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Turn to Jesus (Article)

Living in God’s Gift
Caroline Lucas, a Regnum Christi consecrated woman from Dunedin, New Zealand, explains how her vocation is a gift both for herself and for her country.

Caroline Lucas

November 27, 2008. Greenville, RI. My name is Caroline Lucas and I am from Dunedin, New Zealand. I am the youngest of eight children and I have been consecrated in the Regnum Christi Movement for four years.  Currently I live in Greenville, Rhode Island, USA. Greenville is more like one street than a suburb, but to be more specific, it is 20 minutes northwest of Providence and an hour south of Boston. I live with approximately 120 other consecrated women– around 90 of us are in our formation or training period and the other 30 are in full-time outreach or apostolic work.

Preparing for a Mission

This year (September 2008 - June 2009), is my 4th and last year of formation at Mater Ecclesiae College. Our formation program includes studies in Christian and Regnum Christi spirituality, philosophy, theology, pastoral studies and communications. We graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in Religious and Pastoral Studies. So this year my classes include Educational Psychology, General Psychology, Catechetics, Canon Law, General Pedagogy, Pastoral Youth Work, and Communications. Our final year of formation, the “pastoral” year, is a culmination of all four years of study, and a preparation for whatever God has in store for the years ahead.

It’s not all studies though.  During our formation period, each one of us works for a few hours each week on a particular apostolate. For the last year and a half, I have been on a team working in the New Jersey area (about a 4-5 hour drive south of Rhode Island).  I work with Carolyn Hawkesworth, a consecrated woman who is from South Africa. We visit a Challenge club there to train the team leaders of the younger girls, helping them to grow in their friendship with Christ, form virtues, and develop their talents and leadership skills so they can be put at the service of God and others. We also visit families and organize retreats in the area. Working with adolescents is very demanding, yet seeing them gradually becoming more mature and convinced of their faith, “making it their own,” has been beautiful.

At the end of this year, I will receive my first assignment to work full-time at the service of the church in one of Regnum Christi’s apostolates, such as Challenge clubs, in schools, or with university students or young professionals.

Several people have asked me, “What would you like to do if you got to choose?” I can honestly say that I want to do whatever God has planned for me.  Studies aside, as a consecrated woman what matters is giving Jesus Christ to others in every place, moment or situation. It brings to mind the well-known joke “How do you make God laugh? Tell him your plans for the next five years.”

Responding to a Gift

Some of you may be thinking – “This is all very nice, but how did she get there in the first place?” Well, to make a long story short, during secondary school I decided to give a year as a Regnum Christi coworker, which is an opportunity to volunteer 1-3 years of full-time service to the Church, working in a Regnum Christi apostolate. I first heard about the program through my older brothers and some consecrated women who visited New Zealand about twice a year. It attracted me because I wanted to solidify my faith before I went to university.

During my coworker year, it gradually became clear that God was inviting me to give a little more than a year. Initially, the closeness to God through prayer and being able to give him to others in a more permanent and whole-hearted way did inspire me. However, the idea of giving my life to God exclusively and forever definitely made me a little uneasy. I think the turning point was when I stopped weighing the options over and over and looking at what I was leaving behind.  I finally realized who it was that was asking, and what he was offering – a gift. I had never seen it that way before. As I discovered God’s love and his personal plan for me, I became more and more grateful for the gift of my vocation. When I saw that it was a gift I was being offered, how could I not respond?

Frequently, when I meet people for the first time they ask, “Don’t you miss your family and New Zealand? I’ve heard it’s the most beautiful country in the world!” I begin by affirming that I do miss my family, and that they are right, New Zealand is the most beautiful place in the world; in fact, it’s “God’s-zone.” However, I also share the experience I have had.  Although God asks for the great sacrifice of leaving family and friends behind, he also supplies the faith and the grace necessary to fulfill his will, whatever and wherever it may be. He also provides in unexpected ways: so far I’ve been able to see my family every year since my consecration.

Tertullian once said “The blood of martyrs is the seed of Christians.” I think the white martyrdom that is a part in every vocation, the daily sacrifice of not being with one’s family and of being away from home, will surely strengthen the Church in New Zealand. For each young person God calls from New Zealand, he will surely bless abundantly the “soil” from which they came.



Related links

Official web site of the Vatican.
Legionaries of Christ
For Your Vocation
Mater Ecclesaie College

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