Fr. Peter’s Personal History in the Legion of Christ [1]

My 15 year Journey to the Priesthood

 

By Fr. Peter Cronin

 

Written in 1997 as a preface to his critique of the Legion and sent to members of Network. The following is a verbatim transcription of the hard copy in Regain files; parenthesis added for clarification.

 

1965:
July 10th, Joined the Legion of Christ at 4:00 pm in Dublin, Ireland. Began Postulancy [Candidacy] under the direction of Fr. James Coindreau and Bro. Juan Manuel Correa. This was the beginning of a long journey directed and orchestrated by the Legion.
September 29th Began my Novitiate with 16 others under Fr. Guillermo [William, Spaniard]Izquierdo, [Novice Instructor]

1967:
September 29th, [after two years novitiate], Took first [temporal and simple] Vows, for three years. Two days later was sent with whole group of professed to Salamanca [Ciudad Jardín] to start my Juniorate under Fr. Rafael Arumí [rector, religious superior and novice instructor] and Fr. Javier García [Assistant to Juniors]

1968:
October, [after one year’s Juniorate], was sent with whole group [of graduating Juniors] to Rome under Fr. Juan Manuel Dueas [-Rojas, Rector and Religious Superior].
October 16, began studies in Philosophy at the Gregorian University [S.J. Pontifical U. at Piazza della Pilota, Rome]

1970:
Summer, went to Salamanca from Rome with whole community to do month of Spiritual Exercises under Rev. Don Antonio Oyorzabal [diocesan priest, friend of Fr. Maciel, with experience in Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius]. Spent the whole summer there. At the end of the Exercises, I renewed my vows, for another 2 years.
October, returned to Rome to continue studies in Philosophy.

1971:
April 5th, Sunday evening, summoned to Fr. Dueas’ office: he informed me that the following day I would be leaving for Mexico City to work in the Irish Institute.
1971, April 6th, Left Rome for Ireland en route to Mexico
April 9th, [Good Friday], left Ireland for Mexico.
April 15th Left Mexico City for Monterrey with Fr. Pedro Martin LC [Spaniard]. Worked at Irish Institute for 4 months.
August 15, by train from Monterrey, Nuevo Leon State, to Mexico City. Beginning of 4 years under Fr. Juan Manuel Fernandez-Amenabare [Spaniard],LC and Fr. Thomas Moylan [Irish], LC. Beginning of 4 years at the Irish Institute as Director of Primary [elementary school].

1972:
Summer, Cozumel, Quintana Roo, for vacations.

1973:
Summer, Cozumel, Quintana Roo, for vacations.

1974:
Summer, Ireland and Europe with Mexican students. Returned to Mexico City at end of August.

1975:
July, Ireland with Mexican students; stayed on at the LC house in Leopardstown for another 6 weeks.
October, Rome, began my last year Philosophy [STL degree in Scholastic Philosophy].

1976:
Summer spent in Salamanca, Spain, with Sten [Brian Stenson], Des [Desmond Coates; both Irish LC philosophy students and vocational recruiters; now priests, one in, one out]and Spanish Candidates.
October was made Assistant Superior of Philosophy [students] community [in Rome]. Started studies of Theology.

1977:
October, Demoted from position of Assistant
December 11th Dad died. Was in Ireland from 12th to 19th

1978:
Summer Spain with 3rd level RC men

1979:
January [Sent by Fr. Maciel to] Mexico City, School of Faith [to replace] Paul Lennon LC
[sent] Back to Rome for exams by [provincial, (Spaniard) Carlos Zancajo, LC]
February [sent back to] Monterrey, Mexico, for vocational [recruitment gira] tour.
July 8th From Cuernavaca [Morelos State, Mexico] to Orange, CT: Assistant of Candidates for the summer
September, began my 6 years as Assistant of Novices and Director of Studies of the Novitiate

1980:
August, to Mexico City, (Centro Cultural) [-Interamericano, close to Apostolic School, Tlalpan district] for retreat and
ordination deacon on August 15th
December, to Rome for preparation for ordination to the priesthood.

1981:
January 3rd Ordained to the priesthood
February Returned to Orange via Ireland

1982:
July, [LC] Community moves from Orange to Cheshire
Meeting with Maciel: Our Father Maciel Who Art In BedI am leavingOur Father Maciel Who Art In Bed
December, decide to leave; called to Rome

1983:
Jan-February Rome, meeting with Maciel. Rethink it. Return to Cheshire

1985:
July, leave Cheshire for Ireland
October, return to the US. Boston, Rye NY, Florida [checking out possible dioceses to go to]

November 1st [left Legion], from Florida to BWI airport; [met by] Declan [Murphy] and Kevin [Farrell; at that time both exlc priests in the diocese of Washington, DC].

* * * * *

Editor’s note: Fr. Peter joined the diocese of Washington, DC, later incardinated, and became the succesful pastor of a multi-ethic parish, St. Michael de Archangel, Silver Spring, MD

Fr. Peter Cronin’s Bio

January 13, 1949
Peter Christopher Cronin was born in north Dublin into a devout Catholic family and later studied with the Irish Christian Brothers.

July 10th, 1965 [age 16]
Joined the Legion of Christ and trained in Spain and Rome.

January 3, 1981 [age 32]: ordained to the Catholic priesthood; apostolate in USA and Mexico

November 1st, 1985 [age 36]
Left Legion and joined archdiocese of Washington, DC

September 8th, 1992
At bus depot Shallotte, NC, decided to found NETWORK, Regain’s precursor.

October, 1992
First Network Newsletter

January 22, 1995 [age 46]
Installed as Pastor St. Michael’s Church, a multi-ethnic parish in Silver Spring, MD

September 19, 1999 [age 50]
Died suddenly. Death surprised Father Peter but did not find him unprepared.

Fr. Peter Cronin on Leaving the Legion

[Introductory number of NETWORK, October, 1992, from REGAIN archives]

Dear Friend:

Greetings and Welcome to NETWORK. This newsletter is an effort to create a network of former members of the Legion of Christ, a way to keep in touch, communicate ideas, share our personal experiences (and maybe a few laughs), analyze and evaluate our past and, hopefully, offer support to each other. The past is prologue [Shakespeare].

As you can see from the list of names, we have the beginnings of a network that extends to many states in the US and other countries. Please contact others you know who would be interested, mail the list and articles to them, and invite them to send me a letter or an article, a personal history or bio, thoughts or refelections which I will be happy to copy and send on to all Network members. Send all communications to:

Peter Cronin
St. Bartholomew’s


 

You can FAX letters to me at… or reach me by phone at (301)…

I think all of us agree that in the realm of social phenomena leaving the Legion of Christ is a unique experience. Is there anything quite like it? It is unique for several reasons:

Firstly, the lifestyle we shared prior to leaving. We progressed through a series of stages – postulancy, novitiate, juniorate, philosophy, apostolic practices, theology and maybe even ordination and the priesthood. We were the Curso Intensivo in Salamanca, Prefectos de Disciplina in Mexico, Vocational Directors in the US and Spain. We moved in a clearly defined world in which we absorbed ideas on the spiritual life, the priesthood, the Church, the apostolate, the Legion. [Spanish] Words such as quiete, Primerisima, Cesare, Cotijas, Cumbres, Kranz, modestia de la vista, Nuestro Padre, Tercer Grado [3rd Degree], Monticchio, la seccion femenina [female section] and so many others became part of our everyday vocabulary and even ingrained in our subconscious…

Secondly, leaving the Legion is unique onto itself.

  • It is not easy to leave the Legion. One is encouraged, advised and directed to stay by the Superiors. We went through a lengthy period of personal discernment before taking the step.
  • Prior to leaving we could not share the crisis with anybody except the Superior. This resulted in gradual isolation that we had to cope with and overcome.
  • Before leaving, we went through a difficult period of disagreement with the Legion on basic issues: aspects of priestly formation, Apostolic Schools, lack of diversity or individual freedom, lack of dialogue, the practice of confession and spiritual direction with the superior, relations with one family. With whom could we share these concerns? Where did we seek counseling? What forum was there for a free, healthy, honest discussion of these issues?
  • When one leaves the Legion it is kept a secret within the order for as long as possible. Why?

Thirdly, our experience after leaving the Legion is quite special in that we emerged from such a close-knot organization into a world in which we are faced with the excitement and challenge of personal decision-making everyday.

Un Legionario se es o se despide’ [You either are a Legionary or you take your leave!]. That is precisely what we did. However, it was our decision. The time came when we realized that it was not what we had originally looked for; the Legion did not meet our expectations or answer our needs for spiritual growth, or respond to our vision of priestly life or religious experience. We left because we had to leave. Personally, I consider my decision to leave and my departure from the Legion as a grace-filled, liberating and ultimately salvific event. It was the will of God!

After I left, I found the company and support of Declan Murphy, Kevin Farrell and Paul Lennon in the Washington DC area to be most helpful. Thanks, guys, if I never said it before! I am very happy now as a priest in the Archdiocese of Washington. I find my ministry to be diverse, challenging and rewarding. If any of you are ever in the DC area you have a place to stay right here. Is that Espiritu de Cuerpo –esprit de corps- or what!

We have all gone our separate ways, adjusting to our new reality; some in the priesthood, others in the lay state, married or single. But, we have a common past and experience –which was wonderful, fulfilling, graced, happy, funny, silly, disappointing, sad, horrendous, unjust, inhuman…(add your own adjective). We have a lot to share. I will try to send out Network every other month. Mail or fax your articles to me or call me on the phone 24 hours a day (although, preferably, in the normal waking hours).

It has been fun putting these thoughts together. I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours truly,
Peter Cronin.

PS Congratulations to –exLC Fr- John McCormick who has just been named pastor of Church of the Holy Redeemer in Kissimmee, FL (next door to Disney world). I know we all wish him much success and happiness.

Fr. Peter Cronin on Leaving the Cult-like Legion

By Fr. Peter Cronin

[Introductory number of NETWORK, October, 1992, from REGAIN archives]

Dear Friend:

Greetings and Welcome to NETWORK. This newsletter is an effort to create a network of former members of the Legion of Christ, a way to keep in touch, communicate ideas, share our personal experiences (and maybe a few laughs), analyze and evaluate our past and, hopefully, offer support to each other. The past is prologue [Shakespeare].

As you can see from the list of names, we have the beginnings of a network that extends to many states in the US and other countries. Please contact others you know who would be interested, mail the list and articles to them, and invite them to send me a letter or an article, a personal history or bio, thoughts or refelections which I will be happy to copy and send on to all Network members. Send all communications to:

Peter Cronin
St. Bartholomew’s


You can FAX letters to me at… or reach me by phone at (301)…

I think all of us agree that in the realm of social phenomena leaving the Legion of Christ is a unique experience. Is there anything quite like it? It is unique for several reasons:

Firstly, the lifestyle we shared prior to leaving. We progressed through a series of stages postulancy, novitiate, juniorate, philosophy, apostolic practices, theology and maybe even ordination and the priesthood. We were the Curso Intensivo in Salamanca, Prefectos de Disciplina in Mexico, Vocational Directors in the US and Spain. We moved in a clearly defined world in which we absorbed ideas on the spiritual life, the priesthood, the Church, the apostolate, the Legion. [Spanish] Words such as quiete, Primerisima, Cesare, Cotijas, Cumbres, Kranz, modestia de la vista, Nuestro Padre, Tercer Grado [3rd Degree], Monticchio, la seccion femenina [female section] and so many others became part of our everyday vocabulary and even ingrained in our subconscious…

Secondly, leaving the Legion is unique onto itself.

It is not easy to leave the Legion. One is encouraged, advised and directed to stay by the Superiors. We went through a lengthy period of personal discernment before taking the step.

Prior to leaving we could not share the crisis with anybody except the Superior. This resulted in gradual isolation that we had to cope with and overcome.

Before leaving, we went through a difficult period of disagreement with the Legion on basic issues: aspects of priestly formation, Apostolic Schools, lack of diversity or individual freedom, lack of dialogue, the practice of confession and spiritual direction with the superior, relations with one family. With whom could we share these concerns? Where did we seek counseling? What forum was there for a free, healthy, honest discussion of these issues?

When one leaves the Legion it is kept a secret within the order for as long as possible. Why?

Thirdly, our experience after leaving the Legion is quite special in that we emerged from such a close-knot organization into a world in which we are faced with the excitement and challenge of personal decision-making everyday.

“Un Legionario se es o se despide” [You either are a Legionary or you take your leave!]. That is precisely what we did. However, it was our decision. The time came when we realized that it was not what we had originally looked for; the Legion did not meet our expectations or answer our needs for spiritual growth, or respond to our vision of priestly life or religious experience. We left because we had to leave. Personally, I consider my decision to leave and my departure from the Legion as a grace-filled, liberating and ultimately salvific event. It was the will of God!

After I left, I found the company and support of Declan Murphy, Kevin Farrell and Paul Lennon in the Washington DC area to be most helpful. Thanks, guys, if I never said it before! I am very happy now as a priest in the Archdiocese of Washington. I find my ministry to be diverse, challenging and rewarding. If any of you are ever in the DC area you have a place to stay right here. Is that Espiritu de Cuerpo esprit de corps- or what!

We have all gone our separate ways, adjusting to our new reality; some in the priesthood, others in the lay state, married or single. But, we have a common past and experience which was wonderful, fulfilling, graced, happy, funny, silly, disappointing, sad, horrendous, unjust, inhuman…(add your own adjective). We have a lot to share. I will try to send out Network every other month. Mail or fax your articles to me or call me on the phone 24 hours a day (although, preferably, in the normal waking hours).

It has been fun putting these thoughts together. I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours truly,
Peter Cronin.