|The novitiate in Cheshire, Connecticut.|
In 1971, the little novitiate was moved to Orange, Connecticut.
In those first years, a few Legionary priests—mainly Mexicans and
Irishmen—began forming the first Americans who embraced the missionary charism
of the Legion of Christ.
Soon the Legionaries
began establishing centers of apostolate in and around the main
cities: in 1973, near New York City and Washington DC;
in 1974, in the archdiocese of Detroit; and in 1984,
Los Angeles. The work of the Legionaries of Christ now
reached from coast to coast.
As it happens
with every religious congregation in the foundation stage, the first
years were focused mainly on searching for vocations and on
forming the new Legionaries. God blessed these efforts, and in
1982 the Legion opened the Immaculate Conception Apostolic School, a
minor seminary with 12 teenagers who wanted to discern their
priestly vocation. Currently, the school in Center Harbor, New Hampshire
has space for more than 120 students.
in 1982, the novitiate had to be moved from the
small house in Orange to the campus of a former
minor seminary in Cheshire, Connecticut. When the Legionaries acquired this
property in Cheshire, they thought they had “all the seminary
space that they would need for the next 50 years”.
But as their numbers continued to rise, they had
to expand it by adding on a new building in
1992 and then by acquiring two new properties in New
York to be used in part as formation centers: Our
Lady of Mount Kisco in 1994 and Our Lady of
Thornwood in 1996.
As the Legionaries’ presence grew in
the country, the quantity of their apostolates also grew. In
1986, they founded their first school in Dallas, Texas, the
Highlands School. In 1993 the first family center was founded
in the suburbs of Washington, Our Lady of Bethesda. The
formation center for consecrated women was founded in Rhode Island
at the beginning of the 1990s. The Legionary priests, working
with the lay people, launched the first national apostolates of
Regnum Christi: Familia in 1993 and Youth for the
Third Millennium (now called Mission Youth) in 1995. The
number of missions in the States and abroad has also
continued to grow, with Holy Week missions in 8 major
North American cities and medical missions gathering hundreds of doctors
and nurses for trips to Central America each year.
Many other apostolates have sprung up since then, including 12
Legionary schools and dozens of NCE-affiliated schools. (NCE stands for
National Consultants for Education.) In the field of higher
education, the Institute for Psychological Sciences, founded in 1998, has
already become a known reference point for Catholic psychologists.
Under the umbrella of Mission Network, there is
now a whole range of youth apostolates for all ages,
from the NET (or K4J) apostolate for kids ages
5 to 10 to the Challenge and ConQuest
clubs and camps all over the country for girls and
boys ages 11 to 16, Compass to strengthen college
students in their faith and missionary outreach, Pure Fashion
to teach high school girls modesty and values through fashion
shows, SportsLeader to foster values in sports teams from
kindergarten to college age, Christian Life for high school
and college small group studies, Leadership Training Seminars to
form middle and high school youth in faith and leadership
There are also services for the clergy, with the
ePriest web site and newsletter and the Sacerdos
Institute, which has its own newsletter, retreats, and courses for
There are retreat centers and family centers
in dozens of major cities, vocational discernment courses, and programs
for adult faith formation. In addition to Familia, with
its programs f for men and women, another family program
called Pilgrim Queen of the Family has also enjoyed
The growth of Legionary houses of formation
has continued with the foundation of two new minor seminaries:
one in Colfax, California and another in Rolling Prairie, Indiana.
There are currently hundreds of young men in various stages
of formation and preparation for the priesthood, from the minor
seminarians in the apostolic schools to the priests and brothers
pursuing advanced degrees in Thornwood.
The growth that has
happened in the past few decades has been exponential, nothing
short of miraculous. From a small handful of Legionaries and
Regnum Christi members in 1971, the Movement has expanded to
over 10,000 members served by over 100 Legionary priests. The
number of people who benefit from its apostolic outreach numbers
in the hundreds of thousands, with even greater growth anticipated
on the horizon.
The Legion of Christ in
the United States can be contacted at:
Legionaries of Christ
475 Oak Ave
Cheshire, CT 06410
Presence on the Internet: