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A Conversation with Donna Garrett , Regional Director of Regnum Christi in North America

Donna Garrett, Omaha Neb, 27 , 4 children (young adults), registered pediatric Nurse, RC regional director, RCTC member.

Core competencies – what a RC member should do to fulfill the call?

I think we have to be intentional in what we do, but also open to the calling of the Spirit. Intentional in that we are there to build apostles to extend the kingdom, but not in such a way that we do it that we leave out the Holy Spirit.

For me personally, in a locality where we do not have LC or CRC community, the growth of the movement was organic, inspired and facilitated by the laity. We did that through the small group experience. We believed that our gift as Regnum Christi, the spirit to form apostles, would be fulfilled if we had groups of people to whom we could witness to. We would create various groups from many age groups through bible studies and family life studies and when LC or CRC would come through we would expose them to a fuller expression of the Movement’s charism at work

Leadership roles of lay members in the sections

I have never had a LC or CRC in leadership roles, we’ve had to do it ourselves. From the very beginning we appointed lay members to these roles and then formed them. However, when the scandal happened, actually the majority of the members who left the movement were in leadership positions. In my area, instead of targeting specific leaders, we look at the people we had, their talents, and encouraged them to take on this roles, walking with them along the road. We did this knowing full well that sometimes the growth in a locality was impeded  because a person wasn’t ready yet. We had to take some time to form that person. and adjust the expectations to the reality of the people in the field.

Donna and HubbySuccess of any given section depends on the mature members.

I, as a lay person, believe 100% that I have a vocation to Regnum Christi and that through the Movement I have found the avenue that God has chosen for me to build his Church, and grow in holiness. But there is only so much that I can respond to in that invitation without the spiritual support my LC brothers and consecrated sisters can give to me and my people. In order to grow, we need a full participation of the rest of the spiritual family.

What do you need to find in LC or consecrated members who serve in your region?

I would like a territory to consider, before sending a LC or consecrated to come and provide spiritual formation… I ask that they work with the current leadership and that there is respect for their leadership, because when they leave, the lay leadership stays.

Whoever comes should do so in a spirit of self-giving, and not with a “I was assigned” attitude, as if just complying… People notice this and feel when they are uninvested. They perceive that they are sometimes considered as an apostolate and not persons. We’ve had occasions, spiritual exercises, mother daughter retreats, which were not prepared or people who were in the process discerning their vocation were sent to us…  In a lay run area, where there is limited interaction with LC and CRC, these major events are key to exposing new members to the charism. This can cause difficult situations and can be devastating to the members who facilitated the event.

When the right attitude is there, it is beautiful to see the members flourish, and to see our legionaries and consecrated experience the beauty of their self giving slowly bearing fruit.

Zach, Katie, Aly y Christ (1)Why do you do this, how has RC affected your family life?

God wants me to be here. When I met RC, I collected info, brought it to my husband, would you support my involvement and he said: I think it is fine for you. In 3-4 months my husband recognized the joy God had given to me and soon after followed himself.

I feel very blessed in my marriage. When I became a member of Regnum Christi my children were very small… Thus, they were formed in ECYD, and now I have  4 beautiful young adults. Some people tell us when they see our kids that we are great parents. But I have to say that they all had also a good circle of friends, the camps, and the exposure to LC brothers an CRC was instrumental in their formation.

Service IN the Church or just To the Church?

In Omaha I can say that there was no division between RC and serving the Parishes in our local Church. I did not have a RC school, centers, LC communities… Thus, the obvious place for my apostolates was the parish. We are members of the parish, and as apostles we serve the larger Church in the dioceses.

When I entered RC in 1999 I was in a brand new parish in a fast-growing area. My pastor was not supportive of the Legion, but recognized the need for apostles. He admired the tenacitiy of the apostles, and even if there was tension, he knew that if he asked a RC member to clean the church, fix the pews, leading a church festival or sit in the financial committee, things would get done. After the scandal, we had a new pastor, who had experience with the Charismatic renewal, and understood movements. 12 years in my vocation, doors opened in parishes, our RC members were intentional disciples in parishes, in committees in the dioceses. What we were bringing to that support was the formation and apostolic heart of RC.

Archbishop[1]What in this experience serving in your dioceses has enriched your vocation to RC?

I recognize that there are many needs in the Church where we can serve. We should not limit ourselves to our particular programs, but also cooperate with others, enriching it with our style.

Also, you can never over communicate with our bishop and pastor, regardless of the size of the apostolate. It is a common practice that we communicate what we do, as an expression of our being active members in the Church.

Training of  future leaders is a great challenge. What recommendation would you make to those training others, specially legionaries and consecrated. What do you expect from those who are in formation?

I think that there is a practical aspect and a charismatic aspect. I believe we did not get into major problems when we were confident in who we were: we form apostles… With the scandal and the subsequent removal of writings and other elements with which we grew up from the very beginning, which motivated people, we stopped accompanying others because we were not sure how to do that without concrete conviction in who we were. We lost track of our common lexicon which gave us a sense of cohesion. So first and foremost, that a Legionary or a consecrated member can give to those they mentor or are forming, is confidence on who we are, and the fact that there is a place in the Church for the gift we have received.  Second, we have to recognize that there is a grace of state which helps when you accept a position which stretches you, but it has to stretch you in line with your human capability and nature. We can’t expect people to be super human, because they can’t. They can be super spiritual, but not super human. Another point that is important forming leaders is that you can assign a position to a leader even if he is not fully formed, but you cannot leave them there. He or she needs constant attention , ant that is why I think we have failed in some cases: we stopped accompanying, and we just assumed that the Holy Spirit would give them the grace and they would be fine. They might do well  during the first few months, but then something major league happens in our spiritual family or in their human family which had repercussions in their spiritual life, and these apostles felt abandoned.

Recommendation for someone entering the novitiate?

I would tell him that he is entering a very beautiful spiritual family and that he has very distinct role in it. And that by him playing that role, he will empower the rest of the family to embrace their distinct roles. And when all of us do that, it is a beautiful thing.

Anything else you’d like to say?

One thing I would like to add. There is a responsibility. If a LC coming in should expect the the lay leader will do everything he or she can to help him live his mission. We should expect and demand that from them. But the LC or consecrated should also expect that and demand on the part of the lay member. God wants us each to respond with total self giving to our vocations. This takes, both clarity and charity but also much accountability in our individual roles and our work as a spiritual family.

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