Regnum Christi

retreat

Women’s Retreat

Regnum Christi Spiritual Exercises Retreat

Based on the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola and directed by Legionaries of Christ and Regnum Christi. Included in the retreats are Daily Mass, Directed Meditations, Spiritual Guidance, Sacrament of Reconciliation, Practical Talks and Eucharistic Adoration.

Women’s Retreat Read More »

Women’s Retreat

Regnum Christi Spiritual Exercises Retreat

Based on the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola and directed by Legionaries of Christ and Regnum Christi. Included in the retreats are Daily Mass, Directed Meditations, Spiritual Guidance, Sacrament of Reconciliation, Practical Talks and Eucharistic Adoration.

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Men’s Spiritual Exercises Weekend

For Men: Aug 18-20

Summertime is a great time to go on retreat! Explore your mission in life and experience Christ’s Presence in the silence of a retreat! These retreats are based on the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola. Registration is required. Cost: $300 per person for 2-night retreat; $400 per person for 3-night retreat. Find more information and links to register on the website www.ourladyofbethesda.org. Our Lady of Bethesda Retreat Center, A Place to Encounter Christ! 7007 Bradley Blvd., Bethesda, MD 20817. Plan your next retreat today!

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Personal Retreat Days

Are your days overcrowded, jam-packed, and busy, busy, busy? Take a break this summer and enjoy your very own personal retreat at Our Lady of Bethesda Retreat Center. During your personal retreat, from 9am-4pm, an experienced retreat director will guide you to a place of rest with Christ. The retreat schedule allows for one-on-one spiritual direction (optional), quiet reflection, Mass, Confession and Eucharistic Adoration, plus lunch; so you will be nourished and cared for while Our Lord speaks to your soul about the depths of His love for you. Advance Registration is required.

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A Better Marriage in 25 Hours

It is the biggest decision in the life of the person who makes this decision: marriage.  Who to marry…when to marry…where to marry…and myriad subsequent other questions in a life when two people become a couple.

  • Where are we going to live?
  • How do we handle money?
  • Which parents do we visit on which holidays?
  • What about kids?

In the movies and romance novels, love is enough to get a couple through anything and everything. Real life is a bit more complicated. And the solution to a successful marriage may have much to do with time and attention.

Two of the most common events in the lives of people in western culture are marriage – and divorce, according to the American Psychological Association. More than 90 percent of American marry by age 50. About half of those marriages end in divorce. Second and third marriages have a high failure rate.

Writing in Psychology Today, Scott M. Stanley looked at several studies on why marriages fail.  The reasons are fairly predictable but still tragic:

  • Infidelity
  • Incompatibility
  • Drinking or drug use
  • Growing apart
  • Lack of commitment
  • Too much conflict or arguing
  • Domestic violence

Fr. Martin Connor, LC, doesn’t refute the challenge any of these issues can create. But he suggests the problem is both deeper and simpler (to state not to fix): people simply aren’t intentional about marriage.

Fr. Martin Connor, LC, was born in Baltimore MD, grew up near Annapolis, one of eight children, the last two of which are Legionary priests. He has worked with many married couples over nearly two decades as a priest. For a taste of his views on making marriage work, his seven-minute talk is a good place to start. But the next step for a couple that wants to be happy and successful in marriage might involve 25 hours.

“I realized five years ago – after working with lots of people – that couples weren’t being intentional about their marriages,” Fr. Connor says. “I decided to try a weekend marriage retreat in Atlanta, where I work, but for many people it was tough to make the time.  So we cut it to 24 hours, later expanding to 25 hours to add some content. We start at 3 p.m. on Saturday and wrap up at 4 p.m. on Sunday.”

The fact that few couples were able (or willing) to devote an entire weekend to a marriage retreat may be evidence of the problem. Couples spend time on their jobs. They spend time attending sports and school activities with their kids. They engage in volunteer work. They take exercises classes. They care for aging parents.

What couples don’t do is spend a lot of time on the things that really strengthen marriage and family. They don’t give the marriage time and attention.

“Marriages suffer from the distraction of the primary by the secondary,” Fr. Connor warns. “Today’s frenetic lifestyle is sinking the priorities of marriage and family. Families don’t have dinner together. Married couples don’t have date nights.”

“Marriage requires time.”

This is a concept that marriage experts appear to agree on, although it may not get as much attention as sex and money. In “Ten Secrets to a Successful Marriage”, Focus on the Family suggests “the grass is greenest when you water it.” In other words, successful couples put energy into making themselves and their marriages better.

The Atlanta retreats have drawn nearly 200 couples so far, with the next retreat planned for March 30-31, 2019, at the Winshape Retreat Center in Rome, GA.(This is a beautiful location with excellent accommodations and great food – promises Fr. Connor.)

Fr. Connor explains that participation is limited to 25 couples to allow for plenty of attention for each couple. The schedule offers talks by Legionaries of Christ and lay Regnum Christi couples who are part of the “retreat team.”

One of the team couples, Chris and Lucy Daniels, believe that participating has strengthened their own marriage as well as allowing them to help others.

“We are blessed to be a part of the 25 Hr Retreat team with the goal of giving couples time to realign their marriage so that Christ remains in the center,” Lucy explains. “We hope couples can come away with the assurance that yes sin enters marriage, but, there is hope of redemption through the love Christ has for us. Included is couple testimony, time for personal couple discussion, sacraments, renewal of wedding vows and practical tools to help couples be vulnerable with each other and move towards an abundant marriage.”

“We use the ‘creation/fall/redemption’ model in the retreat,” Fr. Connor explains. “Simply put, we talk about the ideals of marriage, the ‘sins’ that bring trouble into the union, and the power of grace to get back on track with God’s plan.

“It is a relaxing the Christ-centered time with some powerful moments. For example, each couple comes before the Blessed Sacrament and embraces the monstrance together. There is a renewal of marriage vows. There is peaceful time for serious reflection.”

Father points out that the retreats draw people who have been married anywhere from six months to 40 years. About a third of the couples are Regnum Christi.

“Sometimes the RC couples are the ones who need the retreat the most,” Fr. Connor admits. “They tend to be the busiest of people and sometimes there is extra strain when one of the spouses is Regnum Christi and the other isn’t.”

Father says couples come on the retreats for many reasons, but it is rare that a couple comes because they are deeply determined to work on their marriage. However, after 25 hours the determination may have emerged, typically showing up in the open comments at the end of the retreat.

“One guy at the end did a complete confession of how lousy a husband he had been, how saintly his wife had been, and he was committed to being the man her deserved,” Fr. Common shares. “Sometimes it is something simple, like a couple committing to attend Sunday Mass together.”

Fr. Connor hopes the 25-hour model will have a meaningful impact on marriages. To make the retreat have a lasting effect, couples are organized in teams geographically and encouraged to get together socially a few weeks after the retreat.

The retreats strongly support the spiritual and formation dimensions of Regnum Christi. Couples are strengthened in their vocation to marriage, making them better able to bring the faith to others.  And the evangelizing power of the 25-hour is likely to increase as it spreads to other parts of the country.

Father Martin.has invited couple from other localities to participate and several other localities are eying similar events. He also stressed that working with married couples is important in strengthening his vocation as a priest.

That might sound counterintuitive; people often ask what a celibate priest can possible know about marriage. Father Connor suggests that after many years working with married couples he know a great deal. But each vocation – marriage and celibate religious life – share the commitments of love and fidelity.

“The marital and celibate vocations support each other,” he says. “Commitment in one vocation is a positive model for commitment in the other.”

 

Photo by Jose Aragones on Unsplash

25 Hr Retreat March 2019 Registration Form (print)

25 Hr Retreat March 2019 Registration Form (online)

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Young Adults Seek Christ in New York City 

Jeannine and BJ Agugliaro of Basking Ridge, NJ, both members of Regnum Christi, have been the leaders of the Holy Week Missions for youth at Old St. Patrick’s Basilica in Soho (Manhattan) for the past 7 years.  In that time, they have seen many young people return, year after year, for the incredible experience of evangelizing on the street corners and inviting people back to the sacraments before Easter.  The spiritual thirst they saw in the young adults who came to be missionaries inspired them to find a way to bring them closer to Christ through a retreat. 

“The idea came up as a result of the college and young adult track we had at the Holy Week Mission in Soho this past March,” said Siobhan O’Connor, a consecrated woman of Regnum Christi.  “When the mission ended, Jeannine and I both thought that they needed a retreat on their level in order to be spiritually fed.  They had given so much of themselves as team leaders working with kids in the high school track on the mission.” 

On Friday, August 17, thirteen young adults arrived at Bishop Molloy retreat center in Queens, NY, for a silent spiritual exercises weekend retreat.  Led by Fr. Stephen Dyas, LC and Siobhan O’Connor, CRC, the retreat was facilitated by Jeannine and BJ Agugliaro of Basking Ridge, NJ, both members of Regnum Christi.   

Jeannine personally followed up with all the college students who were leaders at the mission to invite them to come to Spiritual Exercises.  For the majority, this was the first time they had ever done a silent retreat.  On Friday, August 17, thirteen young adults arrived at Bishop Molloy retreat center in Queens, NY, for a silent Ignatian-style weekend retreat.  Led by Fr. Stephen Dyas, LC, and Siobhan O’Connor, CRC, the retreat was facilitated by Jeannine and BJ. 

The weekend followed the plan of St. Ignatius’ Spiritual Exercises, with meditations on the life of Christ, conferences on prayer, discernment and making a personal spiritual plan, as well as a viewing of The Passion of the Christ to illustrate the meditation on Christ’s Passion and Death.  This was followed by adoration of the Blessed Sacrament on Saturday night and a moment to experience the Sacred Heart of Christ in silent prayer. 

Fr. Stephen remarked, “It was great to see these young men and women so hungry for God and willing to give him some of their time. Doing a silent weekend retreat is not easy but everyone was so happy afterwards. Confession and Mass, along with some personal accompaniment, go a long way in a person’s life.” 

After ending the retreat by renewing their baptismal promises, the students had a time to share about their experience during the retreat.  Words such as “joy”, “renewal”, “light” and “peace” came up repeatedly. “We hope that this can become an annual event,” said Jeannine. “It has been a blessing to see these young people grow in their relationship with Our Lord this weekend, and I can’t wait to see the next step for each of them.” 

For more information on the NYC Holy Week Mission 2019 (High School and College tracks), and future retreats for young adults:  www.regnumchristinyctnj.org

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Legionaries Renew Priesthood Together

Seven Legionary priests who took part in a two-month course of priestly renewal this summer in Mexico discuss their experience. 

The course was held June 15–August 15 at CIDEM Amecameca, a Regnum Christi retreat center near Mexico City. Most of the priests who took part have been ordained for about a decade. The course included conferences on the themes of prayer and the interior life, the Legion’s history, and life as a Legionary priest. Fr. Eloy Bedia, LC, who directed the renewal, described it as a time to “be with God in prayer, to encourage fraternal life in common, to regain strength for the apostolate and to renew the religious and priestly legionary identity.” 

Fr Christopher O’Connor, LC, who teaches at the Legion’s novitiate and college of humanities in Cheshire, CT, said “It was a beautiful experience to be together again with many priests I’ve been with before, for a time of prayer, reflection and study and to renew a profound love for Christ. It renews what our life is for: to serve Christ and to serve his people. The fraternity with the others was great.” 

“I really enjoyed the fact that the schedule was simple,” he said, “with time for prayer, time for study, time for sports, but especially extra time to be with Jesus in prayer and reflection. I really enjoyed my time in adoration: many times, we’d have it more than once a day.” 

He found the history class particularly interesting, which showed that even through the dark parts, there were many Legionaries inspiring lay people to live with conviction. 

Fr. Timothy Walsh, LC, originally from Cornwall, Canada and now the Legionary superior in Cincinnati, also appreciated the opportunity to spend time with old friends.  

“It was really nice to be all together again after 10–12 years of priesthood,” he said, adding that he was impressed by how inspiring all of the other priests were. One priest who inspired him spoke about his struggle and loneliness through moments of crisis, in which he discovered a deeper love for Christ. A couple of other priests described preparing couples for marriage, which Fr. Timothy found helpful, as he will be doing this for the first time this fall. 

Fr. Timothy also appreciated the course on the history of the Legion. “It was good re-seeing everything in perspective of the facts of our foundation and some facts of the founder’s life,” he said. “I think it helped everyone process that and fill in some blanks.” 

Another thing that impressed him was the charity of all the other priests going out of their way to help him after he injured his foot and had to wear a cast. 

Fr. Gregory Usselmann, LC, currently engaged in youth ministry with ECYD in New Orleans, was one of the younger priests taking part in the renewal course.  He noted that this renewal experience, unlike the Spiritual Exercises, was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, so he had to put everything into it. He felt he needed this at this moment in his life. 

Because Amecameca is at an altitude of more than 8,000 feet, Fr. Gregory struggled at first with altitude sickness, but the physical struggle he went through taught him to trust in God and his providence.  

Fr. Francisco Javier Vilarroig, LC, chaplain of a Regnum Christi school in Venezuela, said, “Words are insufficient to express how much I needed this period of renewal and needed to express my gratitude to God at this time. Perhaps one of the most renewing moments has been to reopen our history, a painful but necessary chapter to rediscover our Legionary identity. I contemplated the provident hand of God in the midst of so much human misery and weakness.” 

Fr. Carlos Pi, LC, serves on the territorial council in Mexico as well as acting as regional director of Regnum Christi schools. He enjoyed the recreational activities outside of class time. “As part of the community activities, every day a game or a walk was organized around Amecameca,” he recounted, “and on Thursdays we had a community hike. One day we went to Iztaccihuatl [a nearby volcano], another time we visited Puebla . . . For three days we visited several of our apostolates in Mexico City: the North Campus of Anahuac University, the Cumbres Institute, the Irish Institute, and the CRIT [a children’s hospital sponsored by a Telethon Regnum Christi members run in Mexico].” 

Fr. Xavier Castro, LC, until earlier this year, was territorial director of Argentina and Chile. In the renewal experience, he found much to be thankful for.  

“Dedicating two months to renewal, after a few years of priestly ministry, is a privilege,” he remarked. “Two months to . . . contemplate the passage of God through our lives during these years of priesthood. There is too much to be thankful for. . . . The joy of my Legionary brothers is a gift: to meet again to share as priests and brothers, to rejoice and laugh, to help and build us in daily community life.” 

Fr. Andrew Dalton, LC, originally from Atlanta and now teaching biblical Theology at Regina Apostolorum in Rome, summed up the experience: “The priestly renewal was not a camp or vacation, not even a mere period of reading and study. . . . I have been able to rediscover the deepest convictions of my soul, who I am before God and his holy designs for my life.” 

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Retreat Center Offers Marriage Renewal Based on Emotionally Focused Therapy

Our Lady of Bethesda Retreat Center, run by Regnum Christi, has begun a new set of marriage renewal weekends based on emotionally focused therapy. This combines faith and psychology to offer couples an opportunity for renewing their relationship.

What made this retreat different from most other Marriage Renewal events was that it was based on Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT). EFT shaped everything in the retreat providing the structure and a large part of the content.

Our Lady of Bethesda, on the Maryland side of the DC metro area, has run 2 weekends so far with 38 couples.

One Couple on Retreat

Samantha Davies went to the retreat with her husband Steve who had just celebrated 20 years of marriage. She felt that her life was too hectic with their kids and all the demands of life so they didn’t have enough time for each other. They also had a few specific points to focus on. This was pointed our to them by their spiritual director, Fr. Stephen Ellis, LC.

Asked to describe the retreat, Samantha said, “It very beautiful. It was very unifying for us. My husband went on the retreat very doubtful that it would help us resolve our conflicts.” Before they had been on typical marriage retreats focusing on one thing like communication but didn’t go as deep and didn’t help them much. Samantha said that Steve was happily surprised after the fact by how much it helped.

“I had really been looking for an emotional connection,” explained Samantha, “I had really been pursuing a retreat like this to get that connection back.”

She continued describing the time after the retreat, “We found that when we left the retreat, there was a lot that we got from it and there were still some things that had to be unpacked afterward. I feel like it was a launching point to go more deeply. Now we are more unified and thankful for each other. We are back towards the closeness at the beginning of our marriage.”

Emotionally Focused Therapy

EFT has been shown extremely effective for couples. 90% of couples trying it see improvement and 70-75% of couples move from distress to recovery. This is more than double the success rate of other couples therapy.

Dr. Jonathan Marcotte who helped facilitate the retreat described the process, “Dr. Susan Johnson has found that couples get caught in a cycle, they get caught in a dance. There is what she calls the ‘demon dialogues’ where one – either the man or the woman – in the couple becomes ‘the pursuer,’ who’s always pursuing a relationship. The other one is ‘the withdrawer’ who’s always trying to avoid conflict for the sake of improving the relationship.”

Dr. Marcotte went on to describe how such a cycle creates conflict. The goal of resolving relationships with EFT is to move the couple to see the cycle as the common enemy they can fight. For this, there is a lot of training in how to recognize a cycle and help the other get out.

Empathy plays a large role in EFT as that is a main path out of the cycle, explained Dr. Marcotte. Once they empathize, they can often see how their actions pushed the other person into an emotional place that caused a lot of conflict. They can then take responsibility for their actions.

Dr. Johnson created a weekend workshop to help couples with EFT, including certain key topics the couples need to work through.

The Marriage Renewal Retreats at Our Lady of Bethesda

The general structure of the weekend is around eight conversations. For each conversation, there is a 30-40 minute talk. After, they do a 5-15 minute role-play with a real couple to give the couple an idea what the conversation will look like. The role-play should help them go deep rather than stay on the surface. The couples have about an hour to go over one or two exercises in that conversation. This repeats for the eight conversations.

During the hour couples had to talk, a team of therapists trained in EFT was available for whenever a couple wanted help.

Samantha found these conversations helpful. She noted, “It required both spouses to be in tune with what the other spouse was experiencing which could be something completely different from what they are experiencing. It really helped each spouse to understand each other better and be empathetic to where the other spouse is. At the same time, the conversations touched on some emotional and deep topics.”

Dr. Marcotte explains how they adapted this for Our Lady of Bethesda Retreat Center, “We made it Catholic. We integrated things like renewing marriage vows and integrating Catholic teachings into each of the conversations.” This involved things like mentioning prayer, adding the spiritual level of intimacy to the section on intimacy, and a number of the speakers using spiritual elements in their talks.

The retreat had a team of psychologists on hand, creating a ratio of about 1 therapist per 3 or 4 couples. Fr John Paul Durán, LC, was the chaplain and the whole team at Our Lady of Bethesda welcomed the couples.

Samantha concluded her words, “This was the best marriage retreat we’ve ever been on. You just feel a little bit remiss… We’ve been married 20 years, Why have we never received some of these tools before now? I think everybody should do the retreat at some point.”

You can find out more about Our Lady of Bethesda’s events for married couples on their website.

Note: Steve and Samantha Davies were pseudonyms for obvious reasons.

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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!