Tuesday, April 12, 2011

A consulting approach to reforming the Legionaries of Christ (2): "charism."


From the (admittedly artificial) perspective of a business consultant, in a sense it defies reason that the "charism" (vision, strategy, objectives) of the Congregation must come exclusively from the now disgraced founder, Fr. Maciel. I would suggest that many of his first followers and those of us who worked with him when he was starting his first schools and universities, helped contribute to the charism. 

The founder, Maciel certainly launched his "vision" and then a lot of people helped to make it happen. Thanks to his forceful leadership, it was not easy to adjust his “foundational” strategy. It was simpler to obtain minor tactical adjustments – like the evolution of dress codes or the introduction of mixed kindergarten schools. The latter, I felt at the time, was one of my major achievements while working at the Irish Institute. He actually gave me "permission" to open a mixed kindergarten at the Irish Institute in Mexico City - while he told me that if I were to be challenged by my superiors, he would deny giving me permission!

If there is strategic and theological space for the influence of the co-founders and now the "survivors" (those who have remained in the Legion after the death of the founder, collaborating with the Vatican representative) to contribute and refine the implementation of the original vision of the founder, then the “charism” can legitimately be refined.
Companies habitually need to adopt new strategic directions, including changes in leadership, operational structures, and objectives to adjust to dynamic competitive environments. Organizationally, I don’t see why the re-formed vision, mission and objectives that emerge from the next General Chapter, under the guidance of the Pope's representatives, should not be construed as the Church sanctioned “charism” of the Legionaries of Christ. This is the re-branding I mentioned earlier, involving not just changing the “image” of the congregation but rather the total overhaul of its "charism": goals, message, and culture.

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