The journey to the priesthood for Fr. Scott Reilly, LC, began on a rainy Sunday afternoon. At the time he was a a young boy at the time going into the sixth grade, and he was bored – since he couldn’t go outside to play and there was nothing good to watch on TV, he started rummaging through the magazine rack at home looking, at least, for something to read. It was here that he found a book called The Secret of the Rosary by St. Louis de Montfort and, with nothing else to do, he decided to sit down and read it. This decision, to Fr. Scott, was the first of several miracles that God performed in his young life that ultimately led him to the priesthood and the life of a Legionary priest.
The second miracle was that Fr. Scott, after reading The Secret of the Rosary, felt compelled to dedicate himself to the Blessed Virgin Mary, eventually joining The Blue Army, now known as the World Apostolate of Fátima, which encouraged members to devote themselves to praying the rosary daily. Fr. Scott took up this challenge whole-heartedly, committing himself to pray 15 decades of the rosary every day.
His call towards the priesthood continued with further moments of grace, this time through his older brother, Steven (who would eventually become a Legionary priest himself). One early Monday morning, Steven woke up his younger brother, and invited him to come to daily Mass with him. “But we just went to Mass yesterday!” protested Fr. Scott, eventually agreeing to attend the early morning Mass with his brother (but only after being promised two freshly baked Danishes if he did). This began in Fr. Scott’s life a new habit, one of a eucharistic life, in which he attended daily Mass regularly from the sixth grade up until his sophomore year. This devotion to the rosary and to daily Mass began to stir in Fr. Scott the idea that he may perhaps be called to the priesthood.
When Fr. Scott was 15 years old, the Reilly family moved from Illinois to Florida, and it was this move was another big step in his vocation journey. “The move to Florida was important because it uprooted me from all my securities, and planted me in a place that I didn’t like, and didn’t want to be,” says Fr. Scott. Although there was no daily Mass nearby, there was a chapel about a mile away where he would ride his bike to, say his rosary, and spend time in prayer.
In March of 1983, Fr. Scott’s brother, Fr. Steven, invited him to spend Holy Week at the Legionary novitiate in Cheshire, Connecticut. Just a few months later, in summer of 1983, Fr. Scott went to the Immaculate Conception Apostolic School summer program in Central Harbor, New Hampshire. “And then I stayed, and never looked back.”
Fr. Scott entered the Novitiate in Cheshire in September of 1984. He professed his first vows in Salamanca, Spain, and eventually made his perpetual profession on June 23, 1991. On December 24, 1997, Fr. Scott was ordained a Legionary priest in Rome, Italy. His brother, Fr. Steven, who was so instrumental in Fr. Scott’s own vocation journey, was ordained a Legionary priest in Mexico City in 1994 and currently serves on the North American Territorial Council for the Legionaries of Christ.
Fr. Scott recently celebrated his 25th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood. In December, he concelebrated Mass at St. Katharine of Siena in Wayne, Pennsylvania, where he has served as the Weekend Assistant for the past seven years. Mass was followed by a reception with parishioners and local Regnum Christi members.
A few days later, Fr. Scott drove down to Atlanta, Georgia, where he had served from 1997-2010 in a variety of roles: as Chaplain to Pinecrest Academy, Chaplain to St. Pius X Catholic High School, and nationally as the Territorial Director. Fr. Steven, who is currently assigned to Atlanta, and Kathleen Conklin, who serves as the Regnum Christi Women’s Section Director for Atlanta, along with other Regnum Christi members, held a reception to celebrate Fr. Scott’s 25 years of service to the priesthood. Here, Fr. Scott was able to connect with family and friends who had been so influential to him during his first years as a Legionary priest. “It was really beautiful seeing all these old friends that I met more than 25 years ago, when I was still a deacon, and Pinecrest was still just a dream,” says Fr. Scott. “In many ways, I learned how to be a priest in Atlanta, especially from Fr. John Hopkins, LC, who taught me how to preach, and how to work with people. It was a chance to give thanks to the people in my life, and how they shaped me as a person and as a priest.”
These were also the people who walked with Fr. Scott during one of the most difficult times of his priesthood – when the grave misconduct of the founder was brought to light, prompting the renewal of Regnum Christi and the Legionaries of Christ. “In those tough times in Atlanta, it was really the Regnum Christi lay members themselves and their example, their witness of living the charism, that gave me the sign of credibility that I needed to weather the storm, and that assured me that this charism is from God.”
And because of that renewal, initiated and aided by the Holy See, Fr. Scott has witnessed many signs of real growth in Regnum Christi over the past 25 years. “There’s been a lot of change – we’ve learned how to entrust ourselves to God more, and we’ve been focusing on accompaniment and relationship, living harmoniously and fruitfully in community, and finding our unique place in the local church,” says Fr. Scott.
After 25 years in the priesthood, Fr. Scott has only deepened his love not only for his vocation to priestly ministry, but also specifically to his call to the Legionaries of Christ. For Fr. Scott, being a Legionary priest offers the opportunity to bring creativity and enthusiasm to a diocese, to gather, form, and launch the laity, and to walk with them in dynamic endeavors.
And it is his love for his vocation to the priesthood that compels Fr. Scott to encourage parents to foster an openness to vocations in their own children:
“It is a vocation for parents to be parents of a vocation. This requires a certain amount of entrustment to the Lord so that they can say ‘Lord, this child is not mine, but yours. You gave this child to me for your glory, and this child has a mission. May I not impede it, may I foster it. Parents, be very open to vocations – foster them!”
Currently, Fr. Scott is stationed in Philadelphia, where he has a variety of roles. Besides serving as the Weekend Assistant at St. Katharine of Siena, he is the chaplain for the Pennsylvania chapter of the Lumen Institute, the Local Regnum Christi Director, and the Regnum Christi Men’s Section Director.
You can hear Fr. Scott’s weekly homilies from St. Katharine of Siena on the RC English App, SoundCloud at Stream RC Philadelphia – Spiritual Sound Bites music or on Spotify, or follow him on @scottreillylc on Instagram for homilies, meditations, and highlights from Regnum Christi Philadelphia.