Recently, the Legionary Novitiate in Spain moved to a new location. With the move, the priest in charge of forming novices gave an interview.
In April, Fr. Carlos Zancajo, LC , territorial director of Spain, announced that the novitiate would move from Salamanca to Madrid. Fr. José Félix Medina, LC, is the novice instructor and rector— in other words, he is in charge of Legionaries in this first and most important stage of formation. Fr. José Félix gave an interview about the change and what the novitiate means for Legionaries.
Are we closing a chapter or opening another?
Fr. José Félix: We close the geographical chapter of this house in Salamanca, which has welcomed the novices for 60 years, but there is continuity with the first novitiate of the Legionaries of Christ that has been changing headquarters, and now goes to Madrid, to the Reajo del Roble house.
It is a very important step, because Madrid is located in the geographical center of Spain, where more young people from other parts of Spain can come and meet us.
On the other hand, we must bear in mind that the novitiate in Salamanca is just too large a building to house only eight novices, since it was built to train more than 200 seminarians: including novices, humanists and formators. Today, the Church recommends that the formation of seminarians in the early stages be done in small communities, and that also implies that the novitiate should take place in a house with a size proportionate to the size of the community. This is something that we have included in our Ratio Institutionis after our renewal process.
Why do we opt for Madrid? How will the new house help the novices?
It is important to see it as a home that gives a sense of family, as I said before: a house proportionate to the size of the community. The novitiate in Salamanca for eight or nine people was too big. A house of spirituality with 20 rooms, chapel, library, dining room, sports field… gives us more guarantees of unity and coexistence. In addition, it is in the Sierra, with green areas and mountains, which offers us other possibilities. It is Madrid province, but it is not the city, which allows us to be half an hour away from our apostolate and school works, also facilitating the apostolate and life as part of Regnum Christi in the locality of Madrid.
The truth is many members of Regnum Christi have a warm attachment to the Reajo del Roble house… What does this suggest?
This [moving the novitiate] is a way to take care of the property and develop it. They are two buildings; the small building which we will use for groups and visits, so they can spend a few days with us. I was also the founder of Reajo del Roble in 1974, when we had the first Regnum Christi course for young people, attended by, among others, Fr. Ferrán. Reajo del Roble has also been a place of retreats and incorporations for numerous members.
Fr. Zancajo mentioned in his letter that one of the virtues of the change is the vocations ministry that can be developed here in Madrid. How do you see this?
All the apostolic activities that we did in Salamanca we can do in this area: catechesis in the surrounding villages, vocational weekends, campus ministry in our schools, ECYD work, work on vocation promotion… Having a smaller house does not mean having less apostolic life.
It is important to maintain the spirit of recollection and prayer that is proper to the novitiate, and also the apostolate of our charism. We plan to go down to Madrid one day a week to collaborate in the schools, to do vocation work and to support Regnum Christi lay members
I would like to make an invitation to all Regnum Christi members: come and see us, do not think of us as the hermits on the mountain! We will go to the center of Madrid to all the activities that we can: diaconate ordinations, etc., because we are part of the life of Regnum Christi in the locality of Madrid.
You come from the reality of a large local church like Salamanca, and now you are inserted in the diocese of Madrid, in a municipality of the Sierra. How does this affect your ecclesial relationship?
We have all the permissions from the ecclesiastical point of view, of course, both in Salamanca, where Bishop Carlos López says goodbye and has been visiting the novitiate this week, as well as in Madrid, since Card. Carlos Osoro is receiving us in his diocese. I also spoke with the parish priests of Navacerrada and Collado Mediano, which is the area of the province of Madrid to which we belong, to make ourselves available to them and to tell them to count on us in whatever we can to serve the people of God. We want to be a sign of ecclesial communion. It is a sensitivity and a duty of ours.
Finally, reality helps us to be grateful and look forward, do not you think?
Certainly the move has an aspect of sadness. I was a novice here in Salamanca, 50 years ago. Many of the Legionaries of Christ have been trained in this novitiate for many years. The bishop, parish priests, other ecclesial realities… the city of Salamanca… we are grateful for the journey we have made together, and we are going to miss them.
But, on the other hand, Regnum Christi is still present here in a group of lay women. The ways of the Lord are inscrutable, they are the Providence of God, and we make this move confident that is what the Lord wants, and that he will send laborers to his harvest.
You can read the original on the Regnum Christi site of Spain