Regnum Christi

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RC United Praying for Peace in the Holy Land

On the shores of Galilee in northern Israel, lies Magdala, a pilgrimage center built at the site of the hometown of Mary Magdalene. Inaugurated under the direction of Fr. Juan María Solana, LC, in 2019, Magdala is home to two other Legionary priests, Fr. Eamon Kelly, who serves as Vice Director, and Fr. Guillermo Garcia, Chief Operation Office, as well as Consecrated Woman of Regnum Christi, Kathleen Nichols, the center’s Chief Mission Officer. They, along with the other members of the leadership team at Magdala, work together to provide a space that welcomes visitors to encounter Christ in the places where he walked, taught and preached in the synagogues, and earlier this year in June, Magdala was one of the stops on a pilgrimage hosted by Jeff Cavins and Fr. Mike Schmitz, accompanied by a group of Legionary priests, which brought approximately 300 pilgrims on the Young in Spirit Pilgrimage to the Holy Land.

 

 

Jeff and his wife, Emily, have been hosting pilgrimages to the Holy Land for years – they have been there over 60 times – but this is one of the first major pilgrimages they’ve hosted since the covid pandemic caused them to cancel most visits three years in a row. For this reason, the June pilgrimage, which is typically geared towards young adults, was open to all, particularly those who had planned to participate in pilgrimages over the past three years and were unable to attend. This year’s participants comprised of one busload of young adults and another of older adults, and four buses of families, including anything from college students with their parents, young couples with their children, and multi-generational family groups.

 

The two-week pilgrimage, which ran from June 5th – 17th, was led by Jeff and Emily, with Fr. Mike, well-known for his YouTube videos as well as The Bible in a Year and The Catechism in a Year podcasts, serving as head chaplain. Six other priests accompanied the pilgrims on the tour, including three Legionary priests – Fr. John Klein from the Atlanta locality, Fr. Matthew Schmitz who is serving in San Jose, and Fr. Brett Taira who recently moved from the Louisiana locality to serve at Benedictine College. They, along with Fr. Eric Garris, who is the vocations director for the diocese of Cleveland, Fr. Anthony Craig from the diocese of Duluth, and Fr. David Neuschwander from the diocese of Superior in northern Wisconsin, made up the pilgrimage priest team. Each of these six priests served as chaplain to one of the six buses, while Jeff and Fr. Mike rotated throughout the group, spending half a day at a time with each bus. Each day included a talk from either Jeff or Fr. Mike covering topics such as growing in faith, conversion, the papacy, and evangelization.

 

 

The pilgrimage began in Israel with an opening Mass and orientation in Tel Aviv, and the next day, the group travelled to Galilee for a teaching in the theater built by Herod the Great. They spent the afternoon touring and participating in the Mass at Magdala. At Nazareth the next day, pilgrims had Mass at the Church of the Annunciation and visited the grotto where the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary, before hearing a teaching from Fr. Mike on Mount Precipice, and then the following day on the Mount of Beatitudes. The group then visited Caesarea Philippi and Capernaum, where they participated in Mass at St. Peter’s Church, built over the site of the home of St. Peter, as well as Qasr el-Yehud, the baptismal site of Jesus in the Jordan River where the had the opportunity to renew their baptismal promises. After spending the night in a Bedouin camp, the group travelled to Jerusalem where they spent the rest of the week, visiting nearby Bethlehem and the Church of the Nativity, the Mount of Olives, the Garden of Gethsemane, and a variety of other holy sites. On one of the last days of the pilgrimage, the group walked Christ’s Passion along the Via Dolorosa to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the site of Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection. The pilgrims also were able to participate in hands-on experiences like making bread, goat cheese, and olive oil, as well as rafting on the Jordan River, boat rides on the Sea of Galilee, and swimming in the Dead Sea.

 

One of the unique highlights of the pilgrimage this year were the three large concerts featuring gifted Catholic musicians that were held throughout the two weeks. The music team featured three musicians: Fr. John, who is from Nashville and currently writes music and performs with Regnum Christi Music Collective; Taylor Tripodi, a full-time musician, singer-songwriter, and worship leader also from Nashville; and Aly Aleigha, an indie-folk singer-songwriter and worship leader from Duluth, Minnesota. The group provided music for Mass and had the opportunity to perform at three professionally staged concerts. “On these nights when we had live music, I was able to play my original songs, tell my vocation story, and tell the different stories behind my music,” says Fr. John. “It was a beautiful opportunity to evangelize and play for the group.”

 

 

There are many ways for Regnum Christi members to unite in prayer for the Holy Land. Join the Magdala family’s United Praying for Peace initiative, which offers daily livestreamed Mass (in English and Spanish) from the Magdala church Duc in Altum, as well as adoration and recitation of the rosary for peace. Fr. Eamon Kelly also records a daily reflection on the day’s Gospel in his Sunrise Stroll & Chat, while he walks along, and sometimes kayaks on, the Sea of Galilee each morning. You can find out more about Magdala at their website magdala.org.

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Rest and Retreat Mississippi

Rest & Retreat Offers Authentic Rest for Body, Mind, and Soul

Earlier this fall, Consecrated Woman of Regnum Christi, Lorianne MacDonnell, and Regnum Christi member Tara White, collaborated to host Rest and Retreat (R & R), a Christian retreat experience focused on God’s plan of authentic rest. The retreat is designed to provide a personal, peaceful, and playful environment where people can gather together in community to be restored, renewed, repaired, replenished, and revived spiritually, mentally, and physically. It is the goal of the retreat that participants will come away with the knowledge and practices needed to thrive in their daily routine towards a healthy well-being.

 

It was while Lorianne was working in Cincinnati that the idea for the retreat started to take shape. “The Lord placed the word rest on my heart, and it was a word that I just kept praying about.” During Covid, Lorianne gave an online retreat exploring various Gospel passages that shed light on the word ‘rest,’ but even then, she knew this was just the beginning. “I knew there was more to unpack, and the Lord, in his generous and patient timing, started to reveal this little by little.”

 

Tara, who is a Pietra fitness instructor, had also been exploring, for many years, the wholeness that comes from integrally caring for and nourishing the whole self – body, mind, and soul. And for Tara, this care includes rest.

 

“We’re so fixated on modern productivity in our culture that we don’t know how to seek authentic rest, and often we’ve made our lives so saturated in doing more things that we have lost the balance in doing the most important things well. Authentic rest is a spiritual discipline that affects everything we do, from going to Mass and spending time with God in prayer, to moving and fueling our bodies with clean, whole foods. It is not a luxury: it is a spiritual practice. It’s a choice. Rest is a grace we extend to ourselves, and this grace gives us the opportunity to put back into order anything that has shifted out of alignment with God’s plan. It’s the key to how we live and move and have our being (cf. Acts 17:28) – God didn’t just give us a soul, but he also gave us a mind and a body, and authentic rest asks us to consider how we are bringing these all together and caring for all of these gifts.”

 

Initially, Lorianne and Tara had imagined the retreat to be a source of evangelization for those who were still taking first steps along their spiritual journey, or a gentle encouragement for those who had fallen away from their faith to return to the sacraments. For this reason, they had invited twelve women with a variety of spiritual experiences, not just seasoned Mass-goers, but also those who did not go to church at all. What they found was that even those who were already strong in their faith often lacked the balance and well-roundedness that comes from integrating authentic rest into all aspects of life, and that even the long-time Regnum Christi members who attended gained a new and refreshing wholeness from their participation in the retreat.

 

The one-day retreat was held on September 9th in Pass Christian, Mississippi, and hosted 12 women. The day began at 10:00 a.m. with a welcome and opening prayer, followed by a Pietra Fitness movement session, a workout which combines stretching and strengthening with Christian prayer and meditation – this session was led by Tara herself. Retreatants then enjoyed a juice and snack while they learned about the lymphatic system, then participated in a journaling session and a Christian meditation on rest, led by Lorianne. After lunch, the women attended several different sessions on a wide variety of topics on the theme of healthy and creative rest, including general nutrition, mind detox, dance, leisure, painting, and gratitude. The day wrapped up with an examen and round table discussion, closing in a Litany of Self-Love. Mass and confession were also available.

 

While Lorianne and Tara are the co-founders and the retreat directors, they had four other Regnum Christi women give of their time and talents towards making the event a success, by presenting talks, offering hospitality, and designing the print materials and artwork for the retreat. “It was beautiful to watch these RC women bring their gifts and put them at the service of their sisters,” says Lorianne. “I enjoyed seeing that come to life, women building up other women, our own RC sisters using their talents, and opening the door for many more of our members to use and share their gifts.” In the R & R experience, even Lorianne herself was able to put her Bachelor of Science in Nutrition and Consumer Studies, which she obtained before she became consecrated, to good use. “I love how the Lord uses everything – nothing goes to waste if we’re willing to surrender and make it available to him, to give him access to our heart and use everything the way he wants to use it.”

 

The goal of the retreat was to help the women feel the sense of wholeness that comes when mind, body, and soul come together, and to be urged to continue to seek this wholeness in their daily lives. Their motto of “Rest well and be well” reflects the idea that peace, health, and healing come from the integration of the whole self. In this way, R & R echoes Regnum Christi spirituality, one which is centered on the integral formation of the entire person. “I think that’s why the idea of this retreat resonates with Tara and I so much,” says Lorianne. “With the love we both have for Regnum Christi, the love for our spirituality, it’s been beautiful seeing this integration come to life, and seeing how it can serve women and make them more whole.”

 

With the next retreat booked for March 22-23, 2024, Tara and Lorianne are eager to see where the Lord will take this R & R initiative. “He’s opening the doors and we’re taking steps,” says Tara. “We’re all in, and ready to see how God wants this all to unfold.” Tara and Lorianne hope to offer weekend retreats, in addition to their one-day retreats, and their dream is ultimately to be able to host these retreats in different locations, like the beach and the mountains, where participants can spend time in the beauty of God’s creation.

 

To find out more about the R & R initiative or to inquire about hosting a retreat in your area, email [email protected]. The R & R website, restandretreat.org, will be launching soon; email to be put on their newsletter to receive news and updates on the R & R initiative.

 

You can also read more about Tara’s own journey towards health and hope, and becoming a Pietra Fitness instructor, here.

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Pray a Day Calendar for November

November Prayer-a-Day Calendar for Souls in Purgatory

Today it seems there are apps for everything, ways to streamline activities, hack our daily work, help us remember important things and keep us connected to friends and family.

 

A few years ago, a friend and fellow Regnum Christi member, CC Christopherson of Ohio, shared a way she and her family make the most of the month of November with a calendar on which each day is assigned to a deceased person whom they pray for on that day.

 

It’s kind of like an app, since it makes things so simple and organized, just not so hi-tech. It’s a Calendar printout you can keep on your fridge to remind everyone of their holy November mission.  You write the name of a deceased loved one on each day of the calendar, reminding you to dedicate your prayers and sacrifices for them on that day.  At the end of November, you will have brought 30 souls a bit closer to their eternal reward!

 

Adults and those without little ones can simply use the calendar as a way to organize their efforts to offer their daily prayers and sacrifices for the souls of their loved ones.

 

Families can take it a step further, making treat bags or boxes with 30 pieces of candy in them (left-over Halloween candy is perfect!). Each day, after a child has prayed for the person on the calendar, they can take a treat to remind them of the ‘reward of Heaven’ they have asked God to give this person. Or, they can make a sacrifice and not eat the candy that day, giving their prayers an extra push!

 

CC and her family have taken this great way to participate in the communion of saints to another level. She shares the Christopherson family tradition and some of the ways they have encouraged others to live this holy November mission:

 

“Our family has been utilizing the November calendar for years.  We make it a family mission to give out ‘packets’ containing the calendar, printed prayers and little bags to anyone who will take them.

 

This year we took it a step further.  Unfortunately, we had a very special 19-year-old man at our parish named Cullen pass away in September from a car accident.  It was a shock to our whole community.  The students at our parish school were especially close to Cullen because he helped to train the new altar servers.

 

Our local Challenge club approached the principal of our parish school to ask if the club could put together packets for all the students, with Cullen listed on November 1st.  The principal loved the idea, and our priest asked for more packets for our PREP students (those students receiving religious education but who do not attend the Catholic school).  Our parish priest was able to speak to the students about this very special mission at their weekly school Mass.  The Challenge girls gave away over 250 packets to their parish students.”

 

 

November prayer calendar, prayer card, and candy bags the Christophersons use (and give out) to pray for the holy souls in purgatory.

 

 

I invite everyone – young, old, priest, consecrated, lay – to join me in this simple way to live the tradition of the church by praying for our brothers and sisters who have gone before us.

 

You can download the calendar here, as well as directions for the calendar/candy box and a file with prayer cards you can use or print to give out to other prayer warriors, Christopherson style.

 

 

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

  1030 All who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven.

 

1031 The Church gives the name Purgatory to this final purification of the elect, which is entirely different from the punishment of the damned.606 The Church formulated her doctrine of faith on Purgatory especially at the Councils of Florence and Trent. The tradition of the Church, by reference to certain texts of Scripture, speaks of a cleansing fire:607

 

As for certain lesser faults, we must believe that, before the Final Judgment, there is a purifying fire. He who is truth says that whoever utters blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will be pardoned neither in this age nor in the age to come. From this sentence we understand that certain offenses can be forgiven in this age, but certain others in the age to come.608

1032 This teaching is also based on the practice of prayer for the dead, already mentioned in Sacred Scripture: “Therefore [Judas Maccabeus] made atonement for the dead, that they might be delivered from their sin.”609 From the beginning the Church has honored the memory of the dead and offered prayers in suffrage for them, above all the Eucharistic sacrifice, so that, thus purified, they may attain the beatific vision of God.610 The Church also commends almsgiving, indulgences, and works of penance undertaken on behalf of the dead:

 

Let us help and commemorate them. If Job’s sons were purified by their father’s sacrifice, why would we doubt that our offerings for the dead bring them some consolation? Let us not hesitate to help those who have died and to offer our prayers for them.611

 

 

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Praying for Peace Magdala

Join Regnum Christi Praying for Peace in the Holy Land

Magdala is a unique Holy Land site with a first century city where the Jewish residents gathered in a synagogue where Jesus visited and taught.

 

Run by Regnum Christi, it is home to the beautiful Duc In Altum, which provides a place for worship, mass, and prayer, and the Magdala Guesthouse, a unique hospitality experience for visitors and pilgrims to the Holy Land. Because of its unique nature, Magdala actively contributes to building positive relationships with the diverse community of Christian believers and between Christians and Jews.

 

During these grave times, Magdala is reaching out to people globally to join them in prayer for peace:

 

“In these times of tribulation, we are especially united in prayer for peace. We invite you to join us during our livestreams on our YouTube channel as we have daily Eucharistic Adoration and as we pray the Holy Rosary.

 

This upcoming Tuesday, Oct. 17, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Cardinal Pierbattista Pizzaballa, has called for a day of prayer and fasting for peace and reconciliation in the Holy Land.

 

We extend this invitation and encourage you to organize Eucharistic Adorations accompanied by the prayer of the Holy Rosary in your parishes.

 

We, too, will transmit our programs on this day with this special intention in our hearts. 

 

On October 13, the day of the commemoration of the last apparition of Our Lady of Fatima, we remembered the message told by her to the young shepherds and the people of Fatima: “Continue to pray the rosary every day to obtain peace in the world and the end of war” A most relevant message for these days and to which we attend with great faith.

 

Lastly, please know that in Magdala, we are safe and well, and most of our volunteers and pilgrims have been able to return home.”

 

Regnum Christi invites you to join the Legionaries of Christ, Consecrated Women of Regnum Christi, and missionaries on site in the Holy Land in prayer daily on their YouTube channel.

Praying for Peace Magdala Adoration

Eucharistic Adoration

 

13:00 – 16:50 (Holy Land Time)

Praying for Peace Magdala Holy Rosary

Solemn Rosary

 

17:00 (Holy Land Time)

Praying for Peace Magdala Eucharistic Adoration

Eucharistic Celebration

 

Monday – Saturday 18:30 (Holy Land Time)

Sunday 8:15 (Holy Land Time)

Subscribe to all notifications on Magdala’s YouTube Channel to receive notifications every time Magdala goes live in prayer.

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“I Saw A Gap And I Wanted To Fill It”: An Initiative For Parents Of Teenagers And Adult Children

As the sacrament coordinator at her parish of Christ the King, in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada, Holly Gustafson is responsible for helping to prepare families to receive the sacraments, from couples getting ready for marriage or for the baptism of their child, to parents of children preparing to make their First Confession, and receive First Communion and Confirmation. In the two years that she has held this role, she has already had the opportunity to see couples she journeyed with through marriage preparation come back to the church for the baptism of their first child, and she is excited to be able to reconnect with those families again when they come back for sacrament prep.

One thing that Holly noticed, however, from her position as sacrament coordinator, was a lack of support in the parish for parents of older children, teenagers and young adults who had received their sacraments long ago, and some of whom had since stopped coming to Mass and had essentially left the church. And this gap in spiritual support for parents mirrored what Holly was feeling in her own life.

When Holly had her first child in 2001, she attended every free parenting class offered through the health district, and joined mothers’ support groups at the YMCA and her local parish. She became a leader for FAMILIA, and helped to run kids’ clubs and vacation Bible schools at her church. As her children grew, Holly enrolled them in Challenge and Conquest Clubs, and multiple camps around the city, including one led, entirely in French, by the Myriam Bethlehem Family, a consecrated community founded in Quebec, Canada. Throughout this phase of raising young children, Holly sought out – and found – a multitude of resources to help and support her in her role of motherhood.

But as her kids all transitioned from childhood to adolescence and young adulthood, the parenting issues that she and her husband were dealing with became much more serious, and yet there didn’t seem to be any resources to help guide them through this complicated phase of parenthood. There were very few books on parenting adult children, and simply no programming or moms’ groups for moms like her, mothers of teenagers and adults who come with their own sets of complex and difficult problems.

“I saw a gap, and I wanted to fill it,” said Holly, who got the idea of hosting an evening of adoration in her parish specifically designed for parents of teenagers and adult children. The deacon at her parish, Kevin Harty, who has older children of his own, wholeheartedly agreed help host and to expose the Blessed Sacrament for the event. Holly planned to keep the event simple: after exposition, they would pray a communal rosary, and then the remainder of the time would be spent in silent prayer. “We didn’t know how many parents would show up, or if anyone would show up at all, but Deacon Kevin and I agreed that even if it was just us there praying for our children before the Blessed Sacrament, the event would be worth it!”

The immediate response to the event was overwhelming. Approximately fifty parents showed up that Sunday evening to pray for their children and grandchildren. “Many people came up afterwards and thanked me for putting it on,” says Holly. “They were so many people who thought they were the only ones struggling with really complicated issues with their adult children and grandchildren, and they walked into the church and they suddenly realized that they were not alone. And I realized I wasn’t alone either.”

In light of the positive response, Holly took the idea of making the evening of adoration a monthly event to the next staff meeting, and the idea was met with immediate enthusiasm – the rector, Fr. Stephen Bill, had already heard from several of his parishioners how much the event had meant to them. Holly and her husband, with the help of Deacon Kevin and many other parishioners who have agreed to help by welcoming, or praying the rosary, now host Adoration for Parents of Teenage and Adult Children on the second Sunday of every month.

In April, that second Sunday happened to fall on Easter, which Holly says was the perfect day to pray for older children whose faith lives are in need of a resurrection of their own.

Holly chose Our Lady, Undoer of Knots, as the patroness of this new initiative, which draws parents and grandparents from all over the diocese. “Little children typically have little problems, and their knots are pretty easy to untie,” says Holly. “Big kids have big problems, and I wanted to place those big, tangled knots in the hands of Mary.” Along with a prayer to Our Lady, Undoer of Knots, on the evening of adoration, Holly sets out a variety of prayers, including a parents’ prayer and a prayer to St. Joseph, and a meditation or two for parents to reflect on if they choose. “The theme of the readings or meditations is always about hope, and the reminder that God really does hear our prayers for our children, and will answer them, because he loves our kids even more than we do.”

Along with scheduling the sacrament preparation sessions and monthly Adoration for Parents of Teenage and Adult Children for the upcoming school year, Holly is also planning to host some women’s retreats on the virtue of hope, and an artist’s retreat based on those held by Called to Create, a Regnum Christi initiative that responds to the call of evangelization through the beauty of art. And she is always open to new ways that God may be calling her to fill a need in her parish and diocese. “Sometimes I feel like all my initiatives come from a place of selfishness – I have a longing, to pray for my kids, or for a retreat, so I organize something to fill my own need!” says Holly. “But then when I create an event or an initiative, and people come, I know that I wasn’t alone in that longing after all.”

Besides being the sacrament coordinator at her parish, Holly is also a story writer for Regnum Christi and a regular contributor to the RC Live Blog – you can read her blogs at regnumchristilive.org. She has been a member of Regnum Christi since she was pregnant with her first child back in 2001, and has served in a variety of roles in FAMILIA and as Team Leader. Holly also teaches linguistics at First Nations University of Canada in Regina.

Holly’s youngest child just turned 13 in April of this year, so she and her husband, James, are now the parents of two teenagers and three adult children. If you would like more information about how to host your own Adoration for Parents of Teenagers and Young Adults, or for prayers and meditations to use at the event, email Holly at [email protected].

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All Things Women Travels to the Holy Land

On a weekend getaway with friends in 2015, Eileen Wieck, a long-time member of Regnum Christi, had a vision of what she desired for women. Sitting among her close friends, she floated the idea of a large-scale way to help other women find a place to share their God-given gifts. She laid out an ambitious plan, but at that time, holding babies in arms, and just wanting a weekend of quiet, Eileen’s friends’ responses were less enthusiastic than she had been hoping! Fast forward to 2023, and each of those friends, along with countless others, now believe that God is doing something beautiful through this initiative called All Things Women.

 

All Things Women is an apostolate for women who want to discover their unique identity in Christ while building authentic sisterhood with others. A woman who is secure in Christ’s love is confident, mature, and focused on rising by lifting up others. All Things Women started in San Jose, California and offers retreats, formative events, classes, mentorship, spiritual direction, and pilgrimage experiences while creating a platform for each woman to share her gifts.

 

All Things Women was launched through prayer with an original core group of 11 women who decided to journey together through The Forty Weeks Program, started by Fr. Bill Watson, SJ, based on the spiritual practices of St. Ignatius of Loyola, and aimed at teaching the examen prayer through a week-by-week process over 40 weeks. Over the last four years, All Things Women has launched over 25 Forty Weeks groups of men and women throughout the United States and Canada.

 

In November of 2022, All Things Women organized a small group of women to journey to the Holy Land, including Magdala, the birthplace of the apostolate’s patroness, Mary Magdalene. This group of 14 women was led by a team consisting of Fr. Brian Shininger, LC; Fr. Thomas Vendetti, LC; Consecrated Woman of Regnum Christi, Lisa Small, and Eileen herself. The goal of the pilgrimage – inner healing for women.

 

“When I first envisioned the Holy Land pilgrimage, I wanted to create an experience based on Fr. Eamon’s Sunrise Stroll and Chat,” says Eileen, who was inspired by the daily series by Legionary priest, Fr. Eamon Kelly, filmed out of Magdala. “I felt the peace of the nature surrounding Galilee and Mount Arbel through Fr. Eamon’s daily posts, and it seemed so different from the feedback I’d received from returning pilgrims, who would often say that their Holy Land experience was saturated, packed, and even a bit overwhelming.” Imagining a different experience for herself and for future pilgrims, one of quieter days, sunrise strolls, and peaceful walks along Galilee, Eileen set out to create something new for pilgrims. Although there is plenty of work still to be done to continue to tailor the pilgrimage experience to the desired vision, the feedback from this first pilgrimage that to the Holy Land that All Things Women led was very positive.

 

“What a blessing to be called upon as chaplain for this pilgrimage and this group in particular,” shared Fr. Thomas Vendetti, LC, the current program director for Our Lady of Santa Clara Retreat Center in San Jose. “Most of us already shared a deep bond in the Lord, and to experience the Holy Land together just took us to another level and accomplished the goals of All Things Women: identity and friendship in Christ.”

 

Lisa Small, long-time member and advisor of All Things Women shared:

 

“All Things Women is a beautiful apostolate for women to enter into an encounter with others, God, and themselves, to discover their true beauty and vocation of becoming a gift of self to all. Our trip to the Holy Land impressed me deeply – the women were so in love with the Lord, who continually blessed us in many creative and personal ways.”

 

The Holy Land pilgrimage included a four-night stay at the Magdala guesthouse, which is run by Legionary priests Fr. Juan Solano, Fr. Eamon Kelly, and Fr. Guillermo Garcia, as well as Consecrated Woman of Regnum Christi, Kathleen Nichols, and David Delgado. The group also spent six nights at the Notre Dame Center in Jerusalem.

 

For many of the women on the pilgrimage, one of the favorite moments was visiting the place of the Visitation, where Mary was greeted by Elizabeth. “We were reminded that women are called to be sisters, to be Mary and Elizabeth for each other,” says Lisa, “and that we can indeed find women in our lives who receive us just as we are, who build us up, and strengthen us.”

 

Besides being the founder of All Things Women, Eileen is a spiritual director, having served in this role within Regnum Christi for 28 years. She is committed to helping women grow in both self-knowledge and understanding of their identity in Jesus Christ. This understanding, along with an ever-deepening and personal prayer life, is what Eileen feels will ultimately lead women to the freedom and harmony they seek. Originally from Alberta, Canada, Eileen now lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband Vincent and her six beautiful children, where she enjoys spending time with her family in nature, having coffee with good friends, and gathering people together in ways that uplift and build community.

 

All Things Women works closely with Our Lady of Santa Clara Retreat Center in Cupertino, California for its retreats, and this partnership has been a great support to the apostolate. There are several upcoming events designed to nourish the body, mind, and soul:

 

The Restore our Hearts retreat will be held on March 17-19th, 2023. (This weekend retreat may be attended in an overnight, commuter, or virtual format.)

The Mother-Daughter Let Your Light Shine overnight retreat will be held on May 12-13th, 2023.

 

And save the date for upcoming events: the Replenish retreat on October 6-8, 2023 and the next Holy Land Pilgrimage in November of 2024! Registration for both events will be coming soon.

You can find out more about All Things Women online at www.allthingswomen.org or follow them @allthingswomen_ on Instagram. For more information, email [email protected].

 

You can also check out their beautiful photo gallery, including pictures of their Holy Land pilgrimage here!

 

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New Book of Daily Reflections for Advent & Christmas

Fr. Nikola Derpich, LC, has had the seeds of his new book, The Liturgy Day by Day,  in his heart and mind for a while. They date back to when he first discerned the call to enter the seminary of the Legionaries of Christ in the mid 1990’s, “One of the first preachers I heard in the Legion taught me that some insights we receive from preaching are like time-release capsules. We hear the Word of God, but sometimes it is only over time that we start to understand it and apply it in our lives. Other insights strike a chord almost immediately, and we perceive the Lord is speaking to us, to our situation. The idea that blossomed into The Liturgy, Day by Day series of homiletic reflections started the year I completed my doctorate, 2015. After a long academic writing project, entailing years of focus and research, I wanted to write something simpler that would nourish my ministry and also nourish others: a simple homiletic thought on each liturgical day, mostly based on the readings of the day, but drawing from the liturgical season too.”

In the midst of completing his doctorate, and ever since then, Fr. Nikola has been busy. The native Californian was ordained in Rome in 2006. He taught theology at the university level from 2009-2021 in New York, Rhode Island, and Rome. From 2017-2020 he was also a part-time Associate Pastor at St. Brendan the Navigator, a large, vibrant parish in Cumming, Georgia.  Fr. Nikola currently works in Durham and Raleigh, North Carolina, where, in addition to helping at local parishes, he serves the congregation of the Legionaries of Christ as Territorial Prefect of Studies, and work on projects for RC Spirituality Center as well as other writing and academic projects.

He has also published two other books. Maximizing the Mass (2020), which offers a meditative walkthrough of the Mass from Entrance to Dismissal, as well as meditations on the Eucharistic Prayers and their Prefaces, prepares people to participate more actively in the Mass by delving deeper spiritually into the prayers we recite and hear every Sunday, every Mass. Says Fr. Nikola, “You will never pray or live the Mass the same way.”  In 2021 he published The Kingdom of Christ, History, Theology, Life, which is also available in Spanish. A collaboration of 14 contributors including priests, consecrated people, and laity, it includes studies on topics such as the history of the Feast of Christ the King in the 20th century, the devotion to Christ the King of the Spanish and Mexican martyrs of the 20th Century, the Kingdom of God and of Christ in Sacred Scripture, and many more facets of the Kingdom of Christ.

As he kept busy working in all of these areas, he still found time to write The Liturgy, Day by Day.  Volume One was published in kindle and paperback format on October 11, 2022.  This first volume of the series focuses on the Advent and Christmas seasons. From the First Sunday of Advent to the last day of the Christmas season, it will help readers welcome Our Lord into the manger at Bethlehem, and into their hearts.

Fr. Nikola plans to publish the next volume for Lent and Holy Week in time for Lent 2023, and the following volume for Easter by mid-2023.  Sharing his hopes for the book, Fr. Nikola says, “The thoughts shared in this series have often been my springboard for deeper reflection on the Word of God, making connections between Scripture passages that I had never considered before. I hope they give you some food for spiritual thought. I hope the book gives the reader some food for spiritual thought. I always envisioned them for the reader, but I know the Lord spoke to me through them as well, for which I am grateful.”

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Pilgrimage to the Museum: Man’s Search for God through Art and Time

Stephen Auth has always had a deep interest in art and the search for beauty. While an undergraduate majoring in history and economics at Princeton, Steve jumped at the opportunity to take as many art history classes as the university had to offer. For the next forty years, Steve’s investment business took him all over the world, and on his travels, one of the first things he did in any city he landed was to visit the art museums. On occasional Friday nights, he and his wife, Evelyn, gave tours of the Metropolitan Museum of Art to friends who were visiting them in New York City.

In 2002, Steve experienced a serious health event, and received a visit from Fr. John Connor, LC. Upon receiving the Sacrament of the Sick and speaking with Fr. John, Steve resolved that if he survived, he would refocus the use of his talents for the glory of God. It was during one of his and Evelyn’s tours of the MET that Steve began to understand one of the ways in which God was calling him to redirect his talents toward the good of the Church. Standing before a painting by Rembrandt called “The Toilet of Bathsheba,” which Steve had seen many times before, he suddenly saw the piece with a new perspective, with the eyes of faith. For Steve, it was like a light came on, and he and Evelyn began to reapproach the art with which they had become so familiar over the years with this new spiritual perspective, one that posits that all artists, in striving for beauty, are, ultimately, seeking God.

In 2010, Steve and Evelyn reconfigured their MET tour, and enlisted Fr. Shawn Aaron, LC, to help. “When we redid the entire tour with the presumption that all of us are seeking God, a gripping narrative began to emerge over 5000 years, a salvation history,” says Steve. “The tour then became a pilgrimage, a journey of pursuing God through beauty, and in the moments where you begin to see the artist come close to finding God, and the moments when the artist loses him, you’re feeling your own self being pulled toward God.”

Soon, Steve and Evelyn were giving several MET tours a year, and the list of those wishing to join in was getting longer. Friends began urging the couple to convert their unique pilgrimage experience to the form of a book so that more people could take advantage of this tour through history and through art. When the pandemic provided Steve with unexpected free time in his social calendar, he did just that, and his book Pilgrimage Through the Museum: Man’s Search for God Through Art and Time has recently been published by Sophia Institute Press.

Pilgrimage Through the Museum is a spiritual tour through the MET, working from the presumption that all art is a search for the creator, who is beauty itself. The tour travels from Ancient Egypt, through Greece and Rome and Medieval Europe, to the rise of atheism in the early 1800s and beyond, exploring the common themes that start to emerge through 5000 years of history. Above all, the book is a story of humankind’s search for the creator of beauty, and what happens when we lose track of the very thing that we are seeking.

But for Steve, the MET tours, the book, and the art itself, provides more than a history or a narrative to passively observe – art can also be a means of evangelization, through which true conversion can take place. And Steve is no stranger to evangelization; he is the author of The Missionary of Wall Street: From Managing Money to Saving Souls on the Streets of New York, which tells the story of his radical mission of evangelization in downtown Manhattan. For Steve, Pilgrimage Through the Museum, and art itself, is just another way to bring others into an encounter with God’s love and mercy:

“Art is a form of evangelization for a culture that doesn’t want to talk about God. It’s a lighter approach, a common ground to meet people at, because everyone appreciates art, everyone appreciates beauty. The book itself is a form of evangelization, a gentle invitation to think about what the art is really about, which is God, and our search for him through beauty.”

Steve has spent his career on Wall Street, and has worked for Federated Investors for over 20 years; he currently serves as executive vice president and a chief investment officer of Federated Global Equities. As well, both Steve and Evelyn are deeply involved in their Regnum Christi vocation. Steve is on the board of Lumen Institute, and was instrumental in starting Lumen teams in Manhattan, New Jersey, and Naples, Florida. Evelyn is on the Board of Directors at both Divine Mercy University and Catholic World Mission. They have also participated in missions in Mexico, and have led the New York City street mission for 10 years.

Steve and Evelyn will be touring the country speaking about Pilgrimage Through the Museum: to schedule a book signing or a talk on art and spirituality in your section, contact Mary Soressi at [email protected]. You can order Pilgrimage to the Museum, for yourself or as a Regnum Christi team book study, as well as Steve’s first book Missionary of Wall Street, through Sophia Press Institute. Pilgrimage Through the Museum is also available to purchase at the MET gift shop. The book is co-authored by Evelyn Auth and Fr. Shawn Aaron, LC, and all author proceeds of the book go towards the formation of Legionary priests at the seminary in Cheshire, Connecticut.

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On the “Camino de Jésus” Pilgrims Encounter the Living God

Fr. Arturo Díaz, LC organizes the “Camino de Jésus,” or in English, the “Way of Jesus” every year, a pilgrimage through the Holy Land that passes through the principal sites where Jesus preached, beginning in Cana of Galilee and ending in Jerusalem. This year, the pilgrimage will begin Sunday, April 3rd and will end on Monday of Holy Week April 11th. María Linares from Spain has made this pilgrimage on several occasions and wanted to share her experience in order to make know this initiative. In her testimony she tells us that she was able to discover “a living God” in the Holy Land.

Although with time Maria has discovered that God is in the tabernacle, in adoration, living next door, “you can’t forget your first love.” For her, the Way of Jesus contains “all the ingredients to produce this profound encounter.” “It is a group of people, some of whom you know and others that you see for the first time, who come together to walk the same paths and places where Jesus walked, with boots and a backpack with everything you need. And accompanied by Fr. Arturo Diaz, LC,” she explained.

For Maria, the scene could not be better – the lake of Tiberias, the Sea of Galilee, the desert, Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Nazareth. Although they are places that you have heard of your whole life and where you know that Jesus lived, when you live “a mass in the middle of the desert or on a boat in the midst of the lake, when you see the sunrise during a meditation on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, when you have adoration in Nazareth or when you confess your sins and your sins are forgiven by the mercy of God,” there is nothing left to do but “fall to your knees at his feet.”

She has also been able to see this same experience with other people who have accompanied her on this pilgrimage. “Through them I saw that God was became more and more alive, and I could see how God acted in each one of them,” she explained. Maria especially remembers one pilgrim who didn’t want to go on the trip and that, after two days on the pilgrimage, everyone witnessed the miracle that took place in his life and the radical change that occurred: “I was a witness with my own eyes what God was able to do. It’s something that I return to every time my faith becomes weak,” she said.

“I think that every Christian should have the opportunity to travel to the Holy Land. I would almost say they have the duty, if they can, to seek out this opportunity,” she pointed out in her testimony. On this Way, Maria has recognized that “you live the land, you walk on it and feel it with Jesus. Though it’s possible not to visit all the holy places, the ones that you do, you live intensely.

For Maria, the high point of this way was arriving to Jerusalem.  “It is incredible to arrive singing, ‘Our feet are crossing your threshold, Jerusalem,’ and to have the chance to spend a few hours in the Holy Sepulchre alone with just a small group of people,” she said. It is also a privilege to stand quietly in the empty tomb, the place where they laid the body of Jesus. “It is amazing to be aware that it really is empty, because he truly rose and is alive!”

Translated from Spanish Original

 

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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!