Recently, Erin Bellefeuille, a young consecrated (3 gf) member of Regnum Christi died suddenly, tragically and mysteriously. Erin was described as being
cheerful and generous and apparently had no particular health problems.
She had spent her adult life (from the time she was 18 years old) with Regnum Christi. She had been assigned to a school in Mexico City and three months before she died, she left her consecrated life for unknown reasons. Her family members lived in Arizona.
Her death apparently was not officially reported and the cause of the death of this healthy 28 year old remains a mystery. There are no official details readily available of her circumstances during the last three months of her life.
Some rumors circulated that according to one of her close family members, Erin had suffered from
severe depression and a nervous breakdown.
According to another rumor, the young consecrated woman could not afford to travel home to be with her family. Both of these claims about her final three months remain unconfirmed.
There was some recent discussion about this case on life-after-rc Click Here that do not provide factual evidence of anything wrong but that indicate some suspicions.
ReGAIN has always avoided making speculations and at this stage we are unable to form any opinions about what really happened to this young woman or why it happened. Our hearts go out to her loved ones. We have mentioned about Erin Bellefeuille because her sudden death raises some questions that should be considered by those who are considering entering the consecrated life of Regnum Christi or others who have already made a commitment but are starting to ask their own questions.
In July of 2012, Cardinal DePaolis received a letter from 77 former students of a high school in Rhode Island that was run by Regnum Christi consecrated women. These young women had been required to live by rules similar to those of the Regnum Christi consecrated women. In the letter, they described and denounced psychological and emotional problems that they endured, including for example, eating disorders for some and in other cases depression and suicidal tendencies.
The first question we would ask is whether or not Regnum Christi and the Legion leaders have acknowledged that the structure and methodology that was designed by Father Marcial Maciel (much of which remains to this day) are identical to mind control techniques used by typical cult groups and that these practices have been proven to damage peoples’ emotional and psychological health? If so, are they implementing effective remedies to change the structure and methodology to prevent further mental and emotional illnesses among their members? If not, are they simply choosing to ignore the issues raised by the 77 former students?
A second question we would pose is what provisions do Regnum Christi have in place for medical coverage for physical and emotional illnesses? Over the years there have been horror stories on this website and others regarding the manner in which some ordinary medical problems of members have been dealt with. When people on the inside have anxiety or depression or other psychological or mental issues are there any measures in place to obtain the professional help that they need? If not, are these being considered?
Next on our list of questions, we wonder if the reform process intends to deal with the issue of terminations of vulnerable people without reasonable notice. There have been numerous testimonies from people who have been suddenly found to not have a
vocation? after devoting years of their life and then being forced to leave on less than 24 hours notice. We and others cannot help wondering what were the actual circumstances surrounding Erin Bellefeuille’s case? Was she having emotional problems? If so, had she received any professional treatment before or after she left Regnum Christi? Did she decide on her own to leave her consecrated life or was she forced to leave? What support if any did she get from Regnum Christi after she left? Did she have enough money to look after herself and enough to pay her travel costs to return home? What were her prospects for supporting herself after devoting 10 of her 28 years of life to Regnum Christi? Did she have marketable skills? Were there any reasons for not disclosing the cause of her death?
If Cardinal De Paolis had not previously known about the psychological torment that many consecrated women suffer, he would certainly have become aware of this after receiving the letter written by the 77 former students of the Regnum Christi school in Rhode Island. Reportedly, there was also at least one testimony from another young Regnum Christi consecrated woman during a conference in Mexico stating that some of the women were
constantly falling into depression and that many of them were
Based on the research and testimonies that ReGAIN and others have carried out over the years, we have concluded that the Legionary leaders have not always provided adequate health care for their own priests or for the consecrated Regnum Christi members. Some of their long standing members have been cast aside suddenly when for one reason or another they become no longer cost-effective.
Our final question is whether the Vatican Delegate is willing to allow such methodology to continue or will he place a priority on providing adequate care for the consecrated women’s physical, mental and emotional health. Will he ensure that adequate social security measures and protections are put into place for the consecrated women?
Unfortunately in this case any improvement in the women’s plight will be too late for Erin Bellefeuille. Perhaps her untimely death could be the tipping point for the initiation of measures that would address members’ human needs over and above the legalistic issues that are being included within the scope of the current reform process.