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Turn to Jesus (Article)

Territorial Assembly for Consecrated Women
Twenty five gather to reflect on path forward, review renewal progress

Territorial assembly for consecrated

Twenty-five Regnum Christi consecrated women gathered in Thornwood, NY from October 11 to 17 to review the draft of their Statues and send the conclusions to Rome for the General Assembly.

The gathering opened with a retreat preached by Nancy Nohrden, territorial director, inviting the women to a deep conversion of heart. Each day began with 45 minutes of adoration before the Blessed Sacrament exposed and each day concluded with the Celebration of the Eucharist.

Participants recognized their natural differences, along with the common spirituality that united them.  There was great diversity among the participants: 7 different nationalities, different ages (from 23 to 50 years old), different years of consecrated life, different apostolates and personal experiences.

Participants included Nancy Nohrden, Michelle Reiff, Denise Funke, Mary Smith, Glory Darbellay, Cecilia Azcúnaga, Deb Bauer, Lucy Honner, Patricia Camarero, Magdalena Fainé, Lauren Hawkesworth, Nicolette Chmiel, Naoise Johnston, Joan Kingsland, Maria Knuth, Caroline Lucas, Mary Maher, Kathleen Murphy, Betty Rivera, Adrienne Rowles, Daire Ryan, Mary Schwarz, Maritza Silva, Monica Treviño and Bryn Killoran. (see photo)

Several participants offered their reflections on the experience of the assembly:

Nicolette Chmiel

The gathering of the Territorial assembly was like the gathering of the disciples in the upper room, awaiting the coming of the Holy Spirit.  Gathering in prayer, the Holy Spirit opened for us the essence of our charism.  He revealed to me the core of my heart, what I aspire to and what I have been created for.  It has been a realization that the charism abides in me and in each of my sisters.  Each person present at the assembly brought through her prayer and listening to others a unique piece to the mosaic of our charism.  Were not our hearts burning within us as He revealed the charism to us?

The charism is a gift, but it is not mine; I have received it, but merely as a caretaker who has the joy and the responsibility of making it flourish.  It is a gift that makes me bow down in awe and gratitude to God.  I owe this same gratitude to each one of my sister who carries the charism within her and makes it shine with her life.  This is a personal gift, but it is also shared with each of my consecrated sisters, every Legionary and every Regnum Christi member.  This gift belongs above all to the Church: may we faithfully offer the wholeness of the gift for the benefit of all.

Glory Darbellay

We began the Assembly with a retreat led by Nancy Nohrden, and one idea really struck me, of the need to pierce the Heavens with our prayer, asking God to send down His Holy Spirit.  That stayed with me throughout the week as a call to intercessory prayer for the Holy Spirit to fill us and to guide us.  I would compare the prayer that we lived and the presence of Christ among us, to being on spiritual exercises.  The other experience that stands out for me was the growing clarity that began to shine out in our understanding of the charism as a beautiful gift we have received.  The phrases “Christ our King”, “the extension of the Kingdom” and the “living of communion in charity”, mean something new for me now, having been enriched through the reflections shared by my sisters in Christ.

Nancy Nohrden

These were days immersed in the Holy Spirit and in the wonderful beauty of our vocation and charism.  As the assembly progressed it very quickly became clear to me that the participants were by no means the protagonists… We experienced a profound dynamic of being led and guided further and deeper into the discovery of Our Lord’s understanding of our vocation as consecrated women of Regnum Christi.  I am so deeply grateful to all of those who held us up and sustained us with their ongoing intercessory prayers.  May God be glorified through all of us as we continue on this journey of profound renewal!

Joan Kingsland

Another Step Forward!

Our first ever Territorial Assembly of the United States started off in a distinctly feminine manner: we made sure that during the first meals each person shared what she felt about being there and what she was bringing to the table. This was just the right way to begin a six day long, in-depth discernment about the content of our statutes, by talking and opening our hearts to each other. 
For my part, I admitted that I was concerned about whether or not we would be able to peacefully discuss every theme, given that I knew we didn’t necessarily all share the same views and that we would be delving into matters we really care about. It helped set me at ease that I was able to say this so frankly.

Except for the first day, which began with a retreat, we would begin our morning session together in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament. Then we would go directly to our first morning session in an atmosphere of prayer.  This is what made us capable of sustaining a mature, respectful attitude of listening and dialogue with each other. That didn’t make our discernment less arduous, but it provided the peaceful setting we needed to be able to work through each matter.

There were two times when we had already wrapped up a point and someone later spoke up saying she felt it needed to be looked at again… and so we returned and delved deeper. Both times, we discovered something beautiful. What an astonishing experience, of our struggling to grasp something together, with different people asserting points that seemed contradictory and then someone suggesting something that suddenly revealed how those points fit together into a whole. It leaves you with the sense that you do need to contribute what you see… but that you also need to be open to what the other is seeing as well! Not comfortable. Not easy. It’s as if Our Lord doesn’t let any one person grasp it all, so that we’re forced to work it out together. Not as a negotiation, but as a mutual discovery.

I leave this assembly with my full heart. I’m grateful for the gift of being able to participate in this historic moment for the consecrated women of Regnum Christi. And I’m especially grateful that we have reached the point where we can work through challenging issues together in a very sisterly yet very demanding and fruitful way.

Lucy Honner

The Territorial Assembly was quite a journey! How is it possible for 25 women with very different opinions, varying experiences and opposing characters to sense being “one heart and one mind?” Quite simply it was the remarkable way the Holy Spirit illustrated what I imagine the cenacle in the Upper Room must have been like. Each day we were maturing and growing together as a community in prayer to discern the tangible action of God. Without a doubt He was doing something quite new and remarkable to be drawing out the experience of each one to reveal what we share in common of the charism to both surprise us and confirm us at the same time. This has definitely been a crash course in learning what community discernment is all about simply by living it. We have many lessons to bring back to our own communities and share this experience as a continual way we build our fraternal life and discernment for discovering God’s will together. Several times during our sessions we had moments where someone started a thought, and then as we went around the room everyone added some other aspect to finally arrive at the end with a clarity that had us all wanting to take off our shoes and prostrate ourselves on the ground. It was a sacred experience to both revive my trust, hope and confidence in our vocation as consecrated women of Regnum Christi. It was also exhausting to try to keep up with the Holy Spirit speaking through each one of my sisters along with the constant exercise of needing to purify, empty and detach from my own perspective to open myself to renewed possibilities and initiatives. I have much hope in what is still to come with Pope Francis summing it up for me during his homily this past Sunday, October 8, on the day he consecrated the world to the Blessed Virgin Mary.  He said, “God surprises, he calls us to faithfulness and he gives us the strength!”

Magdalena Fainé

It is difficult to put into words an experience so deep and spiritual… The weeks preceding the assembly were a conscious preparation for it, as well as the retreat preached by Nancy on our first day in Thornwood which was the moment to finally put the assembly in Mary’s hands. Daily Mass and adoration were such renewing times, encountering Him and encountering each other! And the prayer offered by consecrated men and women, Legionaries and RC members for us were such a source of peace and trust for me! I believe that, aided by God’s grace, we have been able to meet, heart to heart, in the common search and deepening of the expression of RC’s charism in the female consecrated life. The atmosphere of openness and of listening to God in prayer as well as through each other has all been an experience of living in and from the Spirit. I am deeply grateful for what I have lived this past week alongside 24 of my sisters in consecrated life! God has renewed my heart from within and He has fed my enthusiasm in living my vocation as a consecrated woman in RC.



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