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Turn to Jesus (Article)

Immaculate Conception Program
Regnum Christi releases progress statement about the pre-candidacy program

Queen of the Family Retreat Center
The Queen of the Family Retreat Center in Oxford, Michigan

Oxford, MichiganAt the request of our Regnum Christi members for an update, we are releasing a Progress Statement on the Immaculate Conception pre-candidacy program for high school girls.  The statement follows:

Immaculate Conception Information Sheet

July 11, 2012

Immaculate Conception Academy has been in operation for 20 years.  The school serves high school girls who are open and desire to discern or start a discernment process of a possible vocation to a life of consecration in Regnum Christi, following their graduation from high school.

In early July, 2012, a group of former Immaculate Conception Academy pre-candidates wrote a letter to the Legion of Christ Vatican Delegate, Cardinal Velasio de Paolis, and copied Nicole Winfield, the Vatican correspondent to the Associated Press in Rome, who released a news article about the letter and the ICA program on July 9, 2012. 

The letter and news article discussed the negative aspects of these girls’ experience in the United States branch of the “pre-candidacy program,” Immaculate Conception Academy.  Their concerns range in a broad spectrum, and some of them are very valid, including the effects of the life of the founder in the institution, the lack of freedom of conscience in choosing their own spiritual guides, the fact that they experienced a need to involve parents more in their discernment process, not having more experienced formators with the girls, and a lack of freedom regarding correspondence sent to them.

In a letter to RC and ICA personnel, Monica Trevino, Territorial Director of the Regnum Christi consecrated women, stated she is “saddened to think that some of the former pre-candidates were hurt, and I would love for us to be able to reach out to them, and for them to have peace that some of these changes are in fact are being made.”

“At the same time, it is just that we thank God for all the good that He has done in all these years at the pre-candidacy where many have come to experience Christ’s love and a deep friendship with Him.”

Monica said the Regnum Christi consecrated women “are looking at all of these problems or misapplications in our pedagogy and have already made many changes in this regard following the guidance and indications of the Church.”  She also said “we are embarking on a deeper reflection to offer the girls who experience this invitation from Jesus in an environment of freedom and love where they can grow in their friendship with Him and at the same time receive the formation required in this stage in their development with all that it entails.”

A key element that has been adjusted refers to the period of discernment that takes place before a young woman takes on promises of poverty, chastity and obedience.  Previously young women could be admitted to consecration after high school.  Following the guidelines of the Church, this has been modified so that now, after high school, the person participates in a candidacy program for two months to begin her two years of formation before taking temporal promises for three years.  In practice, what this means for the pre-candidacy is that the focus of the Immaculate Conception program is no longer discernment for a life of consecration, but providing an environment for a deeper relationship with Christ while getting to know more about a life of consecration in Regnum Christi.

Discernment, as properly understood, takes place once the person enters the formation center.  This is reflected in the fact that now, it is normal practice that students are encouraged and given assistance as they apply for different colleges, if this is what they want to do after high school. Other improvements in the program now include: more communication and contact between the ICA students and their families; more opportunities for the students to be able to exercise their freedom in the management of time to
Margarita Martinez
Margarita Martinez
help foster maturity; more contact with the realities of the world through attendance at an external school, while still receiving the opportunity for a deeper prayer life, apostolic commitment and personal accompaniment.

The ICA program has been moved from Wakefield, Rhode Island, to Oxford, Michigan to the Queen of the Family retreat and boarding facility starting with the 2011-12 school year, and will be known as the “Immaculate Conception Program.”

The girls will live together at the Oxford facility, guided and accompanied by specially selected consecrated women and other qualified women dedicated directly to their formation.  The students will have “a vibrant spiritual life of daily prayer, the sacraments, and periodic personal guidance, as well as solid leadership training in the apostolic field.” 

For their academic formation, ICP students will be attending Everest Collegiate High School in Clarkston, Michigan and participating in extracurricular activities, including sports and the arts. Everest is a Legion of Christ school with a superb academic reputation. The Everest curriculum coincides with the curriculum followed at the Wakefield location.

While addressing practical and current economic realities, the relocation from Wakefield to Michigan will allow the IC program to continue to provide a consistent and character-maturing environment of formation and discernment.

Margarita Martinez has been named the new Immaculate Conception Program director.  She has been consecrated for more than 16 years and has extensive experience as a director in our schools.  Before she made her consecration, she herself attended one of the pre-candidacies.

Recently Margarita participated in three days of training for all the directors of the consecrated women in the United States.  She said this time offered support to help her “during this time of renewal and moving forward, always keeping Christ and the good of others as our primary focus.”

Margarita will work with a team of 15 consecrated women in Oxford.  Some will be with the Immaculate Conception students on a regular basis, while others will be working with them at school and in the various apostolic projects.

Of the IC program improvements, Margarita said she believes “we have found the balance of a protected environment to meet the requirements of growth in friendship with Christ, prayer, knowledge and appreciation of a vocation to consecration and life, combined with an experience of engagement in an external school community.  We believe this environment will provide a balance for students to mature socially and in human virtue, while offering solid spiritual formation.”

Anyone who wants to make suggestions or has ideas for the Immaculate Conception Program renewal process can send them to Margarita Martinez at  These will be studied carefully to ensure we are responding to the stage of development of the adolescent girls and providing the environment of formation that the students and their families are seeking.



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