Regnum Christi

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RC United Praying for Peace in the Holy Land

On the shores of Galilee in northern Israel, lies Magdala, a pilgrimage center built at the site of the hometown of Mary Magdalene. Inaugurated under the direction of Fr. Juan María Solana, LC, in 2019, Magdala is home to two other Legionary priests, Fr. Eamon Kelly, who serves as Vice Director, and Fr. Guillermo Garcia, Chief Operation Office, as well as Consecrated Woman of Regnum Christi, Kathleen Nichols, the center’s Chief Mission Officer. They, along with the other members of the leadership team at Magdala, work together to provide a space that welcomes visitors to encounter Christ in the places where he walked, taught and preached in the synagogues, and earlier this year in June, Magdala was one of the stops on a pilgrimage hosted by Jeff Cavins and Fr. Mike Schmitz, accompanied by a group of Legionary priests, which brought approximately 300 pilgrims on the Young in Spirit Pilgrimage to the Holy Land.

 

 

Jeff and his wife, Emily, have been hosting pilgrimages to the Holy Land for years – they have been there over 60 times – but this is one of the first major pilgrimages they’ve hosted since the covid pandemic caused them to cancel most visits three years in a row. For this reason, the June pilgrimage, which is typically geared towards young adults, was open to all, particularly those who had planned to participate in pilgrimages over the past three years and were unable to attend. This year’s participants comprised of one busload of young adults and another of older adults, and four buses of families, including anything from college students with their parents, young couples with their children, and multi-generational family groups.

 

The two-week pilgrimage, which ran from June 5th – 17th, was led by Jeff and Emily, with Fr. Mike, well-known for his YouTube videos as well as The Bible in a Year and The Catechism in a Year podcasts, serving as head chaplain. Six other priests accompanied the pilgrims on the tour, including three Legionary priests – Fr. John Klein from the Atlanta locality, Fr. Matthew Schmitz who is serving in San Jose, and Fr. Brett Taira who recently moved from the Louisiana locality to serve at Benedictine College. They, along with Fr. Eric Garris, who is the vocations director for the diocese of Cleveland, Fr. Anthony Craig from the diocese of Duluth, and Fr. David Neuschwander from the diocese of Superior in northern Wisconsin, made up the pilgrimage priest team. Each of these six priests served as chaplain to one of the six buses, while Jeff and Fr. Mike rotated throughout the group, spending half a day at a time with each bus. Each day included a talk from either Jeff or Fr. Mike covering topics such as growing in faith, conversion, the papacy, and evangelization.

 

 

The pilgrimage began in Israel with an opening Mass and orientation in Tel Aviv, and the next day, the group travelled to Galilee for a teaching in the theater built by Herod the Great. They spent the afternoon touring and participating in the Mass at Magdala. At Nazareth the next day, pilgrims had Mass at the Church of the Annunciation and visited the grotto where the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary, before hearing a teaching from Fr. Mike on Mount Precipice, and then the following day on the Mount of Beatitudes. The group then visited Caesarea Philippi and Capernaum, where they participated in Mass at St. Peter’s Church, built over the site of the home of St. Peter, as well as Qasr el-Yehud, the baptismal site of Jesus in the Jordan River where the had the opportunity to renew their baptismal promises. After spending the night in a Bedouin camp, the group travelled to Jerusalem where they spent the rest of the week, visiting nearby Bethlehem and the Church of the Nativity, the Mount of Olives, the Garden of Gethsemane, and a variety of other holy sites. On one of the last days of the pilgrimage, the group walked Christ’s Passion along the Via Dolorosa to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the site of Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection. The pilgrims also were able to participate in hands-on experiences like making bread, goat cheese, and olive oil, as well as rafting on the Jordan River, boat rides on the Sea of Galilee, and swimming in the Dead Sea.

 

One of the unique highlights of the pilgrimage this year were the three large concerts featuring gifted Catholic musicians that were held throughout the two weeks. The music team featured three musicians: Fr. John, who is from Nashville and currently writes music and performs with Regnum Christi Music Collective; Taylor Tripodi, a full-time musician, singer-songwriter, and worship leader also from Nashville; and Aly Aleigha, an indie-folk singer-songwriter and worship leader from Duluth, Minnesota. The group provided music for Mass and had the opportunity to perform at three professionally staged concerts. “On these nights when we had live music, I was able to play my original songs, tell my vocation story, and tell the different stories behind my music,” says Fr. John. “It was a beautiful opportunity to evangelize and play for the group.”

 

 

There are many ways for Regnum Christi members to unite in prayer for the Holy Land. Join the Magdala family’s United Praying for Peace initiative, which offers daily livestreamed Mass (in English and Spanish) from the Magdala church Duc in Altum, as well as adoration and recitation of the rosary for peace. Fr. Eamon Kelly also records a daily reflection on the day’s Gospel in his Sunrise Stroll & Chat, while he walks along, and sometimes kayaks on, the Sea of Galilee each morning. You can find out more about Magdala at their website magdala.org.

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Praying for Peace Magdala

Join Regnum Christi Praying for Peace in the Holy Land

Magdala is a unique Holy Land site with a first century city where the Jewish residents gathered in a synagogue where Jesus visited and taught.

 

Run by Regnum Christi, it is home to the beautiful Duc In Altum, which provides a place for worship, mass, and prayer, and the Magdala Guesthouse, a unique hospitality experience for visitors and pilgrims to the Holy Land. Because of its unique nature, Magdala actively contributes to building positive relationships with the diverse community of Christian believers and between Christians and Jews.

 

During these grave times, Magdala is reaching out to people globally to join them in prayer for peace:

 

“In these times of tribulation, we are especially united in prayer for peace. We invite you to join us during our livestreams on our YouTube channel as we have daily Eucharistic Adoration and as we pray the Holy Rosary.

 

This upcoming Tuesday, Oct. 17, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Cardinal Pierbattista Pizzaballa, has called for a day of prayer and fasting for peace and reconciliation in the Holy Land.

 

We extend this invitation and encourage you to organize Eucharistic Adorations accompanied by the prayer of the Holy Rosary in your parishes.

 

We, too, will transmit our programs on this day with this special intention in our hearts. 

 

On October 13, the day of the commemoration of the last apparition of Our Lady of Fatima, we remembered the message told by her to the young shepherds and the people of Fatima: “Continue to pray the rosary every day to obtain peace in the world and the end of war” A most relevant message for these days and to which we attend with great faith.

 

Lastly, please know that in Magdala, we are safe and well, and most of our volunteers and pilgrims have been able to return home.”

 

Regnum Christi invites you to join the Legionaries of Christ, Consecrated Women of Regnum Christi, and missionaries on site in the Holy Land in prayer daily on their YouTube channel.

Praying for Peace Magdala Adoration

Eucharistic Adoration

 

13:00 – 16:50 (Holy Land Time)

Praying for Peace Magdala Holy Rosary

Solemn Rosary

 

17:00 (Holy Land Time)

Praying for Peace Magdala Eucharistic Adoration

Eucharistic Celebration

 

Monday – Saturday 18:30 (Holy Land Time)

Sunday 8:15 (Holy Land Time)

Subscribe to all notifications on Magdala’s YouTube Channel to receive notifications every time Magdala goes live in prayer.

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Catholic World Mission Welcomes New Executive Director, James Flanagan

Catholic World Mission has recently welcomed its newest member to the team – James Flanagan took on the role of Executive Director in January of this year.

James is a devout Catholic with over 12 years of leadership and success in communications as well as various non-profit recognitions. He has served close to nine years in the Army, where he had the honor to lead many successful teams in war zones and across the world, including in Afghanistan, Iraq, Kuwait, Qatar, South Korea, and Turkey. After leaving the military in the fall of 2017, James moved back to Georgia and worked in Senior and Executive corporate communications roles for Fortune 250 companies with an emphasis on Corporate Social Responsibility. James holds a BBA from the University of Georgia and a JD from the Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law.

For James, it is his previous service in the military that has well-equipped him for his new role as Executive Director of Catholic World Mission:

“I was honored to be a part of something larger than myself when I was in the military. Each day, I knew that I was a part of a great mission, no matter how small my contribution might have been, and it was extremely humbling. After the military, I had the opportunity to lead some amazing teams and projects in Corporate America, but that feeling of being part of a great mission was missing. Now I am blessed to be a part of a great mission each day at CWM!”

Catholic World Mission is a family of donors, partners, and communities that uplifts the poor, shares the Gospel, and ignites the Holy Spirit to transform the world, one community at a time. Founded in 1998, Catholic World Mission is a Regnum Christi outreach that works to spread the message of the Catholic Church and rebuild communities worldwide with a trinitarian approach that involves collaboration between the community in need, a dedicated partner who helps oversee the project (which can include priests, religious, bishops, and lay people), and a generous family of supporters. For this reason, an important aspect of every mission entails getting to know the people in the communities being served and ensuring that they are actively involved in finding a solution to their needs, and forming relationships in order to create long-term results. “Our trinitarian approach of connecting donors with local project managers to support communities in need provides a real impact each day,” says James.

Catholic World Mission projects fall under three main categories or pillars. Through the Dignified Living Pillar, CWM responds to the call of the Catholic Church to perform the Corporal Works of Mercy: feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, clothing the naked, sheltering the homeless, and visiting the sick. For example, CWM has been working in the village of Ndekesha in the Democratic Republic of Congo, rebuilding the orphanage which had been closed in 1998 due to war and increased violence in the area, and working to construct a water tower to provide safe access to clean drinking water to the 16,000 residents.

The Evangelization Pillar uplifts the poor by sharing the Gospel of Christ, partnering with communities in need to remove the obstruction of spiritual despair so that people can experience spiritual and emotional growth. CWM has built the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Enchi, Ghana; 11 community centers which double as churches in India; and missionary centers in Costa Rica. The organization also works to provide and assist in seminarian formation, lay evangelization, and opportunities for Eucharistic Adoration.

The third pillar of Catholic World Mission is Education, which CWM believes has the power to attack poverty at the root level, allowing individuals to realize their God-given potential to elevate their lives and communities. CWM works closely with Mano Amiga schools around the world, and currently is working to transform Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Nursery and Primary School in Oyede, Nigeria from a dilapidated church building to a safe and functional education facility that can be used for meetings, church activities, weddings, and even as a stronghold in times of disaster.

A key aspect of Catholic World Mission’s projects is that CWM never accepts funds that would restrict or prevent them from not only uplifting the poor, but also spreading the Gospel. When communities receive aid from Catholic World Mission, they also hear the Good News of Jesus Christ and experience His love and the support of a community who truly cares for them – CWM supports the work of priests, religious, missionaries, and lay people working to make a difference in the lives of others, both materially and spiritually. As a Catholic mission organization, they remain fully in line with Scripture, Catholic Church teaching, and the guidance of Pope Francis, whose words continue to fuel CMW to persevere in caring for the whole person:

“It is not enough to offer someone a sandwich unless it is accompanied by the possibility of learning how to stand on one’s own two feet. Charity that leaves the poor person as he is is not sufficient. True mercy, the mercy God gives us and teaches us, demands justice; it demands that the poor find the way to be poor no longer.”

Catholic World Mission serves communities all throughout the United States, South America, Africa, Europe, and Asia, but each project and location is chosen with great prayer and consideration; CWM works where they are most needed, and where they can guide the community toward self-sufficiency through the three pillars of education, evangelization, and physical restoration.

For James, it has been an honor to be asked to lead the Catholic World Mission team, and he is grateful for the efforts of each member of the staff, who have been instrumental in building the organization. He looks forward to collaborating with each one of the leaders on the Board of Directors, which includes a number of lay Regnum Christi members and Legionary priests, like Fr. Joshua West and Fr. Daniel Brandenburg, who has served as the board’s chairman since 2017, and whose leadership and faith has been pivotal in driving the CWM mission. James looks forward to leading the CWM team of passionate individuals, connecting with donors, collaborating with partners, and promoting the mission. “By working together, we have the opportunity to make Catholic World Mission the most impactful organization of its kind!”

James is married to Dr. Elaine Flanagan, a Catholic convert and pediatrician at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. Together, they have two young daughters, Rose and Grace. They attend Mary Our Queen parish in Peachtree Corners, Georgia.

If you feel called to support projects around the world to evangelize, improve education, or promote the dignity of life, visit catholicworldmission.org or contribute to the Annual Fund Drive for 2023.

To read of some of Catholic World Mission’s recent projects, like the opening of the Pope Francis School and Health Center, a multipurpose campus in Ghana that cares for vulnerable children and orphans who parents suffer from HIV/AIDS, check out their recent successes. Or follow Catholic World Mission on any one of their social links:

 

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Pinecrest Students Donate Close to 11,000 Items to Parish Food Pantry

For the past six years, Pinecrest Academy has hosted the annual “Elves for Shelves” food drive, a service initiative that began years prior but gained momentum in 2017 when the lower, middle and high schools began competing to see who could stock the most shelves! Each year, the campaign begins just after Thanksgiving and runs through mid-December. The St. Joseph’s Food Pantry at St. Brendan Catholic Church has been the beneficiary of this annual school campaign for several years now.

  This year, close to 11,000 food items were collected by families, faculty, and staff. Students were encouraged to be actively engaged, with some going door-to-door in their neighborhoods, where they encountered many who wanted to help.

“We started doing the Elves for Shelves Food Drive several years ago to meet a need at St. Brendan’s St. Joseph’s Food Pantry, but it has turned into a fun tradition that our students and parents look forward to each year,” said Emily Roman, Director of Campus Ministry at Pinecrest Academy.  “Campus Ministry collaborates with the Deans in each building to make this event a fun contest that serves others. PreK3-8th grade Dean of Students, Jay Lynch, makes animated announcements that include singing each morning of the food drive, giving updates on which class is winning the contest so far.”

Besides the friendly collection competition between schools and classes, at the end of the drive, middle school students make sculptures with their donated goods before sending them to the food pantry.  One class created a stadium this year!

“Our Campus Ministry Coordinator, Karen Gann, organizes high school volunteers to deliver the collected goods periodically throughout the contest because they don’t fit inside the buildings! A total of 11 truckloads of goods had been delivered to St. Brendan by the close of the campaign,” continued Roman.

“Food donations we receive from Pinecrest’s drive will help provide free food assistance for families in need until next Summer,” commented Barbara Gordon, Director of the St. Joseph’s Food Pantry.  “The number of families is increasing weekly.  We are fortunate and grateful for the support at Pinecrest Academy.”

Pinecrest Academy’s mission is to form Christian leaders who will transform society, and giving students the opportunity to put Christian service into action is an important part of the school’s overall educational philosophy.

“All in all, this has become a tradition for our school community, which teaches our students that serving others can be a lot of fun! The team at St. Brendan has told us repeatedly that this drive supplies their food pantry with goods that last for most of the year!  What a blessing to be a part of this great effort,” said Roman.

Pinecrest Academy is an independent PreK3 through 12, college preparatory Catholic school, located in Forsyth County, a suburb of Atlanta, just minutes from Alpharetta, Milton, Johns Creek, Duluth, and Suwanee. Their mission is to form Christian leaders who will transform society. For more information about Pinecrest, to schedule a tour, or to attend their open house on January 29th, 2023, contact the admissions office.

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A Weekend in New Orleans with Lumen and St. Michael Special School

St. Michael Special School in New Orleans, Louisiana is dedicated to providing a unique Catholic education to students aged six through adulthood with mild to moderate intellectual and developmental disabilities, including autism, ADHD, developmental delay, Down Syndrome, traumatic brain injury, multiple disabilities, and other health impairments. Opened in 1965, the school is a leader in Special Education, providing integral formation of the whole child – a balance of academic, physical, emotional, and spiritual development that helps all students grow in their faith and reach their full potential. Besides daily prayer and religion classes, students attend weekly Mass in the St. Teresa Chapel, and also have the opportunity to prepare for and receive their sacraments during the school year.

As Head of School since July of 2020, Dr. Cissy Laforge is responsible for everything from facilities to finance and development, as well as daily contact with staff and faculty. And she is particularly passionate about Catholic education and the children she serves. “The students, hands down, are my favourite thing about working at St. Michael,” says Cissy. “They are a true reflection of all things good in our world – they are joyful, kind, authentic, sincere, sweet, loving… you name any good quality, and they have an abundance of it!”

And at St. Michael, it’s these students who set the tone: one of complete joy. Everything is celebrated with delight and gratitude: the new vending machine has its own ribbon-cutting, and the baseball pep rally ends with a jubilant rendition of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.” Cissy shares one particular story that illustrates the attitude encouragement and joy that reigns at St. Michael School:

“At St. Michael, we celebrate small things and big things – we enjoy each other and life in general, and the kids delight in each other’s accomplishments. For example, I was in a class one day and the teacher asked a question, and student after student did not have the correct answer. When one student answered correctly, his friend turned to him and said, ‘You did great! I am so proud of you for knowing that!’ They were 16-year-old boys!”

St. Michael Special School is a unique educational experience in a world where inclusion of those with developmental disabilities into a normative setting is the trend. Instead, St. Michael takes the opposite approach – students are encouraged to be front and center in a space designed especially for them. This unique methodology is a response to the needs of the families who, Cissy explains, come to the school often in a state of hopelessness, and even despair. “These families have typically experienced so much trauma – their kids have been neglected or pushed to the side. St. Michael is a community: a learning community for the students, and a welcoming community for the parents. Our students experience everything they would in a typical school, but here, they are encouraged to hold all the positions – they are student council reps, on teams, in clubs, and on stage. We help our students become as independent as possible and build their confidence so that they can become the people God intended them to be.”

St. Michael Special School only charges a fraction of what it costs to educate a child. Each student’s tuition is subsidized about $10,000 per year, and the school fundraises 1.6-1.8 million dollars a year just to keep the facility running and the staff and faculty paid.

This is where the Legionary priests and Lumen members and family from a variety of communities come in. Every year for the past ten years, the group travels to New Orleans to take on projects on campus that the school has neither the funds nor the personnel to complete. This year, at the end of October, 15 missionaries from Calgary joined 20 others from Chicago, Tulsa, and Washington, DC, including Legionary priests Fr. Michael Sliney, Fr. Michael O’Connor, and Fr. Daniel Wilson, organized by Lumen member, Kent Wang.

The weekend mission began with dinner on Thursday night. Organizers always order much more food than is necessary, so that there is plenty left over to be boxed up as meals and distributed immediately to people experiencing homelessness in New Orleans’ French Quarter. (You can watch Lumen family member, Daisy Overmyer, explain the supper mission on YouTube here.) Friday began at St. Michael Special School with Mass. This was followed by a tour of the school, including the bedroom where St. Teresa of Calcutta herself spent the night when the school was still a convent! Then, the dads got to work to complete the projects the school had lined up for them, while the daughters spent the day in the classrooms and on the playground with the students. In the evening, the school families joined the group for jambalaya that they had prepared and both the school parents and missionaries shared testimonies about their experiences at St. Michael School, which is always one of the highlights of the weekend, says Cissy: “The dinner and conversation is a time for our families to enjoy the company and interacting with people who are genuinely interested in their stories – the Lumen families talk about their experiences with our students, and the St. Michael families talk about life with intellectual and developmental disabilities and what the school means to them. It’s beautiful because people talk from their hearts.”

On Saturday, the missionaries partnered with the New Orleans Mission to bring a pop-up grocery store to an impoverished neighborhood, setting up tables with 10,000 lbs of groceries to come and get for free. The daughters accompanied the shoppers, and the dads and daughters even helped the residents carry their groceries home. When it suddenly started raining and the line-up of customers thinned, the group packed up the groceries and went door-to-door delivering them to the housing projects. The rain ended up being a blessing, as the missionaries were able to visit and deliver food to people who were shut-ins and too elderly or disabled to make it out to the pop-up grocery store. Lumen member, Fouad Arbid, explains the “pop up” grocery market here

The weekend mission ended with a closing Mass and a celebration Dinner Cruise on a steamboat.

After ten years, the students and staff of St. Michael Special School know Lumen well, and the students love having the group back year after year, and the group is already planning to go back October 19-22, 2023. To find out more about St. Michael Special School, visit their website at St. Michael Special School – New Orleans, LA. St. Michael depends on the generosity of others to fulfill its mission: you can give to St. Michael Special School through their website link found here .

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Meet the Consecrated Women Building the Future in Mexico\’s Mano Amiga Schools

Education is one of the key pillars in the development of individuals, families, and society. For that reason, the act of bringing the opportunity for education to the poorest sectors of society is indispensable in the search for social justice.  This is the mission of the Mano Amiga Schools, a network of educational centers run by Regnum Christi that has offered a quality, Catholic values-based education designed to break the cycle of poverty since 1963. The goal is to transform society by providing a high level of education to children who otherwise couldn’t afford it. There are currently 20 locations in the country of Mexico with 12,250 students from preschool to high school.

Many Consecrated Women of Regnum Christi live their mission in these schools, offering an integral formation according to the four dimensions of the person: spiritual, intellectual, human, and social.

Working for the mission of the schools

Rosario Guerra, who recently celebrated 40 years of consecration, collaborates with the Mano Amiga Mexico national ministry team and is in charge of ensuring that each location lives the Catholic faith and the charism of Regnum Christi. She carries out this work in collaboration with a large team of individuals.

They look at aspects of formation and training, in addition to everything related to the connections among the Mano Amiga schools, the Regnum Christi localities, and the local Church.

Our schools cannot be understood without the mission and vision of integral Catholic formation and values, achieved through the pastoral activity which Pope Francis frequently speaks about to us.”

Rosario Guerra, Consecrated Woman of Regnum Christi

Rosario shares that one of the keys to being able to fulfill the mission that the schools have is offering personal attention to each student, to their family and circumstances, in order to achieve their integral formation.

Impacting the Community

Bertha del Toro is in charge of advising and accompanying the executive and academic teams of three schools, in order to the help them to improve in their professional work and overcome the daily challenges that present themselves.

She sees her work as laying a path to facilitate the growth of the Kingdom of Christ in the hearts of others.

As part of her doctoral studies in the direction of education centers, Bertha carried out a collaborative project to respond to specific situations that arise inside and outside the Mano Amiga Conkal School in Merida, Mexico, forming a team from different sectors of the school, involving students, professors, and school staff.

One of the actions consisted in developing a campaign to motivate the inhabitants of Conkal to take preventative actions to try to eradicate mosquitos causing the transmission of ZIKA virus.

By means of surveys, house to house visits, and promoting preventative actions, the team lead by Bertha documented that the commitment of the visited communities increased, and they were able to implement practices that reduced the population of the mosquitos transmitting the ZIKA virus by 40%.

In another of the projects that Bertha directed, a team made up of high school students analyzed various situations that they could improve in the school. Parents, staff, and teachers joined the effort, and together they set the goal of building a roofed cafeteria that would allow them to socialize and avoid the intense heat .

By presentations on the projects and the filming of a video, they began a campaign to raise money. After three months of work they were able to build the dining room.

This process convinced the students and the education community that they can make a difference and have an impact where they are, with their own actions. They can contribute collectively and effectively to social change. This left a mark on their professional and social future.”

Bertha del Toro, Consecrated Woman of Regnum Christi

Experience at the service of others

Michelle Gow works in the Mano Amiga Santa Catarina School in Nuevo Leon in pastoral ministry, giving Catholic formation classes and formation classes about love to high school girls.

She has 23 years of experience working in schools in Brazil, the United States, and Mexico. This has lead her to develop the necessary empathy for accompanying teachers and leadership teams.

Through a specialization in school catechesis, her career allows her to contribute to the meaning and importance of academic professionalism while teaching the faith.

If the academic foundation is covered, catechesis and pastoral activities develop with greater depth and spontaneity. It is a natural path, going from learning about God to wanting to commit oneself to Him.”

Michelle Gow, Consecrated Woman of Regnum Christi

Michelle has gotten to know people who give themselves fully to the mission in the Mano Amiga Schools, living their professional lives like missionaries, with great love and commitment to the students and their families. In them she finds part of the inspiration to continue giving herself to God and to work to establish his Kingdom.

In Mexico she has met students with a great desire to study and succeed in life. Those desires were blocked by a lack of opportunities, due to the economic situation of each person. She sincerely believes that we have to find the ways to bring about equality of opportunity, for all those students who want to try and make their contribution to the world.

Helping people encounter Christ

Lourdes Olvera began her work in Mano Amiga Conkal, Mérida, in 2020, in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic, where she began spiritually accompanying the elementary and high school girls, in addition to promoting, organizing, and running ECYD.

Her responsibility is looking after the formation of the ECYD team leaders and involving moms in the activities. As part of the pastoral ministry team of the school, she also promotes and organizes retreats and spiritual formation.

She remembers one activity she organized in particular. It was a pilgrimage of all the school personnel to the Sanctuary of Our Lady Undoer of Knots in Cancun. The experiences and the way everyone was involved in the organization helped to strengthen them as one heart and one body. During the pilgrimage they were able to contemplate their past, reflect on the present, and define what they wanted for the future.  Times of conversation, prayer, meditation, and mass – these encouraged the participants to share their own experience with Our Lady and the reflections made in prayer.

We should help our teachers to connect with the needs of the students, with their reality. They should accompany them on this journey with its many challenges. They should discover their ideals and keep growing in their capacity to dream, to rise up to be men and women of truth and goodness.”

Lourdes Olvera, Consecrated Woman of Regnum Christi

Accompanying in every moment

Paula Errazuriz works at Mano Amiga Lerma, in the state of Mexico. As part of her work in the pastoral ministry of the school, she offers guidance to the school personel and families on personal, human, and spiritual topics through one-on-one meetings.

She also works in organizing and developing the spiritual retreats and school spirit talks. She is also part of the Pastoral Council of the school network.

Through accompaniment Paula works every day to help the people who work at Mano Amiga to encounter God, to not lose themselves among the activities and duties of their work, and to live well in a fast-pace society filled with distractions.

She knows very well that in God we have the best companion and confidant to give us rest amid the overwhelming stress.

In my work I can touch the dreams that people have, the pains and suffering that they face every day, which are many, and in which they need to find strength and meaning.”

Paula Errazuriz, Consecrated Woman of Regnum Christi

She works with the personnel who work in administration and has seen how they have developed and grown as people, in their faith and in their work, thanks to the formation that the school offers them.

Paula has also been a witness to the work of the teachers. She called them “true heroes” when she saw how the pandemic presented them with enormous challenges and demanded creativity to continue giving classes and keep the students active.

Overcoming the challenges of the pandemic

Guadalupe Prince works on the Mano Amiga development team, securing scholarships and creating partnerships with individuals and institutions to meet the concrete necessities of the students and schools.

All the work that Mano Amiga and the Consecrated Women of Regnum Christi carry out would not be possible without the support of benefactors who support this cause so that more children and families of very limited  resources can access a quality education and Christian values formation.

Despite the fact that her work in Mano Amiga was obstructed by the beginning of the pandemic and the financial impact on the companies and individuals who support the educational institution, she found many people who were willing to help the cause. She witnessed how much people value education for the poorest in society.

One concrete challenge was furnishing each of the students with a mobile device so that they could have classes during the health crisis. In addition to the challenge of converting curricula and schedules to a virtual environment, Mano Amiga faced the challenge of the families’ inability to buy a computer or tablet to continue their classes from home.

They launched a fundraising campaign for desktop computers, laptops, tablets and even cell phones that would allow the students to connect and be able to take their classes virtually.

Little by little the campaign raised the necessary money and thanks to God and the support of benefactors, the students received their devices.

We must try to make education more accessible to all children and achieve a lower rate of school dropouts.”

Guadalupe Prince, Consecrated Woman of Regnum Christi

Thousands of children and families have passed through the classrooms of Mano Amiga schools, a network that opens doors to them to find opportunities for authentic human, social, professional, and spiritual development. In this field of action, in this missionary territory, this group of Consecrated Women of Regnum Christi live their charism and their apostolic mission every day, bringing future generations to an encounter with Christ.

To support this mission with financial help, tax deductible donations can be made here.

Translated from the original Spanish article, which can be read here.

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

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

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

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

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

It will only be one trip to Africa

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Founding ECYD in an African country

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

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

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

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

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

Africa – the continent of hope

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

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

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

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

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

Being an apostle on mission

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

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

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

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

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

Translated from the original Spanish

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

Pinecrest Academy Challenge Girls Club serves the most vulnerable in Atlanta

The Pinecrest Challenge Girls Club is a service-based, apostolic ECYD after school club at Pinecrest Academy, a private preK-12 Catholic School in Cumming, Georgia. The group meets regularly in teams to grow in friendship with Christ and with each other, and to undertake apostolic projects to serve their community throughout the year. And this year, the club has spent time learning about, praying for, and serving on of downtown Atlanta’s most vulnerable and at-risk populations.

This past fall, Angie Doxtader, a Pinecrest mom and Challenge Club leader, shared with the Challenge girls about a very important ministry located in the heart of the city of Atlanta, called Out of Darkness. Out of Darkness is a chapter of the anti-trafficking ministry of Frontline Ministry, a Christian-based non-profit organization headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia. This much-needed ministry seeks to assist victims of sex trafficking by providing outreach, rescue, and emergency safe housing, and to help to transition men, women, and children out of homelessness. 

After its founding in January of 2014, Out of Darkness began its initial ministry out of local truck stops: educating truck-drivers on how to recognize, prevent, and report sex trafficking across the United States. Shortly after this important ministry was launched, Out of Darkness established a second ministry called Princess Night, which seeks to break the cycle of sex trafficking by sharing the message of God’s love, hope and restoration with the women they encounter. Several Friday evenings a month, adult volunteers go out to neighborhoods rampant with street prostitution to build relationships with the women they meet and to ultimately offer these women an opportunity to escape the bondage of sex slavery and embrace physical and spiritual freedom. Since then, Out of Darkness has added further outreach initiatives, such as a jail ministry, hotline, and, importantly, a new Transitional House that offers a home environment, staff and volunteers, community, and the additional support necessary for the women to gain the skills and confidence needed to gradually move towards independent living.

In the fall, Angie, who volunteers for Out of Darkness, shared with the seventh and eighth grade Pinecrest Academy Challenge girls a short video about two of the women who have benefitted from the ministry, and how they discovered the love of God through others at the shelter. Immediately, the Challenge girls were interested in serving the women at the Transitional House, and decided to work together to make a meal to be delivered to the women in the home. After school one day, they shopped for all the supplies (with the help of their moms) to make a delicious lasagna meal, complete with salad and dessert. This meal was then dropped off at Angie’s home, who delivered it to the Transitional Home downtown. Since confidentiality is an essential part of the Out of Darkness ministry, the girls never visited the Transitional Home themselves, nor met the women staying there; they know only that it was delivered to the safe house in downtown Atlanta along with their messages of love and their prayers for them, and that the women who received it, women who had grown accustomed to being dehumanized, abused, and rejected, greatly appreciated this act of service, kindness, and love that was meant just for them.

“What impressed me about this little service project was that it was simple enough for the 12- and 13-year-olds to do; they learned to cook (which is a necessary skill), they worked together, and everyone had a part to play towards this common goal of serving those in need,” says Denise Madgey, president of the Pinecrest Academy Challenge Club. In addition to teamwork, service, and charity, the girls learned about the dangers of trafficking, and that the decisions that they make in life have real consequences. They were also able to pray for these women and accompany them spiritually.”

Although the service project was relatively simple, Denise knows that this small initiative will have lasting effects. In fact, the girls enjoyed this service project so much that the Challenge group decided to include it as part of their Holy Week Missions and prepared another meal which Angie graciously delivered. “Sometimes it’s the little everyday acts of charity that make the biggest difference.”

To find out more about the Challenge Girls Club or to find a club in your area, visit their website at challengeyouthministry.com. 

To learn more about Frontline Response, of which Out of Darkness is a chapter, visit their website at frontlineresponse.org, or consider joining the Responder Community here.

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Catholic Caregiver Community: “It’s like having a therapist, a coach, a spiritual director, and a best friend all in one!”

Four years ago, Maria Mercedes Gaviria was living a full and busy life, with two children, a job as a global leader with a company she had been with for over 28 years, and a growing Holy Week Mercy Mission apostolate in Cincinnati. Then, all of a sudden it seemed, her life felt like it had been turned upside down.

In 2018, after attending her niece’s wedding, in a transition that felt like it occurred overnight, Maria was catapulted into the unexpected role of caring for her mother, Lucia. Although she had always helped her mom, who had up until that point been living independently, with some of the various aspects of her life, like finances, healthcare, and odd chores, she now found herself as her mother’s full-time caregiver, all while continuing to care for her own family and maintaining her professional role. During the two years that Lucia lived with Maria and her family, they experienced myriad challenges, including cancer and a dozen other healthcare issues; long hospital stays; palliative care, in-home, and near-hospice care; COVID infections, intricate decision making, and the complicated insurance and financial issues that come with complex healthcare.

During this difficult time, however, Maria felt continuously blessed and supported by her Regnum Christi family, her parish community, and her personal and professional network. Here she found valuable expertise, experience, and accompaniment from individuals – including a spiritual director, a psychologist, a mentor, a coach, a Catholic health counselor, and her entire RC family – who served as her pillars of strength, wisdom, hope, encouragement, and spiritual nourishment. But in speaking with friends experiencing similar challenges, Maria became aware that not everyone had the same access to the type of resources and network that Maria had had through own spiritual, personal, and professional life. “Becoming a caregiver to an elderly parent is a role that often hits us unexpectedly,” says Maria. “Many of us begin without even realizing that we’re assuming the caregiver role, and without really being taught how to navigate or manage.”

Natasha and Lucia spending time together sewing

Meanwhile, Maria’s daughter, Natasha, was having similar thoughts, and while the two were on a walk together, Natasha, a former clinical therapist and social worker and current online business owner with expertise in the development of online communities, shared that God had been moving in her heart the desire to help other caregivers of elderly parents. After spending time researching and speaking with caregivers and experts in the field, Maria and Natasha recognized a significant lack of support for the caregivers themselves; the resources available tended to focus on the elderly receiving care, without taking into account the needs of the caregivers tasked with this often complicated and difficult role. Combining their desire to serve caregivers, Natasha’s expertise, and Maria’s experience in human development and formation, as well as leveraging her Master’s in Catholic Theology, the pair set out to create the Catholic Caregiver Community, a one-of-a-kind ministry created to serve those who find themselves in the complex and sometimes entirely unexpected role of caring for their aging parents, helping them to navigate the many emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual challenges that come along with it. As members journey through this caregiving role, the community provides weekly guidance, counsel and relatable accompaniment, as well as concrete support through actionable techniques, tactics, and tools, all aimed at helping caregivers to restore balance in their lives, regain control of their actions, and care for their loved ones with confidence. Through monthly talks and meditations led by priests, religious, or lay people including Legionary priests, Consecrated Women, or lay Regnum Christi members, caregivers are invited to encounter Christ and connect their caregiver role to a greater purpose, aligned with their Catholic faith. “With the proper support and tools, caring for an elderly parent is a beautiful and fruitful vocation that transcends beyond their relationship and even impacts generations to come,” says Maria. “Ultimately, we hope that they lean into their faith by acknowledging that they have been chosen to be a caregiver to their mom and dad and through this experience to deepen their relationship with Christ.”

One of the members of the Catholic Caregivers Community who has benefitted from the ministry is a woman who, like Maria, had an active and busy life when she found herself, in the midst of 2020, unexpectedly taking on the role of her mother’s full-time caregiver. Over the course of the next two years, the woman’s career and retirement plans, her personal life, her relationships with her immediate family and friends, and her spiritual life, became reprioritized. Waking up one day, she realized that her life was going in a completely different direction than she had planned, and that the role of caregiving had her completely overwhelmed. After stumbling across the Catholic Caregiver Community on Facebook and becoming a member, she was able to access practical and easy-to-apply tactics, powerful meditation videos, and most importantly, a community that understood exactly what she was going through. “Through the Catholic Caregiver Community, my mindset has totally changed, and I don’t view my role as a burden, but as a vocation. It’s like having a therapist, a coach, a spiritual director, and a best friend all in the course of one month,” she says. “As a result, I am kinder to myself, and a better caregiver to my mom.”

For Maria and Natasha, their vocations and charism as Regnum Christi members have been the driving force behind this ministry. The ongoing formation, accompaniment, and spiritual direction they received allowed them to hear God’s call for this mission to serve and meet the needs of a growing population of individuals (currently, there are approximately 42 million adults caring for a family member in the United States alone), as well as giving them the courage to respond to it. “One of the most beautiful charisms of RC members is radiating joy and peace in every encounter,” says Maria. “When we developed The Catholic Caregiver Community, we wanted to ensure that our members feel that same charism with every encounter with our ministry.”

Lucia, Maria’s mom

And, of course, Maria’s experience caring for her own mom, gave her the experience and insight to carry out this mission with true empathy and compassion. “Over the past three years, I have had a complex, challenging, diverse, overwhelming caregiving experience with my mom, and little did I know that God was preparing me for my next apostolate!”

Recently, Maria honored her mom’s wish and helped her move back to her home country of Colombia, where Lucia now lives in a Catholic assisted living community. Besides developing The Catholic Caregiver Community, she and Natasha combined their expertise in branding, digital marketing, and technology to establish Aspen & Oliva, a personal branding and lifestyle agency anchored by faith.

To find out more information about the Catholic Caregiver Community, visit the website at  catholiccaregivercommunity.com, and as a special offer, all Regnum Christi Lay members who are caregivers will receive a 25% discount off the cost of the membership (when signing up for an individual account, enter the code RC25).

Catholic Caregiver Community: “It’s like having a therapist, a coach, a spiritual director, and a best friend all in one!” 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!