Our son, John, is home from boarding school. He spent the last 2 ½ + years at Immaculate Conception Apostolic School in Center Harbor, New Hampshire. ICAS, in the old days, would have been called a Minor Seminary. It is run by the Legionaries of Christ, of recent ill-fame, and is dedicated to the middle and high school education of boys who may be interested in the Catholic priesthood. John felt drawn to the school as a seventh-grader and attended after he graduated eighth grade at our local public school. If he had finished at ICAS (this coming June), he would have gone on to the Legion’s novitiate to begin more formal studies in philosophy and theology.
We did not make him come home and there were not “incidents” of any sort that propelled John to change his mind about novitiate. This past fall John decided, in prayer, that God was not drawing him in that direction and he told us that he wanted to come home at Christmas time. We were a little surprised, in fact, because he was quite happy at the school.
If you know anything about the issues (understatement of the year) surrounding the Legionaries, you can guess that Rob and I had misgivings about John going on to novitiate, but we were determined to let God take the upper hand in directing John in his vocation. Our willingness to allow him to go to Novitiate with the Legion is not a reflection of our ignorance of the unseemly past and uncertain future of the Legion of Christ. However our family’s experiences with ICAS, have been, across the board, positive. Both John and Vince grew as students, Christians and young men at ICAS. The learned Latin (a little), how to ski, and that they could actually sing at Mass without flames coming from their mouths. They played hockey, visited Rome, and climbed mountains all over New Hampshire and southern Maine. One of the greatest experiences they had was the opportunity to live and work with priests and religious brothers. They got to know them as human beings who ate, slept, read, worked, prayed, laughed, played sports, watched movies, got tired, hungry, and irritable just like every other person they know. But they did all these things while celebrating the Sacraments and dedicating themselves to the boys who they daily patiently and wisely formed and guided. They were able to see the joy, the struggles, and the fellowship of religious life and to see it as a real option for their own lives. I truly would not hesitate to send my younger sons to ICAS, if the school survives the re-formation of the Legion.
There are plenty of stories out there of people’s bad experiences and impressions of the Legion and Regnum Christi. I know that many were legitimately damaged by Maciel’s evil deeds and the system that he put in place to cover them. Other folks “drank the RC Kool-Aid” and now they feel burned. Others just like to have something negative to say. I don’t fall into any of those categories. OK, except for the last one, but I am controlling myself. True, if you caught me privately, I have plenty to say about Regnum Christi, but my gripes don’t really benefit anybody or advance anything. Our concern right now is for the timely and thorough reform of the Congregation. In the meantime I am grateful for the boys’ time at ICAS.
So, now John is home, and homeschooling, at least for the time being. He is a little bored, but September should find him in school again. I wonder if I have bitten off more that I can chew because my Latin ends at Adeste Fideles and my last math class was “Statistics for Dummies” my sophomore year of college. But I am hopeful, and John is patient.
And God is good. And it is nice to have our boy back home for a short time before he flies the nest for good. After all, the days are long, but the years are short.