If asked what a typical day looks like as the Regnum Christi Director in the Philippines, Betty Rivera, CRC, has trouble coming up with a single answer. “I don’t think there is a typical day,” says Betty, who spends her time providing spiritual direction, preaching retreats and giving talks, coordinating apostolic activities, and meeting about the development of Everest Academy Nuvali, the new Regnum Christi school opening south of Manila. “My role as Regnum Christi Director involves coordinating efforts of our RC family to develop our charism and extend the Kingdom of Christ by accompanying, forming, and launching apostles who are servant leaders.”
When Betty arrived in the Philippines in 2012, she was entering a mission ground that was already primarily and definitively Catholic. “The Philippines is a Catholic Country – you have masses celebrated in the malls, there are statues of the Virgin Mary in the government offices, people begin their day with community prayer in many companies,” says Betty. Her job therefore, as Regnum Christi Director, was to help members of the Regnum Christi family nurture and enrich the faith that was already an accepted and expected part of their culture. “I feel that the people that are served by the Regnum Christi family are seeking meaning in a faith they were born into, and are wanting to go deeper into a relationship with the Lord.”
For Betty, being a part of the foundation and continuing establishment of Regnum Christi in Asia has been a thrilling adventure. “It has been beautiful to be part of the foundation of the Movement, as there were only a handful of members before 2006.” Regnum Christi has seen great growth in the Philippines over the years, and Betty feels blessed to have been a part of and a witness to that growth. “When I arrived in 2012, there were six Regnum Christi ladies in the section. Now there are a little more than a hundred.”
Over the eight years that Betty has accompanied the Regnum Christi members in the Philippines as their Director, she’s watched them grow in their formation, but also their love of mission, evangelization and apostolate. “They themselves have been the ones who have shared the gift that they have found with others,” says Betty, who feels like it is the unique culture of the Philippines that creates such zealous and ardent hearts in the Regnum Christi members living there. “Filipinos are gifted with many cultural traits that make them ideal missionaries – they have a beautiful gift of hospitality, they are very good listeners, they are kind and gentle, they invest time in relationships, and they are very caring and committed to their less fortunate brothers and sisters. Filipinos also travel around the world for work, studies and other opportunities, so this makes them natural missionaries who go around the world forming caring communities who accompany their brothers and sisters in the journey of faith.”
Regnum Christi Philippines has seen enormous growth not only in the number of members, but also in the establishment of apostolates. “It has been beautiful to witness how they have so many apostolic initiatives,” says Betty, who feels that her own diverse experience in leading apostolate has helped her in guiding the Regnum Christi members in the Philippines with their own apostolic endeavors. In the past, Betty has worked for many years in ECYD in various localities, served on the Territorial and General Auxiliary Directive Teams for Regnum Christi, and held the roles of Director and Assistant Director of Everest Academy, a Regnum Christi international school in Manila. Betty’s current role as Regnum Christi Director benefits from her experience in her various earlier apostolates. “I have loved this role because it has pulled together many of the apostolates that I have had before.”
Indeed, members of Regnum Christi Philippines are extremely active in apostolate; besides running a variety of youth programs – like K4J, Challenge, Conquest, and Knights of the Altar – they also offer RC Familia for couples, run Family Missions in five different communities, and have 150 families enrolled in Pilgrim Queen of the Family, a network of Catholic families united in prayer and devotion to the rosary. “I find that there are many activities here that are geared towards the whole family,” says Betty.
As a developing country, the Regnum Christi members in the Philippines have unique opportunities to serve their community. “In a developing country that has many challenges, our Regnum Christi members and those we serve are looking to find ways of making their faith significant and witnessing it with their lives,” says Betty. Mano Amiga Philippines is one of the ways Regnum Christi is helping those in need; by providing education and sustainable livelihood to low-income families, this program aims to break the cycle of poverty experienced in many communities.
These local efforts that work towards aiding those in most need have been of particular importance during the COVID-19 pandemic; Regnum Christi members have been distributing food and goods to help families affected by the crisis. When the Family Missions Director contracted COVID, the entire Everest Academy and Regnum Christi community prayed daily rosaries for his recovery.
Over her eight years serving the Regnum Christi family in the Philippines, Betty has had the great pleasure of watching the Catholic faith become an integral and dynamic force in the members’ lives, compelling them to serve their communities with increasing enthusiasm and zeal. “I am humbled to have witnessed many families who have gone from churchgoers to ardent apostles,” says Betty.
Betty is about to embark on a brand new adventure: in June, she’ll be moving to Spain to serve as the Territorial Director for the Consecrated Women. “I am looking forward to this new stage in our journey as Regnum Christi members as we continue developing how we work together with the complementarity of the different vocations for the good of each family.” Although it’s hard to leave the Philippines and the community she’s come to know and love, Betty is up for the challenge. “Spain is totally new to me, so I know that I will learn a lot from my consecrated sisters and the whole Regnum Christi family. I have had the blessing of meeting many LCs, CRC and lay members from Spain, and I have admired the depth of their formation, their passion, their clarity, and how committed they are to Our Lord. I know that this mission will be a blessing for me because, since I feel small and not prepared for it, I am confident that Our Lord will take the reins.”
Although it’s clear that during her time in the Philippines, Betty has been an enormous blessing to the Regnum Christi family there, particularly in inspiring and guiding members to live out their baptismal call to share the Gospel and serve those most in need, she insists that the blessing is mutual. “This country has taught me so much – there’s so much faith, family, friendship. It’s really been an adventure for me,” says Betty, of her time in the Philippines, and the difficulty of saying goodbye. “I have really fallen more in love with our Lord and discovered even in a deeper way the joy of having a mission to share my faith.”
To see what the Regnum Christi members in the Philippines are up to, follow Regnum Christi Philippines on Facebook or Instagram.