionary priest, Father Alejandro Páez, LC, went on a mission trip to the Ivory Coast, and when he came back, spoke to Deacon Dain about contributing to the mission in Africa. Within a year, Deacon Dain was fulfilling the call he had felt nearly a decade ago, to live with and serve his Regnum Christi family in Abidjan in the Ivory Coast.

Fr. Dain MissionsIn and around Abidjan, Deacon Dain spends much of his time acting as a liaison between the local government, the Regnum Christi section, and the consecrated branches in the locality. He creates opportunities for spiritual formation and accompaniment, usually spending mornings visiting with ecclesial leaders and providing one-on-one spiritual direction and formation. Lunch is usually spent with a local family, and then the rest of the day is occupied with activities at the Regnum Christi center, like Mass and adoration, or formative activities for youth and adults. For Deacon Dain, it’s always an adventure; for example, every once in a while, the team makes a trip to visit Regnum Christi members in the surrounding villages or organizes a mission trip into the bush.

Deacon Dain lives in the Cocody quarter in Abidjan, a city that serves as the main economic and urban center of the Ivory Coast. The area is fertile and green, full of fruit trees, and the city is vibrant yet still developing, which creates some challenges to Deacon Dain’s apostolic work. Money is always short for the people he serves, and very few people have access to reliable transportation and phone service. It’s also nearly impossible to have items – particularly books and other formative materials – shipped to Abidjan. 

For Deacon Dain, the key to ministering to the Regnum Christi members of the Ivory Coast is to meet themFr. Dain Mission where they are, in their own culture, and to accompany them as he is, weaknesses and all. “I would say that one of the greatest advantages is the fact that I am not perfect in French, so that kind of tears down that guard that people have,” says Deacon Dain. “A missionary should let himself be guided by those around him. God uses my weakness and limitations – whether it’s material or intellectual or cultural, or even when it’s spiritual – and he does great things through them.”

However, despite the linguistic, cultural, and material differences and limitations that are unique to serving in the Ivory Coast, Deacon Dain asserts that his mission is not unique at all – it is, in the fact, the same mission that every Regnum Christi member, and every Legionary priest, shares. “My goal is to help people experience Christ and to help them to share that experience. I do nothing different than any other Legionary would do in any other city. I go to the city and I ‘do Regnum Christi’ there, in that culture.”

Today, the Regnum Christi family in the Ivory Coast is made up of over 40 members and 20 ECYD members. There is a school run by the Regnum Christi members that Deacon Dain hopes will eventually officially become a part of the Regnum Christi network of Catholic schools, and a formation center that the team is anticipating will one day becomes a university. The section runs a variety of formation programs for youth, adults, couples, and families, and hosts a leadership program for young adults every summer. Deacon Dain wants the Regnum Christi members around the globe to know that they have RC family members in the Ivory Coast who are praying alongside them. “You have a family here that loves you and feels connected to you, who have literally given up their livelihood and their homes to make Regnum Christi grow here. Sometimes they’ve risked everything, sacrifices that we couldn’t even imagine, to be faithful to their vocation – it’s a vibrant community that’s given up so much, but that’s experiencing Christ, and then sharing that experiencing within their own culture.”

And while Deacon Dain has always had a particular call to the mission in Africa, he’s happy with wherever God leads him. “I don’t know where God will lead me next – the only thing I know is that it’s closer to his heart, and that’s enough for me.”

Most recently, Deacon Dain has published a new book called The One Thing Necessary: A Journey with Paul’s Pen, which explores St. Paul’s healing message of peace and interior freedom so needed in today’s world. This is the third book that Deacon Dain has published in the last five years, following God’s Poetic Path: Our Journey Home to His Embrace, a book of love poems to Jesus that he wrote during adoration, and The Primordial Father Wound: And the Glorious Freedom of the Children of God, which is a journey of discovering and experiencing God’s love and our identity within it. All three books are available on Amazon.

If you’d like more information about the Regnum Christi family and mission in the Ivory Coast, you can contact Fr. Dain at [email protected]. To support Fr. Dain’s mission in Africa, you can donate at rcformation.org – where it asks for purpose of the donation, specify “Ivory Coast.”

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1500 Holy Week Missionaries Share God’s love in the United States, Canada, the Philippines, and Online

Holy Week is Mission Week! Thanks to the generosity and courage of so many people, approximately 1,500 missionaries spent Holy Week sharing God’s love on city streets and on social media through acts of mercy and evangelization.

Spread out in 17 different mission experiences in10 different cities in the Unites States, Canada, and the Philippines, these missionaries came up with creative ways to share the message of Holy Week while keeping their missionaries and those they were serving safe and healthy.

What were some of the activities these missionaries did on missions?

  • Prayed for the unborn and their parents outside abortion clinics
  • Encountered those in need in authentic conversation and prayer through Cross Walks and other activities
  • Gave out food, water and clothing to homeless and others in need
  • Offered their time to help at soup kitchens, prolife centers, homeless shelters and other outreach organizations
  • Assisted in construction and clean up from hurricanes
  • Went door to door inviting people back to Church and the sacraments
  • Assisted with local parish activities
  • Prayed together and participated in the Holy Week liturgies in a deep, intentional way
  • Grew closer to God, their Catholic faith and the Catholic communities

Those participating in the Virtual Family Missions in the Philippines were reminded that we have all received a missionary vocation. It is something we can ALL do! They connect virtually for talks, prayer moments and missionary activities. They had a deeply spiritual family encounter, despite the COVID restrictions.

Sometimes as missionaries, we can doubt if our missionary efforts and prayers actually make a difference. One missionary activity is called a “Cross Walk,” where missionaries carry a large wooden cross, ask people for prayer intentions, write them down on sticky notes and then nail them to the cross. It is a simple activity that takes just a few minutes. In Philadelphia, over 200 missionaries came out over Holy Week to pray, do cross walks, encounter those in need and assist various parishes. On Good Friday, one missionary team encountered a woman who approached them asking for sticky notes to write down her prayers.  She explained that she remembered the missionaries from over a year ago, when a missionary team had approached her asking for her intentions. In that moment, she had asked for two very important intentions: that she would be able to conceive a child and that she would fully recover from cancer. Now, over a year later, she explained, I have been completely cured from cancer and have given birth to twins! She eagerly wrote down more intentions on the sticky notes, fully convinced of the power of these missionaries’ prayers.

Now that we are rejoicing in the Easter season, we can allow our joy to overflow in a continued missionary lifestyle. Would you like to join the mission?

  • Join us for our Mission Youth Summit! Connect in-person or virtually to find out how you can bring missions to your area.
  • Attend a summer mission experience! Check out our Mission Youth website to sign up for a summer mission week.

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Missions and the Material God Uses to Build the Kingdom

Holy Week is just around the corner! It is incredible to think that one year after  the COVID-19 pandemic began, there will be 17 different Holy Week Missions taking place in 10 different cities, as well as a week-long virtual mission. It is such a blessing to have these opportunities to reach out and share God’s love in this Holy Week.

Holy Week is clearly mission week for Regnum Christi members but it does not need to end there! The mission does not end on Easter Sunday. Rather, it is meant to be something that continues into your daily life, to become a missionary in your own home, your school or workplace and your neighborhood. In that way, cultural change that take place, renewing society with Gospel values.

Emily, a missionary from New York City, understands how that works. A few weeks ago, she gathered together with 13 other young adults from across the region with Fr. Jorge Obregon, LC,  for a mission day. The missionaries started with Mass, where Fr. Jorge asked them to consider what building materials we are offering God every day, so he can build a place for us to live in heaven. Afterwards, they broke out into teams to gather the “building materials” for the day – in the form of white bread, turkey, mayonnaise, and cheese, along with some socks and mittens, juice boxes and cookies. These materials would become simple but powerful offerings of love to the homeless people they would encounter later in the afternoon.

One woman, when asked if she needed anything else, softly and hopefully asked for a large coffee with milk and sugar. The missionaries went across the street to get her order, and returned with a steaming hot coffee. Another woman asked if they had a rosary to spare. “I need a rosary,” she cried in anguish. “I’m always praying, and look what God brought me today. But, I need a rosary! Please!” They rummaged in their pockets and were frustrated that they did not foresee this need, making a mental note for next time. A few minutes later, Emily found a rosary in her purse, so she walked back to offer it to her, telling her that Our Lady wanted to her to have it. The woman put it around her neck and simply told Emily, “It will do.”

At the end of the mission day, the young adults brainstormed together how to continue the mission. A common theme was the importance of serving in-person, face-to-face, and how grateful they were to have the opportunity to do so. With COVID fears and shutdowns, it had seemed reasonable over the last months to stay out of the inner cities, and focus on sheltering in place. However, the needs of the poor remain and there is nothing quite like encountering a person face-to-face, while still ensuring that the missions are carried out with precautions to protect the health and safety of all, especially those they are going out to serve. While many shared positive memories from the day, Emily also shared some discomfort. She had learned that she could not always be a “happy Catholic bunny,” dropping in with treats and expecting the consolation of gratitude.

Are you interested in building up this missionary lifestyle in your community or city? Join the Mission Youth National Support Team for the 1st Annual Mission Youth Summit! From April 30-May 2, you can join other missionaries in a mission experience, small group sessions, brainstorming and strategizing to together build a “mission vision” for the next year until Holy Week 2022. You can join us in person in Philly or connect virtually. Sign up here today!

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Forming Men’s Missionary Hearts

Something was missing.

This was the feeling that inspired Alex Caraballo, along with Legionary priests Father Peter Devereux and Father Juan Guerra, to organize a men’s mission trip to Mexico over ten years ago. “We were looking to do something for men, because we thought there was a gap,” says Alex, a Regnum Christi member from Atlanta, Georgia who was looking for an appealing approach to engage men in their Catholic faith. “There needed to be a great way to help form some of the men, take a different perspective, and potentially start their journey to be a leader in their communities, in their families, by living their faith deeper and stronger.”

That initial mission to Mexico was just the beginning; since then, Alex has been helping to facilitate mission trips all over the world, to countries like Jamaica, Guatemala, Ecuador, and Cameroon. Designed specifically to call men to serve God in a new and challenging way, these missions have evolved over the years to include father-daughter and father-son trips, and have sometimes coordinated with Regnum Christi families across the globe.

The activities of each mission vary, depending on the unique needs of the particular community the men are serving, but might include anything from visiting orphanages and HIV clinics, to fixing run-down churches or rebuilding houses destroyed during a recent earthquake. One activity common to every mission – and one that Alex considers integral to the mission experience – is door-to-door visits with the members of the local community. “It’s something that the men are not comfortable doing, but it is something that we always incorporate,” says Alex. “The goal is for us to literally just be open to the moment and act on it.”

It is often these spontaneous moments of relationship that have the greatest impact during a mission. Alex recalls one particular story from his very first mission to Mexico:

“I had a rosary that someone gave me from Medjugorje, and I loved it – I prayed that rosary all the time. But every time I passed this one young man, something told me to give this guy the rosary. I kept telling myself, ‘But I kind of like this rosary!’ So, I finally gave it to him, and explained to him where it came from, and left it at that. On the way back, Father Juan was talking to us at dinner when we were finished and he goes, ‘Hey, it was amazing that that kid was always helping us, and every time I’ve come to this town, he’s never gone to church, but this week was the first time I’ve seen him at church!” And it had nothing to do with me, but I think it had something to do with Our Lady, and the gift – that small gesture of kindness that changed something in him, and made him decide to go to church.”

Despite the diverse variety of countries and missionary activities that the men participate in, one thing the mission locations all have in common is that they require the men to step out of their comfort zone – and their own country – into an unknown and often uncomfortable environment. And that’s not easy. “When you go outside of the U.S., where you don’t know the currency, the language, the location that we’re in, you’re a lot more dependent on God, than if you’re doing a mission trip in [your own city], where you can just get in your car and drive home, where you don’t have to worry about food, safety, all the fears that you would normally have. You know your area, so you tend to rely more on yourself,” says Alex. “In the mission trip outside of the U.S., you have more dependency on God, because you don’t know the environment.”

And that increased dependency on God in the men who attend is, according to Alex, the true goal of every mission. “I think a lot of the time, like in many missions we go on, a lot of the new men go with the expectation that they’re going to change the world there, that they’re going to have a huge impact, when in fact, they’re the ones who come back changed,” says Alex.

Never was that so apparent as during the father-daughter mission that Alex helped coordinate with the Missionaries of the Poor in Kingston, Jamaica. The men and their daughters ministered to patients at HIV clinics, to mentally and physically challenged individuals at community centers, and to infants and children at the local orphanage. The days started early  – at 5:30 in the morning – with prayer and adoration, and the fathers wondered not only how their teenage daughters would take to waking up much earlier than they were accustomed to, but also how they would react to serving the most vulnerable members of the Kingston community. But the girls surprised them, and in fact, became the models of true missionary spirit to their fathers, instead of the other way around. “It was so impressive to see the young ladies and their reverence, with kids that have really severe mental or physical disabilities… to see our daughters feed them, change their clothes, and bathe them,” says Alex. “To see your eleven- or twelve-year-old daughter being a missionary is pretty powerful.” According to Alex, the gracious and simple service that the fathers witnessed in their daughters was an important moment for the men, and in particular, for the doctors on the trip. “Guys like to fix stuff… the doctors really struggled, because they’re used to healing,” says Alex “So for us, it was really more of a conversion of our hearts… because we couldn’t fix people, all we could do was actually try to love, be there, take care of them, so that was a big shift.”

This type of change in mindset and conversion of heart is the transformation that Alex hopes and prays will come out of each if the missions he plans, but he knows it’s not up to him to bring it about: that’s up to God. “I got feedback one time from a wife who said, ‘You know what, I like him going to this, because he comes back better than he left,’ so she encourages him to go,” says Alex. “And that’s nothing that we do. Our job is simply to find a place, a location, and then God does the rest. We’re just kind of the instrument that makes that happen.”

For this reason, Alex doesn’t worry about whether or not the men will be inspired, or experience a conversion, once they’re on the overseas mission. That’s not up to him. “Each man is on a specific journey, and it’s not my place to say where it is or what it is. The journey is completely different for each and every man; some are looking to deepen their faith, some are starting their journey in their faith.” says Alex. “My job is very simple – I just get you there, and give you the tools to work. We follow a simple format of prayer, reflections, work, visiting the community and living with the community, and God does everything else.”

Fortunately for Alex, he’s had the opportunity to witness the fruits in the men who’ve participated in the overseas missions that he’s facilitated over the years. During his most recent mission to Guatemala, he invited a man named Michael who knew he wanted to grow in his Christian faith, but wasn’t sure if that faith was going to be a Catholic one. During the mission, he became convinced that he belonged in the Catholic Church. “Before our trip, I was just deciding I wanted God in my life, but I wasn’t sure if Catholicism was the route for me,” says Michael. “The fellowship, mentoring, and an amazing trip sealed the deal for me.” Michael converted to the Catholic Church earlier this year.

Another man who went with Alex on a mission to Cameroon five years ago recently shared with him that he still prays the Litany of Humility that they prayed every day during the mission trip, and still wears the missionary cross he received there. “He still wears it, but it’s broken, it’s not even the full cross. He only has half of it, so he’s basically wearing a stick, but he wears it!” says Alex. “So God plays an active role, and you hope that when everyone gets back, they’re a little bit different, a little bit better, and continue to work and build and grow their faith.”

Although the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the ease of international travel, Alex is eager to resume the overseas missions as soon as it is prudent to do so. And his advice to anyone considering a future overseas mission trip? Take the leap of faith. “The hardest part is the very beginning, it’s the saying ‘yes’. That’s the biggest challenge,” says Alex. “You’re always going to have excuses, there’s always going to be vacation time, there’s always going to be work, there’s always going to be a million and one reasons not to do it. There’s only one reason to do it, and that’s to serve God.”

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RC Mission Corps: A Year-Long Mission That Lasts a Lifetime

Lisa Small’s spiritual and apostolic life has come full circle.

Ever since Lisa encountered Jesus Christ as a 17-year-old in New Zealand, she wanted to spend her life bringing His love to others. This led her to Regnum Christi Mission Corps, a program in which young adults dedicate a year of their lives entirely to the service of the Church. In 2000, Lisa, along with others from all over the world, travelled to the United States to be trained and then assigned, with a small group, to a community where she would spend the rest of the year in active apostolate, serving the local parishes, schools, youth groups and families.

For Lisa, that community was Michigan, and it was here that she first got to know the Consecrated Women of Regnum Christi. During her missionary year of service and formation with RC Mission Corps, she discerned and felt Jesus calling her to give her life within Regnum Christi as a Consecrated Woman.

After her years of formation and graduate studies, Lisa served Christ forming other Consecrated Women of Regnum Christi and young men and women through different Regnum Christi and diocesan programs. So when she was asked in 2018 to take on the new role as National Formation Director of the RC Mission Corps volunteer program in the North American territory, she jumped at the opportunity. “My missionary year completely changed my life, allowed me to learn so much about myself and launched me to impact the lives of so many young people I served,” says Lisa.

Lisa’s role as National Formation Director means journeying with the young women from the moment that they apply to be a RC Missionary, through their formation and training, to the end of their year when they prepare to bring their experiences back out into the world into their college or professional lives. “It is such an honor to interview and meet these amazing young women from around the world who have a real relationship with Christ and who want to spread his Kingdom full time,” says Lisa. “They have received so much from Regnum Christi and ECYD, and now they want to give that back to others and live in community. They grow so much as leaders, and so many young people look up to them as role models.”

Two such Regnum Christi missionaries who were inspired to continue to live the apostolic spirit formed in them during their mission year are Jude LeCompte and Christian Rabalais. These two RC Mission Corps alumni returned from their missions to their native New Orleans, where they started a podcast called Geaux Forth, geared towards encouraging young Catholics to learn more about their faith and how to live it more passionately in their lives.

Over the past twenty years, over 900 young men and women have gone through the RC Mission Corps program. For the great majority of them, their year grounded them in the Catholic faith and gave them the tools to be leaders in the own communities. Of these RC Mission Corps alumni, many go on to establish new ministries in their own parishes, become youth ministers, or serve as teachers, staff and administrators in Regnum Christi and other Catholic schools. Others, through their experience at RC Mission Corps, have gone on to answer the call to the priesthood or, like Lisa, consecrated life.

While the RC Mission Corps program has a positive influence on every community it serves through its wide variety of apostolic activities, from high school retreats to social outreach, it’s clear that the greatest impact the apostolate has is on the missionaries themselves. “I think each young man and young woman that comes is deeply impacted by the Mission Corps because it is an intense living of the Regnum Christi charism that offers a path to live their baptismal call to holiness and apostolate,” says Lisa. One of the keys to this lasting impact is spiritual formation.

Throughout their year, RC missionaries partake in a variety of activities designed to nurture their spiritual life, from pilgrimages to retreats (including an Ignatian Spiritual Exercises retreat lasting six days). However, it’s the cultivation and fostering of a personal friendship with Jesus, through daily prayer and the sacraments, which Lisa says is both the foundation and highlight of the missionary year.

It’s this personal relationship with Christ that RC Mission Corps alumna, Kristin Haskins, cherishes most from her recent mission year:

“Through this past year of being a Regnum Christi Missionary, God has really worked on my relationship with Him. I am so thankful for all the times of prayer that were worked into my daily schedule. Over and over, I was reminded that when I surrender my day to Him, I will feel so much more joy! Not only do I feel that my relationship with Christ was strengthened, but also I have learned so much about myself, that I know will help me in the future.”

Formed in the practise and love of continuous prayer, the missionaries can then take the virtues that they have developed over the year – like service, compassion, and responsibility – back into their families, their communities, and ultimately, their future relationships and professional lives. In fact, when the participants return home from their year with RC Mission Corps, their mission isn’t over. It’s only just begun.

Never has this been as apparent – and as important – as this March, when the 2019-2020 mission year came to an abrupt and premature end.

In light of rising concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic, Lisa, along with the others in the national team, had to make the difficult decision to suspend the current missionary year and send the participants home. “It was really hard apostolically, because we had a to do a lot of discernment, have a lot of discussions, and see what was the best for the missionaries,” says Lisa.

This was difficult news for this year’s missionaries to hear. “When I spoke to the missionaries about finishing their year early, I could see it totally broke their hearts, they weren’t expecting it,” says Lisa. “It was very hard for them to know that they would be all of a sudden leaving the souls that they’d been ministering to and serving.” And it wasn’t just the people that they were serving, and the community that they were serving with, that the missionaries were leaving. Lisa knew that, in being sent home, the missionaries were also saying good-bye to a life where the chapel – and the Blessed Sacrament – were right down the hall, and returning to a life without the sacraments, and without the mass.

Despite how difficult it was to make, Lisa knows that sending the missionaries home was the right decision. “They could have stayed nice and sheltered with us,” says Lisa, “but their families actually need them, their communities need them, and so what a beautiful way to respond to Jesus with their fiat.”

And in the few weeks since this year’s program was suspended, Lisa has already seen that fiat response embodied in the lives of several of the RC Mission Corps participants, as they continue to live their missionary year at home. One such missionary is Lizzy Conklin, who had to leave her mission community of Cincinatti to return home to Atlanta. “When we were told that the mission year was coming to a close earlier than we had expected, it was a difficult pill to swallow at first,” says Lizzy, “but if I learned anything throughout the year, it is that God is always good in every circumstance, so I knew it would be for the best. I think it’s a testimony to what the mission year did inside of me – it helped me to see things through His eyes and not my own.” Indeed, Lizzy’s mission has continued in her home community: since her return to Atlanta, she has started working at a lab preparing coronavirus test kits to send out to hospitals. Through this new purpose that God has given her, Lizzy is reminded that, as she puts it, “He never leaves us missionless.”

Lisa’s not exactly sure what next year will look like for RC Mission Corps, but she trusts that Christ will take care of the apostolate, as He always has. “God really works – and speaks – through circumstances,” says Lisa, and she knows He’ll work through these unprecedented times. “My role in leadership with the RC Mission Corps has been an incredibly beautiful spiritual journey of discernment, and realizing that this is Jesus’ program. He has been my guide.”

To find out more about RC Mission Corps, visit their website at https://rcmissioncorps.org.

 

RC Mission Corps: A Year-Long Mission That Lasts a Lifetime Read More »

In Family Missions, Kids Teach their Parents to Live their Faith with Courage, Ingenuity, and Commitment 

Concep and Dani, a married couple from Barcelona, have three children: twin 11-year-old girls and an 8-year-old boy. This year they did Holy week missions together for the first time. They shared, “What we found exceeded any expectations: we found God.” The family was in the diocese of Teruel and Albarracín, with the Family Missions group from Barcelona. In this testimony, they share their missionary experience. 

Testimony of Concep and Dani 

It was our first year doing family missions, and the truth is, we did not really know what we were going to find or how our children would accept it: two 11-year-old preteens and an 8-year-old boy about to make his First Communion. 

We wanted to live Holy Week as a family, close to Christ, and at the same time, be able to help and collaborate with the Church. 

What we found exceeded any expectations: we found God. 

In the other missionaries who became family-friends, we found role models and true gifts. On the mission we had many great experiences: praying, sharing experiences, meeting wonderful people who live so far away from us, but who are so close to our heart, and, why not just say it—laughter all around. 

The excitement of remembering our 8-year-old son, inviting an elderly man from one of those towns to come to the liturgy of the hours while giving him a rosary and explaining how to pray it was an authentic lesson in learning to be like children, to look at the faith as they do, with courage, ingenuity, and commitment. 

We met holy priests who live in very difficult conditions in their parishes, and I try to pray for them every day. 

We saw the harsh reality of the Church in a lot of rural areas: few people live close to God, they live in small dispersed population centers, and most of them are very old. 

In a way, it verifies the general reality of the Church of today and the times that we have to live in. God asks each one of us to pray for these circumstances, to be an example and testimony, and to act as apostles in our environment. Undoubtedly, having been part of the Family Missions this Holy Week has been a gift from the Lord that we hope to repeat next year. 

You can read the original on the Regnum Christi site of Spain. 

In Family Missions, Kids Teach their Parents to Live their Faith with Courage, Ingenuity, and Commitment  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!