New PowerPoint!- Do the Legion of Christ and Regnum Christi exert Undue Influence by Recruiting Children and Minors? VIDEO & TEXT

apostolics

Paper presented at the International Cultic Studies Association International Annual Conference in Stockholm, Sweden, July 2-4, 2015

J. Paul Lennon, MA, Licensed P

PowerPoint:

https://cloud.acrobat.com/file/89eaea4d-16a9-4506-8e63-f105e425e143

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Career and Life Foreclosure…

Do the Legion of Christ Catholic Religious Order and the Regnum Christi Lay Movement condition boys and girls to “discover” a Religious Vocation (which includes celibacy) at too early an age?

 

Paul Lennon

Concern:   

The Legionaries of Christ are directing 14 minor seminaries in different countries. From its foundation in 1941, the recruitment of children has always been its main source of membership (“vocations”). While in most western countries, the vast majority of dioceses and religious orders have stopped the recruitment of children for the priesthood[1], the Legion continues to use the “apostolic schools” to recruit new members.  Behind the apparent success of its minor seminaries the Legion of Christ hides a very disturbing reality: controversial techniques of recruitment; training system driven by strong ideologies where there is no room for errors; spiritual messages incurring guilt and iron discipline that does not consider the psycho-sexual development of the teenagers. Large amounts of pupils leave these structures deeply hurt, and they sometimes need many years to reintegrate into society and rebuild their own lives.

  1. Legion of Christ Official Member[2] Statistics for the past two years
Category December 31, 2014 December 31, 2013
Bishops 4 3
Priests 944 954
Religious in formation and novices 781 836
Total members 1729 1794
Students of apostolic schools (not members) 734 945
Total 2463 2739

 

December 31, 2013 December 31, 2012
     
Bishops 4 3
Priests 954 953
Religious in formation and novices 836 932
Total members 1794 1888
Students of apostolic schools (not members) 945 945
Total 2739 2833

According to official statistics above[3]: there are 734 (a decrease of 211 from previous year’s 945) students in the Legion of Christ “apostolic schools” or junior seminaries[4]

The Legion of Christ has 14 apostolic schools across the world, including in the United States, as well as in Italy, Germany, Spain, France, Mexico, Brazil, Columbia, and Venezuela.[5]

“For Young Men Who Want To Be Priests
The Legion´s apostolic schools worldwide aim to give young men[6] in grades 7-12, who are really thinking about the priesthood, what they will need to discover Christ´s call and prepare for it.

(Author’s note: in 7th grade boys to whom this message is directed are only 12-13 years of age)

  1. Training in USA Apostolic Schools:

Promotional information:       “Sacred Heart Apostolic School in Rolling Prairie, Indiana opened its doors in the fall of 2005 in the former Le Mans Academy building. Since then, more than 100 students have studied at the school, with 50% of graduates continuing on to the Legion of Christ’s novitiate in Cheshire, Connecticut, or to diocesan seminaries.  The school is located in northern, rural Indiana near Lake Michigan and the Warren Dunes.

Immaculate Conception Apostolic School was founded, and approved by the New Hampshire State Department of Education, in 1982. Since then, over 700 students have gone through the program, with more than 60 alumni now ordained priests.

(Author’s note:  from the above description we can gather that these “apostolic schools” are feeder schools for the intense 2-year isolation of the Legion’s novitiates)

The school is located in New Hampshire’s White Mountain and Lakes region

Sacred Heart and Immaculate Conception both offer active and challenging schedules that balance activities in four quadrants: spiritual depth, character building, intellectual development and apostolic action.

Students learn to put God first in their lives, with scheduled daily prayer and regular Mass attendance. They benefit from small class sizes and a low student-teacher ratio that assures each student receives personalized attention.  They receive one-on-one mentoring from Legionary priests  to help them in their discernment process and formation[7].  They also participate in monthly retreats and Ignatian spiritual exercises[8] once a year.”[9]Legionary riests to help them in their discernment process and formation[10].  They also participate in monthly retreats and Ignatian spiritual exercises[11] once a year.”[12]

 

 

  1. Setbacks for Legion of Christ

Worldwide:     Mexican page informed on March 23, 204 that the Legion was closing 8 educational institutions, including four high school seminaries: Santiago, Chile, Cordoba, Argentina, Colfax, CA, USA and Porto Alegre, Brazil.

http://www.milenio.com/internacional/Legionarios-endeudados-cierran-centros-educativos-Legionarios_de_Cristo_en_crisis_0_267573265.html

USA:   Three high school seminaries were collapsed into one.

June, 2011       Apostolic School in Colfax, CA, USA closes:

http://www.regnumchristi.org/english/articulos/articulo.phtml?id=41399&se=359&ca=84&te=782

(Official statement) “With deep regret, I need to inform you that Immaculate Conception Apostolic School in Colfax, California will be closed at the end of this school year. This is a great sorrow for the students and their parents, as well as for all the Legionaries who work there. I have attached Father John Curran’s letter to the families making this announcement. Let’s keep all of them, students, parents and the Legionaries in our prayers during this very trying moment”

Feb 5, 2015     Apostolic schools consolidated

http://www.regnumchristi.org/english/articulos/articulo.phtml?se=359&ca=84&te=782&id=43123

The Legion of Christ will consolidate its two apostolic schools in North America at Sacred Heart Apostolic School (SHAS) in Rolling Prairie, Indiana.  As a result, Immaculate Conception Apostolic School (ICAS) in Center Harbor, New Hampshire will close at the end of the current academic year.

Fr John Connor LC, director of the North American Territory, announced the move in a letter to all Legionaries in the territory.

“ICAS has been an important part of our territory for more than three decades,” Fr Connor wrote.  “More than 700 students have attended the school – more than 70 going on to ordination as priests…The school will always be a part of our heritage; its contribution to who we are today will not be lost.”[i]

Canada:

High school seminary in Cornwall, Ontario closed

http://www.theinquiry.ca/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/November-December-2000-New-Apostolic-School-for-Canada-Legionaries.pdf

A Canadian parent reports: “The closest apostolic school is Clearwater Academy in Calgary Alberta.  Calgary is a fairly large city – about 1.2 million people and it is a rich city because there are a lot of oil company offices there.  Clearwater Academy offers integral formation for junior kindergarten to grade 12.

Until recently, there was an apostolic school in Cornwall Ontario and the Legion decided to ‘consolidate their resources.’”[ii]

Mexico:

3 Active high school seminaries in

  • León, Guanajuato:
  • Guadalajara, Jalisco,
  • Ajusco, Tlalpan, Mexico DF

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Apostolica-De-Los-Legionarios-De-Cristo/15403426477771

  1. Legion of Christ/Regnum Christi to target 12-15 year old girls (6-9 grades USA)

Legion of Christ to open Overbrook Academy boarding school

http://www.valleybreeze.com/2015-03-11/observer-smithfield-west/legion-christ-open-overbrook-academy-boarding-school#.VQMC_i6xWTZ

By MELANIE THIBEAULT, Valley Breeze Staff Writer

SMITHFIELD – Now that they’ve been approved for a special use permit from the town’s zoning board, officials from the Legion of Christ will transition the facilities at 60 Austin Ave. from Mater Ecclesiae College to a boarding school for 6th- through 9th-grade girls called Overbrook Academy. [iii]

The main difference between Mater Ecclesiae College and Overbrook Academy is the age of the students, Fair said.

“In both cases, the facility is operated by the Regnum Christi Consecrated Women,” he added.

The younger students, approximately 150 of them, are set to move onto campus in August.

Fair said that many of the students are from Latin America. He described the program like a year abroad.[iv]

All of the students will live on campus, and will receive daily Mass, meals, and classes.

In addition to the students, there will be about 30 staff members, 15 of whom will live on campus with the students.”

5- Life (modus vivendi) in the Apostolic School/Academy could be summarized in the following manner:

  • A secluded and controlled strict boarding school environment isolates the student from family and peers for most of the school year during four years.
  • “Particular friendships” with companions is frowned up, discouraged and squelched as “an obstacle to God’s calling.”
  • The child, the family and the school is intently focused on (funneled into) “discerning” the child’s “vocation” to a celibate ministry in the Legion of Christ or Regnum Christi Movement.
  • Every minute of the day and week is minutely organized, military style, and filled with religious activities including hours of prayer, conscience examination and the recitation of the repetitive Holy Rosary.
  • His/her actions are monitored 24/7 by “assistants” (and even by over-zealous companions) and reported to the superiors for correction.
  • The students is “expected” to attend daily Mass and to frequently confess his/her sins and faults to the priest superiors.
  • Each student has weekly “spiritual direction” with a (often untrained or undertrained) member of the Legion/Regnum where s/he is expected to be an open book and disclose failings and weaknesses vis-a-vis their “calling to the ministry and celibacy/virginity.”
  • The student is not exposed to other career or life choices in any meaningful way such as visits from other successful professionals in the profane, outside world.
  • Psychologically speaking: the above conditions create an environment of undue influence leading to premature vocation choice or “career foreclosure[13].”
  • If the child progresses into the two-year-long almost totally isolated novitiate he is considered a success. If not, he is considered a failure. This often leads to introjected guilt, decreased self-esteem and even serious depression which occasionally has led to suicidal attempts.

Summary and caveat emptor

The Legion of Christ has traditionally managed high school seminaries in Latin countries to recruit members. It still runs 14 high school seminaries (734 students) across the world, including the USA, Canada, France and other European countries which feed the novitiates and lead to priestly ordination. Many other religious orders and dioceses closed their “junior seminaries” after the II Vatican Council (1962-65), thus stopping the recruitment of children for the celibate priesthood.  The Legion did not do so: it continued with its Apostolic Schools and spread to so-called developed countries who never had them before.

Idealistic and naïve eleven and twelve year old boys from Traditional and devoutly religious Catholic families are easily persuaded by promotional literature and personal visits from Legion of Christ full-time recruiters to begin their high school years “discerning a vocation to the priesthood” in attractive installations and academically stimulating settings. Grants and scholarships may encourage lower-income parents to send their children to these  safe and successful schools .

Behind the apparent success of its minor seminaries (“apostolic schools”) and academies the Legion of Christ and the Regnum Christi Movement hide a very disturbing reality: students who are a “success” and enter the novitiate, in most cases have made a premature career choice; those who do not “follow their vocation” “walk away” or are “thrown away” as “failures” with the consequents of guilt, depression and disorientation.

Large amounts of pupils leave these structures deeply hurt, and they sometimes need many years to reintegrate into society as “normal” productive citizens and rebuild their own lives

Fr. Hennigan concluded in his response to the authors: “As for the Legion and its way of running them –and the very negative experiences which there have been, especially the fact that (the founder, Fr.) Maciel abused practically all of those first boys…- if they had a minimum of common sense they would opt to get rid of them. It is also a fact that they lie to the kids about the nature of these schools –at least they have done so regularly-.  I am not at all convinced there has been any real reform in the Legion. It seems to be el mismo gato revolcado. (a Mexican expression meaning “only the appearances have changed”).

Going back to the Apostolic Schools, the amazing thing is that any families would be so stupid and naïve as to send their children to such a place run by the Legion. One also wonders how bishops would allow them to run such a place after all that has been discovered regarding them.”

[1]Theology profession, Fr. Thomas Hennigan wrote on June 8, 2015 in response to a question from the author: Regarding minor seminaries, they haven’t been banned but they are rather rare these days. The emphasis is on giving adolescents an appropriate atmosphere where they might eventually discern a possible vocation. There is also en emphasis on keeping close contact with the family, week-end visits, for instance.

[2] The Legion of Christ has been known to tinker with numbers and to be less than transparent in reporting. There is no independent source of information. Be it noted that 31 (or 35!) new priests were ordained on December 14, 2013 by Cardinal De Paolis and even so the number of Legion priests increased by only one: therefore some must have left or died.

[3] Membership statistics of the Legion of Christ as of December 31, 2013 http://www.legionariesofchrist.org/eng/articulos/categoria.phtml?lc=se-238_ca-449_ci-;

Official statistics from December 2014: http://www.legionariesofchrist.org/eng/articulos/categoria.phtml?lc=se-238_ca-449_ci-&width=1366&height=768

[4] Note the ambiguity: the Legion states that Apostolic School students are not members but they include them in the member statistics.

[5] http://www.legionariesofchrist.org/eng/articulos/categoria.phtml?lc=se-238_ca-449_ci-&width=1024&height=7

[6] Notice the ambiguity/deceit of “young men” who are 12/13 years of age.

[7] The “spiritual direction” imparted by Legion of Christ priests and “spiritual directors” of the Regnum Christi needs to be analyzed from a variety of viewpoints including the training and competence of priests and leaders to engage in this specialized and intimate contact with the “Catholic faithful.”

[8] When referring to their Spiritual Exercises for Men, the Legion couches them as SPIRITUAL EXERCISES which are an opportunity to retreat from the hectic, noisy world and encounter Jesus Christ in a more profound and personal way. The retreat focuses on the gospels and the fullness of the Catholic faith, opening the soul to the transforming power of grace. Offered by the Legionaries of Christ, the retreat is based on the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius Loyola and is comprised of guided meditations, private reflection, Mass, opportunities for Confession and spiritual direction; see http://www.regnumchristiny.org/mspex.htm. J. Paul Lennon has addressed the issue of “discernment” and Ignatian Spiritual Exercises practiced by the members of the Legion of Christ and Regnum Christi in an article published on the ReGAIN webpage:

https://regainnetwork.org/2014/11/27/faulty-discernment-and-fake-ignatian-exercises-for-lc-rc-consecrated/

[9] http://www.legionariesofchrist.org/eng/articulos/categoria.phtml?lc=se-241_ca-984_ci-801

[10] The “spiritual direction” imparted by Legion of Christ priests and “spiritual directors” of the Regnum Christi needs to be analyzed from a variety of viewpoints including the training and competence of priests and leaders to engage in this specialized and intimate contact with the “Catholic faithful.”

[11] When referring to their Spiritual Exercises for Men, the Legion couches them as SPIRITUAL EXERCISES which are an opportunity to retreat from the hectic, noisy world and encounter Jesus Christ in a more profound and personal way. The retreat focuses on the gospels and the fullness of the Catholic faith, opening the soul to the transforming power of grace. Offered by the Legionaries of Christ, the retreat is based on the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius Loyola and is comprised of guided meditations, private reflection, Mass, opportunities for Confession and spiritual direction; see http://www.regnumchristiny.org/mspex.htm. J. Paul Lennon has addressed the issue of “discernment” and Ignatian Spiritual Exercises practiced by the members of the Legion of Christ and Regnum Christi in an article published on the ReGAIN webpage:

https://regainnetwork.org/2014/11/27/faulty-discernment-and-fake-ignatian-exercises-for-lc-rc-consecrated/

[12] http://www.legionariesofchrist.org/eng/articulos/categoria.phtml?lc=se-241_ca-984_ci-801

[13]  See John Paul Lennon’s unpublished “Factors influencing foreclosure in career choice”, Marymount University paper, Fall 2007

[i] Fr. Connor noted the reasons for the decision:

  • The needs of current and projected enrollment can be met by one facility, which will be a fully utilized, vibrant school.
  • While fostering best use of financial recourses, consolidation will also make the best us [sic] of our human resources, particularly our Legionaries.
  • The Indiana site is centrally located in the territory and well-positioned to the areas where most of our vocations arise today.

“It is my hope that by consolidating in one school, we can focus our efforts both on the admissions side as well as the formation side,” said Fr. Connor.  “The formation of our boys in both schools has been top notch.  But now we have the opportunity to make it even better.”[i]

[ii] Reporter in BC, Canada continues:  I don’t really know much about LC or RC in my own country except for what I can find on the internet e.g. at:
http://www.legionariesofchrist.org/eng/articulos/categoria.phtml?lc=id-18341_se-355_ca-930_te-475_ci-912&width=1024&height=768

They have not been overly active in British Columbia but there is a lay group of Regnum Christi lay people (not “consecrated virgins”) who I encounter once in a while.

The closest apostolic school is Clearwater Academy in Calgary Alberta.  Calgary is a fairly large city – about 1.2 million people and it is a rich city because there are a lot of oil company offices there.  Clearwater Academy offers integral formation for junior kindergarten to grade 12.

Until recently, there was an apostolic school in Cornwall Ontario and the Legion decided to “consolidate their resources” and made the following announcements on their website:

“The Legion of Christ announced plans to close its apostolic school and novitiate in Cornwall, Ontario.  The decision is in response to the order’s need to better consolidate resources and focus on personnel, said Fr Luis Garza LC, North American Territorial Director.

“We have decided that the novices in Cornwall will continue their formation at our Cheshire (Connecticut) Novitiate,” Fr Luis said.  “I believe these young men will appreciate this vibrant and beautiful seminary.”
We have decided that the novices in Cornwall will continue their formation at our Cheshire (Connecticut) Novitiate,” Fr Luis said.  “I believe these young men will appreciate this vibrant and beautiful seminary.”

The novices will relocate to Cheshire during their second semester later this month.

Fr. Luis said that maintaining an apostolic school requires a large amount of resources, and “in the best interest of our apostolic students and novices, we decided this decision was the most logical course of action.  We will continue to invite young men across Canada to explore Legionary vocations.”

At the end of this school year, the apostolic students have the opportunity to continue their formation in other locations. The Legion of Christ operates two apostolic schools in North America — one in New Hampshire, within a 5-hour drive from Cornwall, and the other in Rolling Prairie, Indiana, an 8-hour distance from the Toronto area.”

[iii] The school, which will be located on 44 acres in Greenville, is set to open in the fall.

Jim Fair, spokesman for the Legion, said that he doesn’t expect any changes other than rearranging furniture.

“The buildings are ideally suited to the school,” he said.

Officials from the Legion announced last fall that Mater Ecclesiae College will close at the end of the current school year, citing poor enrollment as a major reason.

The organization has also gone through turmoil over the past four or five years.

[iv] Founded in the 1980s and currently located in Warwick, the academy is an accredited international Catholic boarding school that offers a one-year program with a strong focus on English as a second language and overall personal development in the Catholic tradition.

According to a brochure for Overbrook Academy, “We help families who want to give their kids the opportunity to learn or perfect another language (English or French), experience a new culture, visit new countries, participate in different activities and sports, make friends from different nationalities, and grow in maturity, responsibility, and independence.”

Fair told The Observer in January that moving the boarding school to the property in Greenville “ensures a continued peaceful, respectful, academic use of the property.”

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2 thoughts on “New PowerPoint!- Do the Legion of Christ and Regnum Christi exert Undue Influence by Recruiting Children and Minors? VIDEO & TEXT”

  1. As for legion stats, I have never believed them. I remember when I was about to enter the novitiate in Dublin in 1969, one of the postulants asked Maciel how many members the legion had in those days. He said that “we” don’t mention numbers but we say that there are housse here and there.Some years later, on looking at the Annuarium Pontificium ( Official Vatican directory of all Catholic institutions world wide), I found that the numbers there were grossly exaggerated. I later found out that in order to achieve what is called the “decretum laudis”, or recognition by the Vatican so that the congregation is placed directly under the Holy See and not just a bishop, also called Pontifical Rite, Maciel cooked the numbers. Close examination of the numbers given above and the number of ordinations would seem to indicate that many priests are still leaving every year.

    Liked by 1 person

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