|Fr. Paul Waddell (front right) with some of his friends in the Legion of Christ|
The Legionary brothers and fathers that passed through Thornwood
in recent years all know Fr. Paul Waddell. Every one
that meets him is touched by his joy, simplicity and
love for Christ. Fr. Paul is originally from an Italian
family in Bronx, New York, and was ordained a priest
in the Archdiocese of New York in 1984. He is currently parochial vicar of St. Mary of the
Assumption Parish in Katonah, NY. Last summer he
joined the Regnum Christi Movement as a diocesan priest. Here
he shares his experience:
How did you
meet the Legion?
in the early 90’s when I had been a priest
for five years. A diocesan priest friend of mine invited
me to a “Day of Recollection,” a type of retreat
for priests which was organized by a Legionary of Christ,
Fr. Peter Hopkins. The Day of Recollection was very helpful.
I liked that what I was hearing was very deep
and spiritual. I participated in those days of recollection for
about a year or so. Then I was reassigned and
moved to a different parish and lost touch with the
From that point on,
I had a great respect for the Legion. Later on
I moved to a parish in Katonah, very close to
Thornwood, and as our pastor was sick, we asked the
Legionaries to help us with weekend Masses. Also,
the Legionaries started to preach Lent missions every year at
|Fr. Paul Waddell joins the Regnum Christi movement|
did you receive the call to be a Regnum Christi
member? And what is it like to be a diocesan
priest and a member of the Regnum Christi movement?
These past years in Katonah I
became more and more impressed with the beautiful spirituality of
the Legionaries I knew. I went to many events at
their seminary in Thornwood and was very attracted to their
spirituality. I was impressed with the seriousness, commitment, enthusiasm, and
joy of the brothers. They kept inviting me to be
more and more a part of their Legionary family. I
started to learn more and more, and in my own
prayer life I began feeling very connected to the Legion.
The Lord put in my heart the desire to adopt
the Legionaries as my brothers. I began to pray and
intercede for the Legion in my own Holy Hour every
morning. I prayed for all Legionaries before the Blessed Sacrament,
especially during this recent time of trial and renewal.
Then, last summer I was invited
by a brother who had already been assigned to move
elsewhere, to accompany the Legionaries of Thornwood and Cheshire on
their vacation to New Hampshire. He asked the superiors if
I could go, and they gave the green light. It
was a really powerful and providential experience. There I experienced
the strong prayerfulness of the Legionaries, even in the middle
of vacation. We also had a lot of fun. We
would have deep conversations with the brothers climbing the mountains
during hikes. Some brothers would accompany me during
the hikes. Every day I was with different brothers. We
had beautiful conversations: the brothers shared their vocation stories, their
difficulties, their lives, and they asked me questions about my
That was a
retreat for me. I know that nobody is perfect, but
I was very edified by their sincere love for Jesus
Christ, their joy and real desire to conquer the world
for him. That affected me deeply.
Just before going to New Hampshire I read the
book 33 days to Morning Glory and made
a special consecration to Mary, leaving everything in her hands.
The Blessed Mother listened to my prayers. Something was happening
inside of me in New Hampshire. I was so happy.
I felt that the Lord was asking me to take
a further step in my life. It came strongly when
I joined the prayers with the brothers. I would weep
reading the prayers in their prayer book. It
was such a time of grace and growth.
A desire for deep prayer life came.
|Fr. Paul gave this crucifix to the Legion with the inscription, “With gratitude to my Legionary brothers.” It now hangs at the seminary in Cheshire, Connecticut. |
One day I went on an outing with
the brothers and fathers, and on the way back, a
priest sat beside me on the bus, and I told
him: “I feel so connected to the Legion. How can
I become closer, a real member of the family?” The
following day I found myself joining the Regnum Christi movement
at Mass with all the brothers present. When I came
back to New York, I told my spiritual director what
happened, to which he replied, “There is no doubt that
God was powerfully at work in you.”
Now I unite myself every day with the
Legionaries, praying my morning prayers at the same time with
them before the Blessed Sacrament in my parish, praying for
all those I know by name. I feel that we
are truly spiritually united. We are part of the same
family. The fraternal
support of my dear priest friends in the Legion has
been an immense support, encouragement, and tremendous grace for me
in my priesthood. They are true brothers and fathers to
me by word and example -- true friends I can
is your experience of the Charism of Regnum Christi?
Recently I wanted to give a
token to the Legionaries for what I have received from
them. In the rectory where I live, I had a
beautiful crucifix painted in Greece that meant a lot to
me. I donated it to the Legion, and it is
in Cheshire now. On the back I put a note
saying: “With gratitude to my Legionary brothers.”
As our Lord sent the Holy Spirit upon
the fishermen and caught the whole world in his net,
may He give to all Legionaries the gift of the
Holy Spirit and the courage in this day and age
to be his apostles, to catch the whole world in
the net of the great Lover of mankind. That is what I think of the Legion and Regnum
Christ. Our mission is to spread the Kingdom
of Christ everywhere. Our charism is located in the New
Evangelization of John Paul II, Benedict XVI and Pope Francis.
We need to do what Jesus did. He
took those fishermen, filled them with the Holy Spirit and
caught the whole world in his net. That is what
the Movement and Legion need to do -- to catch
the whole world in our Lord’s net.
How has the Legion and the
Movement helped your parish?
times, in the spring, the ground is all dried up,
and then there are a couple of days of rain. It is that rain which is quiet, steady,
and gentle. This soft rain, little by little,
penetrates the dry earth and life flourishes. That is what
I saw the Legionaries doing in my parish when they
came to celebrate Mass or when the brothers visited for
a parish mission. Little by little, they touched the lives
of people by their preaching and by their example. They
caught people in the net of Christ.
Do you have any message to
the lay members of Regnum Christi?
The Regnum Christi members
need to be the yeast in the dough out in
the world. They need to keep approaching people and giving
witness. There are many people that have never experienced Christ
in their lives. They are deeply self-centered. Just
as St. Thomas the Apostle needed to touch Christ to
believe, many people will not believe unless they touch and
see. The Regnum Christy laity is supposed to
be Christ to those people, so that they may touch,
see and hear Christ through them, and doing this, they
will come to believe.