Suicide in the Legion of Christ or “Sudden Death of Br. Robert Wills” LC (27)
ReGAIN editor: there are always two versions of everything that happens and is said in and by the Legion of the Christ: the official version and… the truth
LC is quick to put out the official story: it attributes his passing to mental health problems, depression.
- Why wasn’t better care taken of him and of the junior seminarian who committed suicide in the same seminary a few years ago?
- Doesn’t this demonstrate lack of care or, perhaps, lack of training or expertise on the part of personnel at this seminary, neglect by his superiors?
- Who was his superior and or his spiritual director? Was it one and the same person as often has happened in the Legion?
- Why was he in Germany if he is an American and could receive better mental health services in his own language and culture in his own country?
- Who was his mental health therapist? His prescribing psychiatrist?
- Is anyone taking responsibility for this tragedy or are we going to cross our arms or stretch them out in prayer?
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In an open letter to the Legionaries of Christ, P. Andreas Schöggl LC, the Territorial Director for Western and Central Europe announced the sudden death of a Legionary of Christ.
Bad Münstereifel, March 21, 2016
Dear fellow Legionaries, dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
Today, on Monday of Holy Week, Robert Wills, our brother in Christ, died suddenly and unexpectedly. It seems he suffered a serious head injury after falling about 20 feet. After receiving first aid and the sacrament of the sick he passed away on his way to the hospital. We are all deeply saddened by this news and entrust him full of con-fidence in God’s Mercy. The authorities may still conduct a more detailed investigation of the circumstances surrounding his death. It does seem though that his death is related to a mental illness for which he had been in regular medical and psychological treatment over the past two years.
Br. Robert was born on August 5, 1988, in the United States of America as the youngest of five children. He grew up with his family near Washington, D.C. As he wrote in a personal testimony last year, in his youth he was a competitive wrestler, a dedicated musician (playing the oboe) and a successful student. He added that this over-load led to burnout and to bouts of depression. He sought to live a more balanced lifestyle and got new strength especially from his faith. He even eventually felt a call to religious life and to the priesthood, which he pursued.
After the novitiate, humanistic studies and finishing up a B.A. in philosophy he came to us in Germany for an internship in family and youth work as he continued to discern his call and suitability for religious life. He dedi-cated himself to learn German and exuded a great love for Christ, the Mother of God and for others. People liked to speak to him about spiritual themes. At the same time, however, he had to cut back on his activities and occasionally take time off as well as seek medical and therapeutic help. His fellow religious and his friends en-couraged him and accompanied and supported him.
After his sudden passing we are waiting for his mother and one of his brothers who are on their way to Germany from the United States. The time and place of the burial will be determined in the upcoming days and I will pass on this information to you once they are set. I ask you all to pray for Br. Robert’s family and his relatives.
In an article that Br. Robert wrote for this Lent, he concluded with the following lines:
“Jesus, open my heart as much as possible to your Mercy! Take away all my unfounded fears and my unneces-sary worries, which “wither” my heart and my hands. You wanted to die for me so as to convince me that your love and your mercy are limitless! Let me experience your mercy, so that it can flow through my hands and my unworthy heart to my neighbor. Finally I ask you: Make my heart like your heart and the heart of your mother, so that my neighbor can discover your image in me.”
May the Lord grant that he rest in peace!
United in hope,
P. Andreas Schöggl LC
(Territory of Western and Central Europe)