|The team of consecrated women in Chicago.|
Northlake, Illinois -- It is during one of the rare
“days off” for the Chicago-area consecrated women of Regnum Christi
that you can learn a lot about them. Monday’s are
called “community” day, and if you happen to visit on
this day, you will likely hear laughter and music ringing
through the house as the women recreate together, enjoy playing
dominoes and board games and listening to their favorite songs
on the small iPod speaker system.
This relaxing day, however, is
an oasis in the busy lives of the women in
this community. The group has cultivated a very productive work
environment at their home parish, within their vicariate and in
the Archdiocese of Chicago as a whole.
According to Mary Maher,
the Director of the consecrated women in Chicago, the women
work well together because of their philosophy of life. “The
key to our success is two-fold: prayer and team life,”
she said. “We are deeply united in Christ and our
shared consecration. The love we receive and share here at
home drives us out to minister to others.”
Thirteen women live
together in a former convent at St. John Vianney Parish
in NorthLake, IL. They also help a great deal within
the life of their parish.
“It’s truly a joy to
help our dedicated pastor Fr. Tom Refermatt, and his associate
Fr. Luke, in attending to the families of St. John
Vianney,” said Mary. “Whether it’s teaching CCD, speaking to the
school children, challenging the girls to a game of basketball
or reading at mass, we feel right at home. The
first place we want to serve is our home parish.”
One of the consecrated women, Saira Herboth, serves as the
Coordinator of Religious Education for the parish. Others, like Katelyn
Moroney, teach catechism classes.
“Our local Legionary priests make themselves available
to help too,” said Mary. “They regularly say Mass at
St. John Vianney and other parishes in the Archdiocese, and
offer formation activities for families and youth.”
Their work, however,
is not limited to their home parish. Katelyn also helps
with catechist certification classes for the Chicago Archdiocese, recently leading
a class on the Catholic liturgy, sacraments and prayer for
catechists in training in Vicariate IV.
“Whatever comes up – however
we can help,” said Mary. “We are here to serve.
It’s not about our programs; it’s about helping each parish,
each family, each person, to know the love of Jesus
and embrace their Catholic faith.”
|Marian Catholic students pray with a mother during missions.|
“Mary has encouraged us to serve
the diocese in the structures they have set up,” said
“Getting to Know You”
How were these women, as well
as the LC priests, able to make these opportunities happen?
The women will tell you it is by making a
“We try to get out there, meet people and
develop sincere relationships,” said Mary. “As women, we have hearts
that were made to love. John Paul II spoke of
the spiritual motherhood exercised by consecrated women as a gift
for mankind. We want to accompany people on their journey.”
The words from the famous musical “The King and I”
seem very apropos here -- “Getting to know you, getting
to know all about you. Getting to like you, getting
to hope you like me.”
Both the consecrated women and
the Legionaries of Christ in Chicago have a close relationship
to their Archbishop, Francis Cardinal George, who has visited their
home to say Mass and dine with them.
has been very open to us and very supportive, truly
a spiritual father,” said Mary.
They also introduced themselves to
the Director of the Respect Life Office, and other Archdiocesan
employees, especially the Youth Ministry Coordinators. They were invited to
attend regular meetings in their vicariate, and in others as
well. The consecrated sought to help out with Archdiocesan activities,
and also began inviting members of the Archdiocese to come
to local Regnum Christi events. Over time, real friendships and
on-going collaboration developed.
“We want to be part of our
Archdiocese. We are one Body, one family. Movements exist to
serve the local Church,” said Mary.
The consecrated asked diocesan
leaders, such as the Vocations Director, the Director of the
Respect Life Office, and the personal secretary of the Cardinal
to come and speak at their own youth and women’s
“I think mutual trust and respect have been key,” said
Mary. “People don’t feel threatened by us, because we truly
respect them and support what they are doing. I hope
the members of our diocese feel loved and cared for
by the consecrated women.”
The Fruits are Evident
to build relationships within the archdiocese have born great fruit,
leading to several invitations by the vicariate and diocesan leaders
for the consecrated to help with various programs.
sisters of Springfield, who run Marian Catholic High School in
|The Chicago team enjoys a game of dominoes.|
Chicago Heights, IL, have invited the consecrated to run a
Mission Youth club and help with school retreats. Katelyn Moroney
recently preached a Lenten day of reflection for the students,
sharing her experience after a mission trip to Haiti. The
consecrated also help teach religion classes at the school occasionally.
“The best part about it is our friendship with the
sisters,” said Mary. “They are truly part of our family,
and we learn a lot from them.”
The consecrated women were
invited to serve as spiritual coaches and fundraisers for youth
ministers interested in taking a group to the upcoming World
Youth Day in Spain. They were asked to run a
retreat for all the youth ministers in Vicariate IV, and
to assist different youth ministers in establishing their youth groups.
The consecrated were part of the Catholics Come Home team
last year, and assisted in the implementation of this archdiocesan
campaign last year, especially for the Hispanic parishes.
were a direct result of our attending the Vicariate meetings,”
said Mary. “It’s a matter of getting out there, discovering
the needs, and offering to help out.”
The RC Mission corps
volunteers (coworkers) assigned to Chicago have also lent a hand
by making flyers for diocesan events when needed. And the
consecrated add such information to their Facebook page.
Crediting the Archdiocese
we can’t take credit for any of this,” said Mary.
“It’s God’s grace leading us, showing us where our charism
can fit in here in Chicago. And our Archdiocese is
open and supportive of Movements like ours.”
She said the
Archdiocese holds an annual gathering with the Cardinal for the
Movements and New Ecclesial Communities. The most recent event took
place in October, 2010 with the theme “Youth in the
Church Today.” Also, the archdiocesan liaison for the Movements, Mary
Hallan FioRito, “does a great job keeping us connected to
each other and to the local Church,” said Mary.
a great place to live, love and serve. Go Cubs!”
smiled Mary, as she headed back to finish her “community”
day dominoes tournament.