Regnum Christi | Legionaries of Christ

“God has given us talents and asks us for a response”: Fr. John Connor, LC, on his trip to Northern Mexico

Father John Connor, LC, General Director of the priestly congregation of the Legionaries of Christ and member of the General Directive College of the Regnum Christi Federation, shares a little about his experience in prayer, the journey of the General Directive College, aspects of his recent trip to Mexico, and advice about the formation and evangelization of leaders.

On his trip to Mexico, Fr. John Connor, LC, visited León, La Asunta in Aguascalientes, and the Teotepec retreat center in Saltillo. This route allowed him to spend Christmas and the beginning of the year with the Legionaries of the territory of Northern Mexico.

In addition, he made time for an interview, which we share below.

Father John, what do you speak to the Lord about regarding your current mission in the Legion and Regnum Christi? 

The Lord has spoken to me clearly, especially this past year in my spiritual exercises. What I heard from him was from the book of Joshua, when the Lord tells him to be steadfast and courageous. I believe that is what he is asking of me, and not only of me, but also of my Legionary brothers, as a congregation, and I would dare say, also of Regnum Christi. This implies being firm and courageous in our vocation as apostles, men and women of the Kingdom, since we have gone through a period of many trials, so we continue to work hard on our preparation and formation for the current time.

What has the journey of the RC General Directive College been like up until now? 

There is no doubt that starting a new government for such a large and global organization has its challenges, and during a crisis like the pandemic, the demands were even greater; however, it has been a blessing. Faced with challenges, everyone responded with incredible generosity, availability, and goodwill, seeking initiatives to meet in person, get to know each other, have work meetings, and break bread, as we say.

A particular blessing has been the good mutual understanding of the members of the college, in particular, the three general directors of the federated institutions. Although we each have our own perspective, we know how to be open to the Holy Spirit and align ourselves on fundamental principles.

We are all grateful to God for our vocation to Regnum Christi and convinced of our apostolic mission of forming apostolic leaders for the Church. In that spirit, we wish to implement this way of governing collegially for the good of the shared mission.

You were present at the recent RC Schools Friendship Tournament in Chihuahua. What was your impression of this event?

The tournament experience was one of the biggest blessings of the year for me. I loved being able to watch some of the matches, the professionalism of the tournament, the organization, and seeing everyone so happy. To me, the fact that we are celebrating 40 years of offering this experience to families and students is a sign that God is present among us.

I loved seeing the work and leadership of the laypeople, as without them, this would not be possible, along with the fathers, the Consecrated Women, and the Lay Consecrated Men; it was very inspiring and charismatic for me.

The motto: “Make a difference” was very appropriate because I believe it is part of our mission; we want to help people make a difference in the world with Christ.

At the Territorial Convention for Northern Mexico, the topic of forming and evangelizing leaders came up and in April of last year, you wrote a letter to Legionaries addressing this topic. Considering what you mentioned in that letter, why do you think the parable of the talents (Mt 25:15) helps us understand the concept of “leaders?”

This parable challenges us because it communicates the awareness that God has given us talents and asks us for a response, expecting each one of us to develop them, the most important talent is our faith in Jesus Christ.

In my opinion, a leader is someone to whom God has given talents in an extraordinary way, and he expects fruits from those gifts. A man or woman with talents can significantly influence their field of expertise, and that influence can be positive or negative.

In Regnum Christi, we are aware of the need to respond to God’s call and make the most of the talents he has given us, for Christ, for the Kingdom, for society, for humanity, and to make a difference for him.

What do you think is the main challenge when helping a person with particular talents to respond to God for the gifts received with love and generosity?

The short answer is humility. The greatest challenge is to help them be humble and recognize that their talents come from God and not from themselves, and that God deserves all the glory and praise for what he does and can do in their life. When a leader is humble and recognizes God and others, they help others to be open to that same grace because people open themselves up to humility.

Then, we need to motivate them to have the courage to change their personal mental patterns, their work patterns, and how they see the world — to be brave, preach the Gospel with humility, and use their gifts and talents in the boardroom, with their family and their friends. Courageously speaking about Christ, humility, and the courage to be different.

What advice would you give to the lay members of Regnum Christi about the evangelization of leaders? 

The first piece of advice would be to assimilate and live the Statutes, number 33, which speaks very clearly about this aspect of our mission. Talk about this in your team, your section, and the locality. We must align ourselves in assimilating and living that aspect of our spirituality and mission. Assimilation of what God asks of us through the statutes.

The second piece of advice would be to pay attention to your formation. A Regnum Christi member must develop their own leadership, centered on and illuminated by the Gospel. That has to be a priority for everyone and as an organization, I believe all of us can  improve our formation. They must have greater clarity about how a member of Regnum Christi is trained in their own Christian leadership: intellectually, apostolically, humanly, and socially.

Another piece of advice is that each person, each team, and each section must ask themselves: what does the local Church need in this area? Is there an effort by the local Church to form the laity in their leadership capacity? What can we contribute as members of Regnum Christi? With great humility, simplicity, and gratitude to God for our mission, what can we contribute?

How can we leverage more of our institutions to serve Catholics locally? That is the apostolic question, and there is much room for this in Mexico and around the world. Each one must take this question to prayer, ask for light and graces from Christ, and ask for courage and humility to launch ourselves.

About Father John Connor, LC

Father John entered the Novitiate of the Legionaries of Christ on September 15, 1991, in Roetgen, Germany. He was a formator at the Everest School Monteclaro in Madrid, collaborated as a local apostolate coordinator in New York, and in the founding and direction of Lumen Institute. He was territorial director of the Legionaries of Christ and a member of the Territorial Directive College of the Regnum Christi Federation in the North American Territory. Currently, he is the General Director of the Legionaries of Christ and a member of the General Directive College of the Regnum Christi Federation.