Anonymous – Bewitched, Bewildered And Bothered, Irish Cofounder, Part I – ‘bewitched’,
The first light of day entered the room. The Brahmin saw that Siddhartha’s knees trembled slightly, but there was no trembling in Siddhartha’s face; his eyes looked far away. Then the father realized that Siddhartha could no longer remain at home – that he had already left him.
The father touched Siddhartha’s shoulder.
‘You will go into the forest’, he said, ‘and become a Samana. If you find bliss in the forest, come back and teach it to me. If you find disillusionment, come back, and we shall again offer sacrifices to the gods together. Now go, kiss your mother and tell her where you are going. For me, however, it is time to go to the river and perform the first ablution.’
He dropped his hand from his son’s shoulder and went out. Siddhartha swayed as he tried to walk. He controlled himself, bowed to his father and went to his mother to do what had been told him.
Herman Hesse, Siddhartha, Picador, 1973, London, page 10
I was born in Ireland in 1943 and as a young altar-boy had entertained thoughts of being a missionary. I would realize decades later my Irish Catholic mother, –a forceful woman in her own right – had a fair amount to do with that. When I look back to 1961 I see a very sheltered, very shy, very pious, very naive and sentimental Catholic boy; a soccer-crazy teen who was stubborn enough to play this
foreigngame despite a ban on it by the Gaelic Athletic Association which was enforced at his Irish Christian Brothers school. My peculiar brand of juvenile piety could be gauged by my daily Mass and Communion and an altar in my room to the deceased Manchester Uniter soccer players killed in the Munich air disaster.
Leaving Cert, or
senioryear, a vocational recruiter with a strange accent calling himself
Father Jamesspoke to our all boys class. He distributed cards and I filled mine out indicating that I had an interest in exploring my vocation with his
order. I already knew that I did not want to be a
Brother, like my physically abusive teachers, or a diocesan priest, i.e. boring, and none of the other
Missionaryorders that spoke to us had satisfied me. The Legion?s glossy brochure, featuring His Holiness Pope John XXIII?s plea for vocations to Latin America, and the
Mexican cowboy?spep talk won me over. Once or twice monthly after that we exchanged letters and he encouraged me to consider joining other boys for fun vacations during the summer to begin my training as a missionary.
TRUTH: ‘Father’ James was a Legionary seminarian for several years while he masqueraded as a priest vocation recruiter in Ireland.
The day in spring Fr. James came to the school to interview the applicants I was excited for myself and pleasantly surprised when two other boys showed up: my old buddy John Devlin, and another friend of ours, Thomas Moylan. Head Brother
ButchFeeney went straight to the point:
Have you thought about joining an Irish group instead of a foreign outfit like this that nobody know?The three idealists paid no attention to that observatiom as we excitedly awaited our first individual interview with Fr. Coindreau in a room we had never been to at St. Vincents. We were under the spell.
Jack Lennon was non committal when approached by his son as he hauled his motorbike into the side passage by the semi-detached Corporation house on Fassaugh Ave, Cabra West.
Whatever you want, son. A small, stoic and kind man, Jack probably did not know what to say, because he was not good at articulating feelings or sensitive subjects. And if he did know what to say, he did not say it. As the youngest son of a large, litigious, and tightly knit clan, he was a survivor peacemaker by family, and by marriage. Christina was not very articulate either but she was more outspoken and could be blunt. She had a way of making her wishes known to her husband and children. She was the forceful parent in most things, from running the home to making decisions regarding their lives. They did not want to displease Mammy as they had learned from an early age that this might make her
get into a huff, chide them, emotionally reject them, or even hit them. Or get Daddy to give them a good spanking with his calloused hands when he came home from work as a printer’s assistant. Breaking the news to her about possible
going away[to a seminary] had to be done. Mammy, a Mexican priest came into the school a few weeks ago and when he asked was I interested in being a Missionary, I said
Oh, that?s nice. You know I always thought you had a vocation. You have always been such a good boy and never done anything to hurt Mammy?s feelings. Well, he has been writing to me and he is inviting me to go on holidays to Bundoran during the summer.-‘Wont you miss your mother? But anyway, you might as well. Will the priest be coming
round to the house?
BUNDORAN BY THE SEA
On the appointed day, July 1, 1961, I ? naive and sentimental young Catholic– was picked up at my door, suitcase in hand, by a VW van carrying other students my age for a two-month
holiday. On arriving at the postulancy residence, Bundrowes House, Bundoran, Co. Donegal, half a dozen other young
postulantsin black cassocks, recruited previously during the school term, welcomed us. We, the newcomers, looked up to the older
brothersto give us good example and leadership in preparing to be Legionaries. About thirty 17 and 18-year-olds, mostly from Irish Christian Brothers high schools soon attempted to adjust and bond. Together we formed the first group of
postulantsfrom our country to join this Mexican order and felt very privileged to be the
co-founders.I was intrigued by the foreign dimension, since the leaders came from another continent with different language and customs. I made allowances from the start for the fact that they did not speak our language fluently. Thus when anything they said struck me as odd or maybe even clumsy or hurtful, I was willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. I found the atmosphere welcoming and supportive. However, the first piece of advice I received from my recruiter – who was now acting as my formator – was not to be
familiarwith the other boys we were walking alone close by the Atlantic cliffs– Instead I was to start calling them
Brother Josephinstead of
Michael, and not slap them on the back or shoulder in comraderie. I was privileged to have a very nice older Irish brother as my
angelduring my postulancy.
Bro.James Whiston had come to Bundrowes months before the big batch arrived in July. Wearing a black cassock, he and the other
older Brotherstook their postulancy very seriously, almost as if they were
novices. I remember that Pearse Allen, Michael Caheny., Francis Coleman, Declan French, Maurice Oliver Mc Gowan – from just a few farms down the road in County Leitrim – and Sean X belonged to that group.
As I became more comfortable with Bro. Whiston -God Bless him wherever he is- I discovered with some disappointment that he had been the one to write the personal letters from
Father Jameswhich I had received during the preceding months. This also implied that he had read my very personal letters to the Padre. Though surprised and hurt, I did not give this too much thought either, or resent it, since my enthusiasm for the Legion was high. I was thoroughly enjoying the fast pace of daily life, full of hiking, swimming, soccer games, Spanish classes, and chores.
Father Jamesbegan our days with First Prayers and Morning Meditation and ended them with Examination of Conscience at Last Prayers. I remember who ‘funny’ it sounded when Fr. James talked about Jesus hanging
nak?ton the cross.
I also felt very special because the founder of the order, whom we were supposed to call ‘Nuestro Padre’ [I later learned it was the name of veneration the first Jesuits gave to Saint Ignatius], came to visit us. I vaguely remember the day we met as he came striding along the road to meet us as we were walking back to Bundrowes. He greeted each one of us personally in a very gracious manner, although I could not understand a word he said. I can’t remember how many days Fr. Maciel spent with us ‘postulants.’ He did not stay at the drafty Bundrowes House with ‘the community’ [as a good relgious should, as i was to learn from the Legion rule]. Presumably he stayed in Bundoran town. His status was so elevated that none of us would allow himself any curiosity -much less comparison- in that regard. One evening on the beach at Mullachmore we ‘chilled’ with Nuestro Padre. Our directors introduced us to him. Someone mentioned that I liked to sing, and –following an old Irish tradition– I was asked to sing my party piece. At that time I was a big Johnny Mathis fan and so obliged the assembly with my rendition of ‘A Certain Smile’. Such was my naive and sentimental disposition. I never knew what Nuestro Padre’s reaction was to Fr. James translation of the lyrics.
One evening in the main room of Bundrowes House, as the sun set over beautiful Donegal Bay, Fr. Maciel granted us a session of
Father Jamesas interpreter. He took the opportunity to explain the history of the Legion to us, the need the world had of vocations, and the Holy Father?s plea for priests for Latin America. We were so awed by him that there were not many questions. As a seventeen-year-old eager to become a missionary as soon as possible –I had heard it took fifteen years to be a Jesuit–I was eager to know. My ‘fatal attraction’ for questions led me to ask how long it would take to be ordained a Legionary. ‘About seven years’, was the response through the interpreter. This was what I wanted to hear.
TRUTH: LC training usually takes anywhere from 13-20+ years, depending on a variety of unpredictable factors: Novitiate , Juniorate , Philosophy , Apostolic Practices [2-4+], Theology 4.
After a few weeks we joyfully welcomed three new formators from Rome and were instructed to call them
Father, even when it transpired that they, like our recruiter, were not ordained priests or even deacons, but rather theology students. I enjoyed having these
Assistantswith us in our daily activities, including basketball and soccer, lending a certain
gravitasto our high jinks. They were:
Frs. Ramiro Fernandez, huge by Mexican standards, and like a wall on the soccer field, who also seemed almost child-like in his demeanor. Angel Suez, a dark- haired Spaniard with glasses, was the most intellectual of the three. I got on fine with him except one day he got angry at me: I kept moving the dust pan into which he was sweeping the dirt, and he thought I was toying with him. My honest intention was to accommodate his sweeping, and I was hurt when he angrily chided me.
Our favorite was Francisco Orozco Yepez,
Fr. Yepez, the most Mexican, and ‘natural’, of the three, who was very funny. He made the most wonderful mistakes learning English idioms, and then laughed at his own mistakes. –
Brothers, how is my English? Very good, Yes? Sooner and later it will be better! No?The story was told of him arriving at Dublin Airport and asking for a taxi to take him to Bundoran [over a hundred miles away]. He meant to ask for a ‘very inexpensive’ [Sp.’muy barato’] ride but got the words mixed up and told the taxi rank he wanted
very expensive[Sp. muy caro’] taxi. They were surprised that a Catholic priest should be looking for a very expensive taxi but one driver did oblige, and thereupon made a fortune. Maybe this anecdote was embellished by Nuestro Padre to get a kick out of Fr. Yopez’s apparent naivete.
Father Neftali, an ordained LC priest -who years later exited the Legion to join the diocesan clergy – also arrived around this time. Being very athletic and skilled at soccer and basketball he was much admired by our group. On one hike he further enhanced his rating by showing how strong he was by lifting a weight Fr. James couldn?t handle. As Fr. Neftali? — Neftali? Sanchez-Tinoco, one of the Mexican founding children recruited by Fr. Maciel– was the first Legionary priest available to us, we began to go to confession to him. Up to then we had been traveling to the local community of Franciscan friars for our sacramental needs. Father James also explained that it was customary in the Legion to, in his words,
pass to spiritual direction.I had never had
spiritual directionbefore but he explained that it was just a chat with the Padre. Trying out this new experience was not too bad because Fr. Neftali? was kind and refined, and he looked like the movie star, Omar Sharif. I was not sure what to talk about but I went to see him anyway. After a visit or two he revealed to me that Nuestro Padre had noticed my
qualitiesand that he would like me to consider leaving at short notice, in a few weeks time, to start my Holy Novitiate overseas. Although this meant suddenly separating from my family, friends and country it made me feel very special. I would be among the first eight Irish Legionaries to begin Novitiate. I was being chosen from the total of about thirty, including those
brothersin cassock who had been there before our large group arrived. I would embark on an exciting adventure to a foreign clime and culture. I had only left my country once before with my father, when he took me by ferry to watch a soccer match in murky Liverpool.
I’LL JOIN THE LEGION!
Without second thoughts, I felt my next task was to get permission from my parents to go to Spain for my Holy Novitiate. We were allowed home for a few days to get measured for our black suits – the Legion paid for mine at Clery – and prepare for departure. My mother was a bit shocked about the quick turn of events but she did not want to oppose something that was coming from a
clergyman, and there was no doubt she was thrilled by the prospect of having her one and only son become a priest. My father was non-committal, even though –as I learned many years later– he was going to miss his inseparable companion. Stoicism was part of our family pattern. I remember, at the airport, my mother asking Fr. Maciel when she would see her son again. ‘In a year or two, Mrs. Lennon.’ That is what she wanted to hear.
TRUTH: Legionaries studying or working overseas may visit their families every 5-7 years; while visiting they should not stay with their families but at the closest LC residence. See LC Constitutions.
A shy teen self-consciously wearing a new black suit and clerical collar set off from Dublin Airport for Tarbes in the French Pyrenees. The First Eight were traveling with their leader: three of them from the July batch: Declan Murphy, Brian Farrell, Paul Lennon; and five of the
old Brothers: Pearse Allen, Declan French, Francis Coleman, Michael Caheny and Oliver Mc Gowan – renamed
Mauriceby Father Maciel–whom we were now calling
Nuestro Padre. I later realized how it seemed Father Maciel had a penchant for certain names: Mauricio, in Spanish, and Maurizio, in Italian – there had been a handsome blond Italian boy who had joined about that time. He also liked to change
strangenames, such as ‘Rigoberto’ to more
acceptablenames such as ‘Cristoforo’. Thus there are quite a few ‘Cristoforos’ in the Legion.
On the plane with Nuestro Padre we communicated through gestures and broken Spanish. At close range, he could be quite charming. Being reticent, I kept my distance. One of the more outgoing members took an Aer Lingus brochure featuring a globe and pushed it at Nuestro Padre as if asking for an autograph. I blinked; he was not a soccer or a cycling champ, and instinctively I did not feel comfortable enough for that closeness. Nuestro Padre accepted it and drew
LCwith an arrow pointing at the globe to signify that we were going to conquer the world. I followed suit and got mine
autographed. We felt like a bunch of kids with Santa Claus all to ourselves.
The morning following our arrival in Lourdes, after that funny
continental breakfastconsisting of a bowl of coffee and a dry roll, we went straight towards the Basilica and dedicated our Legionary vocation to Our Lady at the Grotto. In hindsight we had only a very vague idea of what this
vocationmeant and the demands it might entail. Father Maciel seemed thrilled surrounded by his
first little group of Irish Missionaries, something he had dreamt of since 1947/8 when passing through Shannon airport on his way to and from Europe. Perhaps it was irrelevant to him that we had not yet discerned whether we even had a ‘vocation’ to the Religious Life, the Priesthood or the Legion. Feeling privileged and wanting to please this ‘holy man’, without second thoughts, we just assumed we had one.
Faulty Discernment and Fake Ignatian Exercises for LC & RC Consecrated, http://www.regainnetwork.org/article.php?a=47245839
ENCHANTED LOURDES AND SPAIN
The date of our arrival was August 26, 1961, a landmark in the personal histories of the
First Eight, and in the history of the Legion of Christ in Ireland: The pioneer Irish Legionaries had landed on the Continent, i.e. mainland of Europe, on the first stage of their search for the Holy Grail, the Salamanca Novitiate. When the plane door opened at Tarbes airport, we were hit by a wave of sweltering heat rising from the tarmac. Deplaning in the company of our fearless leader, was as momentous a happening for us as man?s first landing on the moon. If we had not been this startled bunch of undemonstrative Irish teens we might have knelt and kissed the ground.
Another important piece is our little band?s transition from Lourdes, France, to Spain in late August/early September 1961. We must have taken a train out of France to Irun, Santander Province, just inside the Spanish border. For me it was another major step: being in Spain where we would soon be received by a large group of
realLegionaries. I remember looking out the train window as it drew into the station. Everything was exciting and dramatic for me, dreams were coming true. I had been so bewitched since Bundoran when I learned one of my fellow Dublin postulants had actually been to Spain, the land of great soccer teams like Real – pronounced
reelwith my accent – Madrid, bullfighters, swarthy gypsies and Flamenco guitar players. I remember asking him, enraptured by the exotic allure of this foreign clime:
What are the Spaniards like?I think he said they carried knives and you had to be careful. That they were very haughty and that if you used the feminine form of nouns or adjectives when addressing a man, they were so impulsive they might slit your throat. That was certainly good motivation to study Spanish grammar very carefully! My enthusiasm knew no bounds.
And what do they eat?
They carve a leg of ham and tear off big chunks of bread which they wash down with a squirt of wine from a sheepskin they hold over their headsThis was getting too colorful for my Irish staples.
And what about butter? Do they have butter? , -I ask ingenuously.
Of course, just like ours, yellow, but with a red stripe down the middle!
This was the naive and sentimental Catholic boy who looked out the window as the train pulled into Irun on a sunny summer day in 1961. He examined the Spanish workers in the station and was relieved to see they were shorter than the average Irishman. But when he noticed that they all seemed to be shouting angrily at each other – even the women dressed in black shawls–, he began to feel apprehensive. Then someone explained they were just gesticulating, that?s the way they talk. He was reassured. All was well again.
SANTANDER AND SAN SEBASTIAN
A large group of Legionaries had driven from Salamanca to meet and greet us. Now it was time to meet Mexico. I believe a certain
Fr. Jose Bustamante, a sleeked-back-hair Mexican wearing glasses and a big smile, was the Mercedes coach chauffer. Because it was a very special occasion three normally isolated Legionary
communities, were traveling together: the Theology student
Padres Tealogos], the Philosophy student Brothers [
Hermanos Filasofos] and the Brother Juniors [
Hermanos Juniores]. We were showered with fraternal affection and hugs as we tried to communicate in Spanish and English. Some of the theology students knew a few words of English and they were thrilled to be able to practice, just as we to try our Spanish. I remember Fr. Salvador Maciel, quite well; maybe because he had the same last name as Nuestro Padre, and Roberto Gonzalez, and Mario Amezcua Maciel who was a nephew of Nuestro Padre, and Jose Ramon Fuente, and Raul De Anda… As we made our way into Spain they sang wonderful songs for us in three and four part harmony. Community singing, we discovered, was part of the Legion spirit. Pearse Allen, to that point, the leader of our group – he has tall, had been there longer than the three Dubliners and was popular – encouraged– us to sing. We had been rehearsing our group song since Bundoran. Pearse had taken that old British military standby
It?s a long way to Tipperaryand changed the lyrics:
It?s a long way to Salamanca; it?s a long way to go – without your Spanish ? it?s a long way to Salamanca to the greatest town I know. Farewell Bun-drow-es, farewell Bun-do-ran. It?s a long, long way to Salamanca and our hearts are there. It was a big success. The Legionaries gave us many cheers, or
porras, as they are called in Mexico. Learning and joining in on these became part of our initiation into Spanish language and culture. We were gung-ho. Anyway, the Irish are good mixers.
It may have been in Santander, in El Correo Frances, that Declan played the piano for Nuestro Padre. It was a popular song at the time which turned out to be the Spanish melody ‘Perfidia’, and our leader?s eyes twinkled mischieviously, as this was very
worldlymusic. I didn?t know the Spanish lyrics so I was not overly embarrassed listening to this music in front of a priest. As our Mercedes bus wound its way through the Spanish Pyrenees Nuestro Padre bought cider for us and he was amused by our tipsy reaction to that – to us– unknown alcoholic beverage. It was stronger than the
Bulmer?s Cider soft drink we were accustomed to at home. Some of the more scrupulous Irish may have thought about breaking their ‘pledge’ of abstinence from all alcoholic drinks, made with our Confirmation. But surely, why would we, His Disciples, worry about such details when we were with The Messiah Himself. All in all this experience of community life was very pleasant. Santander was a sunny version of Ireland, with its mountains, rivers and green landscape. Unfortunately, this bewitched stage began to draw to a close as we made our way south through increasingly austere scenery towards Salamanca, our Castilian Novitiate.
“with a little help from my friends”
DONA JOSEFITA, MY FIRST BENEFACTRESS
My first benefactress was Dona Josefita. I vaguely remember going to visit her at her villa in San Sebastian. I had no idea what a
benefactresswas. I had no previous contact with
rich peopleor aristocrats. So I think I was like a fish out of water, feeling more self conscious than ever, as I was introduced to this distinguished lady. In order to get her name straight for this story I had recourse to one of the best Legionary historians I know. I want to include his
note, which will evolve into a story within a story, rich in information about some of the early Legionaries. Voila!
Josefita Perez was the daughter of Marcos Perez Jiminez, President (dictator?) of Venezuela from 1952. Fr. Marcial Maciel spent a lot of time with this lady in 1957. She accompanied MM and the Collegio Massimo (LC Senior Seminary on Via Aurelia, Rome) community to Lourdes, France, for the priestly ordination of Jorge Bernal Vargas that took place on September 15th 1957. Dona Josefita presided the special
rehearsaldinner she offered to our large party in the main restaurant at Monte Igueldo in San Sebastian at 3pm the previous day. On the 15th she attended Bernal?s ordination at the Grotto of Lourdes. The formal ordination banquet was held about four hours after the ordination at the Hotel
Soubirous Freres in Lourdes.
THE IRISH CONNECTION
It was at that hotel precisely where two Irish bishops visiting Lourdes heard us, Legionary seminarians, singing the popular Mexican song
Las Golondrinas. One of the two clergy had studied as a young man in Salamanca, and had befriended some Mexicans singing that song; they approached our group and asked us to sing other Mexican songs for them. We obliged, and that is how MM?s relationship with the Irish hierarchy began.
NUESTRO PADRE?S TASTE FOR THINGS SPECIAL AND REFINED
Fr. Maciel at the time was driving around in a luxury special edition, two-tone, power brake, power window, ‘loaded’ Chrysler. He alleged it had been given to him by said Josefita Perez. Not so- according to other sources. On the first Sunday of August 1990, at the
Hotel de la Soledad, in Morelia, Michoacan, Mexico, Fr. Neftali? Sanchez Tinoco –LC: 1942-1969 circa– stated it was not true that Josefita had given Maciel that car. Au contraire that he (Neftali?) had personally traveled with the Founder to Tangiers, Morocco, and that there Maciel had paid cash for the car. And Neftali? repeated the same story during lunchat the Hotel Alameda, Morelia City, Michoacan State, in the summer of 1994. Besides being a private chaplain to a community of nuns, he teaches Sociology of Religion at La Salle University campus in Morelia, capital of Michoacan. Fr. Neftali, who left the Legion over thirty years ago, is still officially a member; which is not unusual among exlcs. This practical omission avoids having to inform Vatican authorities of defections, a fact that might tarnish the Legion’s image before the Holy See.
THE CASE OF THE MISSING ORDINAND:
INSIGHT INTO NUESTRO PADRE?S MODUS OPERANDI
Saul Barrales-Arellano shared with Mexican confreres the following anecdote. In Mexico City, three months prior to Jorge [now LC bishop] Bernal?s ordination in September 1957, MM had told Saul?s parents to get ready to go to Europe; their son, Saul would be ordained together with Bro. Jorge Bernal. However that was not to be. Saul had made the mistake – albeit in accordance with the spirit and letter of LC constitutions–of showing support for his superior, Fr. Luis Ferreira Correa.
Padre Ferreira, as he was known, was a co-founder and collaborator of Father Maciel, though always in a subordinate role. In 1956, however, when Fr. Maciel was separated from the Legion and silenced, Ferreira was officially appointed Vicar General of the Legion by Vatican authorities.
Maciel could not let little Saul get away with his show of solidarity for Ferreira. With Fr. Maciel, no favor is left unrepaid. Ever quick to act, the Founder, despite the Vatican?s ban against him being personally involved in the Legion community, drove Saul out of Rome and back to Spain. Maciel told Saul he would not be ordained due to a decision reached by the Legion?s Supreme Council, composed of Co-founders Fr. Luis Ferreira, Jorge Bernal Vargas, Alfredo Torres, Jose Maria Sanchez and Carlos Mora. (By that time the formerly favored personal secretary, Brother Carlos de la Isla, was no longer a member of said Council). Saul has insisted repeatedly that Fr. Ferreira denied such a decision was ever reached and claims Maciel?s explanation is a total fabrication. The fact of the matter is that the Superior General exiled Saul to Tenerife in the Canary Islands, ordering him to live at the house of a priest called Flores. Saul later moved to the local seminary for comfort. Isolated from his Legionary community, completely forgotten, without any instructions, Saul was left to his own devices for about eight months. Finally, he summoned up the courage to ask his parents to send him money to return to Mexico City. By then he had lost a lot of weight and looked gaunt. He was in the throes of a major depressive episode and physically exhausted. This condition lasted for over a year after he left.
FR. ANTONIO LAGOA
Another exlc source, Jose Dominguez (a Spaniard from the town of Sabadell, Catalonia, a brother, never ordained, LC 1947-1960), met with Jose Barba for breakfast at his house in Los Angeles on the last Sunday of January 1995. Dominguez stated that regarding the episode at the hotel in San Sebastian on September 16th, 1957 -the day after Fr. Jorge Bernal’s ordination– he had overheard a fierce verbal altercation between Maciel and Fr. Antonio Lagoa. Lagoa was one of several Spaniard from Lugo, recruited by Maciel at the Jesuit-run seminary in Comillas, Santander. The argument reached its climax when Lagoa shouted:
If you dare do this… you will see what I will do… It would appear Fr. Lagoa did not agree at all with the way Maciel was treating such a faithful LC member as Saul Barrales. This may sound far-fetched when we consider how strict Legion rules are against raising your tone of voice and verbal altercations.
Always doggedly faithful to the Order, Lagoa was Rector for most of the 1956-58
WAR , and staunchly defended the Founder and the Legion’s secrecy [during the investigation]. Because of his rugged ways, Fr. Lagoa was not favored for fundraining, LC specific elite centered apostolate, or for LC directorship, after ‘The War’ was over. The Founder appointed him pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish, next to the Via Aurelia Major Seminary in the 60s, where he faithfully served for decades. At one point in his Legion career it seems that Fr. Lagoa, like other venerable co-founders, such as Frs. Jose Ma Escribano and Alfonso Samaniego, incurred the wrath of Nuestro Padre. In obscure circumstances, Fr. Antonio Lagoa was sent to cool his heels for a while in Dublin, Ireland. At a non-LC residence, surrounded by old Irish priests with whom Fr. Lagoa (who knew Latin but not a word of English or Gaelic!) could not converse. After this ‘penance’ and ‘lesson’, Fr. Lagoa was brought back to Rome where the Founder needed him as a in-Legion-ordained and loyal priest. After battling poor health for years, he passed away in Rome on September 2nd. 2001, as reported by Fr. Javier Garcia, LC, in the
L?Osservatore Romano, September 5th.
Let me, the writer, add that Fr. Lagoa ‘had a soft spot’ for the Irish LCs, and for this ugly LC duckling in particular. In Salamanca, circa 1962, he took me with him to speak with Archbishop John Charles Mc Quaid who was visiting. Though overwhelmed by the imposing and fear-inspiring presence of ‘His Grace’, I felt that Fr. Antonio had chosen me as his interpreter in the negotiations instead of the more popular Maciel cronies… My apprehension on meeting His Grace was not assuaged when the feared moral scourge of Dublin quipped to this tongue-tied recluse, ‘Are you losing your English?’ The truth is, I was; after over a year in Salamanca I was totally and enthusiastically immersed in Spanish. Besides, we ‘Irish brothers’ were discouraged from speaking English among ourselves, for fear we would form a ‘clique’, thus threatening our ‘delicate and universal charity’, and our ‘integration’ into the Legion. In this was the ‘naive and sentimental seminarian’ very faithful.