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A New Family Member
U. S. A. | WHO WE ARE | NEWS
Regnum Christi member Joanne Luo tells why she joined the movement

Joanne with the RC consecrated women
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.

Why did 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?

Then, in 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.

I am 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 good start.

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 sanctuary. 

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!”

I also 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
Joanne Lou with Legionary friends.
Joanne, center, with some tall Legionary friends.
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. 

Jesus Christ, My Best Friend

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 me.

Family

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 Christ.

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.

My Incorporation

When I came back to Rome, there
Joanne with the family
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 Legionary!

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 Legionary?”

“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!

After 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! If only!”

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.


PUBLICATION DATE: 2013-09-18


 
 


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