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Stroll and Chat with Fr. Eamon at Magdala on the Shores of Galilee

“The Bible was born here!

The world pivots here!

We are reinvigorated here!

Welcome everybody to the untiring novelty of our daily sunrise over the Sea of Galilee!”

 

Father Eamon Kelly, LC, arrived in the Holy Land nearly 17 years ago, where he was assigned to help at Notre Dame of Jerusalem Center, a pilgrimage guest house in the heart of Jerusalem entrusted to the care of the Legionaries of Christ by the Holy See. But from the beginning of his time in the Holy Land, Fr. Eamon has been involved in the development of the Magdala Center, a unique Holy Land site built at the location of the hometown of Mary Magdalene on the shores of Galilee, from where he has been sharing his reflections on both nature and faith in a daily video series called Sunrise Stroll & Chat.

 

Originally from County Clare, Ireland, Fr. Eamon joined the Dublin Novitiate in 1974 and was ordained a priest in 1987. From 1898 – 1999, he worked to found Legionaries of Christ communities in Germany, Austria, and Hungary, and up until 2007, when he moved to the Holy Land, Fr. Eamon served in various positions in New York and as chaplain at Northern Kentucky University. In 2007, the Vatican Secretary of State assigned him to Notre Dame of Jerusalem Center as vice chargé of the Pontifical Institute, where he served until late 2017. For the past seven years, Fr. Eamon has been living and serving in Magdala as the Vice Director, accompanying pilgrims, assisting with pilgrimages, welcoming the many visitors from a vast diversity of faiths that the Magdala Center attracts each year and helping them discover the blessings waiting for them there.

Construction at Magdala began in 2009, under the direction of Fr. Juan María Solana, LC, who was the papal appointee in charge of the Notre Dame of Jerusalem Center at the time, and the Magdala Center was inaugurated in November of 2019. However, just a few months after the Magdala Center officially opened its doors to pilgrims around the world, the Covid pandemic brought a halt to all travel and in-person pilgrimages. As a response to this, Fr. Eamon and the rest of the pastoral staff at Magdala began seeking ways to bring the experience of Magdala to people at home, live-streaming online pilgrimages, moments of prayer, and reflections. Fr. Eamon noticed that despite the lack of face-to-face interaction, a valuable and uplifting online community grew from these virtual pilgrimages. “Over time, the livestream participants began noticing each other, and when one posted about a close relative going in for surgery or other significant concerns, it was beautiful to see how the others responded with an encouraging word or prayer. This became a great treasure to many folks during lockdown.”

At this time, it was a natural fit for Fr. Eamon, who is an avid hiker, to create his own daily video series, Sunrise Stroll & Chat, where he walks along the shores of the Sea of Galilee reflecting in an organic and sometimes unexpected way on both the landscape surrounding him and the scripture of the day. For the past three years, every day at sunrise, Fr. Eamon has taken a stroll along the shore, noticing the sights and sounds around him – new flowers blooming, a tree that has suddenly become uprooted, a not-so-friendly goat, or a pair of Egyptian geese and their three growing goslings. As the sun rises and the sky changes, Fr. Eamon talks about the daily scripture readings, connecting their message to the world around him. These strolls are approximately 15 minutes long, and are livestreamed on Facebook and then posted to YouTube. Fr. Eamon also posts a shorter version of the reflection, of about two to four minutes, to Instagram.

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And Fr. Eamon’s daily Sunrise Stroll & Chat videos are precisely that: a stroll along the lake while chatting with a friend. “Some people take Sunrise Stroll & Chat as a devotional,” shares Fr. Eamon in a blog post he recently wrote. “But it is not a lesson or a homily or preaching or teaching or lecturing or a prayer group – it’s just a friendly chat! It is spontaneous, easy, simple, and tries to be kind, gentle, peaceful, inspiring, and encouraging. I want to give testimony of faith more than big explanations.”

 

An important element of the daily videos is that they are unplanned and unscripted, inspired by what Fr. Eamon calls “the two books God gave us”: creation and scripture. Fr. Eamon allows the world around him to guide his thoughts and words, and so his videos are a stroll in both nature and faith, reflecting on the freshness of both the sunrise and the scripture, the two new each day:

 

“Strolling in nature gets almost equal voice to scrolling the scripture as God speaks to us in both. We delight in nature and scripture and their interplay. Our cosmos of beauty and truth alight in each day’s fresh sunrise suggests to us that behind this gift there is a giver!”

 

In a busy world that often feels made of metal and concrete, Fr. Eamon’s Sunrise Stroll & Chat provides a much-needed daily breath of fresh air, an opportunity to enter into the serenity of both nature and scripture. Fr. Eamon’s relaxed pace, where he stops to admire a caterpillar, points out the cows with their calves on the distant hillside, remarks on the change in the light and the heat as the season shifts, or literally stops to smell the roses, is an opportunity to pause and reflect on the newness of each day. These virtual strolls also offer a space where people of all faiths and at all stages of their spiritual journey – Catholics, Protestants, and Eastern Orthodox Christians, Jews, Muslims, agnostics and atheists – can walk together in community, learning from and praying for each other along the way.

 

Over the past three years that he has been producing his Sunrise Stroll & Chats, Fr. Eamon has heard from an enormous variety of people who have enjoyed and benefitted from his daily reflections; some start their morning walking with him along the shore, while others turn to it as a quiet pause in an otherwise hectic afternoon, or watch his videos to bring some peace at the end of a long day. “Those who participate and follow Sunrise Stroll & Chat encourage and inspire me – pilgrims, guides, travel agents, artists, bishops, priests, seminarians, moms and dads, grandparents, teenagers, retirees, college students, specialists, and experts. It’s humbling really to see how this little sunrise activity touches very different people in their own unique way!”

 

To find out more about the Magdala Center, which includes a guest house, an archaeological park, and a six-chapel church called Duc in Altum, visit their website at magdala.org. If you would like to help promote the Magdala pilgrimage ministry, consider making an online donation or sponsoring a tile in the Magdala Mosaic, which is a beautiful tile map of the region, or sign up to become a full-time volunteer for one month or longer!

 

All of Fr. Eamon’s videos that he has posted over the last three years are all available online on Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram. These are now also being posted to the Magdala Facebook page and the new Magdala English YouTube channel. You can also be added to a WhatsApp group to be notified when videos are about to go live and of any upcoming special opportunities.

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“Life is a Beautiful Gift”: Mary Peach on Sharing the Gift of her Faith with Joy

When Mary Peach was just 12 years old, her entire life changed. Since then, through the gift of adoption, she has embarked on a beautiful life of healing, thriving, and continually sharing her faith and her love for God in new and creative ways.

 

Born in Ethiopia, Mary and her twin sister were adopted into the Peach family in 2010. The rest of her childhood was spent in Hartville, Ohio, near Akron, surrounded by eight other sisters and brothers, five of whom are also adopted. For Mary, her new life in the Peach family was a fun and wild adventure.

 

Shortly after arriving in the United States, Mary was fully immersed in the life of Regnum Christi. The eldest of Mary’s sisters, Rachel, who is now a Consecrated Woman of Regnum Christi, was studying in Rhode Island, where Mary immediately began attending summer camps and various retreats. “It was a baptism by fire!” says Mary. “Early on, when I had my very first encounter of Christ, I had an overwhelming desire to be his friend – from the very beginning, I just couldn’t wait to go back to summer camp and retreats!” Mary and her sisters fundraised during the year so that they could travel to attend as many ECYD and Challenge camps and retreats as they could.

 

In 2013, when she was 15 years old and finished her freshman year in high school, Mary spent six weeks in Cincinnati on an Regnum Christi Mission Corps summer mission. During that time, Mary experienced a deepening of her relationship with Jesus and an increased desire to serve, but she also fell in love with the city of Cincinnati, where she currently lives.

 

After graduating high school, Mary pursued a Bachelor in Human Development and Family Studies with a focus on Family Life Education, receiving her degree in December of 2020. After working right out of college as an instructional aide, Mary now teaches 5th and 6th grade religion at St. Pius X School in Edgewood, Kentucky.

 

Mary’s own faith experience as a child, and as an adoptee, continues to inform her work as a teacher today. “Seeing Jesus as a friend in 6th grade, at such a young age, allowed me to see that I had no reason not to trust him and offer him everything that was on my heart,” says Mary. “As someone who is adopted and has so much history and past traumas, I learned early on that I could give the weight of that to Jesus and he would receive it all. I always saw God as an understanding God, someone who took everything I was carrying and could turn it into something beautiful, even when I felt confused and hurt by my memories and my past.”

 

The older Mary got, the more she realized that her own relationship with Jesus relied on an intentionality in everything that she did: she strived to focus everything in her life – friendships, activities, schoolwork, sports – around God. Growing up in an active Regnum Christi family, alongside siblings who attended Challenge or Conquest and were a part of ECYD, including a sister who went on to become a Consecrated Woman of Regnum Christi, and parents who are both active RC members, Mary made lifelong friendships and developed a strong faith that she is eager to share with all those around her.

 

The best part of Mary’s job as a teacher of religion to 5th and 6th graders is the opportunity she has to share her own faith and help her students build a relationship of trust and confidence with Christ. During her own middle school education, Mary often tired of “just following the rules,” and she desires to be an instrument of the Holy Spirit to inspire her students in their faith and help to share with them what the Catholic faith truly is:

 

“I wish I had learned the faith in a way that was not only exciting, but that helped me to understand why we do what we do, why the sacraments are important. I’m hopefully giving my students what I wish I would have had when I was their age – a sense that the faith is so exciting and beautiful, it’s a faith and traditions they get to be a part of, no matter how young they are! It’s been such a gift to be able to share that, to help strengthen their relationship with Jesus and begin to spark that desire to have a friendship with him. To see their faith flourish, and to witness the ways that they find the Holy Spirit and God in different moments has been such a blessing for me – it’s such a beautiful gift to teach young people about their faith!”

 

Mary is now 25 years old, and her involvement with ECYD and Challenge hasn’t stopped. She helps with the Challenge Club that runs out of her school, and has also been working closely with ECYD nationally and internationally, collaborating with the ECYD national and international directors, as well as local ECYD directors, to help offer retreats and other activities. Throughout the summer, she helps run summer camps and conventions both in Cincinnati and beyond, and helps with training of the Regnum Christi Mission Corps missionaries.

 

And Mary’s connection to Regnum Christi, ECYD, and Challenge in Cincinnati is extra-special: her sister, Rachel, has been a part of the consecrated community there since September of 2020, so the two are able to work together and stay connected in a concrete way serving and living the RC mission.

 

One unique way that Mary has been sharing her faith recently is through social media, and it has quickly become a passion of hers. “A few years back, I realized that so many people looked at social media and technology with this negative perspective, that It’s bad for you, that people – especially young people – waste too much time on it,” says Mary. “Although some of this is true, I realized that I could use social media in a positive way.” Since then, Mary has been creating content that promotes connection by sharing her personal spiritual experiences in a fun and positive light. She recently has been assisting with social media for Regnum Christi Music Collective and with local RC websites, and helps to promote other good Catholic and Christian content on a variety of platforms.

 

Mary is currently pursuing her master’s degree in psychology, with a focus on marriage and family studies, through Divine Mercy University, and continues to be open to how the Lord is calling her to share her faith in every aspect of her life. “Life has been such a beautiful gift, and it’s been a blessing to be a part of the Regnum Christi family and everything that has come along with that!”

 

To find out more about ECYD and Regnum Christi in Cincinnati and the Ohio Valley, visit their website at rcohiovalley.org.

 

You can follow Mary on social media on Facebook and @marypeach98 on Instagram.

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Hearing His Heartbeat: A video series to help young people listen and respond to the voice of God

When Jacquie Lustig, a Consecrated Woman of Regnum Christi living and serving in Cincinnati, first discovered the writings of St. Ignatius of Loyola during her early years of formation, a dream began to grow inside of her. Once she began her role as the ECYD Girls Director in the Ohio Valley, spending most of her time mentoring junior high and high school girls, that dream – to translate the Rules of Discernment of St. Ignatius into everyday language that everyone can appreciate and understand – only became stronger the more she listened to young women talk about their experiences of seeking God.

Jacquie’s many conversations with young women on how to navigate the spiritual life, and reject the lies that keep them from hearing God, confirmed to her the need for an understanding of discernment that could be accessible to all, particularly the youth she was serving. After these conversations, witnessing how learning about discernment and how to hear the voice of God gave the young women she was ministering to the freedom and space to be able to connect with God in a healthy and natural way, she would often walk away wondering, ‘How on earth can I get this to more of them?’.

The answer to this question came to her with the arrival of Ilona Kies, a Consecrated Woman of Regnum Christi who joined the Cincinnati community in the summer of 2020. Before that, Ilona had worked in Germany in the areas of media work and catechesis, and in 2018, she obtained her bachelor’s degree in media design in Cologne. And Ilona’s education and expertise was just what Jacquie needed to make her dream a reality. “Ilona heard about my dream and literally sat me down in front of a camera and told me, ‘Just talk to me, Jacquie!’.” Together, they created the Hearing His Heartbeat video discernment series, which presents the ideas of the Ignatian Rules of Discernment in language and themes that are relevant and easily applicable to young people today.

One of the greatest challenges to discernment that young people face today is real doubt and uncertainty about how to “hear God” in the first place, which can lead to discouragement and confusion, and Jacquie hopes that the Hearing His Heartbeat series will help:

“Sometimes we try super hard to find God, feeling like we aren’t sure if we’re ‘getting it right’. It’s kind of like walking around life with question marks swirling around our spiritual experiences: ‘Was that God?’, ‘Can God even talk to me?’. I hope that through the videos, people catch a whiff of the truth that God wants them to hear his voice, and wants them to feel and be free!”

The Hearing His Heartbeat discernment series consists of six videos designed to help young people become aware of the voice of God in their own hearts and respond to him fully in their everyday lives, but would be helpful for all people who might be seeking more freedom and connection in their relationship with God. The videos offer practical skills for the spiritual life designed to increase the viewers’ knowledge and faith that they have everything they need to hear God’s voice and respond to him in a healthy and natural way. There are also printable journal prompts available in the show notes to guide viewers in applying some of the messages they have received to their own lives in a concrete way.

“Truth really matters, and the truth is, God is sometimes simpler than we give him credit for,” says Jacquie. “Hopefully these videos make a little step forward in teaching some of those simple truths about the voice of God that can lead to a deeper freedom in the heart.”

And for Jacquie, that moment when the young women she is serving discover not only that God is speaking to them, but also that they can truly hear him, is a priceless gift that she feels humbled to be a part of:

“It is impressive, in so many ways and forms, that a soul already knows the voice of God inside her . Sometimes, all it takes is just a few words, or the right question, to unlock that security in them. But always, always, that girl’s deeper heart knows the voice of God. And it’s just such a gift to help her listen to him and believe in his voice.”

Currently, Jacquie is rounding out her ninth year of serving young women and their families through ECYD in Cincinnati. She is also continuing in the theme of discernment, working with a team that is creating an ECYD summer camp for middle school and high school girls that focuses on the voice of God and what he sounds like in their everyday lives. Besides the local work that she loves, Jacquie’s newest surprise has been the assignment to support consecrated vocations work as Assistant Vocations Director. “I am already enjoying working on a wider team of consecrated women in love with God, and have felt many new sparks of life in this recent addition to my life and mission!”

To watch the Hearing His Heartbeats discernment series, visit the ECYD Ohio Valley YouTube channel. You can also donate to this and future initiatives of the Consecrated Women of Regnum Christi in Cincinnati by following this link.

 

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A Digital Project Born During the Pandemic Continues to Grow and Bring Hope

A bit about Margarita Martínez 

“I was born in Mexico City. I am the second of three children. I am the daughter of Margarita Estrada and José Alejandro Martínez; my parents are an important part of my story, because since I was very young they gave me their love and educated me in the faith. I had known the Consecrated Women of Regnum Christi since I was very young, because I was a student at the Oxford School in Mexico City. I had a restless adolescence in constant search for “something more.” Existential questions and desires to change the world were part of my restlessness to do something with my life. In that search for answers, God came out to meet me when I was an adolescent. I received the call from God to serve him body and soul as a Consecrated Woman when I finished my high school. In 1996 I made my vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. Setting out to follow Christ has brought me to discover the beauty of the human heart. I have carried out my mission in different parts of the world (Mexico, the United States, Spain, Ireland, Colombia and currently Switzerland). I have been able to accompany people from different cultures and they have enriched me in each of the encounters I have had with them.

In the last few years I have specialized in the field of spiritual accompaniment. I have a masters degree in Family and Marriage Studies, a certification in Spiritual Direction, and I also received a diploma in Spiritual accompaniment. The theme of knowing that we have been created for love excites me. That is why I seek to accompany people in my daily work to discover the mission that God has dreamed of for us.

I am currently the Vice-director of the Le Châtelard Academy in Switzerland, and my mission consists in accompanying the students and their families in the integral formation that we offer.”

 

What is your project? 

The project “M for Mary” is an initiative that the Holy Spirit stirred in my heart because of the pandemic. I was carrying out my mission as the Vice-director of the Cumbres School in Bogota, Colombia, and I began to offer formation to the parents through Instagram. When I saw that, little by little, many (thousands) of people began to follow my personal page, I realized that the platform could help me to reach many people from different places around the world.

It was then that I asked my friends and some experts in marketing to help me to formalize this page and create its own brand. From there came the name “M for Mary.” That  [Spanish language] Instagram page has developed into the creation of the brand and a webpage where I can offer monthly courses and pilgrimages.

I currently have my own platform with a payment system, which gives me all the rights to the content that is produced on the webpage.  Similarly, I have also been able to enter the market with items like cups, pamphlets, rosaries, and various items that people can buy through Amazon. That gives the brand “M for Mary” visibility.

Every day I share a reflection on the Gospel of the day for 15 minutes on Instagram and pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy.

Where did the idea come from? What is your goal? 

This initiative arose during the pandemic.  My goal is to bring people to the faith, to give them a daily message of hope that helps them to have a close relationship with God.

This platform gives me the space to offer monthly formation by means of courses.

What are the fruits that you have gathered? 

In two and a half years I have been able to build a network of 30,000 people from different places around the world.

I have also been able to monetize it, thanks to the guidance of marketing and business experts who have helped me to bring the project to a sustainable level that answers the needs of people today.

What do you hope for from this initiative? 

To carry the message of the Gospel to the greatest number of people, that they may encounter a God who is close, who loves them, and calls them to a full Christian life.

To give formation to restless people who are thirsty for “something more” that will enrich their faith and their growth as persons.

Links to the platforms.

webpage:  www.conmdemaria.net

Instagram: _conmdemaria

You can read the original story in Spanish here.

 

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Matt Maher, Sr. Miriam Hideland and Others Collaborate with Magdala in New Online Pilgrimage of Healing & Hope

Magdala is a unique Holy Land site on the shores of the Sea of Galilee.

Magdala invites you to join us on our third virtual pilgrimage through the Holy Land this October, themed, “A Virtual Pilgrimage of Healing & Hope with Mary Magdalene.” We will begin in Galilee, in the hometown of Mary Magdalene, whose personal loss and suffering were transformed by Jesus into wholeness. She will “accompany us” throughout the month of October as we travel around the Holy Land.
This Virtual Pilgrimage of Healing and Hope will be led by Kathleen Nichols, Magdala Inspiration Director and Consecrated Woman of Regnum Christi. On site visits will be transmitted Mondays through Saturdays at 3:30pm Israel Daylight Time (1:30pm London, 8:30am New York, 5:30am Los Angeles, 8:30pm Manila, 10:30pm Melbourne, 12:30 midnight Auckland). Kathleen has directed two previous virtual pilgrimages through the Holy Land, available here. Father Eamon Kelly, LC, Chaplain at Magdala, will be offering a Daily Eucharistic directly after Kathleen’s visits at 4:00PM IDT.

 

Dr. Bob Schuchts and Sister Miriam James Hideland of the John Paul II Healing Center will be accompanying us.  Matt Maher will be providing the musical content for our pilgrimage, along with songs by the RC Music Collective and Consecrated Woman Jill Swallow. The unique artwork of Chilean artist Daniel Cariola will be featured as well.

Magdala will lead you on this pilgrimage through the entire month of October, beginning September 28th and finishing November 2nd.

Please share this opportunity to encounter healing with your friends and family. Join this great crowd that followed Jesus through Galilee. Show Him your wounds, and witness His healing.

Register here and allow Mary Magdalene to take you by the hand as we embark on this virtual Holy Land pilgrimage.

Providentially uncovered in 2009, archaeological discoveries indicate the presence of an observant Jewish Community, as is evidenced in its First Century Synagogue. Magdala was an active fishing city where Jesus likely taught the multitudes and healed the afflicted including a woman who made her hometown famous, Mary Magdalene.

“Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people… people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed; and he healed them.” (Matthew 4:23-24)

With only 10% of the archaeology uncovered, the hometown of Mary Magdalene already provides pilgrims an authentic location to walk where Jesus taught and to connect with the first century life of Jesus’ followers. Learn more about Magdala here.

Matt Maher, Sr. Miriam Hideland and Others Collaborate with Magdala in New Online Pilgrimage of Healing & Hope Read More »

Sharing the Good News One Text at a Time

It started a year ago as a simple text. Helen Yalbir had always found encouragement and consolation in the inspirational quotes and images she came across in her spiritual reading, and while she’d been collecting them for years to use in talks and meditations, she longed to share them on a more regular basis with her family, friends, and the people she serves, as a Consecrated Woman of Regnum Christi, in Washington, DC. “I love to share exciting, amazing things that I’ve learned, and it gives me so much joy to share that with others. I realized I had all these really pretty inspirational quotes and pictures,” says Helen, who began to send a daily inspirational text to a group of about twenty contacts. “I called it a little ‘spiritual cup of coffee’.”

The response to Helen’s “texting ministry” was immediate and overwhelmingly positive. “So many people would tell me how much it helped them, or how the Holy Spirit worked through the simple text messages,” says Helen, who desired to offer spiritual nourishment and accompaniment to people, even when it wasn’t possible to be with them in person. “I realized that there are so many people to love and serve, and so few of us to physically accompany people, but if we could just teach them how to encounter God, how to grow in trust, how to respond to the ways of God in their life by sharing the riches of our Catholic spiritual authors, then that was a gift that we could give people, even if we couldn’t be physically present to accompany them through difficult times.”

One of those people was Helen’s own sister. “I was accompanying my sister through a really difficult time, and it pained me not to be able to be physically with her.” Helen realized that her daily texting apostolate allowed her to be present to people, even when she wasn’t able to be with them in person. “So many people suffer in this world, and if we can’t be physically present to them, then at least the greatest gift we can give them is to help them grow in their trust in God, so that, no matter what they face, they have the tools to trust in God.”

While Helen’s texting ministry continued to grow, it suddenly became vitally important when the COVID-19 crisis hit. In Washington, DC, most of the in-person ministries that Helen and her fellow consecrated sisters and Legionary brothers were involved in were cancelled or moved on-line. This drastically affected their ministry and compelled them to find creative ways to engage more people on a virtual level. For example, when the annual Holy Week street missions where cancelled, they launched an online mission which included a daily e-mail that encouraged participants to live out Holy Week in an apostolic way each day. “This bore so much fruit and, in fact, allowed us to reach even more people,” says Helen.

And Helen’s texting apostolate has grown, too. Through WhatsApp, she now offers short, daily meditations focused on a particular theme, based on the needs she witnesses in her ministry, like learning to trust God, understanding the feminine genius, and living an abundant life with Christ. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Helen’s community observed how many people were feeling hopeless, and, with the desire to help restore hope to those they served, she launched her most recent series, called Mission Hope. “The objective was to give people a chance to recognize all the things that foster hope, and all the reasons for us to maintain hope, to live that hope in their ordinary life, and be a channel of hope for others,” says Helen. Each texting series draws its inspiration from a variety of spiritual authors, including Father Jacques Philippe, Deacon James Keating, and Pope Benedict XVI, as well as many of the saints.

In a time when in-person evangelization and accompaniment is complicated and often impossible, Helen’s texting apostolate is providing much-needed inspiration and encouragement to those her community serves. “There have been so many people who have shared feedback from these text messages,” says Helen. One recipient was experiencing serious depression, and through the inspiring quotes sent to her by text, God was able to open up pathways towards healing and restoration. Many people have shared with Helen how receiving her texts have made a real impact on them, whether it’s through the daily reflection questions that have helped them go deeper in their faith, the daily challenges that have produced tangible change in their lives, or the resources that have proved valuable in their spiritual journey. “It was incredible how so many women would share how a quote they received on a particular day was exactly what they needed to hear in that moment,” says Helen. “I am just so blown away by how a simple quote can really rock someone’s world, how God can use a simple phrase to penetrate a person’s soul and infuse it with his grace.”

When Helen began sharing simple texts of inspiration and insight with a small group of friends, she never could have dreamed the impact this simple ministry would have over the year, and how many people it would begin to reach. “I am happy that these text messages are reaching people,” says Helen. “I really never imagined it would go beyond my first little group of twenty people.”

And the reach of Helen’s texting apostolate is growing; many people who receive her text messages then go on to share them within their own circles. “I encourage people to take this ministry on themselves and start sending these daily texts to their own contacts,” says Helen. “Many of the people that were receiving our daily text messages were also forwarding it each day to their own groups of friends and contacts. This added a very cool missionary spirit to the text challenges.”

Creating a texting apostolate, and watching it flourish in the midst of a pandemic, has only confirmed to Helen that no situation is ever hopeless, and for God, nothing is impossible. “I am even more convinced that God is not bound by the circumstances we see in this world,” says Helen. “God is not stopped by COVID. Even technology can be a means for God’s grace to reach souls.”

Helen’s current texting series, called Interior Peace Journey, offers daily meditations on finding true peace, and runs until September 30th, but she has no plans to stop now; she’s busy keeping her heart open to the Holy Spirit’s inspirations for possible themes for future text series. One thing she’s sure of, though, is that God can speak – and bring about real spiritual transformation – through something as simple as a text message. “I am very humbled by how much this has helped people, and how the Holy Spirit continues to allow this to be a channel of his grace,” says Helen. “You can’t understand the power of a simple text message to change someone’s life.”

Helen will be rerunning the Interior Peace Journey series in October. To receive a short daily meditation on finding interior peace, and to stay posted on upcoming text series, join her chat on WhatsApp.

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A Product of Prayer: Sharing “Anything Gude” on Social Media

It all started with a whisper from the Holy Spirit.

Since January of this year, Gudelia Guerra, a Consecrated Woman of Regnum Christi, and part of the Regnum Christi Young Women’s section team in Manila in the Philippines, had been feeling the call from God to use her social media platform as a way to reach out to and offer formation to those she serves. In response to this call, she began to produce small, bite-sized reflections on her Instagram Stories, and the feedback was so overwhelmingly positive, that a larger initiative started to take shape.

 

“Gudelia is in charge of a lot of the young women, so this is a great way for her to connect with them,” says Anna “Buding” Aquino-Dee, who is the Communications Head for Regnum Christi in the Philippines. “She showed some of the episodes to me and I thought that she was such a natural, so along with the social media team which I head, we just decided to produce a show.” That show is “Anything Gude,” (a play-on-words with Gudelia’s nickname, “Gude”) and is a series of twenty-minute live videos on Facebook and Instagram; in each weekly episode, Gudelia presents an aspect of the Catholic faith in a fresh and relatable way, and discusses how that relates to every day life. “Aside from giving you information, it’s something that you can look forward to regularly and even have some sort of entertainment while you’re being educated,” says Buding. “So it was really such a spirit-filled and very creative initiative.”

 

The weekly show fulfilled another crucial purpose for the Regnum Christi communications team in the Philippines; at a time of nation-wide physical isolation due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they needed a way to stay in touch with their members. “It was an organic development born out of the current situation of everyone being in quarantine, stuck at home, and the only way we could really connect was online,” says Buding. “It was an organic development and it’s because we wanted to keep connected.”

 

Social media turned out to be the perfect platform to maintain that connection with the Regnum Christi youth, and produce something both meaningful and engaging. “During this pandemic that has kept most of us home, a lot have been more active on social media,” says Annina Nakpil, who heads the social media department for the Regnum Christi Philippines communication team. “It has become a beautiful and relevant means for communicating the Gospel, especially with the younger, more tech-savvy generations.”

 

In fact, Buding calls their social media department, which was formed in response to the sudden physical isolation that occurred, “one of the tangible fruits of the quarantine.” “During this time when we’re called to isolate ourselves, we do what’s countercultural out of love for each other and the community,” explains Buding. “Instead of isolating ourselves, we really started uniting instead – I thought that was a really beautiful thing that has happened in the past few months.”

 

Kitchie Piñgol, a member of the communications team for Regnum Christi Philippines, agrees: “It’s a great platform to reach an audience who are interested in social media. It’s giving them interesting, relevant, and reflective content amidst the worldly data we commonly receive from social media. It’s like a delicious and healthy salad in the middle of a pile of junk food.”

 

The live aspect of the weekly series has turned out to be one of the most valuable features of “Anything Gude”; although the videos remain available to watch on Facebook and Instagram after the show is over, it’s the live rapport that Gudelia has with her audience that makes the show so special. “I was blessed by the way Gudelia would acknowledge the people who were joining in,” says Buding. “For me, these were such precious moments, when these people felt that they were affirmed – ‘I can see you and we’re doing this together’. These moments are edifying and evangelizing as well.” In order to enhance this sense of community, “Anything Gude” is broken up into four parts: Gudelia provides three reflections on the art work in focus, but in the fourth part, she makes space for conversation and reactions from those participating live. “I think this is very creative – despite it being digital, there is still this collaboration between Gudelia and her audience, and it can only happen live,” says Buding. “That’s why the people keep coming back – because they find a familiar friend in Gudelia.”

 

The response from the Regnum Christi community – in the Philippines and around the world – has been enormously encouraging, but for Gudelia, the fruits of “Anything Gude” are personal. “It has deepened my prayer life,” says Gudelia. “What I share in the show is the product of my prayer. Every time I prepare an episode, it helps me so much, and it brings so much excitement to be able to share it.

 

Besides giving her a platform through which to channel her desire to answer God’s call to connect with people in social media in a fun and engaging way, the show has reconnected her to many people with whom, over the years, she had lost touch. “This show has brought me back together with people that I have not been able to see face to face in a very long time, and that I miss so much. As weeks pass by, I receive more and more messages from people of how they have been helped by ‘Anything Gude.’”

 

For the Regnum Christi Philippines communication team, the process of producing “Anything Gude” has opened their eyes to a new and exciting platform of evangelization, and how they can further use social media to provide formation, meaningful entertainment, and a means of connection for their members. “For me, it made me reflect that being online is not a barrier for human connection and personal connection,” says Buding. “We can think it’s limiting, but really, it’s another way in which we could get into the hearts of the people.” Gudelia, herself, agrees: “It has helped me to help others discover that God is very much present in social media, that they can choose to use it as a source of encounter with God and personal growth.”

 

And to the question of whether Regnum Christi Philippines has any plans for future initiatives, Buding’s reply is definitive: “loads and tons.” The communications team has plans for future shows and podcasts, and are particularly interested in involving other lay people and religious men and women, and finding ways to stay connected to their members during the current Ordinary Time. “I think the new direction that God is calling us to is really to be creative and reach out and use social media and the Internet as a platform,” says Buding. “We’ll just allow ourselves to be made instruments – the Lord can work through anyone, so we’re really blessed to be able to serve in this spiritual family.”

 

Gudelia is currently taking a Certified Program of Evangelization with Catholic Link Academy, to hone her skills for her current and future projects. Besides offering “Anything Gude” every Thursday, she also posts short videos on her Instagram account every Sunday, talking about how to see everyday events through God’s eyes. “These two projects have taught me to be more attentive to God’s action around me,” says Gudelia. “So I’ll definitely be open to whatever He wants.” She’s particularly excited about a new initiative she’s been inspired to start: a live show called “Around the World with Regnum Christi” whose goal will be to help Regnum Christi members connect with and find out about other RC communities in localities across the globe.

A Product of Prayer: Sharing “Anything Gude” on Social Media Read More »

Welcome to the TGIFF Podcast

Br. Andrew Torrey and Br. Luke Rawicki are American Legionaries of Christ studying for the priesthood in Rome, and every month they are inviting you to view a snapshot of their lives through their podcast, “Thank God it’s First Friday!”.

Br. Andrew, a native of Louisiana, is renowned in the Legionary community of Rome for his skill at baking spiced-up carrot cake. In an episode of the podcast he explains, “Everyone likes carrot cake and I consider it my special contribution to the community for Easter Sunday,” when he bakes for 300 people. Br. Luke Rawicki, one of 6 children raised in a Regnum Christi family, does not know how to make carrot cake, but loves to eat it, and to sing and play soccer.

The two of them with their eclectic talents and shared enthusiasm have teamed up to start a new podcast that provides a window into what life is like while studying in Rome. They discuss the situation in the church, life in Rome, movies they have watched, and what day-to-day life is like as a seminarian. As the two brothers grapple with fun inspirations and profound truths, bouncing around ideas about what they mean in real life, they invite you to join them with your questions, ideas and comments through their Facebook page.

The idea of the podcast was born after a 30-day retreat last fall, when the brothers decided they wanted to do something to introduce more people to the mystery of God’s mercy. Since first Fridays of the month are traditionally devoted to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the unconditional mercy of God, they focused their project around them, and they envision their fun and energetic podcast as a message of hope. 

Br. Andrew and Br. Luke decided to build out their podcast based on the Dunque hermeneutic. What is the Dunque hermeneutic? Dunque means therefore in Italian. It refers to a way of drawing wisdom from experiences, and learning deeper lessons from what one is living, whether it’s in the normal day-to-day of being a seminarian, or in the extraordinary events of life in Rome. The brothers are extracting lessons from their lives and then interpreting and sharing them in light of Church teachings.

The podcast is available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Google Podcasts.

Welcome to the TGIFF Podcast 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!