Monday, June 25, 2012

Tricia's Story

At 15 years of age, after attending many summer pre-candidacy programs, I
officially became a pre-candidate. I was eager to begin my formation as a young woman
whose sole purpose was to try to grow in grace and sanctity. With the eagerness of
youth, I threw myself into the program, divulging my thoughts and actions without
question in spiritual direction. And so began my discovery of Godʼs Will.
I was told to distance myself from those around me and to be detached from all worldly
things. If I felt the least attachment to clothes or the way I looked, I was told that I was
full of vanity which needed to be eradicated. If I questioned why we did certain activities
or even why they occurred at the time they did, I was told that was my deep-seated
pride which needed uprooting. The continual need to find fault with each and every
action and report my failings not only to my confessor but often to my spiritual director
and sometimes even peers created a deep sense of insecurity and self loathing.
The Regnum Christi Movement implemented several activities to find and express oneʼs
faults to the point of creating a scrupulous conscience. More importantly, the danger
that persists is that you begin to have a disgust for yourself. Especially for a child, this
can become the way that they see themselves their whole life. Combined with no
emotional connection to family or friends, and a life controlled by a strict schedule, many
turn to other ways of control such as bulemia/annorexia of which I began a battle during
that year. Never did we dwell on the idea that we should love and respect ourselves
because we are made in His image or that God loved us completely including our faults.
Instead we were asked to rid ourselves of our faults in order to be loved by Him.
! A vital flaw within Regnum Christi is the separation from the family. As parents,
we are entrusted with our children and they are placed under our authority and care. It
is very hard to find a parent who does not intrinsically love their child and want only
good for their child. The Movement sought to disrupt and usurp the natural parent child
relationship replacing it instead with a distrust between the child and his/her parent. For
me, throughout my childhood, I saw my parents sacrificing everything for my well-being.
Before they made decisions for me, I knew that they prayed and discerned Godʼs will for
me. As my parents, they were given the authority and grace by God to discern what was
best for me because they loved me. My parents could tell that something was not right
when I told them that I was certain that I was going to give my life to Christ as a
Consecrated. This would be the same concern any parent would have if your 15 year
old told you they were going to be married in a year. My parents told me that I needed to
come home for my last year of highschool before making that step. I wasnʼt sure what to
think, but it became very clear in spiritual direction. This was the moment when the
warning bells went off in my head. I was told that my parents did not know what Godʼs
will for me was. That they were trying to take me away from my vocation; that I should
resist their decisions. Iʼll never forget the clarity of my thoughts when this was
suggested. I knew I was my parentʼs daughter and under their authority. More
importantly I knew they loved me no matter how full of faults I was. They wanted what
was best for me and that was really Godʼs will. This was the first time I had resisted
anything in spiritual direction. Maybe it was because it was no longer me that was the
“problem” but my parents. It was easier to stick up for others than oneself.
The Regnum Christi movement is dangerous because they demand that you subject
yourself to the “will of God” as proposed by an inexperienced spiritual director who
cannot themselves offer more than the mind games they have been indoctrinated with.
This brings me to what I find to be a fundamentally divisive view within the Movement:
The idea that Godʼs will is not what makes you happy, but the ultimate sacrifice that you
have to do please Him. This idea rejects the fundamental Truth that God is Love. It
perpetuates the notion that we are bound by rules simply to avoid punishment and
misery. Godʼs will is not a path we are forced to follow, but a path that he presents to us
so that we can CHOOSE to follow to find the Truth and peace and ultimately happiness.
Yes, there are sacrifices, or crosses, that will happen along those paths, but God is
there to provide the grace to grow and be sanctified in them. The subtle distinction that
was never mentioned in Regnum Christi is that our vocation is not supposed to be a
cross. Choosing to be married or becoming a priest, nun or consecrated in itself should
be joyful and without the fear of being punished by Him if we turned away from it. I used
to think that being a consecrated or a nun would be the ultimate sacrifice, the hardest
thing in life. Therefore, because it was hardest and thus would be a cross, I needed to
sacrifice myself for Godʼs will. We are not meant to choose a life that will make us
miserable like virgins preparing to be sacrificed to a pagan god. God gives us a vocation
in which we can find happiness. It took years for me to finally realize that Godʼs will is
not to make you miserable. His will for us is a path to bring us closer to Him so we can
discover how much He loves us.
Finally, I have not been as affected by Regnum Christi as some others, but I have seen
first hand many who have suffered greatly. For this reason, I am writing this letter. I think
it is important to voice my story to make clear how the loss of faith and despair is a
direct result of the scandal of Fr. Maciel and other priests within the Movement and the
measures used to attain and grow the “kingdom” on earth. Regnum Christi deceptively
attaches itself to the church. Many people have pointed to “all the good fruit that has
come from the Movement.” That is not the way to look at it. Christ never said “ Just pick
out the bad fruit and look at the good fruit thatʼs left then youʼll know itʼs from Me.” No, if
He is truly present in an order, there can be only good fruit. I firmly believe that the good
that came out of our situations was Godʼs grace working and answering the prayers of
those young girls and boys, men and women, crying to out to Him to show us His will.
God can bring such good out of such evil. People can be deceitful, but God never can.
Strangely enough the greatest gift that I received from this environment of deception
was trust. I learned to trust in the only thing that does not change, God Himself. Over
the years, while I struggled to build up my confidence and regain a sense of self worth, I
could throw myself completely in the arms of Christ knowing that He would heal my
insecurities. He guided me through life to a point where I am happily married and a
mother. Finding Godʼs will in my life has brought its many struggles and will continue to
bring many more, but it is my ultimate joy in life as it is the path towards Him.


  1. "If He is truly present in an order, there can be only good fruit"??? Really? Then how would you explain all the bad fruit that has existed throughout history in the Catholic Church? Does that mean Christ has not been present in the Church? This is NOT a logical argument. Clearly, God can use sinful people to achieve His great and Holy will...look at scripture...God works through flawed individuals. David, one example. There IS good and GREAT fruit from the Legion of Christ and Regnum Christi. I am sorry if you had a personally challenging experience, but that does not mean that that there is not good fruit. Even in your eloquent and passionate discourse, I can see threads of the spiritual formation you were given through the Consecrated Women. I have had the great privilege and blessing to know MANY of them throughout MANY years. They do not deserve this.

  2. 1- The Church interprets good fruits as increasing faith, hope and charity.
    2- The system of formation and methodology of work of RC/LC are flawed and unbalanced, the PEOPLE being part of it are good persons and well intended. THEIR GOOD INTENTION AND GOOD WILL are the ones that have achieved the good things many have experienced in LC/RC and God loves us so much that despite of the perverse methods, He has blessed our well intended work. If the methods and system were ok, the Church would not be trying to reform them.
    3- Consecrated women are not being offended, Tricia is describing facts as well as experience. Consecrated woman KNOW (as I know many of them too) of what was wrong and admit it is a good thing it has changed now into Immmaculate Conception PROGRAM, a whole new different concept than the Precandidacy

  3. Tricia,
    As a high school teacher in Rhode Island, I was proctoring an SAT exam several years ago when a group of highly unusual girls was led into my room. As they settled down to work in silence I began to notice some of the subtle and not so subtle differences between these and typical high school girls. They all wore knee-length skirts and stockings. High necked tops. No makeup. No nail polish. Hair well-groomed.
    During the first brief break we chatted. These students were bright, friendly, innocent, and remarkably enthusiastic as they told me of their boarding school in Wakefield and of their pre-consecrated status in "Regnum Christi."
    As they resumed testing and the room was silent I was in awe to be in the presence of so many people who spend so much of their young lives in seclusion and prayer. It seemed so special - and yet naggingly unsettling. How could I have been raised Catholic in this tiny state and not have been aware of this Catholic boarding school? Why was the school not involved in the larger Rhode Island community? Were these girls aware of the internet? Did they go to the movies? How does such an isolated community function in the world at large?
    Later research revealed the Legion of Christ's controversial and troubling history. I was left with contradictory feelings: admiration and awe for persons with "a calling," yet deep suspicion of Church institutions.
    Last night I learned of your group's appeal to the Vatican, suit, and this blog. Your candor and honesty are commendable. You are bright and earnest women and are learning to trust your own judgment and faith - you speak truth to power. My best to you.