My name is Brad Robertson and I was a member of the Legionaries of Christ from May 1997 to February 2006 after having served in the US Navy for 5 years as a Submariner and Corpsman.
I left the seminary due to a yearning for a wife and family, which kept resurfacing, especially during the last three years of my
internship period. I have come to the realization that the Legion kept me so busy that I did not have time to reflect or to question my vocation even though I had feelings of disquiet within myself. Fortunately
my vows were all temporary rather than
When I left the Legion in 2006, moving back into the work force was a struggle. I worked as a waiter for $2.50 an hour plus tips until I was forced to tap into my small financial resources saved from navy years as a submariner, corpsman and anesthesia technician. From my medical training in the Navy, I finally got a job working at two hospitals in Houston.
On June 4, 2007 at I:00 am Monday, I suffered a severe brain aneurysm. My head felt like a ton of bricks and I was unable to stand up to open the two locks on my front door. With dry heaves and sweat pouring down my face as if someone turned a faucet on, I crawled on my hands and knees which was the only way to ambulate. Miraculously I reached my two friends on my cell phone who are both experienced nurses. While waiting for one of them to arrive, all I could do was gaze at Christ uniting myself to Him on the cross which gave me a new spirit to fight for my life and uncertain future trials. When my friend arrived, he called 911 for an ambulance which transported me to the hospital where I worked.
At the hospital, I have vivid but fragmented memories of the unbearable pain I was experiencing. The response team in the emergency room was amazingly quick to act by taking a CAT scan, sending the results by computer to the neurosurgeon at home on call who immediately requested an angiogram and preparation of the OR for emergency surgery. My nurse friend who rescued me called the priest on duty to administer the
last rites while I was on the operating table, I experienced the healing and protection that Christ guarantees through this sacrament as the surgery was successful saving my life.
The neurosurgeon organized for me to be sent to two other hospitals where a renowned specialist determined through another angiogram that there was a tiny AVM still present. Further brain surgery was risky so the specialist recommended a Gamma Knife procedure which was only available in the huge Houston Medical Complex. Healing of the AVM (arterial venous malformation) after Gamma Knife surgery requires up to 2 years. Family, local priests and friends are owed so much due to their countless prayers and sacrifices. At this point all I can give are my prayers in return for their selfless love and dedication for my recovery.
In September after speech and motor skills therapy, my doctors gave their approval for me to travel. I went to Rome, Medjugorje, Sydney, Taipei and back to Texas where I picked up my car and a few belongings and headed to LA for what I hoped would be a new beginning. By going to LA I hoped to pursue my dreams being involved in
virtue based media and doing what I like – writing and creativity in modern media. It was a great and beautiful weeklong road trip traveling through southern Texas, New Mexico, Arizona to California at my leisurely pace. I saw Fredericksburg, Texas settled by Germans, which now has a large wine growing area and the birthplace of Admiral Nimitz. Then to Big Bend National Park, Limestone Caverns, Marathon, Marfa, Ft Davis (spectacular, beautiful, breathtaking) and home of a lot of
salt of the earth folks with zeal, zest, guts, and character – felt as though they were family. This is also the home of the Texas Rangers. It?s worth checking out their history. Visiting my
old stomping grounds at San Diego where I was a United States Navy Corpsman was wonderful. I saw two huge aircraft carriers docked and Coronado Island where the elite Navy Seal Teams train – a
force to be reckoned with.
LC and RC: open your eyes to free you from the shackles that bind you. An act of charity would be to admit the faults and abuses and apologize to those souls who have been hurt for life. By the way, thanks for the number one formation
hacer hacer (a coined Legionary term to get other people to work for you). I will use that formation and go
full speed ahead to reveal the truth about the Legion?s
brainwashing techniques. The lay faithful will be alerted. God uses many instruments to do His good and holy works through common folk. Just look at Church history. There are more than a few examples for you there! Now, I have a new outlook on life outside the grasps of Dictatorial Rule from the LC and RC members; especially away from any type of
Major Superior. Although my psyche has been damaged, life goes on.
While on an internship for a movie company from Hollywood, I was sent to Australia in February 2008 for a
grassroots blitz on behalf of their film. Upon completion of this film promotion my family encouraged me to remain in Sydney. Now being in Australia away from a constant work work environment, I actually have time to myself. Isn?t that a novel idea! (Ex LC?s and RC?s will know what I mean) My life and what I do with my time is actually up to me now using the free will God has given each one of us. I can actually choose what I want to do each moment and I?m getting stronger with the many possibilities ahead after my near-death experience and release from the Legion after 8+ years.
After reading an article in the
New Oxford Review which was in response to the Holy Father?s censuring and penance of the Legion?s founder Fr Marcial Maciel, (WHY DID IT TAKE SO LONG?) I had an
Epiphany Easter Sunday. It all made sense to me. How could the Legionaries respond by saying that,
this is a new Cross given to them by the Holy Father, when their charism prioritizes fidelity to the Holy Father? The contradiction is there to be seen by everyone! The censoring action by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the article were the catalyst for me to see the deception that took over 81/2 of the best years of my life. I was 24 when I entered 32 when I left one month shy of my 33rd birthday.
My first sign of the Legion?s depredations was when my mom and I attended the
Youth and Family Encounter in St Louis in May 1997. I recall seeing all those wonderful holy families, doing their best, as Catholic families raising their children in today?s world. Mom and I remember the
personality hype around the founder Fr Marcial Maciel – the undue praise and attention garnered to this supposed
living Saint. With their enthusiasm and determination the whole world was going to be rounded up
hook line and sinker and saved 100 times over at the end of that weekend, if they liked it or not!
After the St. Louis Youth and Family conference, I started the candidacy program which is a three month discerning period that the Legionaries offer from June through August in the different countries where they are located for young men interested in the priesthood. I took the next step to enter the Novitiate, but on the day of receiving my Cassock, we were watching a documentary on
Stalin (how ironic) and I experienced a nagging uncertainty like a burning blaze in my heart. I went to my Spiritual Director to tell him that I was not ready for the Novitiate. I had just left the Navy three months before and was used to the independence – paying my bills and having my own apartment. It was tough to say this to Fr. Christopher Brackett, our Novice Master, but I had the courage to tell him that I was not ready for the next step. He said,
Brother Bradley, I think it would be in your best interest to take this next step in life. I reluctantly agreed (bad mistake). He could also have said,
Go home for a year, discern if the Legion is for you or not. Is there anything wrong with that? There was no concern for my free will – this is what you will do because the Legion wants it of you right now. Now upon reflection, I see clearly that I made for them a great promoter of the
Legionary Cause due to my prior military life – US Navy, Submarine duty – great for the Legionary mystique and
A second sign of fallibility was when a good family friend who has been a deacon for over 20 years (at that point I was now in the Novitiate) did some
whistle blowing. He spoke about how
divisive Regnum Christi members had been in the Atlanta parishes. Instead of uniting the parish to the priest, they were going against parish orders and doing things behind its back for the
Extension of the Legion?s mission. Wait a minute, is the Legion the only one to
own the market with a God given Divine Providential mission? C?mon now, the Church is over 2,000 years old. Who do the Legion and Regnum Christi members think they are?
My cousin in Oklahoma City, who was a Regnum Christi member for a short time, was surprised that a Legionary priest never stopped by to help his
flock in spiritual direction or with retreats, so she separated herself from the group.
My brother Steve?s experience of the Legion was when they frequently stayed at the family townhouse. He had a fridge stocked full of food essentials for them. There was never an
oh by the way thank you. They just took and kept on taking as if somehow generosity just grew on trees. I also remember on another occasion I was in Houston taking care of one of the founding fathers who was being treated for cancer. My brother visited me for lunch and what struck me as odd was how this priest, Fr Alfredo Torres, on meeting my brother and having no clue as to his religious affiliation or conviction asked him directly if he would like to be a priest. Where is the sensitivity there? The Legion reveals a
cookie cutter robotic formation with statements like that one!
There are accounts of Legionaries visiting family friends in The Woodlands, located in Houston, Texas (perfect neighborhood that meets their high expectations for their manipulative fundraising techniques) and asking for $10,000 –
by the way can you support us happily with a $10,000 donation? That was probably their 2nd visit. I wonder if
the Ask was during dessert dunking their biscotti?s in coffee? Apart from its crassness, don?t they know the sacrifices involved in earning the huge sum of $10,000 for the good of the Legion?
Everything was going smoothly and without a hitch in my Novitiate formation, professing my
temporary vows. In September 1999 Fr. Owen Kearns said on Professions Day – addressing families and friends in the auditorium – that you should not speak badly about Catholic priests. Maybe if people took his advice then, the pedophile priests would have gotten away with their misdeeds scot-free. In addition to this, Fr. Owen, as editor-in-chief of the Catholic newspaper
National Catholic Register did not allow any
editorial articles to be published after Fr Marcial was disciplined by the CDF in September of 2006. Silence and censorship are the Legion?s tools! That seems to be their signature style of defense. Their silence addressing Fr Marciel?s censoring is a sign of secrecy, not transparency like dictatorships! Where is the freedom in that? (What about freedom of speech and expression which such groups attempt to suppress totally.) I thought the Catholic Church and Her institutions were for the people by safeguarding souls from corrupt environments, religious sects, and
protectors of the faith. It?s a pity we do not see that treatment and behavior from certain so called
religious Congregations and Orders within Her ranks. Why? How can this be when I trusted the Legion to not harm or hinder me in anyway, with my life
unconditionally given as a blank check? (I remember my mom would always ask me,
How are you? She told me that deep down inside she did not see me progressing like I should have been and she wondered what are they teaching you?) They told me to not let mom, dad or family know about any of the problems we might be having. We were told it was an act of charity to withhold any personal problems we were having inside of us. We were told not to burden mom or dad with those details since we only had permission to speak with them maybe only once every three months or for their birthdays or ours!
Censorship runs rampant in the Legion through lack of contact with family, censored letters and phone calls, absolute control of the person, all personal belongings checked, etc. They tell you what you can have and keep including family gifts and pictures. I remember leaving some track pants in my drawer and while I was out of town they were removed. The same thing happened with a silver rosary (a gift my mom received upon graduation from high school) mom had given me along with various books. This is also how they?ve dealt with members of my family by not calling back or writing when they needed clarification on certain Norms.
Progressing to the Humanities Program, I was surely making them very happy. I remember one night they told me I had a
special mission so they put me on a plane the next morning for Houston at 0700 – not a big deal to me. The only thing was the
ticket was in another brother?s name. That was before 9/11, so it was okay for that brother to check through boarding, show the ticket with his name on it. In the meantime I was next to him and I just took the boarding pass, as instructed by my trusty
brother assistant therefore allowing me to board. Sneaky wasn?t it?
Philosophy in Thornwood New York: I remember in community prayers feeling cooped in, getting severe anxiety attacks due to being squeezed in during community prayers. My spiritual director, Fr Andre LaSana, said it was a passing thing and not to worry about it. But yet I struggled with that for the next 4 years and especially again when a Theologian in Rome. I trusted their leadership with my life! The reason the
anxiety attacks came on was due to feeling restricted, not able to move, kneeling in the pews, feeling squeezed in. I did not feel this on the submarine, because I always had room to move, never cooped up or squeezed in, able to move about freely in tight corridors and quarters, still freely able to move my body, arms and legs. For those who have never experienced an anxiety attack, you are blessed, because breathing becomes irregular, hyper-ventilating, gasping for air, uncomfortable, fidgeting on the kneeler. I felt as though I was dying. It was like suffocation, something taking the life out of me, darkness consuming me – like a shade slowly descending. I thought I was going to freak out, flip out, or have a nervous breakdown, because there was no avenue of escape!
Fr Juan Solana, one of my
Spiritual Directors, in Philosophy always asked at the beginning of spiritual direction,
Brother Bradley, are you happy? We were programmed/conditioned to comply like blind, obedient sheep! Another time I asked if I could keep in contact with old friends. His response was that a Legionaries life is soo busy. It?s best to forget about them as the Legion is your life and family now. My brother and sister-in-law asked me to be godfather for their daughter and I was told that Legionaries move around too much and could not assume such a role. That way they can justify controlling a person, throwing away personal belongings, but most importantly to them – getting rid of the memories you have of family, friends and all prior life you had before the Legion.
I was the
infirmarian (equivalent to a medic) for 5 years during Candidacy, Novitiate, Juniorate, and Philosophy. Upon reflection, I remember wondering why I had to dispense so much Zantac, Prilosec, and Pepto Bismol. All of those are anti-diarrhea, heartburn relievers, antacids, or ulcer relief medicines. The stress levels, intensity and pressures are so unbearable and ungodly high – perhaps that is why I had to give out so many of those meds!
After Philosophy came Internship. My first assignment was Steubenville, Ohio, working with young RC members at Franciscan University. The resident priest, Fr Michael Goodyear, would give spiritual direction with young men and women from the College. I was responsible for the accounting and house duty 24/7 – a totally uneasy task for me. Sticking an
outgoing/emotive personality to a desk every day did not make sense. I am a
people person. I ask myself now
were they totally blind or was I just filling a gap? The Legion is not able to work openly at the Franciscan University in Steubenville. I was told that they just did not want us there because we were supposedly taking their prime vocational candidates. The Priest I was working with claimed the
new Director of Franciscan University was not cooperating with the Legion?s needs. By the way that is the Franciscans? turf and the students are their responsibility so why be surprised at the Director?s stance.
During this time on one of my journeys to New York, I remember having spiritual direction with a Major Superior, Fr Anthony Bailleres, telling him the difficulties regarding chastity, yearning for women, marriage, etc. He said,
Keep plugging away, not doubting for a moment that I might not be suited for the priesthood.
After four months I was sent to Detroit to be
Dean of Discipline at Everest Academy, a Legionary school. I did my best but was still not at peace. Five months later, I was transferred to another job doing vocational work in LA.
While in Detroit under the spiritual direction of my Superior, Fr Lorenzo Gomez, my vocation was like
pulling teeth and definitely not
fitting like a glove as they promised it would! Fr Anthony Bannon often quoted along those lines. I guess my other
Superiors just tuned him out. Remember I speak like this because I was a Legionary Brother. By now I was privy to their daily goings-on and knew the strategies and language they use to satisfy their ends. The training or lack of it has paid off as we watch them implode before our very eyes. The Church finally disciplined Fr Marcial Maciel, a half century late, though, and many lives shattered!
In Los Angeles I worked with a Legionary Priest, Fr Thomas Maher, by assisting him in
vocational work in three major cities (LA, San Diego, and Phoenix). The work again was not clicking and the priest I was working with was often bending
Legionary Norms left and right. For example, there was no daily schedule (all spontaneous) and on road trips we listened to secular music, rock and talk radio which were banned according to Legionary norms. I can understand this, for who could follow those
Norms when you had 2 – 7 hour road trips. Again in spiritual direction there was no real receptive listening to the authentic difficulties I was experiencing during this supposed
discerning internship period. Where was the help?
By the way, Brother Bradley, maybe this vocation is not what God is calling you to do! Why don?t you pray about that?
straw that really broke the camel?s back was while I was in LA under my Superior, Fr Andrew Mulcahey. My two brothers became engaged and then married within two months of each other. The Legion had allowed me to attend the wedding of the daughter of my folks? friends plus a Regnum Christi couple?s beautiful wedding. Yet, according to the
Legionary Norms I was forbidden to attend my two brothers? weddings? Try telling your family members (and the family members of our non-Catholic daughter-in-law who thought this totally absurd – rightfully so) and your mom to smooth things over in the family so the Legion?s supposed obedience and leadership would not be questioned or hindered! Wow, what a huge confrontation that caused in our family! The scars are deep on all sides! Two of my brothers, their wives and children have stopped going to Church as a result of cultish groups like this one!
We would meet every quarter for
vocational meetings. Our numbers were always checked and rechecked excessively to make sure we were sending prospects to Cheshire CT for retreats during Christmas, Easter and the Candidacy program. Rome was emphasized for those
especially good vocational prospects as candidates.
Round ‘em up and rope ‘em in for
the good of the Church. The vocational mantra was engrained in our heads
it?s quality not quantity that the Legion is interested in!
Before my trip to Rome, there was another
huge PR/HR mishap with my brother Steve and his wife by the House Superior/Rector in LA, Fr Eugene Gormley. Steve had sent me a very nice, but discreet Citizen watch. He did not want to go overboard by breaking the Legion?s Holy Norms so he got me a black, conservative watch and sent it to me by mail as a gift for making my next step to study Theology in Rome. However, Fr. Eugene made me send it back the following week because it was
too fancy to be in keeping with the Legion image. My brother and his wife, the same ones whose wedding I could not attend, were
flabbergasted to say the least at the rejection of their gift, and were justifiably
ticked! Steve called my Superior explaining that he was a Catholic trying to live his faith, but had a problem understanding that particular norm and left a message requesting a timely response. Time went by with no response from my Superior to my brother, till then faithful to the Church.
As a Novice, probably due to my prior skills as a Navy Corpsman, I helped this priest?s brother, who is also a Legionary priest totally paralyzed from the waist down after suffering a car accident in Brazil. I gave him showers and cleaned him up like you would a baby. The brain damage made him lose all short-term memory and also caused severe temper tantrums – emitting screams that were deafening. I did a lot for my Superior?s brother but he refused to call my brother back? (He had also stayed at our townhouse in Houston when he was stationed in Texas as a priest.) Steve tried again and again with no response. Sadly, when I left the Legion none of the Priests or Brothers with whom I worked contacted me. It was like I was written off! When I left the Legion, Fr. Eugene could have apologized to me or Stephen and his wife, but he never did. The only time he called was when I was recovering after the brain aneurysm trying to paint a supposedly redeeming picture.
After two years in LA, I was sent on my next assignment in October 2006 to study theology in Rome. When I told my Spiritual Director there about my yearning for marriage and the difficulties and temptations that I was encountering, he was the one who finally listened. I had to wait until I was in Rome?s formation center to finally get a priest to listen to me! My confession felt like a ton of bricks were lifted off my shoulders. Mind you, I was a prior Navy Veteran of 5 years (Submarine duty) which comes with its own moral mishaps/hardships. You would have thought the
red flags would have been waving for all to see. But it was in their interest to continue my usefulness to them so they turned a
blind eye to my concerns about my vocation. Draw your own conclusions from my testimony if you will, but hopefully this will help other Legionaries, Regnum Christi members and their families to discern for themselves if the Legion is an
Authentic Catholic Organization for the good of the Church.
Finally, why does the Legion not offer any type of
transitional programfor those ex-Legionaries who leave where the pitfalls are many – job search websites, guidance counseling programs, and financial programs. (Loans would help due to not having any
Savings Accounts while in the Legion to get you back on your feet) The US Navy had a great program called TAPS (Transition Assistance Program). When I left, they provided TAPS for a week, during working hours before I was discharged from my Military Service which allowed for job placement, contact building (networking), financial planning and assistance of any sort, even
Housing If need be, for those in dire need of help. The Legion never called to ask how I was doing or if I needed any help. Despite this, I offered my services as an RC member in Houston. Only after the brain aneurysm, the Legion all of a sudden was my friend and asking,
By the way buddy how are ya feeling? The priest on duty at the hospital administered the Last Rites at 4:00 in the morning before brain surgery. When I was taken off the breathing machine the following day, my Parish Priest came to administer the Last Rites also. Even though I was a faithful RC member in Houston, the Legionary priest was the last to visit me and give me the sacrament.
Now I wonder how many selected by the Legion have a true vocation? Are they just looking for numbers to fill the gaps instead of advancing the teachings of the Catholic Church and Christianity?
What I have is personal experience of the Legionaries being a great group of
Charming Modern Day Sophists putting on a false front. Please be watchful and discerning of them. At the end of the day, we are all men and women trying to do our best in this life to make it to heaven. Some wear clerical garb who are consecrated to God and we respect and offer our support to them. But what if they are living in sin? We see numerous examples in Church history that reveal many cases of corruption. St. Catherine of Siena is a great example of one who exposed corruption among the clergy. Thanks to God?s love and mercy, there was a conversion back to faith and the truth!
Keep in mind the
Unimaginable Tragedy and Crime of 2002 of the priestly abuses that happened unannounced
under our noses/radar. (Is that not how the devil always works with sin; sucks us in and then it festers in our conscience? We fall for the false illusion of the perceived good and happiness promised. Then disappointment and regret occur and the temptation cycle begins over and over again without us remembering or learning from our past mistakes.) The victims spoke up and for years the Vatican, for some reason, had to silence/censor and dismiss them as fakes/phonies. Until the fateful year of 2002, (oh my God, help us) they took advantage of our trusts and confidence by hurting the most precious gift from God, our children?s innocence which was stolen/ raped! They are OUR children, because we are part of the Mystical Body of Christ.
I learned a hard lesson the rough and tough way! Life always moves on though. May
the wheat be separated from the chaff!