Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Legionaries of Christ: outplacement services up in the air?

When I decided to seriously consider whether or not I should leave the Legion, Fr. Maciel sent me off to Africa. After much prayer, deliberation, and consultation I made my choice. We parted on amicable terms. Later on, I asked Maciel for a small loan to help me start a new life. All I owned was a dark blue suit and a pair of Olin skis. His refusal to extend a loan became a "defining moment" in my relationship with him. And with the Legion. So much for exquisite charity...

A new movie "Up in The Air," starring George Clooney, deals with the topic of job-loss and corporate firings. It explores the range of raw emotions that pour out of soon-to-be-former employees. Since leaving the Legion I have had the experience of sitting on both sides of the table - I have been laid off and I have laid people off. The emotions resonate with me. At one time I worked for an outplacement company. The details in the movie are not completely accurate but it does capture the reality of what is done and how it is done.

A movie about someone who impersonally fires strangers for a living is a front-runner for film industry awards makes a thought provoking statement on today's corporate culture. For me, it was  a troubling reminder of how the Legion treats "former" Legionaries. It is an indictment of what is wrong with how corporations treat their workforce.At least the corporations offer outplacement services. Former Legionaries are left to their own devices. They deserve better.

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