Regnum Christi

August 29, 2022

Pope Francis Creates First Legionary Cardinal Fernando Vérgez Alzaga

Cardinal Fernando Vérgez, LC

On the afternoon of Saturday, August 27, in Saint Peter’s Basilica, Pope Francis presided over the Ordinary Public Consistory for the creation of 20 new cardinals. Among the list of new cardinals was Msgr. Gianfranco Ghirlanda, SJ, who accompanied the process of revision and renewal of Regnum Christi, and Msgr. Fernando Vérgez Alzaga, the first Legionary of Christ created Cardinal.

In his homily, the Holy Father chose the images of fire and baptism, based on the Gospel of Saint Luke (“I have come to bring fire on earth, and how I wish it were already burning!”). Pope Francis invited us to meditate on the two forms that the symbol of fire assumes – both a blazing column and long-burning charcoal embers, and in light of them, to pray for the cardinals, “who precisely in this celebration receive the dignity and the task the role entails,” he affirmed.

Pope Francis continued, “to us who in the Church have been chosen from among the people for a ministry of particular service, it is as if Jesus is handing us a lighted torch, telling us: “Take this; as the Father has sent me so I now send you” (Jn 20:21). In this way, the Lord wants to bestow on us his own apostolic courage, his zeal for the salvation of every human being, without exception….This is the same powerful fire that impelled the Apostle Paul in his tireless service to the Gospel, in his “race”, his missionary zeal constantly inspired by the Spirit and by the Word. It is the fire, too, of all those men and women missionaries who have come to know the exhausting yet sweet joy of evangelizing.”

Turning to the fire symbolized by charcoal embers, the Holy Father continued, “This fire burns in a particular way in the prayer of adoration, when we silently stand before the Eucharist and bask in the humble, discreet and hidden presence of the Lord. Like that charcoal fire, his presence becomes warmth and nourishment for our daily life.” He later added, “Dear brother Cardinals, by the light and in the strength of this fire walk the holy and faithful people from whom we were taken – we, taken from the people of God – and to whom we have been sent as ministers of Christ the Lord. What does this twofold fire of Jesus, a fire both vehement and mild, say in a special way to me and to you? I think it reminds us that a man of apostolic zeal is impelled by the fire of the Spirit to be concerned, courageously, with things great and small…. A Cardinal loves the Church, always with that same spiritual fire, whether dealing with great questions or handling everyday problems, with the powerful of this world – which he often has to do –or those ordinary people who are great in God’s eyes.”

After the homily, the Pope pronounced the formula for the creation of the cardinals, who swore fidelity to him and his successors “until bloodshed.” One by one, they approached the chair of the Holy Father, kneeling to receive the symbols of the cardinalate: the red skullcap, the birretta, the ring, and the bull with the assignment of the title or diakonia. Pope Francis also conferred the title of Archbishop on Cardinal Vérgez.

In a recent publication of the Vida Nueva magazine, Cardinal Vérgez stressed that “being the first Legionary Cardinal means an even greater responsibility for all of [the congregation’s] members.” Cardinal Fernando Vérgez Alzaga will continue to carry out his work in the Roman Curia, where he is president of the Governorate of the Vatican City State and president of the Pontifical Commission for that state.

As a personal reflection, Cardinal Vérgez emphasized that he did not expect the appointment: “The first thing I felt was gratitude to God and the Pope for the trust he placed in me. I have a responsibility to bear witness to Christ more enthusiastically,” he stressed.

Cardinal Vergez is greeted by Fr. John Connor, LC

After the ceremony, Fr. John Connor, LC congratulated Cardinal Vérgez on behalf of all of Regnum Christi, and in a note sent to all the Legionaries of Christ, Fr. Aaron Smith, LC, international director of the Communications Office, said that “as a religious family we are happy for our brother Msgr. Fernando Vérgez, LC, president of the Governorate of the State of Vatican City, whom Pope Francis made a cardinal during the consistory today.”

Pope Francis and the new cardinals with Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

Pope Francis also elevated Father Gianfranco Ghirlanda, SJ, as a new cardinal.  Father Ghirlanda, a canon lawyer, has served as rector of the Gregorian University in Rome as well as being a member of the Dicastery for Laity, Family, and Life.  His close accompaniment of Regnum Christi spanned almost a decade, beginning with his assistance to the Legionaries of Christ as an advisor to Cardinal Velasio de Paolis in 2010 under the direction of Pope Benedict XVI.  His work was expanded to include becoming an advisor and accompanier to the Consecrated Women of Regnum Christi, the Lay Consecrated Men of Regnum Christi, and to all members of what would become the Regnum Christi Federation, during the renewal process. His counsel, assistance, and tireless encouragement was indispensable in the work leading up to the creation of the Federation and its new Statutes in 2019.

Following the Consistory, as has become a tradition, Pope Francis together with the 20 new cardinals paid a courtesy visit to Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.


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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Alex Kucera


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!