Saturday, March 27, 2010

Why I write about the Legion of Christ and Fr. Marcial Maciel

In response to a comment of mine on another blog, I was asked: "Why do you write about the Legion when you claim that you have put it behind you?" That's a fair question! Here is what I wrote in reply:

When I came back from Gabon, Central West Africa, in 1982 I got together with Paul Lennon, Peter Cronin and a few others to start a "network" for former Legionaries. Peter (deceased) asked me to write a few pages about my Gabon experience for the eight or so of us who were in contact. I did. Personally, at that time, I wasn't interested in an "anti-Legion" campaign (it just wasn't for me - I'm not quibbling here about the need for it) so, after Peter died I went on with my life. I had little or no contact with former Legionaries of Christ except for a few close friends who felt as I did.

We all lamented the lack of an "alumni group" for former members. For the most part we didn't "hate" the LC - don't forget I'm talking 1983. I felt the need to set up a financial foundation to help those who left, help with resume writing and job-hunting skills etc. Maybe I didn't try hard enough but I was quickly caught up with developing my own career and taking care of my family.

For me, life went on and I think I got things in perspective, made my peace with my past and let go of the anger.

My father, was quite well known in Ireland - for years many of his colleagues implored him to write a book about his life. He never did - something which I greatly regret. Along my journey, I estimate that I have addressed some 40,000 people in the conferences, training and team-building that I've delivered. Over the years I've been asked the same question - "why don't you write a book?"

Four years ago, I dug up what I wrote after Gabon. My job at a multinational was eliminated. I found myself writing at 4:30 AM. I finished and put the manuscript away for three years. I thought it was better to let it sit for a while. Then the revelations about MM hit the fan.

I decided to publish because I thought there might be some value to my stories - an eye-witness account to the early days of MM (there were only 10 LC in Mexico when I first went there.)  It's a fairly neutral account of my personal experiences - I don't pretend to judge or offer advice. I just tell my story. The editor and publisher think it interesting for people who like auto-biographies, for business people interested in leadership, for anyone interested in the LC, for Catholics, and for the general public.

In the last couple of years, I've journeyed through some LC related blogs to catch up with contemporary perceptions of the LC and check the reactions to the awful revelations about MM.

When I see the opportunity to contribute a complementary opinion I do. My perspective may be different to those who have not long experience with the Congregation - I experienced the early days (1962) and I left, breaking all ties, 27 years ago. Hence my hurt is not as fresh and I didn't live RC. I do a lot of business in Mexico, I'm Irish and I've lived in 6 countries.

My intent to be helpful in terms of sometimes offering alternate opinion.That's why I write a blog. I try to be sincere. I visit and participate in other blogs to make sure I don't get locked into my particular way of thinking. I don't pretend to condemn nor defend the Legionaries of Christ or their founder Fr. Marcia Maciel.


Unknown said...

Jack, I appreciate your frankness and honesty. I also have fond memories of my years in the Legion, though I think I spent my last year there in a haze (excuse the pun). After I left in 1976, MM arranged for me to work in Madrid - which was my choice -. There I had a lot of personal contact with him, at times being his driver. I left Madrid with informing him as I felt he might "twist my arm" to return to the Legion - I initially thought I would leave for a year. The Legion has always had a strong presence in my life, not through direct contact, which never seemed to work out when I tried it, but rather in the education and formation it gave me. I was devastated when the whole MM affair trickled out. I was amazed that I could feel that anger after all these years. I knew MM, I knew most of these guys. My mind wandered back to encounters I had with them all and I suppose I began to explain certain things which I had always wondered about.
Keep the faith Jack, by the way one of those fond memories is sitting in certain bus going to the Agelicum under the awesome guidance of a certain Irish driver. I returned to Rome for the 1st time last month. Would you believe I had difficulty finding the Angelicum !!

Seamus Hayes

The Monk said...

Thanks Seamus - the photo has helped me finally make the connection! Feel free to contact me personally - I'm easy enough to find! It would be fun to catch up.

Anonymous said...

Thanks! I for one will be interested in what you have to say.

Anonymous said...

Monk, I for appreciate your charity in dealing with the whole situation.