By Macklin Reid, Ridgefield Press (Dec 31, 2006).
Dylan Fisher, left, fellow “co-worker” Greg Miller and
Brother Andrew Dalton, work together running young men’s sections of
the Legionaries of Christ in high schools and colleges around
Washington D.C., Maryland and northern Virginia.
Christmas has changed for Dylan Fisher.
“Last year was
my first real Christian Christmas,” he said. “My family, we
always go to Mass on Christmas Eve. After Mass was
over I kind of felt like Christmas was over, to
a point where I didn’t even care about the presents
— not that I didn’t appreciate them, but knowing in
my heart that’s not what Christmas is all about.”
Becoming committed to and more serious about his Catholic faith
has made Christmas more meaningful for Dylan.
“It makes the
celebration itself 20 times bigger than it ever has been,”
he said. “It was a celebration that was God coming
down to be with us, leaving his paradise, heaven, to
go through what we go through in an effort to
grow closer to us.”
Like most of his fellow
2006 Ridgefield High School graduates, Dylan was home for the
holidays when he spoke, a few days before Christmas, about
his faith. He was on a break from a year’s
religious work that he has taken up before going to
college, which he plans to do next fall. He’s been
in the Washington, D.C., area working with the Legionaries of
“They’re a movement within the Catholic Church,” he said.
“This is the priestly movement. They have priests who are
formed for 12 or 14 years in their seminaries —
most movements are four to eight.
“They also have a
movement, which is called Regnum Christi, which is full of
lay people such as myself, and consecrated men and women.
“Our motto is ‘Love Christ, serve others, build the church.’
“It’s just another way to get the Gospel out there,
get Christ out there to others who don’t have him,”
His work is with the young men’s
sections, high school and college students in Washington, D.C., Maryland
and northern Virginia.
“We have youth groups in all these
areas. We get together once a week, and have a
Gospel reflection. It’s called an Encounter with Christ,” he said.
“We take a Gospel passage, reflected upon our own lives,
and then also to what’s going on out in the
world — something we call a case study.”
aspect of the job is working at Notre Dame Academy
in Middleburgh, Va. The private high school was founded by
nuns, but its operations were passed on to lay educators.
The student body is 51% Roman Catholic and 49% other
“It has a Catholic basis,” Dylan said.
He runs the campus ministry with a priest, Father
Ned Brown, and a consecrated man named Tony Macdonnell.
kind of revamped it. We threw out last year’s campus
ministry and started over,” he said. “We’re trying to get
the kids more involved in their faith. We have a
core team of 25 students, from freshmen to seniors, trying
to get the rest of the school involved.
we have a couple of community service activities going on,
one of them being ‘Adopt A Family.’ ”
program serves families in a low-income housing project near the
“Each classroom adopted a family and there were about
30 families adopted, and each class went to the family
to ask what they needed, like blankets and coats. And
then they just did fund raising on their own, any
way they could find to do it, to raise money
to buy for the families, or even to get donations
of the supplies they needed.
“Another one was, we’re sending
care packages to the troops in Iraq,” he said.
packages include goodies — a big request from the troops
has been fudge — and letters from the students.
There’s also a Christian Leadership Club that meets in
the school every two weeks.
“That’s open to the whole
school, anybody who wants to come, and it’s really a
discussion group where we discuss the Gospel, current events, and
controversial issues involved with the Catholic Church.”
Connecting with kids
feels his age — or lack of it — helps
him in his work with the high school kids.
19. I just graduated out of high school in June,”
he said. “So, in a good sense, I know what
these kids are going through, and it helps to connect
to them better. I’m not really that far ahead of
Dylan Fisher grew up in Ridgefield — 16
of his 19 years — with his mom and dad,
Shelly and Ira Joe Fisher, his brothers Joshua and Shelby,
and sister Ashley. The family worshiped at St. Mary’s.
His recommitment journey began with something of a crisis of
“I’d dropped out of the Catholic Church my freshman
year of high school. I didn’t get confirmed in it,”
His doubts came from the difficulty reconciling
the notion of an all-powerful, loving creator with an imperfect
world, where bad things happen and people suffer.
think that a God who existed, that was supposed to
be so full of love for His children, would let
these kind of things happen,” he said.
He was led
“This cute girl, her mom needed help teaching
religious ed. ‘Yeah, of course!’ ” he said. “God works
in funny ways.”
He was similarly led to sign
up for a religious retreat.
“The retreat was actually run
by a man I know, that I’ve worked for in
the past, Sean Forrest — he lives up in Columbia,
“He kind of opened my eyes to the faith
and showed me that the way I was trying to
live it, and saw it, was misguided,” he said.
came to a different understanding about life’s difficulties.
look at Christ’s life, he didn’t come down and throw
a party for us,” Dylan said. “He came down and
suffered and died on the cross, because that’s the way
it had to be done.
“If it could have been
done by throwing a party, I’m sure He would have
done it that way. But in order for Him to
redeem us, He had to suffer and in order for
us to redeem ourselves, we have to carry our own
cross and suffer as He did.”
In February 2004,
he had the confirmation he’d missed a year earlier.
was ready to say ‘yes’ to God, and God just
kind of takes you on His own path of Calvary
to help you get closer to Him,” he said.
a committed Christian isn’t something easy — and it may
be harder for a teenager.
“I’ve had my hard times,
dealing with friends and other people who don’t understand why
I am who I am, that have helped me grow
closer to God,” he said.
Dylan got involved with the
Legionaries for Christ near the end of his senior year.
“I wanted to go into youth ministry and I was
having trouble finding a college I wanted to go to,
and I knew this program was available,” he said. “I’d
met with Legionaries priests and other people who’d done what
I’m doing in the past.
“I kind of, in the
back of my mind, didn’t want to do it,” he
said. “...Then one day I offered up my day to
God, as to what he wanted me to do during
my year off after being a graduate from high school.
“And on the way to school I just felt a
burning in my heart that this was what he was
calling me to do for this year.”
summer, he trained at a Legionaries center in Thornwood, N.Y.
Now, he’s living in Potomac, Md., in a community
of 15 people who share a strong faith. “Priests, seminarians,
consecrated men and other people like myself,” he said. “My
position is called ‘co-worker’.”
He also helps with the Youth
for the Third Millennium evangelizing effort.
“It’s a lot of
door-to-door where we just go out in a T-shirt and
jeans, where it has YTM on the T-shirt,” he said.
It’s an experience. Not everyone’s eager to listen.
tell them ‘Hi, I’m from St. Joseph’s down the road.’
They just slam the door in your face,” Dylan said.
“I think there’s a lot of confusion about the Catholic
Dylan Fisher, though, no longer feels confused. And
he doesn’t mind telling people.
“I enjoy evangelizing,” he said.
“If you look at the world today, I think a
lot of people wonder why the world is going to
“But if you look at it, they’ve taken God
out of everything. They’ve taken Him out of the government,
out of the schools — and that’s why the world
is so lost, in my opinion.
“So the thing I
just get out of this is bringing Christ to the
This article was adapted from "RELIGION: Finding faith makes it all new for Ridgefield man"
with permission from the Ridgefield Press.