Anonymous – My Vocation to the Legion : First I had it, now I don’t
It all in the mind of the Superior/Spiritual Director
By Lost Vocation
Lack of Privacy,
No doubting allowed
No explanations from Superiors
I was a seminarian with the Legion of Christ at Cheshire, CT for over 2 years (novitiate). I would like to join ReGAIN to get to know ex-seminarians as well as to share my experiences. Can someone please tell me how I would go about joining this group?
To: Brother N
Subject: Re: How to Join ReGAIN
Date: Mon, 22 Nov 2004 21:28:04 -0800 (PST)
Dear Bro. N:
Thanks for writing.
I’m not sure i understand your request. Regain’s mission is posted on the website. To ‘join’ we would need to know a little more about you, your experiences, and your motives.
The goal you describe in your message might be better met by exlc.org according to what i know of that group.
Have you had any success going through official LC channels?
After you explore a little more, feel free to get back to REGAIN.
However, if you have any specific needs in your re-adjustment to life after the LC, do not hesitate to let us know.
Thank you for your quick response.
To tell you the truth, I came upon REGAIN by accident. I started with the intention of looking into what’s new with the Legion of Christ, instead I for some reason clicked on a link that led me to REGAIN. As I read more and more testimonials I realized that a lot of what the writers were saying made sense because I had gone through similar experiences. You ask me of my motives for wanting to join REGAIN, perhaps you all can help me to move on.
Also you asked whether or not I’m attempted to go through the official LC channels, I have no intentions of contacting the Legion at this time. In the past I’ve tried to be friendly with the Legion, but it seems that since I left they could careless whether or not I’m dead or alive. It seems the nearly three years I spent with them meant nothing to them.
Just a little about myself:
I’m currently 26 years of age. I am of foreign extraction, but I grew up in the United States. I entered the Legion in 19–. I was a freshman in college but I dropped out after a semester because I was made to believe that I had a vocation in the Legion. Yes, I entertained ideas about the priesthood before meeting with a Legionary priest, but I don’t recall ever making rash decisions such as like I had done when I decided to join the congregation.
As you can imagine my mom was against my joining as well as most of my family. I had gone to Cheshire on a visit as well as the center in Bethesda, I was captivated and engrossed with what I saw. I was still young and ignorant. While in Cheshire, I was enjoying myself too much playing soccer and the “merienda cenas” [informal outdoor dinners] and so forth to know any better.
Discrimination against non-â€˜apostolicâ€™
Anyway, I left home to join the Candidacy knowing that my family was against it. The Candidacy was not a good experience for me, mainly because I was amongst the “worldly candidates.” There were only a few of us to come from “the world,” and most of the other candidates were from the apostolic school. We from “the world” were treated differently, we were more often suspected of wrong-doing before the â€˜apostolicsâ€™. I resented the class system and I really didn’t understand the logic behind it since this was a Catholic institution.
Lack of Privacy
Another aspect of the Candidacy that I resented, which would continue on through the novitiate, was the lack of privacy. Letters we receive from home would always find its way to our desks already opened. Even packages we received were pre-opened and we would have to be granted permission from superiors to keep them. I understand the concept of poverty, but at this point during the Candidacy I don’t think we were subject to any of the vows.
No doubting allowed
I was received into the novitiate later than everyone else. For some reason my candidacy period was extended and I was made to go to Cornwall, Canada to undergo psychological tests. I really don’t know what the reason for this was, but I went along with it. My novitiate had its ups and downs. Truthfully speaking it was a very lonely and difficult time, though at most times I didn’t tell my superiors I was having doubts. At first I tried to tell my Spiritual Director, who was also my Novice Director that I was doubting my vocation to the Legion, but afterwards I was always made to feel guilty. My Assistant (the Novice
Director’s assistant) and my Novice Director always emphasized that it was God’s will that I be in the Legion and that my doubting my vocation was against God’s will and that I would be turning my back on all the souls depending on me—after hearing this over and over I decided that it’s better not to talk about it.
No asking the wrong questions
I guess as a defense mechanism I tried to become somewhat of a clown to cope. During “Spirit of the Legion” classes I would ask all sorts of questions and make comments that often-times were not appreciated by the superiors. I’m just the type of person that like to call everything by name, I don’t disguise things……and I guess not everyone in the Legion liked that, since more and more I was made to feel like was a nuisance during my novitiate.
Ostracized & Over-worked
A lot of my duties in the Legion during my novitiate were menial and entailed seclusion. In my first year I was put to work in the laundry room as well as the Administration Office (finances). On my second year I was making floral arrangements for the chapels and also keeping track of apostolate resources for the novitiate. I was rarely doing anything that involved interaction and I barely recall ever taking part in special sporting events. Also during my second year I found myself sleeping less and less because I had to work late nights compiling journals and booklets containing letters of “Nuestro Padre” [Fr. Maciel]. Projects always had due dates that were unreasonable considering there were other responsibilities that had to be done at the same time. In any case, I kept my discontent to myself and tried my best to learn to love the Legion. In fact, after almost three years I can say that I did love the Legion and I believed that I had integrated all that the Constitution and the Etiquette and Social Formation handbook required of me.
Getting the boot
Three days before Spiritual Exercises were to convene prior to making vows, my Spiritual Director informed me that “Nuestro Padre” decided that I should be redirected to my diocese. Supposedly, “Nuestro Padre” made his decision after much prayer and under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. I wonder what reasons the Holy Spirit gave him for rejecting me? For almost three years I tried to reason with my superiors that I did not have a vocation, I still don’t understand why it took them so long to let me go. I hate to think that they just needed laborers to do their work for them. And another thing, my mother visited my at the end of my first year…..before leaving the seminary she donated an envelope full of cash (probably a couple thousands). Also, my mother donated many religious books to the novitiate library, all of which I bought when I was working through my high school days.
â€˜Persona non grataâ€™
Anyway, it was very difficult trying to get back to normal life when I returned home. I didn’t know what to do and I didn’t know where my friends had gone. While in the seminary I was secluded from everything and everyone. I didn’t even know who was president was at the time. Since then I’ve worked for different companies and I’ve gone to school trying to figure out what to do with my life.
Before leaving the Legion I was told that Fr. Anthony Bannon would give me recommendations to my bishop
so I can enter the diocesan seminary. I haven’t heard from the Legion since I left. I have sent Christmas cards to my former superiors and also Fr. Marcial Maciel in Rome, but either I get no answer or some generic response. Last year I called the office in Orange inquiring about a possible visit to Cheshire for a retreat, they said someone would contact me….I’m still waiting for their call a year later.
Every now and then I do wish that I was still in the Legion because I did learn to love the place and I believed that I was doing God’s will. Sometimes I think I should be a priest and be out there helping souls. I guess I just miss it or maybe I’m just confused and haven’t really moved on after 4 years.
Anyway, that’s all the information I’m able to give you. I hope that gives you some idea about what I’ve been through and what my intentions are.
Please let me know what you think and I hope to hear from you soon.