AUCKLAND — When Regnum Christi consecrated woman Lisa Small
came home for a holiday, she did not imagine she would be staying on for three years.
“In that time, obviously, there were a lot of changes in the movement in Regnum Christi,” she said. “I had to rediscern.
All of us had to re-discern and ask if this is really what we signed on for so many years ago,” Miss Small said.
Regnum Christi is the lay arm of the controversial Legion of Christ, whose founder, Fr Marcial Maciel Degollado,
was found to have committed crimes, including sexual abuse of young boys in his seminaries.
“For me I still feel that there is a charism of Regnum Christi. I
think, in general, we’ve returned more to the core of the Gospel message and that’s how we are trying very humbly now to serve the Church. We have to put the stigma behind us,” she said.
Miss Small celebrated the 10th year of her final solemn renewal of vows on March 8, although her actual anniversary was
on February 2.
She is the only Regnum Christi consecrated woman in New Zealand. The other lay members are married.
She said despite the controversy, she had never doubted her call.
“I got consecrated to Christ. I never got consecrated to my founder. That wasn’t the reason why I joined Regnum Christi. I think God has always been very firm as to why I was consecrated
to him,” she said.
She added that being in New Zealand made it clear to her that she
belonged in the Regnum Christi community. “I’ve seen quite a few different groups and all of them have only redefined and
re-emphasised that I belong in this spiritual family of Regnum Christi. Every time I go back to the United States, I see so
many good changes happening. I see more peace and stability,” she said.
One of the good changes that has come out of the extraordinary
general chapter meeting of the Legion of Christ is the recognition of the role of its lay consecrated people in the Church.
Miss Small explained that since there was no section in canon law that spelled out their function, they were allowed to define themselves and what they do. Each consecrated person had
an input into their new statutes.
“We have the best canon law experts and they really helped
us,” she said.
“We are consecrated, just like nuns are consecrated, but we are consecrated to be in the world but not of the world. We are lay members, teaching lay members who are not consecrated, that they can be holy men and women of God living in the world,” she further explained.
Their vocation is to evangelise and teach the word of God, particularly in the Western world where Catholics are unsure of what they believe.
Like their religious order, the Legion of Christ, the Regnum Christi experienced deep sorrow for those hurt by their founder. Their members are trying to make reparations on a personal
level as well.
“I think that Regnum Christi looks quite a bit different than it did five or 10 years ago in the sense that we’ve been
purified and humbled. And that has allowed us to refocus on why we are trying to live out our baptism or vocation, which
is to serve Christ in the Church and to love others,”
she said.