|Joanne Lou, front, on pilgrimage with the RC consecrated women to Our Lady of Tears in Civitavecchia near Rome.|
Following is the testimony of Joanne Luo, a native of
Singapore, who recently incorporated into the Regnum Christi movement.
you join Regnum Christi?
To be honest, when I was first
posed this question, I was stunned. I didn’t have an
answer. Politically-correct answers eluded me. I toiled over the question
for days on end, perturbed that this colossal life decision
had escaped my conscious analysis. Why did I join Regnum
Christi? And why did I not have an answer?
a beautiful moment of revelation, it hit me. Asking me
why I had joined Regnum Christi was like asking me,
“Why did you fall in love?” My heart, designed for
the infinite love of Christ, was defenseless against the tsunami
of grace that He bestowed upon me through Regnum Christi.
I was a sitting duck, merely waiting to be enraptured
by Christ’s love. In truth, my journey in and with
Regnum Christi has been my love story with God. And
without a doubt, I have fallen deeply in love.
a 22-year-old Catholic girl from Singapore. This year, as part
of my college elective, I embarked on a personal pilgrimage
to Europe for six weeks, 35000 km away from home.
It was my first time to Europe, my first time
away for so long and my first time alone. Prior
to the trip, my only contact in Rome was a
Legionary seminarian, Br. Luis Lorenzo, whom I knew solely through
email. In fact, I knew next to nothing about the
Legion or the Regnum Christi Movement, having only briefly met
Fr. Simon Devereux LC and a few brothers at JFK
airport in New York the previous year. However, upon learning
that my email address began with ilovejoanne, they chorused, “We
love Joanne too!” I knew we were off to a
Christ Our Lord, Thy Kingdom Come!
When I first arrived
in La Giustiniana, the home of the consecrated women in
Rome, one of the consecrated, Marta, uttered the simple words,
“Welcome home!” At that point in time, I couldn’t comprehend
the degree to which these words would find their fulfillment
and how those halls would truly become my home and
No effort was spared in making me feel part
of the family. For one, they graciously accepted “Sister” or
“Mother” as the prefix to their names after I had
insisted that as an Asian, I just couldn’t do away
with the prefix as a sign of my respect. “Besides,”
I reasoned, “you are truly like family to me!”
particularly appreciated their genuine and, for some, Herculean efforts to
converse in English so as to accommodate me. But truth
be told, they didn’t know that I secretly enjoyed listening
to their conversations precisely when I didn’t understand. Not comprehending
the spoken language enabled me to fully imbibe the universal
language of love. I was absolutely transfixed by the sincerity,
tenderness and respect they had for one another evident, even
when there were in disagreements! The aura of immense warmth
and exuberant joy that emanated from within them was ineffable,
entirely beyond words. This was my glimpse of Heaven. Through
our little encounters, I came to the tacit realization that
they love in that manner because they were first loved
by Christ, because they allow Him to reign as King
in their hearts and in so doing, draw from the
eternal and inexhaustible fountain of love.
|Joanne, center, with some tall Legionary friends.|
Jesus Christ, My Best
Once, left to my own devices on the Regina Apostolorum
campus, I unintentionally stumbled upon 300 Legionaries in the midst
of Eucharistic Hour in the Chapel! I was about to
make a stealthy exit when Br. Diego Giraldo approached and
invited me to join them. Sensing my reluctance, he made
me an offer I couldn’t refuse. Motioning to a beautiful
statue of the Virgin Mary, he said ‘You know, she
is blessed among women. You… shall be blessed among men.’
My heart swelled with joy. I understood at once that
Br. Diego was my friend and brother. I knew that
I belonged. In the depths of my heart, I understood
that I belong to this communion of saints united in
the one Body of Christ.
Being with the Legionaries was especially
moving for me for the reason that, as priests are
entrusted with the unique and beautiful vocation to act in
Persona Christi, I’ve always regarded companionship with priests to be
company with Christ. Therefore, being with the Legionaries was like
experiencing 300 different ways in which Christ wanted to befriend
I had only expected to meet a few Legionaries and
consecrated persons in Rome, and then spend the rest of
my time in Europe in quiet oblivion. But perhaps Our
Father had much greater plans, unfathomable to me, even now.
From the Shroud of Turin exhibition in Cologne, to traveling
for three hours to Paris with Viviana, to Holy Mass
for Jeanne and Renee’s renewal of vows in Paris, to
Rosary devotion and Mass with hundreds of children and Gaëtane
in Lourdes, to staying with Lorli’s parents and visiting the
RC “empire” with Melanie in Barcelona, my entire journey was
peppered with ‘close encounters of the RC kind’ - completely
supernatural and Divine.
I felt a remarkably profound sense of belonging
to the community everywhere I went, which was incredible since
I was with people I´d never even met before, who
look completely different from me, whom I fail miserably to
communicate (verbally) with and whose average height is way beyond
the upper limit of the height charts we have in
Singapore! I was completely different from them in every way,
except in the way that matters. They have become my
family because of the binding love we’ve received through Jesus
The community I’ve found in Regnum Christi is not only
like a lighthouse that simply aids in the navigation towards
my destination, it has also become the very current that
sweeps me off my feet right into the loving embrace
of the Father.
When I came back to Rome, there
|Joanne, second from right, with her new family on the day of her RC incorporation.|
was no doubt in my mind that I wanted to
be part of the Regnum Christi family. I expressed my
intense desire to be incorporated, to the delight of Br.
Luis and Marta. (I secretly think they pretended to be
surprised because they totally saw it coming.) A flurry of
preparation ensued and within a week, on June 29, 2013
– the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, I found
myself standing in the Director General’s chapel, before Father Sylvester
Heereman himself! A huge grin broke out across my face.
I savored every word that was proclaimed -- a symphony
to my ears and music to my soul. In a
Holy Spirit-inspired homily, Fr. Sylvester used the exact words I
had shared with the consecrated just the previous day after
a little retreat I participated in. “I am not in
control.” Truly, God is in total control!
Then with one accord,
my new sisters and brothers and I proceeded to the
first Mass I will attend as a Regnum Christi member,
which were the Legionary Diaconate Ordinations. There I witnessed the
epitome of the very spirituality, community and mission I had
just professed. What more could I have asked?
You are Never
Alone - Be Not Afraid
Yet, I was filled with doubt.
Holiness had never been my forte. Indeed, quite contrarily, I
have always imagined my heart as a ‘holey’ heart, punctured
with inadequacies, weaknesses and failures. For me, holiness was unattainable,
impossible. How am I to be a conduit of the
love of God for others, in the way my RC
brothers and sisters are for me, when I am plagued
by these ‘holes’? God’s grace me flooded me with a
profound realization -- it is precisely because of these holes
that His light will radiate through. Because of the holes,
the world will see that it was He who put
the light in me. And only then will my “holey”
heart be sanctified into a holy heart.
But still I knew
that I couldn’t continue on my mission in Singapore alone.
“Please Daddy!” I prayed. “You can’t let me be alone!
You have to send someone!”
The very next day, God answered
my plea, stamped with His unmistakable imprint for drama and
humor. I had set off alone for the final papal
audience with two tickets in hand, not knowing where they
would gain me access. Amidst hundreds of religious in their
Roman collars, my Regnum Christi-radar resounded and I spotted a
I’d never seen him before. But how could I
not recognize my own brother? I approached him, looked up
into the distance, and said “Hi! Brother? Are you a
“Yes! How did you know?” I simply beamed. I told
Br. Jean-Christophe LC about my predicament, to which he replied,
“Sure! I’ll take you to the gate, but I won’t
be able to enter with you because I don’t have
a ticket!” I flashed a huge grin and said, “Perfect!
Because I have two!”
Little did I know that I had
found a translator, a running commentator, a periscope, a mentor
on how to get the Pope’s attention and an eternal
friend and big brother, all rolled into my Br. JC!
the audience, we parted ways as I headed for the
Vatican Museums, unaware that it was universally understood as the
location for the papal audience after-party. As I walked down
the Greek galleries, lost among throngs of people, a great
wave of loneliness overwhelmed me. These words rang in my
head “If only I could just spot a familiar face
or meet a Legionary that I could say hello to!
Ten seconds later, in the most dramatic of manners,
a door opened on my right and a blinding light
flooded in from the outside. I could only make out
a vague black figure before I heard the words, “Hey!
You look familiar! I think I know you… Joanne! Fancy
meeting you here!”
Lo and behold, it was Br. Nicholas
Carlson, another Legionary I had met on St. Peter’s Square
that very morning! I couldn’t help but laugh. “Thank you
Daddy!” I prayed. I could almost hear Him say, “You
are never alone. Do not be afraid.”
Go and Make Disciples
of All Nations
On the day I departed from Rome for
Singapore, I made a curious observation. Marta probably didn’t realize
it but she had worn the same combination of clothes
to receive me from the airport and to send me
off. When I had first arrived, I thought, “Wow she
is really dedicated! She came to welcome me adorned in
the colors of my national flag!” Yet, when I departed,
it had an entirely different significance to me. The colors
of my national flag were the very same colors of
the RC crest! In my heart, I felt that Marta
was exhorting me to continue my mission in Singapore, to
“Go and Make Disciples of All Nations.”
I’m Roman Catholic. And
I’m Regnum Christi.