When someone talks about an unintended consequence they typically mean something good was intended but something not-so-good resulted. For example, a well-meaning dad builds a fire in the family room fireplace to create a warm atmosphere for the wife and kids, but fails to open the flue. Unintended consequence: a house full of smoke.
But in some cases, a practical need requires a solution and the unintended results are many, spiritual, and positive. A case in point is the missionary host family.
As the title suggests, a missionary host family is a family that hosts a missionary, in particular a Regnum Christi Mission Corps Missionary. And Mission Corps?
The Mission Corps is a Regnum Christi Program through which a young person volunteers for one or two years to work exclusively for the Catholic Church. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity to serve the local Church through active apostolate and to help other young people find the meaning of their lives in Christ.
RC Mission Corps is a program of formation and accompaniment designed for young people to have a real experience of Christ’s love, to be formed as apostles, to live selflessly and in constant self-giving in service of their neighbor, and to experience a journey towards vocational fulfillment.
“A missionary must have graduated from high school, be a baptized Catholic, and be drawn to the Regnum Christi charism,” said Tessa Martin, former RC Mission Corps Director. “Most have been associated with Regnum Christi, but some are not members. Many are international.
“More than that, they have to be well-balanced emotionally and not have any illnesses that would make it hard to complete a year of service. We have an in-depth application and interview process to make sure the potential missionary is a good fit for the program and will benefit from participation.”
They work alongside the Legionaries and Consecrated, often running youth activities, clubs, camps, parish programs, and school programs.
On a practical level, a missionary has to live someplace during the time they serve. Often, this is the local Legionary or Consecrated community, obviously depending on the gender of the missionaries.
However, in recent years, some localities have had several missionaries and either due to scheduling or space issues, they could not always live in the “religious” house. Thus was born the solution of the missionary host family – a committed Regnum Christi family where a missionary or two could live during their time serving the locality.
“The missionary host family has to be Regnum Christi and active in the locality,” Tessa said. “And of course, the local Legionaries and Consecrated must recommend the host family – and they have to have the blessing of the young missionaries’ families. We are really careful to make sure this is a positive experience for everyone involved.”
This has the intended consequences for the missionaries of:
- Nice place to stay
- Living with a Regnum Christi family and a positive married environment
- Exposure to the laity in the locality and full range of RC branches
And it has the unintendedconsequences (at least they were unintended at the beginning) of a great experience for the host family. At least if you talk to any of the host families you will get a ringing endorsement.
“We have been very involved with the Consecrated and had a gathering each year after the March for Life,” said Ann Alicia, who with husband Hector has been a host family for the Washington, DC Locality for several years. “A couple years ago, Mary Smith said their house was overflowing…could they have a couple missionaries stay in our home? We said yes.
“They have been part of the family, but also doing their own thing. They are gone doing their mission work all day, but we have a nice dinner on their day off and have really enjoyed the relationships. It’s been really enriching for all of us. We’ve never had a missionary who wasn’t a great person.
“It is really important that the missionaries have their own space and privacy so they have independence and freedom. So anyone who is interested has to have the right setup in their house.”
The Alicea’s experience was so positive, that it inspired Helen and Joe Truppo of the Washington locality to become the locality’s second host family.
“We live in the same small town as the Aliceas, who had been hosts,” Helen said. “We’re just 30 minutes from Our Lady of Bethesda Retreat Center and Mary Smith and Helen Yablir (Consecrated Women of Regnum Christi) wanted to add a couple missionaries and asked if they would be willing to help. We have a fully finished basement with a bathroom, so it was ideal.
“And it has worked out ideally, because we were just becoming empty nesters. We moved our son to college the same day the missionaries moved in to our house.
“The biggest challenge we faced was when we had to say goodbye and they went home. I felt like brought their mission into our home every night when they returned from their day and it was wonderful to see their love for Christ.”
While the Aliceas and Truppos are hosting young women in Washington, Patty and Tom Steele are hosts for young men in Cincinnati.
“Fr Lucio Boccacci, LC,approached Tom and I and asked us if we would be a host family. They didn’t have room in the priests’ house so they needed somewhere for them to stay,” Patty explained. “Because they asked and all of our kids have moved out of the house. We had the room and we were excited to have the energy in the house!! God has blessed us with so much and we were excited to give back!
“We hosted two young men for the past year and we look forward to next year with the possibility of three missionaries. The two were the first missionaries Cincinnati has been blessed to have. They brought such laughter into our house and their faithwas an inspiration to Tom and me.”
The Steeles have been in the Movement for 15 years. Patty said the only “challenge” in hosting the missionaries is that, well, they are boys in their late teens.
‘”They didn’t keep up things around the house like I’m used to, but those little things were great opportunities for me to work on my charity. And the boys really tried to do things the way I preferred. I can’t wait for the new missionaries to arrive.”
This year, two dozen missionaries will serve in localities through the North American Territory – equally divided between men and women. All are serving in localities with active Legionary and Consecrated communities.
Tessa said it is possible that localities without Legionary and Consecrated communities could host missionaries in the future. But that likely will occur after the localities with communities are being served.
If someone is interested in being a missionary host family, Tessa would love to hear from you. But keep in mind that it is a huge commitment to a locality to have missionaries, so they won’t be assigned to a locality unless missionaries are part of the locality plan and provision has been made to use their time and support their presence.”
“Not all localities are ready to host missionaries,” Tessa said. “But even if your locality isn’t directly involved, you can help the program through prayers and financial contributions. You can make a real difference in the lives of the young missionaries, as well as the localities where they serve.”
Four Dimensions of Mission Corps
- Spiritual – During this year, a missionary is given an opportunity to grown in personal relationship with Christ through prayer and the sacraments.
- Human – During this year, a missionary works on a personal program of human formation to build a rich and balanced personality and develop qualities such as: self-knowledge, a mature and upright conscience, responsibility, trustworthiness, and self-control.
- Intellectual – The year begins with a formation course in the summer to prepare a missionary for his or her mission year with a series of important workshops and seminars. This formation program is continued throughout the year.
- Apostolic – An RC Missionary serves in various apostolates throughout the Regnum Christi localities. This work may take many forms, (retreats, youth groups, mission trips, assist in schools, parishes, etc…), through any apostolate an RC Missionary works to build up Christ’s Church. He or She is Christ’s hands and feet and voice to bring Him and His Word wherever they go.