“Regnum Christi has become the avenue through which I have passionately fallen in love with Christ, keeping the flame of my heart burning for him.” On July 1st of this year, Maria Gaviria joins the North American Territorial Directive College for a three-year term.
Maria’s path to Regnum Christi was a three-year journey of formation, accompaniment, and community. Being actively involved in various programs like Kids4Jesus, Challenge, and Conquest, as well as attending RC-led meditations and talks at her children’s elementary school and their parish, St. Joseph’s Church and School in Jacksonville, Florida, introduced Maria and her family to Regnum Christi. As an active volunteer in these programs, Maria had the opportunity to connect with Regnum Christi women, who to her seemed to have a “special holy charm” about them, and the Legionary priests’ homilies, talks, and meditations she heard captivated her attention. Attending monthly adoration in her parish, led by the Legionaries of Christ, and receiving the sacrament of reconciliation from them, led Maria to a profound encounter with Jesus.
“In terms of how I first discovered Regnum Christi, it feels like it was meant to be,” says Maria. “It’s as if Regnum Christi found us, and walked alongside us for those three transformative years.” Over those three years, Maria developed a deep appreciation for the Regnum Christi spirituality and all that it had to offer in terms of spiritual formation and growth for both her and her family. “For me, it was an encounter, an experience, and an opportunity to grow in my relationship with Christ, just like the disciples on the road to Emmaus experienced. Their hearts gradually started burning as scripture was explained and revealed to them, as they were accompanied on their journey, and as they experienced the beauty of communal life. Similarly, my heart was ignited by my encounter with Regnum Christi.”
Living the RC charism has been an essential part of Maria’s life, and who she is, ever since she associated into Regnum Christi in 2006, influencing every aspect of her personal, professional, and spiritual journey.
Initially, Maria’s involvement with Regnum Christi was a family affair, particularly while her children, Natasha and Philip, were in school. She volunteered in various Regnum Christi programs for school-aged children, and these experiences were more than service or volunteer work – they provided spiritual enrichment for her own soul. In opportunities to connect with other faithful individuals, Maria formed deep bonds with like-minded women and men, and through activities like Conquest, Challenge, weekly Encounters, weekend retreats, and the Sunday RC Family Rosary, Regnum Christi ignited her family’s spiritual life, facilitated personal and communal growth, and provided a unique extended family.
As her children entered high school and eventually college, Maria’s involvement in Regnum Christi shifted away from youth apostolates, and towards assisting, leading, and initiating local, national, and international missions, such as World Youth Day, Mission Youth, and RC Mission Corps and ECYD Mission Corps. She joined the missionaries in serving the needy, the vulnerable, and those who were emotionally wounded in various countries, including Mexico, Spain, Chile, Brazil, Fiji, Haiti, Colombia, and multiple cities across the United States. This humbling experience allowed Maria to participate in Christ’s mission of evangelization to bring his Kingdom to every heart and every corner of the world, and fundamentally changed her perspective on the purpose of her life, and the responsibility God has entrusted to her.
As time passed, Maria’s journey within Regnum Christi led to a stronger spiritual life, continuous formation, and the development of mature apostolic experiences, and in response to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, she began to live out her Christian vocation and the RC charism more explicitly beyond her parish and RC programs, including within her professional life. At Procter & Gamble, where she worked, Maria initiated the Global Catholic Network that expanded across several countries, and led a global employee campaign called “Unique, United, Universal,” which drew on Catholic social doctrine and resonated with employees worldwide. And after a 30-year corporate career at Procter & Gamble, Maria established Aspen & Oliva Personal Branding Agency, a business with a unique model deeply rooted in Catholic principles that empowers professional women to express their authentic selves in everything they do and every interaction they have.
And just last year, Maria founded Catholic Daughter, a ministry specifically for Catholic women who are caregivers for the parents, designed to provide support and companionship to those navigating the challenging journey of care. The online workshop and membership incorporate elements of the Regnum Christi charism, including meditations from Consecrated Women of Regnum Christi, Legionary priests, and lay RC members.
For Maria, being part of Regnum Christi is truly the greatest blessing and gift in her life. Throughout the challenging years she has spent as a member, she has never once doubted the beauty, goodness, and truth that Regnum Christi embodies. “It has become the avenue through which I have passionately fallen in love with Christ, keeping the flame of my heart burning for him,” says Maria. “Regnum Christi brings Catholicism to life for me, guiding me in my spiritual and moral growth, and has provided me with a clear path and purpose, allowing me to live each day with meaning, peace, and joy. Ultimately, it has empowered me to fulfill the commandment to ‘go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations.’”
Being a member of Regnum Christi also inspired Maria to pursue further formation, igniting a deep hunger for learning that eventually led her to obtain a master’s degree in theology from Mount St. Mary’s Seminary & School of Theology in Cincinnati, OH.
At the beginning of July, Maria began a new chapter in her vocation in Regnum Christi as a member of the North American Territorial Directive College, the governing body for the Regnum Christi Federation in North America. “What excites me most about this new role is the opportunity to embark on a journey that surpasses my hopes, assumptions, and expectations,” says Maria. “Through my experiences, I have come to understand that when I surrender to Christ’s plans, he takes them to a whole new level – one that is different, amazing, and often challenging.”
Maria feels called and confident as she approaches this responsibility, and is eager to bring her time and treasures with an unwavering commitment to make as significant impact as Regnum Christi has had on her. She feels humbled, grateful, and honored to have the privilege to join the other members of the Territorial Directive College and to work with them, for them, and beside them in this new endeavor.
The Territorial Directive College is the governing body for the Regnum Christi Federation in the territory, and is responsible for implementing the directives and indications given by the General Directive College, ensuring that everyone, especially the Regnum Christi local directors, fulfill their responsibilities according to the statutes; furthering the consolidation, projection, and development of the apostolic activity of Regnum Christi; fostering territorial formation initiatives, especially for formators; promoting pastoral work for vocations; supervising the administration of the Federation; promoting a healthy economy based on solidarity; and fostering vertical and horizontal communication in the territory.