The 2002 Youth and Family Encounter of the Regnum Christi
movement brought together families, priests and consecrated men and women
in the spirit of Vatican II to share innovative and
pratical ways to evangelize today´s post-Christian culture.
|Father Anthony Bannon LC, territorial director of the Legion of Christ for North America.|
"It´s impressive to
take part in a gathering so focused on doing something
positive to build the future of the Church," said Dr.
Barry Sugarman, a university administrator from central New Jersey who
first learned about Regnum Christi when he lived here in
Maryland. "In these days when the Church takes such a
beating in the headlines, it´s important to recharge our spiritual
batteries for the work we do back home in our
The event was hosted and organized by hundreds of members
of Regnum Christi members from across the archdiocese. "It
was a lot of blood, sweat, and tears to pull
together such an event", said Miki Hill of St. Alphonsus
parish in Woodstock, MD, "but now it is such a
joy to see everyone celebrating our faith that it was
worth the work we all put into it."
Bob Cohn, of
St. John´s parish in Severna Park, said that members of
the lay movement worked for 18 months to make the
weekend a time for renewal in their faith. "What
we hope each person takes away from this event is
a deeper commitment to work for evangelization no matter where
they are. The Church needs more apostles in the
"Baltimore is such a beautiful city," said Maria Fiaes,
a native of Bulgaria now serving as a Regnum Christi
missionary in the Philippines. "I enjoyed learning the history of
the Church in this city, and becoming a part of
its Catholic history in this Encounter."
Regnum Christi, Latin for "Kingdom
of Christ," is one of the new ecclesial movements Pope
John Paul II has hailed as a "sign of the
springtime of evangelization foretold by Vatican II." In North America,
the movement currently numbers some seven thousand lay members.
Baltimore event revolved around the theme "If you are what
you should be, you will set the whole world ablaze!"
Pope John Paul II spoke those words to Regnum Christi
during the previous Youth and Family Encounter in Rome, January
The Encounter opened Friday evening with the musical talents
of Kitty Cleveland, an operatic singer from New Orleans now
dedicated to Christian music, and a band comprised of Legion
of Christ seminarians. Father Owen Kearns LC, editor-in-chief and
publisher of the National Catholic Register and Faith & Family
magazine, gave a rousing address charging the attendees to be
serious about "setting the world ablaze with the Gospel." If
"you are what you should be," Father Kearns asked, "what
are you waiting for?"
He was followed by keynote speaker Dr.
William Bennett, the former secretary of education and author of
numerous best-selling books, including his latest, The Broken Hearth. Dr.
Bennett encouraged attendees to "Be not afraid" of sharing the
message of how "things unseen"-- God, Christian values and the
commitment to marriage -- make more of an impact on
our culture than do the material goods with which Americans
Baltimore´s Cardinal William Keeler celebrated the Eucharist with Regnum
Christi members the morning of Saturday the 13th. The Cardinal
asked members where they had come from, welcoming "back home"
those attendees from the 31 states that originally were part
of the Baltimore Diocese. In his homily, he focused on
the family as a "small Church" in which we must
build the faith, defending against such invasive social ills as
After the mass, Cardinal Keeler toured the Encounter´s exhibition hall
where some forty Regnum Christi apostolates were on display. Some
are serving the archdiocese of Baltimore, such as Woodmont Academy,
a private Catholic elementary school approved by the Cardinal in
1995 with nearly 300 students and which is developing a
new campus in Howard County. Regnum Christi members are also
active in parishes in Howard, Baltimore, Anne Arundel, Fredrick and
Harford counties promoting apostolates such as Kids for Jesus, Familia,
Conquest Boys and Challenge girls clubs. Other apostolates featured
included a range of missionary and evangelization efforts, such as
Catholic World Mission, which funds a network of schools and
other outreach services for the poor in Third World countries,
and Helping Hand Medical Mission, which brings North American medical
expertise to the needy poor of Mexico, El Salvador, Venezuela
|The Movement continues to grow throughout the United States.|
"We´re overwhelmed and grateful for the warmth and kindness
of Cardinal Keeler in welcoming us and so generously giving
us his time. We are encouraged by his words, and
we enjoyed the opportunity to show him some of the
many ways we serve the Church locally and internationally," said
Father Anthony Bannon LC, territorial director of Regnum Christi in
North America. Father Bannon addressed the convention with a focus
on each person living his or her true vocation. God
calls each of us "to a generous and free response,
taking up the charge to be laborers for the harvest,"
The Encounter included tracks for various age groups,
from pre-schoolers through various school-age groups to college students, single
professionals and married couples -- something for everyone old enough
to be potty trained.
Featured speakers for the married couples
included Art Bennett, a family therapist from northern Virginia who
spoke on ways to improve a couple´s relationship. "If you
view your spouse as part of the cross you have
to carry, there´s something wrong," Bennett said. "To love someone
means to really know them. If your love for your
spouse is overshadowed by negative feelings, it´s time to go
deeper in knowing and loving one another," he said.
Guarendi, noted Catholic Psychologist and author of You´re a Better
Parent than you Think, entertained the married couples with his
witty presentation of how to raise well-mannered children in a
culture of "parenting experts" whose advice, he believes, often lead
to chaos. "I´m not going to insult you by telling
you that you need to affirm your children," Dr. Guarendi
said. "I´ll assume you love your children enough to do
a very good job of that. "What I urge you
to do is not what´s ´psychologically correct´ in this day
and age but what´s ´morally correct,´ to help your children
grow up with the good manners and self-discipline every parent
wants but too few now achieve," he said.
The Baltimore event
was fifth Youth and Family Encounter in the United States.
Previous ones have been held in Chicago, Indianapolis, Saint Louis,
and Atlanta. "Every city that has hosted one of these
events has seen a growth of Regnum Christi membership," said
Father Richard Gill LC of Bethesda. "We´re excited by the
prospect of increasing the ways we can be of service
to Cardinal Keeler and the local parishes."