Regnum Christi

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“The Word of God is Living and Active”: When Motherhood, Faith, and Fitness Intertwine

For Kristen LeCompte, motherhood and fitness go hand in hand. She’s both a stay-at-home mom and a part-time fitness instructor, and has been working with a fitness program called Fit4mom, a program that supports wellness in women throughout all stages of motherhood, since her oldest daughter was born. But when she signed up to run the Boston Marathon in October of last year, she didn’t know she’d be doing it seven months pregnant!

Kristen’s decision to run the Boston Marathon actually started to take shape back in 2015. She had had high hopes for herself during her first qualifier, but ended up needing to walk most of the race, encouraged along the way by Fr. Edward Hopkins, LC, who ran the half-marathon, and Fr. Michael Sliney, LC, an avid marathoner. This first marathon experience led Kristen to take time to understand and attain the physical and mental fitness she would need to achieve the goal time at the Boston qualification race

In 2018 in Hartford, Connecticut, Kristen made the time and was set to run the Boston Marathon on April 20, 2020. When the COVID pandemic arrived it cancelled, among so many other things, the race for which Kristen had worked so hard to qualify.

When the opportunity finally arrived for Kristen to run the Boston Marathon in October of 2021, she did not hesitate to apply. A week later, she found out she was pregnant with her fourth baby! Kristen knew that this meant that she would be attempting to run the marathon 28 weeks pregnant, just into her third trimester, but this only made her desire to complete the marathon even stronger. “I knew this would take faith and would be more than just running a marathon,” says Kristen. “It would become a pilgrimage of sorts.”

Kristen’s resolve to run the race seven months pregnant didn’t stave off all uncertainty; several months before the race, during one of her longer runs, Kristen had a moment of doubt “I started asking myself ‘why am I doing all of this, what’s the point?’” She was still early in her pregnancy, and she knew that the runs would only get longer and harder as her baby grew and the race drew nearer. But a supernatural motivation urged her on:

“I had this moment of light about doing this for all those expectant mothers struggling with the reality of having a child. Unfortunately, many women today make the heartbreaking decision of abortion, and I wanted to embrace the challenge of the marathon as a sign that we can do really difficult things as moms and expecting mothers. And I wanted to offer up all my pain and sacrifice for all those expecting moms who were struggling with this very decision.”

On the day of the race, Kristen felt physically ready and spiritually supported by her faith and her Regnum Christi family. On the Sunday before race day, the group attended a runners’ Mass with other Catholics who would be participating in the marathon the following day, and received a special blessing. Katie Tuttle, a Consecrated Woman of Regnum Christi, and Fr. Daniel Pajerski, LC, who concelebrated the runners’ Mass, also ran in the marathon the next day.

“The day of the race was very beautiful,” recalls Kristen. “Obviously, being seven months pregnant, it was not my fastest marathon, but in a sense, it was the most meaningful.” Kristen was able to run the first half before run-walking the last 12.1 miles. At the half-way mark, Kristen’s husband, Brenner, and their three children surprised her by being there and running a little of the way with her!

However, the most emotional part of the race for Kristen came when she ran past Boston Children’s Hospital. One year prior, her teenage nephew had passed away, and it was at Boston Children’s Hospital that he had undergone open heart surgery as a toddler. “Knowing that he had been there, that many other kids like him are battling there, and that so many parents like my brother and sister-in-law have to be so strong as they go through these truly life changing challenges motivated me to press on.”

After training for seven months and running the Boston Marathon with her unborn baby, Kirsten couldn’t wait to meet her! Seraphina Grace was born on January 8th, 2022, and fits in perfectly with her three siblings, Mariella (9), Brenner (7), and Juliette (4). Seraphina is named after the fiery choir of angels devoted to worshipping God.

Kirsten’s first experience with Regnum Christi was at Loyola University Maryland where she went to college. She participated in the door-to-door missions in Washington, D.C., and the Regnum Christi spirit of an active, moving mission continues to resonate with her. “I think the reason why I have always found my spiritual home in Regnum Christi is because I always like to be on the move, active, pushing forward,” says Kristen, who sees her vocation to Regnum Christi as deeply connected to her joy in running. “One of my favorite Bible verses is Hebrews 4:12, ‘The Word of God is living and active.’ I think often about this verse when running, and it reminds me of who I am called to be as an RC apostle. I consider my RC vocation and my fitness to be intimately intertwined.”

Kirsten lives in Ridgefield, Connecticut and is part of the New York TriState Regnum Christi locality. She and her husband currently help run the Challenge and Conquest clubs that their children attend at their local parish. She is grateful for her Regnum Christi brothers and sisters who were praying for her throughout her pregnancy and training, and for the tremendous example of living an active, moving mission that they have provided her and her family over the years.

 

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The Path to Joy: A New Book to Help Us Navigate the Stages of Faith

Tom Clements’ spiritual journey has been a circuitous one, with a few speed bumps and detours along the way. As a cradle Catholic, he went from being an altar boy and daily communicant to spending several years searching for joy and fulfillment in a non-denominational faith. Not finding the fulfillment he was seeking, Tom returned to the Catholic Church, where he has spent decades deepening his faith and his relationship with God.

Having experienced his own winding journey of faith, Tom has recently written a book called The Path to Joy: Navigating the Stages of Faith. This newly published book maps the faith journey in clear and practical steps, from Stage One (I Believe in God) to the ultimate stage (Union with God). Along the way, Tom provides humor and examples of his own successes and setbacks throughout his own walk to joy.

Tom was inspired not only from his own faith journey, but by his career in software – Tom started one of the first Intranet companies in the United States, selling it in 1999, and it is this experience and expertise in problem-solving and processing that he brings to The Path to Joy. “I think our world today is interested in process – you can watch a YouTube video on how to fix something, you can do a google search to understand how a machine works, or how to get from point A to point B,” says Tom. “I’m process-oriented, and sometimes when I read the mystics, they were too mystical! My intent in writing this book was to provide a plan and a process to understanding our faith continuum, and how to grow in faith.” 

This process-oriented approach was particularly helpful to Tom not only in examining his own faith journey, but also when inviting others to encounter Christ. “I knew you were supposed to meet people where they’re at, but how do we know where they are? I needed to find out where people were on their journey so that when they asked questions, I could appropriately respond.” The book offers answers to both questions: “What are the stages that I have taken in my faith journey, and where do I go next?” and “How do I work with others to help them grow closer to Christ?”

In writing The Path to Joy, Tom wanted to help people to understand where they (and others they may encounter) are in their faith process, in a way that is easy to read and easy to understand. Reflection questions at the end of each chapter (“Are you searching to know God better?”, “Are you fearful about what others think about you?”, “Do you admit when you are wrong?”) help readers process the information on complex spiritual matters in a simple, personal and practical way.

One of the main themes of Tom’s book is the virtue of joy through gratitude. Tom had spent much of his life seeking satisfaction in achievement and success, but it wasn’t until he turned to God in humble gratitude that he finally found the joy and fulfillment he had been seeking. In the first stage of the book’s journey, Tom invites readers to list 100 things for which they are grateful, and examine what they have personally done to deserve those 100 things, how those gifts have allowed to them to realize some success, and to whom do they feel truly grateful, and he returns to this theme of joy through gratitude throughout the book.

Since Tom sold his software company in 1999, he has been busy: he started Southern Catholic College, the first Catholic College in Georgia, in 2001; he spearheaded the founding and construction of a residential Catholic high school in Ghana with his wife; and he has spent the last 20 years of his life in non-profits, including serving on the advisory board for Regnum Christi. But for Tom, his greatest accomplishment is bringing joy – and Christ – to the people he encounters every day. “What God has called me to do right now is to be Christ to the person in front of me, to be a joyful person, to see the good in others, to encourage others, and have them feel some of that joy,” says Tom. “If this book just touches one person, changes one person, what a gift that would be.”

Tom is a member of the Atlanta Regnum Christi section. He currently serves on the advisory board for the Consecrated Women of Regnum Christi, and is Chairman of the Board of Catholic Worldview Fellowship, an apostolate directed by Father Ryan Richardson, LC. To find out more about Tom’s book The Path to Joy: Navigating the Stages of Faith, and his practical and process-oriented approach to the spiritual life, visit his website at thepath2joy.com, or purchase the book on Amazon. To contact Tom for more information or to book him as a speaker for your event, email [email protected].

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New Book Explores the Richness of the Kingdom of Christ

After a Theology Congress organized in 2015 by the Theology Faculty of the Regina Apostolorum Pontifical Athenaeum in Rome, a group of Regnum Christi Members including Fr. Pedro Barrajón, LC; Fr. Nicolas Bossu, LC; Fr. Andrew Dalton, LC; Fr. Nikola Derpich, LC; Mauro Gagliardi; Fr. David Koonce, LC; Emilio Martínez Albesa; Matteo Monfrinotti; Fr. José Enrique Oyarzún, LC; Fr. Devin Roza, LC; Angela Tagliafico; Laurent Touze; Fr. Cristobal Vilarroig, LC; and George Woodall came together to contribute to this work which explores the Kingdom of Christ in a deep and well-rounded way. The goal of the congress was a more profound understanding, biblically, theologically, and historically, of the Kingdom of Christ, to prepare for the Jubilee year of the 75th anniversary of the Legionaries of Christ in 2016, a religious congregation that forms part of the Regnum Christi Federation.

In these pages you will find 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, the relationship between the Church and the Kingdom of Christ, the meanings, symbols, and prefigurations of that Kingdom, the thought of Justin Martyr and Origen on the Kingship of Christ, the extension of the Kingdom of Christ as the goal of all apostolate, Christological aspects of the royalty of Christ, eschatological aspects of the Kingdom of Christ, Christ as King and his Kingdom in the thought of Sts. Teresa of Jesus and John of the Cross, and the relationship between the Kingdom of Christ and the social doctrine of the Church.

The Kingdom of Christ: History, Theology, Life is for sale in paperback and digital format on Amazon, as well as the Spanish edition, El Reino de Cristo: Historia, Teología, Vida.

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Art and Contemplation: Awakening the Contemplative Gaze to the Beauty of God

As a young woman, Gaetane Auger, a Consecrated Woman of Regnum Christi, knew exactly what she wanted to do with her life: she planned to attend L’École des Arts Décoratifs, a renowned art school in Paris, and spend her life as a professional artist living in Paris.

But God had other plans.

In 2002, Gaetane served a year as an RC Missionary during which time she continually felt a call to a life dedicated not to art as she had always planned, but to the service of others. “I was trying to convince God during my missionary year that it was really important for me to go back and study, and that I would be able to evangelize my friend group,” says Gaetane, “but it was during a conversation with one of my friends that God’s plans were made clear to me. She was describing this life we had been dreaming of – how we were going to be artists living in Paris, having our own studio, how life would be. And I suddenly realized that I couldn’t imagine my life if it wasn’t to be given to others. That’s when I realized that my call to consecrated life was stronger than my call to painting.”

In fact, in saying ‘yes’ to the consecrated life, Gaetane was fully prepared to give up painting altogether. One day in prayer, upon reading Christ’s words to Peter “Do you love me more than these?” (John 21:15), Gaetane felt moved to detach completely from her previous dreams of becoming an artist and, although it was difficult, made the decision to give away all her art supplies. Again, God had other plans for Gaetane.

Throughout her consecrated life, Gaetane never lost her passion for painting. When she was on missions abroad, she used whatever materials she could find to attempt to capture the beauty around her; on her first to mission to Chile, she painted the views of lakes and volcanoes, the people on their bikes and the colorful ponchos, on scraps of papers and cardboard that she had on hand. Then, while working in a particularly intense apostolate in 2017, Gaetane felt the desire – and the need – to paint. “I needed an outlet, so painting became something that helped me,” says Gaetane. For this reason, she always tries to take time out of her busy schedule – she is the Community Director for the consecrated women in Atlanta and is in charge of Family Life for Pinecrest Academy in Cumming, Georgia, and recently started helping with Lumen Institute – to paint. Indeed, for Gaetane, painting is much more than simply a hobby – rather, it is an act of contemplation. And when she takes time to paint, usually on Sundays, during retreats, or for just a moment in the evening at the end of a long day (she’s learned not to wait for the “perfect moment to paint,” because that perfect moment may never come!), Gaetane puts on quiet music and sets aside all other distractions so that she can fully enter into an attitude of contemplation and receptivity of the presence of God. 

As she began to paint more and more, Gaetane realized that God, as the great gift-giver that he is, was returning to her the artistic gift that she had freely surrendered to him. She began painting little cards to give to family, friends, and her community (Gaetane says that for her, painting is a kind of love language), and a recipient of one her cards asked her if she would consider leading a Prayer and Painting Workshop. After this event, Gaetane, with the encouragement of Regnum Christi section director Kathleen Conklin and the help of her community, hosted an art show during a garden party at the home of the consecrated women in Atlanta where she exhibited 10 paintings highlighting the beauty of religious and consecrated life. At the event, Gaetane also offered for sale five different greeting cards featuring prints of her original artwork; the cards sold out within ten days, and the demand for more cards hasn’t stopped. In response to this interest in her work, in August of this year Gaetane opened what she calls her “petite boutique d’art,” an online shop called Art & Contemplation where her greeting cards can be purchased. It may not be the studio in Paris that she dreamed of having as a young woman, but to Gaetane, Art & Contemplation is so much more: a Spirit-driveninspiration that allows her to share her God-given gifts as a way to evangelize through beauty and art. Art & Contemplation now features 13 unique greeting cards, and Gaetane hopes to add products like art prints and prayer journals in the near future. And Gaetane is planning a second art exhibit in February of 2022 on the World Day for Consecrated Life where she will share the rest of her series she created on the theme of consecrated life, and more. She also hopes to offer more Prayer & Painting

Workshops, where women can help each other to pause to pray and paint and learn more about the art of Christian contemplation. “When we paint, something happens in our hearts – we can reconnect with ourselves again, reconnect with God, and then be able to give of ourselves better,” says Gaetane. “Painting allows us to take the time to stop and look, to look again, and to be still.”

For Gaetane, this new initiative has been a team effort – over the past year since Art & Contemplation began, Gaetane’s community has offered her encouragement, feedback and advice, help with framing and presenting her pieces, and the push she needed to move her mission and ministry forward. All proceeds of Art & Contemplation go to support the Consecrated Women of Regnum Christi, but to Gaetane, it’s much more than simply a fundraiser. “The greeting cards are a way to make myself and my community present in these special moments in the lives of the families we serve,” says Gaetane. “It’s a little mission, and I’m so happy to see how people have loved them and are asking for more.”

Over the few short months since Gaetane first felt called to use her artistic gifts in service of the Church in a more far-reaching way, Art & Contemplation has grown much more than she ever could have imagined. She asks for the prayers of the Regnum Christi family that the Holy Spirit continues to guide her initiative as she keeps discerning how God is calling her to use the gifts he has given her. “I believe that what God is putting on my heart, and where he has been not just leading me but pushing me, is a new apostolate in which we can live out the charism of Regnum Christi – to evangelize and to bring people to encounter God,” says Gaëtane. “This is one more creative way that can touch hearts through beauty and art, so I’m excited to discover what God has in store for the future!”

Visit Gaetane’s “petite boutique d’art,” Art & Contemplation, at artcontemplation.com to view and purchase the greeting cards featuring her original artwork, to learn more about her workshops, and to find out about upcoming art shows and events. You can also become a Patron and make a donation to support this new apostolate of art and beauty. All proceeds go to the Consecrated Women of Regnum Christi – you can meet Gaetane’s community in Atlanta here!

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Spiritual Director Formation: A Journey Towards Freedom

Teresa Chabot, of Kalispell, Montana, has been a member of Regnum Christi for 25 years, during which time she has served in several different positions, including team leader, formation coordinator, and section director. One of the roles through which Teresa has grown the most, however, is through her role as a spiritual director. Teresa recently graduated from the Spiritual Direction Certificate Program at Divine Mercy University in May of 2021, and over the course of the program, she not only developed and improved her skills and understanding of the role of the spiritual director, but also grew in her self-knowledge and spiritual freedom.

For Teresa, who was already providing spiritual direction before participating in the SDC program, the course prompted what Teresa calls “a total paradigm shift” in her thought processes and in her approach as a spiritual director. As a mother of four children, and grandmother of ten, it was natural for Teresa to carry her experience as a mother and caretaker into her role as a spiritual guide. But through her spiritual direction education at DMU, Teresa began to understand that her original view of her relationship with her directees – as mother, teacher, and formator – was, in fact, not what God was calling her to in her role as spiritual director. “I used to understand spiritual direction as more formation – I was the teacher, and they were the student, and if they would just listen and learn, they would grow closer to God,” says Teresa. “But this approach played into my perfectionism and desire to be the ‘savior,’ rather than allowing Christ to save, and allowing for the integrity of the heart or voice of the Holy Spirit. I felt totally responsible for not only my failing, but also the directee’s failings as well.” 

As she progressed through the spiritual direction program, through the module lessons, journaling assignments, residencies, and supervision, Teresa began to expand her understanding of the role of the spiritual director; she now knows that the most important job she has as a spiritual director is not to solve her directees’ problems, give them advice, or achieve a particular result, but to create a sacred space in which the Holy Spirit can penetrate the heart of her directees, and lead them into spiritual maturity. “I experienced such freedom when the Holy Spirit relieved me of the mother/teacher role with my directees,” says Teresa. “Spiritual direction is the Holy Spirit’s work, and I am just a facilitator. It doesn’t all depend on me.”

Another lesson Teresa learned through her spiritual direction formation at DMU was the value of listening, and how to do it well. For Teresa, speaking less and listening more has become a divine activity and an act of humility, patience, and self-emptying. “Being able to help another create sacred space for God to work in their soul by listening with and experiencing with them creates tremendous freedom and is a great gift,” says Teresa. “I am here to listen with the directee by reflecting back to them what I hear, and experience with them by exploring and expanding their feelings.” Through her formation and experience, Teresa has learned to listen to not just the words that a directee says, but also the feelings that accompany her words, which are an indication of the direction to which the Holy Spirit is leading her.

This act of listening helped Teresa to understand that each one of the women she accompanies through the ministry of spiritual direction is being called to her own path, and to her own unique relationship with God.  “The more I am able to practice patience and to accompany each person on her unique journey, led by the Holy Spirit, the more I am able to witness the miracle of her spiritual growth,” says Teresa.

Teresa shares one recent example of how the ministry of listening allowed her to be witness to God as he revealed himself and his will to one of her directees. “In one instance, I was able to sit with a woman as she explored the reasons for her struggles at work,” says Teresa. “I just listened as the Holy Spirit guided her to the realization that the reason for her struggle was grounded in her need and desire to return to the sacraments after the COVID break. What a gift to be that witness!”

For Teresa, her spiritual direction formation was more than an education pursued, a certificate earned, or a goal accomplished: it was a journey of self-examination, self-discovery, growth, and, ultimately, freedom. “I am so very grateful for the experience to learn new skills that allow me to help move spiritual direction to a greater depth for the directee, but in my personal life, I have also become less afraid to dig into those deeper reasons that might be blocking my own relationship with the Lord and with members of my family,” says Teresa. “As I place these issues at the foot of the cross, I have found healing and peace and a stronger prayer life. The greatest take-away for me was a freedom that can only be a gift from God.”  

Teresa lives in Kalispell, Montana, with her husband, Geoff, to whom she’s been married for 52 years, and her Regnum Christi team is part of the Pacific Northwest Section. Presently, she accompanies approximately ten women in spiritual direction, whom she meets with online and in person. She is also the administrative assistant for RC Spiritual Online Classroom and facilitator for one of the Spiritual Direction Supervision groups.

In January of 2019, Regnum Christi partnered with Divine Mercy University to create the Spiritual Direction Certificate Program, an online program that provides the knowledge, disposition, skills, and supervision that are key to becoming agents for Christian transformation and accompaniment, and within the first two years, there have been over one hundred people associated with Regnum Christi enrolled in the program. To find more about the Spiritual Direction Certificate Program at Divine Mercy University, visit their website at sdc-divinemercy.org.

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Discover Your Personal Mission: Giving Women the Tools to Live with Purpose

Near the end of 2020, Karla Amezcua and Mary Smith, two Consecrated Women of Regnum Christi serving in Washington, DC, noticed a dramatic need developing in the women in their area. After months of COVID lockdowns and ever-shifting protocols, and without consistent access to the sacraments or in-person retreats and spiritual events, the women they were serving were struggling to find purpose and meaning in their lives that had been so drastically changed by pandemic restrictions. “We realized that the frustration of not being able to do missions, or even serve in many ways, was creating many existential questions in some of the women,” says Karla. “What is my mission? How can I be who God is asking me to be while I am in this lockdown?” 

In response to these questions, Karla and Mary came up with the idea to design an online course that would specifically respond to this thirst for purpose in the hearts of the women they served. In January of this year, they offered a seven-week virtual course called Discover Your Personal Mission that they hoped would provide both spiritual content and the human and psychological tools the participants needed in order to reflect on, discern, and begin living their unique mission in the world.

Hoping to have 100 women register for their online course, Karla and Mary quickly ran into their first obstacle – over 200 participants had immediately registered, and the number of interested women soon exceeded the capacity of their Zoom account. Registrations came in from well beyond the DC area, with women registering from across the United States, Canada, Mexico, and Germany. In the end, Karla and Mary had to run two sessions per day in order to accommodate the demand.

Each one-hour session began with 40 minutes of content, developed with Karla’s training and experience as a certified life coach and Mary’s current studies in her master’s degree in psychology, as well as the religious formation that they both have received during their life as consecrated women. This was then followed by 20 minutes of small group discussion which, because of the large number of participants, Karla and Mary asked women that they knew to help facilitate. In addition, they trained about 30 participants to be spiritual mentors, matching them with women who had expressed a desire to be mentored. Involving these participants in facilitation and mentoring proved to be an important and edifying part of the program. “This was a beautiful way of including women, and an opportunity for these women to start already living out their mission,” says Karla. “For most of them, it was a life-giving experience that required a lot of humility, openness and receptivity.” 

Response to this initial program was overwhelmingly positive – participants shared with Karla and Mary that not only were they inspired by the content, but also their families experienced transformation throughout the seven weeks. “It’s been beautiful to see how it has this ripple effect, because as the women change, their families change, and the dynamic of the family is totally transformed,” says Karla.

However, it was feedback from one particular participant that gave Karla consolation when she needed it most:

“I was having a terrible day – I had a meeting that was very discouraging because all my initiatives were being crushed and it felt like everything was falling apart. Then Mary and I received this beautiful letter from a woman who attended the course. She told us that she never imagined that she could experience so much joy in her life, that she was actually surprised that this joy that she had heard of actually exists! She ended the letter by saying, ‘Just know in your darkest times, you have indeed saved a soul.’ When I read that, I burst into tears, because it was like God’s presence and consolation telling me to keep moving forward for all these women, and that he was with me and sustaining me.”

The participant who wrote the letter has begun the process of spiritual direction and continues to learn more about the Catholic Church and develop a personal relationship with Christ and Our Lady.

Due to the enormous response to the seven-week series, Karla and Mary decided to run a shorter series this spring, called Discover Your Personal Mission 2.0: Unveiling the Transformative Power of the Gaze. This five-week series in part uses content inspired by a book Karla wrote in Spanish called El poder de la mirada al servicio del encuentro (The Power of the Gaze at the Service of the Encounter), and encourages the women to receive the gaze of God while sharpening their own capacity to dive into and transform the hearts of others through eye contact and personal encounter. Since they were running this shorter series during a busier time of the year and while COVID restrictions were being lifted in many areas, Karla and Mary expected registrations to be relatively low, but over 140 women signed up for the second course, which began on April 22nd.  

Besides the positive response from the participants, and the development of a second virtual course, Karla and Mary have witnessed an abundance of fruits that have already come from the initial series. Many of the local women who attended the first Discover Your Personal Mission series have become involved with the monthly missions hosted by Mission Youth in the DC area and are putting their gifts and the tools they gained during the seven-week course to good use in service of the Church. And for Karla, one of the greatest blessings that has come from the initiative is the opportunity to collaborate in mission with her consecrated sisters. “I cannot do this by myself, so it just makes me happy to be a consecrated woman and to be a part of this community,” says Karla. “The way Mary and I complement each other so much, because of our different personalities and backgrounds, because of what she is studying and what I am studying, because of her experiences and mine, we have been able to put all those talents together at the service of the mission and the women. It’s just been a very beautiful consolation to my heart to see all these beautiful fruits.”

Another opportunity that has come out of this initiative is a personal one for Karla: one of the participants of the course has offered to help her translate her book into English!

But for Karla, the most important fruits to come from the Discover Your Personal Mission series are the ones that will come from the women themselves. “The main essence of this content that we are offering is to help women realize that they don’t have a mission – they are a mission. And it’s a unique message that only they can transmit – they have to discover that beautiful light and let it shine forth, because the world needs it.”

While Karla and Mary continue the Discover Your Personal Mission 2.0 series, which runs until May 20th, they are already planning a Discover Your Personal Mission series for men.

Karla is currently serving in Washington, DC, in women’s and young adult ministry. She is also a spiritual coach for Lumen Institute, a program for Catholic business leaders, and is particularly passionate about her work with Mission Youth in DC. She is also helping Mary to set up a chapter of The Lydia Institute (a ministry for professional women designed by Mary Maher, another Consecrated Woman of Regnum Christi) in the DC area with many of the women who have attended the Discover Your Personal Mission series. You can find a copy of Karla’s book in Spanish, El poder de la mirada al servicio del encuentro on Amazon, or watch for the English version coming soon.

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Spiritual Mentorship and the Ministry of Relationship

For Lauren Lagarde, mentoring young adults along their faith journeys has become a mission and now a ministry, and it all came about from a touching promise to a friend. 

About seven years ago, one of Lauren’s close friends was dying, and had asked if, after she died, Lauren would be a support to her daughter, who was in her mid-twenties at the time. Of course, Lauren wholeheartedly agreed to her friend’s request, and would meet the young woman for coffee, lunch, or walks in the park, and eventually a beautiful friendship developed between the two. And it was in this relationship with her friend’s daughter that Lauren discovered not only the precious gift of mentoring, but a personal passion and call to accompany other young adults throughout their life journeys. 

While Lauren was in the process of taking a Lay Ecclesial Minister Program at the local seminary, this call to spiritual mentorship began to concretize. One of the course requirements was to develop and implement a ministry practicum, and Lauren, inspired by the relationship she had cultivated with her friend’s daughter, immediately felt called to work with young women who were searching for authentic meaning and connection in their lives. In order to better understand those whom she intended to serve, Lauren began by reaching out to about 25-30 young adult women and asking them a set of questions designed to get to the heart of what key issues were important to them, what challenges they faced, what their dreams and goals were in life, and what they genuinely desired. In collectively evaluating these responses, Lauren was able to develop a theme for young adult workshops.

While these questionnaires and their enlightening responses were vital for Lauren’s practicum work, she recognized that the most gratifying part of the experience for her were the one-on-one discussions she had with each of the young women with whom she was working. “The excitement I witnessed in them as they talked about the desires of their hearts was compelling,” remembers Lauren. “Joy and light radiated from each of them as they shared how they wanted to make a difference in the world, and it was apparent that they were so grateful just to be asked and to be listened to.” 

For Lauren, this realization was a turning point. “I realized that I could be a listener and a guidepost for others,” she says. Working with Father John Bullock, LC, who had been working with youth and serving in college chaplaincy for much of his priesthood, Lauren began reaching out to young adults seeking guidance and spiritual mentorship. In New Orleans, where she lives, the Regnum Christi young adult ministry is thriving, and there are several ongoing initiatives – like small group fellowship events, Days of Reflections, overnight retreats, and book studies – where spiritual mentoring is offered. 

Lauren believes that young adults need – and are seeking out – the gift of spiritual mentoring now more than ever. “Mentoring is not a new idea, but it has a unique purpose for this unique time in our culture today,” says Lauren. “The world of social media and its effects speak loudly – young adults are feeling isolated and depressed. Now more than ever, authentic and real relationships are needed, and that’s a role that mentoring can play. The desire to be heard, understood, affirmed, and loved for who they are is met in the relationship of mentor and mentee.”

For Katie Kampen, one of the young women whom Lauren mentors, this relationship has had a profound impact on her spiritual life and has taught her to approach her faith journey with more trust and confidence:

“Spiritual mentorship is an avenue for Jesus to guide my life. I see my mentor as a Proverbs 31 woman, who ‘laughs without fear of the future.’ She allows Jesus to show her the road to him in every possible route – the back roads, the fast lane, even the dead stop in traffic. She shares those directions to Jesus with me and encourages me to be on the lookout for new roads Jesus may have for me. He uses her life experiences to pour knowledge, wisdom, and courage into me, allowing me to go forth without fear of the future.”

And it’s not just the person being mentored who benefits from this important relationship; as mentor, Lauren herself feels she receives just as many fruits as the people she serves. “What I love about mentoring is the gift of watching others flourish and grow, both spiritually and emotionally, but I did not realize the impact it would have on me!” says Lauren. “Listening to their hopes and dreams, and watching them flourish into what God has intended them to be is an honor and a privilege. I think I receive much more than they do, and I think this is the beauty – God’s presence in the relationship gives their story and journey a sacredness that I am profoundly humbled to be a part of.”

Lauren and Father John are in the process of developing a spiritual mentorship ministry that will include suggestions for hosting workshops, recommendations of best practices, and guidelines on how to initiate a spiritual mentorship program in a Regnum Christi section – at a recent spiritual mentorship workshop in New Orleans, Regnum Christi members from a nearby section attended with the intention of starting up a program in their own area. Lauren and Father John hope to provide guidance and insight for Regnum Christi members that see the need for spiritual mentorship in their own section, and feel called to offer it in a coordinated and purposeful way. “We are finding that Regnum Christi members are called to this ministry of listening, loving, affirming, and challenging young adults to be the best version of themselves,” says Lauren. “Most of us have valuable life experiences that we can share with young adults, and that can be a benefit to others.”

Lauren has been a member of Regnum Christi for about twenty-five years, and is currently serving as Regnum Christi Director of New Orleans. For more information about spiritual mentorship, e-mail Lauren at [email protected].

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Praying for Our Prodigals: An Apostolate of Prayer and Peace

Kristine Bruce has only been a member of Regnum Christi for less than a year, but she’s already the founder of an apostolate! Praying for Our Prodigals is designed to guide and encourage people to pray, fast, and do acts of mercy for their loved ones living far from the Church, and is itself a fruit of Kristine’s own daily prayer.

The idea for the Praying for Our Prodigals apostolate came to Kristine two years ago in November of 2018. While reading a meditation on the Magnificat, a passage from St. Faustina’s diary, Divine Mercy in My Soul, leapt out from the page. In the passage, Jesus was urging St. Faustina to “rescue souls” through prayer and silent sacrifice. This exhortation from Christ to pray and make hidden sacrifices, permeating with love, for the rescue of souls immediately stirred Kristine to action.

“My life changed that day,” says Kristine. “This passage dramatically grabbed my attention and rocked me to my core. My friends and I all have loved ones who have left the Church, and it’s heart-wrenching. It came to me in prayer that I should start encouraging people to pray for their loved ones.” From that day on, Kristine was inspired and determined to create an apostolate that would give both hope to those whose friends and family members were far from their faith, and the help and support they needed to pray them home. And she’s prayed the passage from Divine Mercy in My Soul that first moved her to action every day since.

Using the words of Jesus to St. Faustina as a guide on how to pray for the rescue of souls, and with the guidance and mentorship of her spiritual director, Catherine Vendetti, and Legionary, Father Martin Connor, Kristine founded Praying for Our Prodigals about six months later, in April of 2019. The apostolate provides support, encouragement, and prayers for parents and others praying for the return of their loved ones to the Church. People are encouraged to pray a daily rosary for their loved ones, and Kristine leads a call-in group rosary every Wednesday at 3:00pm. She also sends out an email that provides encouragement, hope and resources every Saturday. In addition, Kristine invites people to send her the names of those they are praying for, and she personally prays for all of these prodigals herself.

According to Kristine, most of the people who reach out to Praying for Our Prodigals for guidance and support are parents and grandparents whose children an grandchildren have left the Church. “When a parent is so close to the Lord, it really hurts when their own flesh and blood turn away from him, and even deny his existence,” she explains. “They also go through feelings of shame and abandonment, and their faith can be tested when they don’t see their prayers answered. They feel alone and don’t know how to adequately handle it.”

And Kristine knows firsthand the heartbreak that these parents and grandparents are experiencing; she and her husband have several close family members for whose return to the Church they are continuously praying. “We are heartbroken, and grieve for all those who have wandered away from our Good Shepherd,” says Kristine, who says she benefits as much from Praying for Our Prodigals as those for whom the apostolate was created. “It keeps me going, because I want to pray as much as I can for my own loved ones and for those in my apostolate. It has helped me pray more rosaries for my loved ones, which has brought peace beyond measure.”

Over the past eighteen months since founding the apostolate, Kristine has already received an abundance of positive feedback about how Praying for Our Prodigals has not only provided a much-needed community of support and encouragement, but also produced tangible spiritual fruit. She shares one story that stands out:

“One woman’s daughter had been living with her boyfriend, and she told her mom that they were planning to get engaged soon and were looking for wedding venues. She made it clear that the wedding would not be in the Church. Unbeknownst to this young lady, her parents were praying eight rosaries (all four mysteries, by each parent) per day for her for the seven months since she had told them about the non-Church wedding – the parents continued to pray the rosaries hoping the couple would reconsider. About two months later, the couple announced that it would be a Church wedding after all! Like all of us, the young couple is still working on their faith journey, but the parents are encouraged because of what they have seen so far.”

Kristine shares another story of a mother whose daughter had left the Church as a senior in high school. Through prayer, fasting, and the intercession of Mary and the saints, the mother learned not only to trust God, but also to simply love, respect, and find joy in her daughter, no matter where she might be in her spiritual journey. Thirteen years after leaving the Church, her daughter returned to the Catholic faith, has become a member of Regnum Christi, and has integrated her thriving faith into all aspects of her once-secular life. “It was miraculous answer to prayer!” says Kristine.

Over the past year and half, since the Praying for Our Prodigals apostolate was founded, Kristine has been busy praying, leading others in prayer, and finding new resources to share with those engaged in the spiritual work of praying for their loved ones’ return to the Church. Since the launch of the apostolate, Kristine has led three month-long consecrations, and is currently putting together a series of rosary meditations specifically designed for those wishing to pray for their prodigals. “I know that many, many people are hurting [because their loved ones have left the Church],” says Kristine. “I simply want to help them find peace in our Lord, and of course, help them pray their loved ones back home.”

Kristine has been a member of Regnum Christi since February of 2020, and is presently serving as the webmaster for the Nashville section. To find out more about her prayer apostolate, visit the website at www.prayingforourprodigals.com.

Praying for Our Prodigals: An Apostolate of Prayer and Peace Read More »

A Twenty-Year Journey Towards Health, Hope, and Redemption

Currently serving as the Section Director for the Northshore locality in Louisiana, Tara White has been a Regnum Christi member for eighteen years, and she brings her robust faith and energetic zeal to everything she does, including her work as a Christ-centered fitness instructor and health and lifestyle coach.

But the real story of Tara’s journey towards becoming a Certified Health and Lifestyle Coach and Pietra Fitness instructor began twenty years ago, in a fertility clinic. It was here that Tara learned that without significant medical intervention, she would not be able to conceive a child, and IVF was her only chance of becoming pregnant. At the time, Tara was far from her Catholic faith, and the news of her infertility only pushed her further away from the Church. “I was so angry with God because I wasn’t getting what I wanted,” says Tara.

In her efforts to get pregnant, Tara turned to a nutritionist who encouraged her to face her infertility with a more integrated approach. “She said ‘You need to learn to calm yourself’,” says Tara, who, as a result, began practicing yoga and drastically changed her eating habits, which, at the time, was overwhelming. “I’ll never forget walking into Whole Foods, and walking right out, because it was so hard to understand.”

It was that feeling of being overwhelmed – and hopeless – in her journey towards health and fertility, that led Tara to the foot of the tabernacle one day. “Where it all changed for me was when I went to adoration,” says Tara. “I just laid everything before God and said, ‘I surrender myself to you, because I can’t do it.’” It was then that Tara decided to learn more about Natural Family Planning to understand her fertility better, and never returned to the fertility institute.

Within three months, Tara was pregnant.

But Tara’s journey towards physical and spiritual health had only just begun. She was introduced to Regnum Christi, joined Familia, an RC apostolate designed to support and strengthen the family, and began receiving regular spiritual direction. “God had a plan, when I thought my life was just hopeless,” says Tara. “Then my whole life changed for the better.”

At that time, Tara was planning to train to become a yoga instructor, until her spiritual director gently urged her to discern this decision in light of the teachings of the Church. Although Tara, who considers herself “kind of bull-headed” was determined to go ahead with her plans to teach yoga, she accepted the challenge of her spiritual director and agreed to look into it, reading encyclicals and taking the issue to prayer. Once again, it was before the tabernacle that she found her answer. “It really came to a head when I went to adoration, and placed it before the Blessed Sacrament,” says Tara. “And I just knew I couldn’t do it.”

It was at this time that Tara learned about a new program being developed called Pietra Fitness, which promised strengthening, stretching, and meditation, all within the Catholic tradition. She got in touch with the program’s founder, Karen Barbieri, and then took the entire matter to patient prayer, in the form of a fifty-four-day novena. This prolonged discernment process, Tara admits, wasn’t easy. “I’m not a very patient person,” says Tara. “I tended to always go with what I wanted to do, so God really taught me a lot of patience through this.” At the end of the novena, Tara had her answer: Karen Barbieri called her up and asked her to be a part of the pilot program for Pietra Fitness. “This was my answer to prayer.”

Being a part of the pilot training had its challenges – particularly because, as one of the first trainers across the country, Tara was training in a brand-new program all on her own – but she now is a certified Pietra Fitness trainer, and earlier this year opened her own studio where she lives in Covington, Louisiana. At present, in light of social-distancing requirements, she conducts her classes over Zoom, leading others in workouts designed for the body, mind and soul; her Pietra Fitness sessions combine exercises to increase strength, stability and flexibility with Christian meditation meant to engage the mind and calm the soul. “It has all the beauties and benefits of exercising and flexibility, but also has that meditation and breathwork that are so important to being whole,” says Tara. “It’s for people looking for something that can truly give them that body, mind, and soul experience that is centered on Christ.”

Each of Tara’s workouts is centered on a new theme – like adoration of Christ, surrender of the heart, or the virtue of humility – and she leads her clients through movements and meditations that she hopes, ultimately, will draw her participants closer to Christ. “I try to teach truth about what meditation is,” says Tara. “We’re here to develop a relationship with Christ, and that’s what this helps to start, to promote.”

Participants in Tara’s online Pietra Fitness classes come from all over the country, and even from a variety of faiths; Tara has a generous and inclusive zeal for souls. And for Tara, and people who attend her classes are more than just clients – she sees each one as a soul that she’s called to accompany on his or her faith journey. One particular woman that Tara has been accompanying through her Pietra Fitness classes has begun asking questions about the Catholic faith, and has started attending book studies hosted by Tara’s Regnum Christi section. “That situation has really blown me away, me witnessing how she’s been so open, and I really feel the Holy Spirit is leading her and deepening her relationship and faith in God,” says Tara. “And that’s what I’m here to do, to capture souls and to bring them to him.”

And Tara’s journey doesn’t end at Pietra Fitness; she also became a Certified Health and Lifestyle Coach. In this role, Tara continues her mission to accompany others on a faith journey that integrates all aspects of the human person – body, mind, and soul. She provides health assessments, one-on-one coaching, resources, and nutritional plans, all with the objective of helping her clients reach their goals – whatever they may be – by taking responsibility for their own health story. And for Tara, being a Health and Lifestyle Coach is not so much an occupation, but her ministry, her deepest passion, and the fulfillment of her Christian vocation. “Coaching accompanies people,” says Tara. “That’s what we’re here to do, to help people become awakened to who they are, and find true freedom in being who God created them to be.”

Tara’s involvement with Pietra Fitness, which presents a Christ-centered alternative to what the world has to offer, and her work as a health and lifestyle coach, has led her to her newest adventure: she’s a part of a Pietra Fitness team working on creating integrated retreat experiences for women that foster health and wellness not just for the body, but also for the mind and soul. The team’s goal is to provide a whole-body wellness retreat that’s more than skin-deep, and that instead integrates physical, mental and spiritual well-being in a cohesive way – promoting wellness, inside and out. “If we’re just working on the outside of who we are, we’re disconnecting the soul from everything it is we’re doing,” says Tara. “It’s not just what you eat. It’s good to exercise and be healthy, but are we using it so we can serve God better?”

“I never thought in a million years that I’d be here, I never thought in my wildest dreams that my story would unfold the way it has,” says Tara. Looking back on the twenty-year journey that brought her to where she is today, her attitude is, above all, one of gratefulness, not just for the blessings she now experiences, but also for the sufferings and uncertainty that ultimately drew her closer to Christ and started her on a journey of physical and spiritual health. “God leads you in your life, a little bit at a time, and prepares you and changes you, if you allow it. If we can just be open and vulnerable, our sufferings and humiliations can be our greatest treasure.”

To find out more about Tara’s health and lifestyle coaching, or simply to receive uplifting messages focussed on body, mind, and soul, follow her at Tara White on Facebook or at tarabehealthy on Instagram. To learn more about Pietra Fitness, visit pietrafitness.com, visit Tara’s Pietra Fitness website, or e-mail her at [email protected].

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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!