My name is Celina Flanagan, I´m of Filipino and Irish
descent, but I grew up in Southern California, the oldest
of seven kids: five boys and two girls. I am
currently giving a second year as a co-worker. But let
me start from the beginning...
Have you ever had the crazy
dream to one day be a missionary volunteer? When I
arrived to high school I set my mind on giving
a year as a missionary after I graduated. But
time progressed and as I entered tenth and eleventh grade
I began to see life more realistically, losing interest in
While I was in eighth grade, I became close
friends with a family that has five daughters and three
sons, and through them I met the apostolic movement Regnum
Christi. Regnum Christi-which means "Kingdom of Christ" in Latin-
is a movement of apostolate composed of lay men and
women, either single or married; diocesan priests; lay consecrated members
and the religious priestly branch of the Legionaries of Christ.
It seeks to establish Christ´s Kingdom in the hearts
of every person, giving them means to live out their
baptismal commitments to holiness and apostolate. Surprising to me
at the time, two young women from this family decided
to give their lives totally to Christ in Regnum Christi´s
After graduating from high school early, I began college.
In 2000, the friend who had been consecrated called
to invite me to the consecrated formation center in Rhode
Island for their annual Holy Week Retreat. One thing
I´ve learned is money is never an obstacle to God;
nor is it ever a valid excuse to decline His
invitation! She promised to help find a sponsor for
my plane ticket, but also asked if I could talk
to my parish priest to see if he would help.
Of course I agreed, but confided to her my
doubts about his willingness to help.
Finally, two weeks prior to
the retreat, I gathered the courage to call my parish
priest for money. He immediately asked me how much
my ticket would cost and posted the check. God
was at work in my soul...
During the retreat, I encountered
some volunteers who were in the thick of their co-worker
year. I was impressed. I still can´t believe
that there are so many young people like me, living
and fighting for their faith, working for the Church, and
giving and experiencing genuine charity. My heart was still a
rock, however, toward the idea of me giving a year
to the church. Why? It seemed like a
lot to give up: family, college, boyfriend, beaches...life was
pretty good back in sunny California.
I lived one of the
best Easters of my life that year. Spiritual direction
was being offered at the retreat. My impression of
spiritual direction: some person tells you if you have a
vocation or not. As a consequence, I was avoiding
it at all costs. To my complete shock, on
Holy Thursday, I had spiritual direction that afternoon. I
went. This spiritual direction
cracked my expectations, and my heart, warming
it to the idea of giving a year, so I
resolved to pray about the volunteer program and to take
home an application.
I was incorporated into Regnum Christi on Easter
Sunday. Like I said before, it was the best
Easter of my life.
On the plane ride home I asked
God to be very clear with me regarding what he
wanted me to do because I tend to rationalize and
I had a lot of things that could keep me
from giving a year. I had a job as a
nanny and the co-worker program started in a few months,
which meant that my employer would have to start looking
for my replacement soon. I also had a car payment
and other debts that needed to be taken care of.
I told God that he had to take care
of everything if he wanted me to give a year.
day after I got home I went straight to work.
My employer asked to speak to me. She
proceeded to tell me that their old nanny, whom I
had replaced because she was having family difficulties, desired to
return to work because she was no longer having problems.
She asked if I would mind giving up my
position for this woman. Of course, I freaked out
because, yeah, I asked God to be blunt, but this
was crazy! Taking away my job the day after
I get home...that deserves a little forewarning don´t you think?
I told her the story about how I was considering
becoming a co-worker, and yes she could give my position
to the other nanny. She was shocked as well, because
it was a hard sacrifice for her to ask of
me, but it all seemed to fall into place.
that it seemed clear-cut that I should give a year
but I, in my rational mind, didn´t take that as
the final sign from God to give a year because
I was still trying to talk myself out of it.
I somehow managed to convince myself that God could
just be calling me to get a new job, so
I decided to pray a novena. What are moms
for? That night I called my mom and told
her everything that had happened, and that I was going
to do a novena to confirm what I should do.
And at that moment my mom said something very profound
that still helps me to this day. "Sometimes, Celina,"
she said, "you need to tell God yes until He
tells you no." Then she added with lots of
enthusiasm, " So are you gonna go?" Of course,
after that comment, I couldn´t say no. If it wasn´t
Gods will He would let me know. It was final;
I was going to be a co-worker. During the following
few months I would prepare and in June, I would
board a plane for Rhode Island to attend the Co-Worker
So it went, and my year flew by. My
first year was given in the formation center in Greenville,
Rhode Island. I was the assistant to the administrator
of the Vocational Office.
God called me to give my second
year in a completely different way than the first. I
hadn´t really prayed about a second year because I was
convinced that God wanted me to go home and go
back to school so that I could work for the
Regnum Christi movement. Whenever anyone would suggest for me to
give a second year I would automatically say that God
wasn´t calling me to give a second year. Although, I
was very concerned about getting new co-workers because the Church
needs them, I would never count myself among that number
because I had already done my part.
It was during Holy
Week of 2001, 10 months into my co-worker year that
I brought up in spiritual direction the thought of giving
a second year. I brought it up, not because
I suddenly realized that God was calling me, but because
many of the other co-workers were discerning whether to give
a second year and I thought that it was weird
that I didn´t have that same concern. So, my spiritual
director told me to go into the chapel and right
down two lists. On the first list she told me
to write why it would be beneficial to give a
second year, and on the other, why it would be
beneficial to go home. Well needless to say, the list
of why I should give a second year was so
much longer than the other so I decided to take
my moms advice a little early and say yes to
God until He told me no. However, I was sure
that he was going to tell me no before I
left for home.
One of the big obstacles that really kept
me from saying yes completely was the fact that my
mom had just had twins and I figured that I
would be able to help a lot when I got
back home. After Holy Week I called my mom and
discreetly asked her, "What would you say if I told
you I wanted to give a second year?" She told
me that if God was asking it of me that
she couldn´t stand in the way. Then I asked her
if she needed my help at home because of the
babies. This was the deciding factor; if she said yes
then I wasn´t going to give a second year. I
didn´t even think of the possibility of her saying no
because I was sure that she needed my help.
Lo and behold she told me that she really didn´t
need my help because she was getting along fine without
me and it was only going to get easier as
the twins got older.
Once again, God was showing me very
clearly what he wanted me to do. So at the
point of no longer being able to deny that it
was Gods will, I decided to give a second year.
seems so amazing to me now that I reflect on
how clear God was with me. He really fought hard
to help me to give a year. Finally I realize
that He wasn´t asking me to give up anything, but
instead He was inviting me to accept one of the
greatest gifts of my life. God has given me so
much more than I could have imagined during these years.
He took my little offering of 730 days and re-paid
me 100 fold for it.
Like I mentioned, my first year
was given in the formation center in Greenville, Rhode Island.
I am presently giving my second year in Dallas,
Texas and I am working in the apostolate called Medical
Missions. Medical Missions is an organization that brings groups
of doctors to South America to set up free clinics
for the poor.
I would like to share with you a
reflection that I often have in my prayers: God has
given me this opportunity because he is preparing me for
something great. These years as a co-worker are the beginning
of the rest of my life. They have helped prepare
me to live united to Christ in a world that
is so far away from Him, and now that I
understand a little more about His infinite love for me,
I can do nothing but His will to show my
love for Him.
Thank you and God Bless!!