ConQuest clubs on the surface seem very good. They claim to form young men as Catholic leaders who are willing to go outside of themselves to help the Church at large. In reality, this is not what is going on in ConQuest. ConQuest, as an organization under the Legionaries of Christ, exists only to recruit more young men to the Legion and to expand ConQuest as a group. There is no mission within ConQuest to serve the local or universal Church. Some examples to illustrate this point are the following:
(1) In all our years of ConQuest (about 4 years), our son NEVER did one apostolic project with ConQuest. Every meeting consists in doing a gospel reflection and playing sports: pray and play. There is no mission, no service outside of the club which does not benefit the Legionaries or ConQuest itself. This point leads to my second example.
(2) ConQuest at one time did host a retreat for another parish. This retreat was for the 5th and 6th graders and were led by ConQuest boys in the 7th and 8th grades. The goal here, though, was not to form leaders for the parish, but to create another ConQuest club in the parish or minimally, to recruit boys for existing clubs. Again, in our four years of ConQuest, this was the only
apostolic work that the boys did, and it did not truly serve the Church; it served ConQuest.
(3) When ConQuest boys reach the 5th grade, they are old enough to go on overnight camps in the summer; these camps serve as recruiting pools for the apostolic school. Our son went on two week long camps in ____. Each time he came back from the camps, he was more excited about the possibility of going to the apostolic school. In addition, he was allowed to incorporate into ECYD (the next stage of ConQuest) on a camp without our consultation. ECYD allows a boy to make a deeper commitment to the ConQuest/Legionary organization. Even if ECYD were not being used for the ulterior purpose of being a recruiting pool, any organization operating in integrity would let parents know if there were a part to the camp in which a MINOR was going to be asked to join an organization. Minors should not be allowed to make such a commitment without parental knowledge.
(4) Finally, in 5th and 6th grades the trips to the Apostolic schools begin. This is a major highlight to the ConQuest year; there is traditionally a Christmas trip and an Easter trip. There is a mystique built up all year long about the trips. You are
out of the group if you don?t go. These visits are action packed with loads of boyish fun. Who wouldn?t want to go to these
fun schools away from their parents on a
beautiful mission to serve God? The sad part is that there is so much pressure on the boys to please the priests (and to please God, whom the priests represent) that it is very easy to convince a boy that he has a
calling or a
vocation to this way of life.
Now that I have explained some of the basic problems with ConQuest, I would like to finish my letter with some anecdotal testimony concerning a conversation I had with a Legionary priest in regards to my son.
My wife and I had our local Legionary over to our home to explain why we were leaving the Regnum Christi movement. In this conversation the Legionary relayed a story to us about another family that we suspected was not true. We chose not to correct him on the spot and to check with the people that the story involved to ensure its accuracy. Our suspicions about the story were confirmed, and I went to the Legionary to correct the misinformation. This Legionary did what all Legionaries have been trained to do: he dismissed the inaccuracy quickly and changed the subject.
To which subject did he turn? Our son. This Legionary stated emphatically,
Well, you know, your son would never be accepted to the apostolic school. I was really surprised and taken off guard (I was taken off guard because we were not even talking about the apostolic school or my son and second, what was it that made my son unfit for the Legionaries?) Then Father proceeded to explain that they did not accept children who were not the biological sons of their fathers. (I adopted my son when he was in preschool.)
This comment angered me because I knew that the past two years my son had been courted by ConQuest and the priests as a potential candidate. My son was the ideal ConQuest boy. He had been on almost every retreat, every camp, and each visit to the apostolic school. He was even named ConQuest boy of the year. In addition, another Legionary had given my son a dvd all about the apostolic schools. If the Legionaries would have never accepted him, then why go to so much trouble to introduce the school to him? Ironically, the belief that an adopted child is not a candidate for the Legionaries of Christ would mean that Jesus himself could have never been a Legionary!
But sadly, this is another inconsistency with the Legionaries of Christ. I brought it to the attention of this priest that we knew of another adopted child that was already a novice with the Legionaries. He did not have a good explanation for this discrepancy.
I am not writing about these episodes in order to detract. I wish for the examples I cite to serve as an illustration of how the clubs work to recruit for the Legionaries. I wish for my anecdotal testimony to illustrate the fact that once a person leaves Regnum Christi, a
logical reason must be created that justifies why the person left. In the Legionaries? way of thinking, a person who leaves is the problem, not the congregation and certainly not their system. Again, this is just another way they fail to take responsibility for their real methodological problems.
Thank you for the time to hear our concerns.