Regnum Christi

spiritual direction

Men’s Spiritual Exercises Weekend

For Men: Aug 18-20

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

Men’s Spiritual Exercises Weekend Read More »

Personal Retreat Days

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

Personal Retreat Days Read More »

Divine Mercy University and Regnum Christi: a Partnership to Educate and Inspire Spiritual Directors

The long-standing practice of spiritual direction has had an important role in the history of the Church, and is an essential part of the Regnum Christi spiritual life. This is why Regnum Christi has partnered with Divine Mercy University to create the Spiritual Direction Certificate Program, an online program that provides the knowledge, disposition, skills, and supervision that are key to becoming agents for Christian transformation and accompaniment. 

For Maria Brackett, Executive Director of the Spiritual Direction Certificate Program, this partnership has been real and productive – within the first two years of the creation of the SDC Program in January of 2019, there have been over one hundred people associated with Regnum Christi enrolled in the program. “Regnum Christi in North America has had the need to have more trained spiritual directors, whether priests, consecrated women and men, or lay people,” says Maria. “The program seeks to meet the need for more professional and trained spiritual directors who, simply put, can help others walk closer to the Lord.”

The skills vital to a prepared and competent spiritual director are many, and for Maria, humility, compassion, and a strong prayer life are the key qualities for a spiritual director to possess. “The skills of listening and empathy, and the attitude of being one who first listens to the Lord in his or her own life are all very important, and are woven throughout the whole program,” says Maria. “The ministry of being a spiritual director is really a hidden service, because it is not about you, it’s about the person being directed and their relationship with the Lord.”

And the need for trained, professional spiritual directors is rising. “When Catholics are seeking spiritual direction, often they cannot find a spiritual director,” says Maria. “Sometimes, they do find a place that does offer the services of spiritual direction, but soon realize that what is offered is more a kind of Christian counselling, or is not given within the context of the rich spiritual heritage and teaching of the Catholic faith. Catholics want to find spiritual directors they can trust as they open the intimacy of their relationship with the Lord.”

This is the need that the Spiritual Direction Certificate Program at Divine Mercy University aims to meet – to prepare and send out professional and trained spiritual directors who are informed by Catholic tradition, the human sciences, and pedagogical experience. The program includes online coursework, two short residencies at DMU, and continued support and supervision. This practice of supervision is a vital component on the SDC Program. 

For the SDC student, supervision is both a learning experience and an opportunity to build best practices for when they enter the ministry of spiritual direction. In the SDC Program, as soon as students begin their practicum hours, they are required to participate in group supervision, a group discussion with their peers led by a faculty member of the program. In this setting, the student can speak about what they are experiencing internally as they give spiritual direction, and can be guided in becoming more and more aware of their own interior movements. “This awareness enables the spiritual director to ensure that they are standing in the space that belongs to them in the spiritual direction relationship, and are making the decisions along the way that helps that,” says Maria. The practice of supervision can also allow for moments of consultation about themes and topics, all revealed in an anonymous fashion so as to protect the confidentiality necessary in the spiritual direction relationship.

For SDC graduates, one of the most important components of the program is the framework it provides to nurture a solid and intimate relationship with Christ. “What they tell me again and again is that the program has first been a gift for them and their relationship with the Lord,” says Maria, “and this in turn has made them better spiritual directors.” 

One graduate of the SDC Program, and Regnum Christi member, is Teresa Chabot. Teresa lives with her husband, Geoff, of 51 years, in Kalispell, Montana, and is a part of the Pacific Northwest Regnum Christi section. As a member of Regnum Christi for about 24 years, Teresa has held several positions , including Team Leader, Formation Coordinator, and Section Director. Currently, she is spiritual director for ten women, whom she meets in person and online, as well as serving as administrative assistant for RC Spirituality Online Classroom and facilitator for one of the Spiritual Director Supervision Groups. For Teresa, the SDC Program was a life-changing experience that deepened her understanding of what she, in her role as Spiritual Director, was called to be. “As I think back on my skills and comfort at the beginning of the spiritual direction course at DMU, I can see that I did not understand the importance of creating a sacred space in which a person could grown into spiritual maturity,” says Teresa. “I understood spiritual direction as more formation – I am the teacher, and they are the student, and if they would just listen and learn, they would grow closer to God. This didn’t allow for the integrity of the heart or the voice of the Holy Spirit to penetrate the sacred space of the person’s heart.” 

Through the course work, journaling assignments, supervision, and residencies, Teresa grew in her understanding, skills, and most of all, humble surrender. “Coming to understand listening as a divine activity, and a virtuous form of self-emptying was a big first step for me, and the greatest take-away from this for me was freedom,” says Teresa. “Being able to help another create sacred space for God to work in their soul by ‘listening with’ and ‘experiencing with’ them and being able to validate creates tremendous freedom.”

Maria knows that she speaks for the entire SDC Program team when she says that working with the students like Teresa, and being able to witness and walk with them through their spiritual growth, is a huge gift. “It’s a chance to meet people who are so dedicated to the Lord, and love him so much and want to help others discover the Lord and his love in their own lives,” says Maria. “Each one of the students – and the applicants, too – is very inspiring to us!”

Maria Brackett has been involved in the ministry of spiritual direction for about twenty years, and now serves as the Executive Director of the Spiritual Direction Certificate Program at Divine Mercy University. Father Robert Presutti, LC, serves as the Formation and Program Development Director for the program. To find out more about the program, check out their online brochure or visit their website at sdc-divinemercy.org

Divine Mercy University and Regnum Christi: a Partnership to Educate and Inspire Spiritual Directors Read More »

DMU Graduates Equipped to Bring Healing in a Time of Unprecedented Need

Divine Mercy University (DMU) celebrated its twentieth anniversary, and its 19th Graduation Mass and Commencement Exercises, with a virtual ceremony on June 20th, 2020, with 88 new masters and doctoral graduates from the Institute for the Psychological Sciences (IPS) and the School of Counseling.

This year, DMU students faced unique circumstances; due to the COVID-19 pandemic, in the middle of March, all Psy.D classes for the spring and summer semesters transitioned to online instruction, while all on-campus residencies scheduled for May and July were scheduled instead for online format.

Father Charles Sikorsky, LC, President of DMU, opened the virtual ceremony by welcoming this year’s graduating class. “While your graduation and its celebration are taking place in an unplanned and unprecedented format, I think the circumstances that have brought about that only underscore how meaningful and critical your lives and careers are to so many people in need,” said Father Sikorsky. “While mental health, human service, and pastoral workers have always been in short supply – the harvest is great but the workers are few – the coronavirus and its consequences have created an even greater need. Whether it’s helping families grieve the loss of loved ones, helping those who’ve lost employment and hope, those who’ve suffered abuse or trauma, marital and family difficulties, or the many other emotional and mental illnesses that have been exacerbated, your skills and your gifts are truly needed.”

Father Richard Gill, who helped found IPS, and served as its president from 2002-2005, in his address to the students, reflected on the history of the university, from the moment when it was simply a hope and an idea. “It’s so beautiful to see that the vision has stayed the same and yet expanded over the years, that there’s a way to do psychology that serves the human person and helps him flourish, that starts from the vantage point that he’s made in the image and likeness of a good God, that he’s redeemed by the mercy and the sacrifice of Jesus and that he’s destined for eternal happiness in heaven,” said Father Gill. “And this is the noble task that all the graduates have: to help every person and every client that you have to regain the freedom so they can live as a child of God, that they can pursue that vocation to which God has called them all, the purpose God created us for.”

The 2020 Commencement Speaker and Honorary Degree Recipient was Stephen F. Auth, Executive Vice President and a chief investment officer with Federated Global Equities, and author of Missionary of Wall Street. In his commencement speech, Mr. Auth encouraged the graduates to use the unique education and training that they received at DMU – one that acknowledges that “to cure souls, you can’t leave out the role of God in their lives” – to recognize their great duty as healers in an unparalleled time of need:

“This year will always be marked on the calendar as a very special one, perhaps as one of those great turning points in human history – or at least as a big asterisk on history’s timeline. Somehow, within the eye of the storm, you’ve completed your studies here at Divine Mercy University, you’ve earned your degree, and now your job – which you’ve already accepted – is to help make that turning point one that leads to a better future for all of us.”

Sister Mary Patrice Ahearn, RSM, who completed her PsyD at IPS in 2013, was this year’s recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Award, and her address to the students was a call to be bold: “Go out, not afraid to be truthful and integral in who you are as a Christian, as a Catholic, and have great courage in doing it, because our world is very hungry,” said Sister Ahearn, “and you have a great education and formation now that has just made you more equipped to serve.”

Although this year’s graduates spent their final weeks at DMU dealing with the logistics and challenges of coping with a pandemic, instead of savoring their final days and celebrating their accomplishments together in person, they are forever grateful for the unique experience provided by DMU.

Rose Bond, who graduated with an MS in Counseling, is currently working as a Direct Support Professional, relying on the counseling experience she gained at DMU to help her better understand her clients, and provide important insight to their care teams. “I hope to help the persons in my area who are most affected by the global pandemic, who cannot fend for themselves. I hope to be a strong advocate for them and assist them to thrive in their world.”

Jennifer Weisbrod currently serves on several committees at the university-based health system and, since receiving her MS in Psychology, including completing a behavioral health coding course while enrolled at DMU, has been rendering services to mental health practitioners who seek better understanding of how to properly bill for their services, particularly as the demand for virtual counseling increases. She is currently investigating certifications through the Green Cross Academy of Traumatology through DMU. “This will better prepare me for serving in any future pandemic or other disasters.

Joni Seith also received her MS in Psychology; as a deacon’s wife, mother of four grown children (including one priest) and grandmother, catechist, and prayer group and ministry leader, she decided to pursue an education at DMU to equip her to better serve others in her various roles. The online MSP degree at DMU was an answer to Joni’s prayer; serious physical challenges due to a genetic connective tissue condition prohibited her from pursuing an on-campus program. Since completing her degree, she has already found a multitude of opportunities to share what she has learned, appearing as a guest speaker on podcasts and online conferences. Recently, she has been inspired to start a blog called Pain of Grace, and plans to complete her manuscript on the challenges of handling chronic pain and infirmity. “The education I received in psychology from DMU gave me the confidence and tools to do this.” Joni hopes to pursue the Spiritual Direction Certificate Program at DMU in the future.

Father Paulinus Okpala, who was born and raised in Eastern Nigeria, was ordained a priest in 2001 in the Diocese of Awka, and currently serves as the Parochial Administrator at St. Theresa Catholic Church in Cordele, Georgia. He intends to use the training he received while pursuing his MS in Psychology at the service of his parishioners: “Just being a priest in the parish already puts one in a helping position for different kinds of people – how much more when one has studied and acquired some helping skills. This was precisely why I wanted to further my education in psychology.”

Originally from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Father Longin Buhake is the Civilian Military Chaplain at the U.S. Air Force base in Tyndall, Florida. He graduates with an MS in Psychology and Counseling, and in his current role as Priest Chaplain, Father Longin recognizes his sacred responsibility to help those he serves to strengthen both their spiritual and psychological well-being, many of whom have felt their mental health impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. As a 2020 DMU graduate, Father Longin is ready to accept the immense responsibility of caring for the mental health of those he serves during this unprecedented time. “Graduating and entering the field of mental health during the pandemic means confronting a mix of unique obstacles of emotions, even as one celebrates their achievement. The pandemic has driven changes in both mental health care and residency training – it will shape the identities of Helping Professionals who specialize in mental and emotional health. As the pandemic evolves, the population is looking up to mental health care staff for guidance and care. Graduates will bear the opportunity of becoming leaders, developing outstanding empathy for patients.”

The 2020 graduates embark on their unique mission to accompany those who are suffering, to be present to those in need and to share the insights regarding the human person with everyone they encounter.

For more information about the degree programs at Divine Mercy University, contact 703-416-1441 or visit www.divinemercy.edu.

DMU Graduates Equipped to Bring Healing in a Time of Unprecedented Need Read More »

The Ministry of Accompaniment: Helping Students Feel Seen and Known by God at Pinecrest Academy

“Am I loved?”

“Do I matter?”

“Am I enough?”

These are some of the most intimate questions on the hearts of today’s adolescents, and some of the questions to which Consecrated Woman of Regnum Christi, Emily Roman, in her role in youth ministry, tries to help her students find answers. “These deep questions come up in their lives in regard to their families, friends, and school community,” says Emily of the students she serves at Pinecrest Academy, a Regnum Christi school in Cumming, Georgia, of which she is part of the high school campus ministry team, “but whether or not they realize it, they also wonder about this in regard to God. Can God really love me? Do I really matter to him?”

Emily has been a part of the Pinecrest community for the last seven years, and while no two days are alike, she always starts the school day the same: in prayer. “I make sure to start every day with my hour of prayer and community Mass so that I can draw from those graces throughout the crazy day,” says Emily, who usually spends the rest of the day planning upcoming events, meeting individually with students, checking in on teachers, and attending school sporting events. In the fall, she also helps with the school’s drumline, which plays during Pinecrest’s football games. But Emily believes that her most important job in high school ministry is the role of accompaniment.

“Students often drop in to my office to grab a piece of candy or ask me to pray for a test they’re nervous about,” says Emily, who considers the act of simply being present in the halls between classes or at lunch as important, or more so, than any of the other responsibilities she has throughout the day. “There is a long list of tasks that make up the job description of the high school campus minister, but the most important part of my mission is to make sure each student feels known and loved, accepted and affirmed for who he or she is, so that they can ultimately understand that this is how God sees them.”

Fortunately for Emily, over the years that she has been at Pinecrest, she has been blessed to catch glimpses of how her role of accompaniment has impacted the students she serves:

“There was a time that I didn’t believe that God could want me,” one student wrote to Emily one week before graduation. “But the way you smiled at me made me believe that he does.”

Another student who used to eat lunch in Emily’s office, and would often pop in just to talk, reached out to her the summer after he graduated. “He sent me a message thanking me for always being there for him, ‘like a mother figure,’ even though he had never said that to me in person,” says Emily.

As well, many students that Emily has accompanied while they were at Pinecrest go on to become RC Missionaries after high school. “It’s such a blessing to see them grow while they’re under my care,” says Emily, “and continue to grow when they go and share the love of Christ by accompanying others during their missionary year.”

However, sometimes the fruits of this accompaniment are difficult to see; working with adolescents in a school environment can be challenging, and doesn’t always lend itself to receiving immediate positive feedback. But Emily doesn’t lose hope. “All of us who serve this age group have to lean pretty heavily from time to time on the conviction that we’re just sowing seeds that will break through the surface many years down the road,” says Emily, “It’s usually not until graduation or afterwards that a student will share what that relationship of accompaniment has meant for them.”

This need for the hopeful patience and compassion that is required when working with adolescents is one that Emily understands first-hand. “When I was growing up, my faith was important to me, but I was definitely an average teenager,” says Emily. “I had a personal relationship with Christ that was an anchor for me, but I still learned plenty of lessons the hard way.” It was Emily’s parents, who extended patience, discipline, and mercy towards her in her teenage years, which helped form the attitude of accompaniment with which she approaches the students she serves today. “I knew that, no matter how bad I messed up, my parents would always love me. I guess that has colored my work with adolescents the most,” says Emily. “That unconditional love is so key as young people explore the power of freedom.”

Now that Emily herself is in the role of ministering to adolescents through what can be a tumultuous life stage, she not only appreciates what her parents experienced as they accompanied her through her own teen years, but also feels she can better grasp, in some small way, the patient and persistent love of God. “This experience has helped me to understand a little better the heart of God, the heart of the Father who loves us so infinitely, and wants nothing more than for us to be happy with him,” says Emily. “Just as Jesus wept over Jerusalem because ‘they did not recognize the moment of their visitation’, I have also shed tears watching souls choose to walk away from him, and hoping that some day, they’ll realize what they’re missing.”

But for Emily, any challenges of working with adolescents are far outweighed by tremendous joy. “The joy that comes from seeing young people experience that love, and choosing to live their lives according to it, is something I never imagined could be so powerful,” says Emily. “It’s so powerful when a student asks, ‘How do I hear God?’ or ‘How do I know where God is leading me?’ It sparks such a rich conversation, and I love being able to give them tools to grow in their faith and prayer lives.”

And Emily’s role of accompaniment doesn’t stop with the students; every one of her interactions at the school, whether it’s with students, faculty, staff, or parents, is aimed towards the same end – to let them know that they are seen, known, and loved by God. “I’d have to say, above everything else, my greatest joy is accompanying teachers and students one-on-one, helping them discover who they are in God’s eyes, and what they’re capable of doing.”

The Ministry of Accompaniment: Helping Students Feel Seen and Known by God at Pinecrest Academy Read More »

Mary Smith: Sharing God in the Secular World

“I am not intimated by the secular world.  I feel comfortable bringing God to people who need Him, but don’t realize they need God.  The human heart is hungry for God, no matter what they say.” 

This California girl is not your stereotypical surfer or beach comber.  While appearing delicate and feminine, Mary Smith is the first to bait her hook with fresh shrimp at the hope of luring a large fish and she is the first to get her hands dirty by catching and admiring one of nature’s critters. But her passion is not for creatures of the sea or land, but for the human person. She has the heart of a missionary. What does Jesus see in the heart of his missionary? A passion to help many souls who hunger and thirst for God. 

Mary Smith grew up in a strong Catholic family of nine children. Her schooling from grade school through junior year in San Diego State University immersed her in the secular world. Convicted of the beauty of her Catholic faith she was also comfortable engaging with people who did not know Jesus. Actually, she seemed to thrive on the opportunity to find ways to draw people nearer to God. 

Shortly after consecrating her life to God on September 1, 1994, she was sent by her superiors to Hungary. Hungary had recently shed its communist ties. The Hungarians’ faith was just beginning to awaken. She recalls her experience,

“I arrived five years after the fall of communism. I experienced the consequences of this on the people—on their faith life, on their sense of initiative, on their sense of dignity. All of this was kind of squelched during communism. In the US, a free country, sharing one’s faith is more permissible. But in Hungary, evangelization was uncommon and unknown. But the human heart longs for something more—love, happiness, and ultimately God. When you would just help them to grow as a person that satiated something inside of them and sometimes, it opened the door to talk about Jesus.”

Mary discovered the value of her life consecrated to God, as well as the charism alive in her heart as she began to accompany people in their faith journey. But the treasure of those first missionary years was the precious bond with Jesus that was forged in the midst of completely new surroundings, a strange and difficult language and a foreign culture. Jesus became the secure center of her life.  =She recalls that time of intimacy. “Jesus knew my language and I knew his.”

From Hungary she moved to the Midwest where she continued serving with the Regnum Christi missionary spirit, accompanying young girls and women in the spiritual life and inviting them to participate in Christ’s mission in the Church. Since 2009 Mary has been stationed in Washington DC, working in Women’s ministry. She is not afraid to create new initiatives that respond relevantly to the interests and needs of the people she serves. She loves forming and engaging the Christian apostle. 

Jodi Long is one of those women who met Mary in 2016, “Being very new to the faith and never really being active in a religious setting of any sort, her presence next to me at each meeting was like a true gift from God.  Her kindness, joyful spirit, and her amazing instincts in sensing my newfound hunger and thirst, gave me such comfort and even confidence in knowing, I was on the right path.” As their relationship blossomed, Jodi asked Mary to sponsor her into the Catholic Faith

“I’ve come to realize that just as Jesus personally accompanied and formed His own disciples, this is also at the heart of who a Consecrated Woman is to me – a spiritual mother that encounters, forms and accompanies others by meeting us where we are and embracing us.” 

While Mary will say that the evangelizing work is the same for all Consecrated Women of Regnum Christi, God makes the most of the gifts and personal charisms of each one. Her ease with people, no matter where they are in their faith journey, opens the door to manifesting God’s love to them.

“I love helping people who don’t know Jesus, encounter Him. I am also sensitive to human suffering. If the person is open, I am happy to bring Jesus into it whatever situation they are in. For me, it is also an encounter with God in them. I experience Jesus in others, particularly in old people, poor and homeless people, anyone who needs God.”

Mary Smith: Sharing God in the Secular World Read More »

Glory Darbellay: Accompanying Women to Help Them Thrive in Their Vocations

Growing up, Glory Darbellay considered careers in the helping profession, either as a doctor or psychologist.  She wanted to help people and was looking for a way to do this with the gifts the Lord had given her.  Little did she know that he would open the doors to caring for the souls of hundreds of women and young girls. At the age of 20, after only two years of college, God asked her to take the step of discernment. And in 1994, she professed her vows in the Consecrated Life in the Regnum Christi Movement in 1994. After formation years in Rhode Island and Mexico, the following eighteen years of ministry were spent engaged in the Christian and leadership formation of youth, and eventually broadening her scope of experience to work with women of all ages. She experienced the joy of walking with others, teaching them to hear God’s voice.  She not only witnessed the transforming power of God’s love in their lives, but felt blessed to discover that she could play a part in others’ journey with the Lord. 

Since 2015 Glory has been serving women in the Washington DC area. Her days are busy attending a multitude of women regularly in spiritual direction and supporting the formation of Regnum Christi women through retreats, formation conferences, and spiritual direction. To accompany a woman, often times mothers, is to accompany a family. Her faith vision allows her to see what a blessing these women are for others.

“They are such a beautiful consolation to the heart of Jesus. They have deep faith and are so committed to the Lord.  They are humble servants in many ways to their families, parishes, communities, and different ministries. To be able to help them discover their own beauty and see themselves as God sees then has been a gift!”

Sitting face to face or in zoom spiritual directions for hours on end is not an easy or glamorous task. But this active woman dedicates the majority of her time to this. When she is not attending to local women, she also serves as the director of the consecrated women living in the DC community. While she loves a good movie and invigorating hike in nature, one of her great passions is spirituality and the mission we are called to in Regnum Christi to help others discover God’s love for them and their own mission and purpose. 

Glory also values formation as a continual means to enrich her personal life and serve others.  Her studies have brought her into contact with the wisdom of many saints. Among her favorite is St Therese of Lisieux. Her simple way reminds us that the essence to being an apostle is simplicity of heart, lived out by making Jesus the center of our life. She comments, “Prayer gives the impetus to be what Jesus calls us to be, to serve where we are needed, and to live out a fruitful spiritual motherhood.”  In the footsteps of the Little Flower, Glory tries to make herself available to encourage, motivate, or lend an attentive ear.  Her great joy as an apostle is seeing how present God is in the lives of others.  And her great joy is helping them to discover how close he is and that they can really depend on Him!

The truth of God’s presence and action has been even more obvious in the unique time of the pandemic, COVID-19.  When the Churches closed down and the traditional ways of pastoral ministry were challenged, Glory saw the importance of her mission to support the domestic church.  In her own words, “It strikes me so much more now how these women are beacons of light, because of the strength of their faith and formation.  When it is darker you see the light stand out more.” 

While the women she ministers to become light for the world, she is aware of the important role she has, with Jesus, to keep the fire of Divine Love always blazing in their hearts and their lives!

Glory Darbellay: Accompanying Women to Help Them Thrive in Their Vocations Read More »

Spiritual Direction Certificate program holds first Residency!

The Spiritual Direction Certificate (SDC) Program  is offered through Divine Mercy University  in collaboration with Regnum Christi

The Regnum Christi charism is imbued with a rich Christ-centered spirituality that seeks to meet individuals in their life situation and help them become missionary disciples, agents for the Christian transformation of society and culture. 

Divine Mercy University has a proven method of developing onsite and online programs that are both academically rigorous and practical for working adults, deeply integrating the latest insights of the human sciences and the Catholic Christian view of the human person. 

The goal of the Spiritual Direction Certificate program is to prepare candidates with the requisite dispositions, knowledge of the theological and human sciences, interactions skills, and supervision tools that will enable them to be spiritual directors with the heart and mind of Jesus Christ and in the tradition of the Church’s tried experience. It seeks to respond to the ongoing need for the followers of Jesus Christ to assist one another on their path of becoming ever more faithful disciples of the Lord.

The spiritual direction cert program comprises: 6 courses offered fully online; 2 mandatory residencies of 4 days; three-day Spiritual Exercises; and practicum.

In early October thirteen students from the first cohort of the Spiritual Direction Certificate program attended the initial residency of the program. Over the course of the long weekend (Wednesday evening to Sunday afternoon) students engaged in a series of activities, practices and feedback sessions. They were led in these practices by three faculty members of Divine Mercy University; Drs. Lisa Klewicki, Alexandra Marcotte and Kathleen Musslewhite. 

This residency takes place at the end of the third course of the six-course program. Students spent the term delving into topics surrounding the human relating skills that are necessary for effective spiritual direction sessions, especially the idea of creating ‘sacred space’- by being present, validating, and experiencing one’s own humanity. The skills practice has as a foundation Jesus’ own example in His interactions with people, Jesus incarnate modeled the perfect way to relate to others. 

A major exercise during the weekend was practicing the skills learned in triads–small groups comprised of a ‘spiritual director,’ ‘directee,’ and an observer to offer outside feedback. Students had positive things to say:

“The residency has been an eye-opening experience, it has been so beautiful to learn from the others: their examples, the way they approach spiritual direction. We all have our own little characteristics showing how we are different, but at the same time, we are all in the hands of God  for people. As the days have passed, I have enjoyed every minute more. On this last day it’s going to be hard to leave- we have all learned so much from each other about how to accompany people on their spiritual journey. This process has changed my life in many ways: how to really listen to from my heart and without judgement so to help bring them to God.”

-Begona Naciff, Regnum Christi member

Rich DiMassimo, who also attended the residency said:

“It has been fantastic, a great opportunity for growth. One of the things I noticed from our faculty is that I never felt judged or critiqued- their feedback was always so encouraging and constructive. I could see how much they care about this ministry and how we are being formed. Overall I have left with a great impression. The timing was also perfect, any earlier in the program would have been to early, it fits well after the third course.”

The next scheduled residency will be held at Divine Mercy University in late February.

For more information visit www.sdc-divinemercy.org

Spiritual Direction Certificate program holds first Residency! Read More »

Spiritual Direction: A Powerful Foundation for the Mission 

Photos are of Judy and husband, Bill, and Judy with granddaughters.  

When you think of a Regnum Christi member you could well think first of someone on a mission. 

Regnum Christi and apostolate got together. Apostolate can be a Regnum Christi program like Challenge, Conquest, ECYD, Camps, and Missions. Apostolate can be something the Regnum Christi member does to serve others in the Church and community, always reflecting the Regnum Christi spirituality. 

Judy Guilfoil is a prime example.  She, along with husband Bill–and Arlene and John Gannon–founded Pinecrest Academy in Atlanta and help launch Regnum Christi in that city. 

In her 18 years of direct involvement with Pinecrest, Judy filled various roles in addition to founder, including admissions director and guidance counselor. Those roles involved direct, apostolic, hard work. And they produced unforgettable moments of inspiration. 

“When I did admissions it was an opportunity do show love to others. We had visitors for an hour of presentation and tour and you can do a lot of loving in an hour,” Judy explains. “The tour always ended in the chapel. And there is one dad I especially remember. 

“He said he was an atheist and just there for his wife.  He had never been in a chapel, so I explained the various parts and why we make the Sign of the Cross and use holy water. He sat down in a pew and asked if he could stay when it was time for me to leave. 

“God’s work is so mysterious. That man’s children ended up attending Pinecrest and several years later he came into the Church.” 

You might think the credit for that new member of Christ’s Church should go to Judy’s skill as an admissions director–and certainly that was a factor. But Judy would give God and credit and suggests that her role was founded in spiritual direction. 

Regnum Christi has five dimensions – and the first dimension of the life of a Regnum Christi Member is the spiritual life. The core of a member’s life is to know Christ’s love, love Him deeply and share that love with others. Closely related is the fifth dimension: personal accompaniment. A key element of this accompaniment is spiritual direction (sometimes called spiritual guidance). 

Spiritual direction has been part of Christianity from the start. Paul was a mentor–a spiritual guide–to Timothy and Titus. John the Evangelist tutored Polycarp. And if you think about it, what was Jesus if not the spiritual director to the 12 apostles? 

In addition to his famous spiritual exercises, St. Ignatius was a proponent of spiritual direction. The Jesuit description of spiritual direction is fairly simple: 

  • Spiritual direction focuses on religious experience. It is concerned with a person’s actual experience of a relationship with God. 
  • Spiritual direction is about a relationship. The religious experience is not isolated, nor does it consist of extraordinary events. It is what happens in an ongoing relationship between the person and God. Most often this is a relationship that is experienced in prayer. 
  • Spiritual direction is a relationship that is going somewhere. God is leading the person to deeper faith and more generous service. The spiritual director asks not just “what is happening?” but “what is moving forward?” 
  • The real spiritual director is God. God touches the human heart directly. The human spiritual director does not “direct” in the sense of giving advice and solving problems. Rather, the director helps a person respond to God’s invitation to a deeper relationship. 

For Judy Guilfoil, spiritual direction is an essential part of accompaniment in Regnum Christi. It is an apostolate she has been involved in since very early in her time with Regnum Christi. And she says she has benefited both from giving and receiving spiritual direction. 

“What I have received from my spiritual directors has helped me to process what I hear and help others discern what is truly from God…and it has helped me to do the same in my own life,” Judy says. “It is a beautiful thing to have someone accompany me–and for me to be able to accompany others. 

“It influenced everything I did at the school, even in giving me the ability to listen to others and accompany people at work. The longer I worked at the school the more I came to believe the most important aspect of the job was my technical expertise but how well I would connect with people, loving them and sharing Christ with them. 

“Lots of the people I’ve guided are extremely holy people. So I’m learning from them as I accompany them. It really is a blessing for me and I pray for them.” 

Judy grew up in a large Catholic family in a small house in Fish Bay, Wisconsin. She recalls her parents as great role models. They weren’t heavy-handed about the faith and didn’t talk about it much. They simply lived their faith by example. Anyone who know Judy will attest to the power of her own example as wife, mother, and Regnum Christi member. 

And while Regnum Christi certainly didn’t invent spiritual direction, it is doing something about it. (In addition to the vast wealth of spiritual materials provided for free at the RCSpirituality Center. 

Divine Mercy University (DMU) and Regnum Christi of North America are partnering to address the pressing need for spiritual directors in the life of the Church and the world. The Spiritual Direction Certificate (SDC) Program began in  January 2019 and available online for enrolled students. 

The SDC Program is designed to provide the knowledge, skills, and supervision for future spiritual directors. The program seeks to respond to the ongoing need for followers of Jesus Christ to assist others on their path of hearing the Lord’s ongoing call in their lives and becoming ever more His faithful disciples. 

Program Director Fr. Robert Presutti, LC notes: “Pope Benedict stated it beautifully when he reminded us that the Church continues to recommend spiritual direction to every all Christians who wish to live their Baptism. That means that Spiritual Direction should be a part of every Christian’s life! For his part, Pope Francis reiterates the need for Christians who personally accompany others on the path of the Gospel, which is precisely what spiritual direction accomplishes.” 

The DMU program is to serve the Church, not just Regnum Christi. But as Judy Guilfoil explains, spiritual direction is vital to Regnum Christi. 

“At the heart of what Regnum Christi does is forming apostles. And an apostle must have a growing relationship with Christ to be effective in the mission. This forms the foundation for everything in Regnum Christi – the relationship with Christ is what moves the apostle to act.” 

Spiritual Direction: A Powerful Foundation for the Mission  Read More »

Scroll to Top

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!