Concilium Bulletin February 2009
REPORTS - EUROPE
Scotland: The Senatus has 18 directly attached praesidia and 6 Curiae. Efforts are continuing in the Senatus territory to bring the Legion to parishes where praesidia are not yet established. Some praesidia have gained new members. A new praesidium of six members set up at Glasgow University some months ago is progressing well. The legionaries make contact with young people outside the University, in parks and on the streets. The activities of the reporting praesidia include book barrow apostolate, door to door visitation, visits to the homes of children preparing for the sacraments and visits with the Pilgrim statue. A praesidium of 19 members is responsible for the physical and spiritual needs in the Wayside club, which has a night attendance of around 50. Edinburgh Curia with 11 attached praesidia continues to visit the secondary schools to explain the Rosary to the pupils. 68 of the 92 active members in Grenock Curia are Praetorians and the combined number of Auxiliaries for the praesidia is 1022 and 36 Adjutorians. Ayrshire Curia has 42 parishes in the Diocese without the Legion and the Curia is very much aware that extension must be a priority. To mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of Venerable Edel Quinn the Curia organised a talk on Edel’s life at which 50 people were present. An apostolate to schools also featured in most of the reports.
The Senatus of Birmingham governs the Legion in the Archdiocese of Birmingham, and the suffragen Dioceses of Shrewsbury and Clifton as well as caretaking the Legion in the Plymouth Diocese. In the Archdiocese of Birmingham there are 9 praesidia directly attached to the Senatus, three Curiae and one Junior Curia. The Diocese of Clifton has one Curia with eleven praesidia and in the Shrewsbury Diocese there is one praesidium. In the Diocese of Plymouth there is a Curia in Cornwall, which has five praesidia. The reporting praesidia even though small in membership are carrying out a good variety of apostolic work and working closely with their Parish Priests. A new praesidium of 4 active and 3 probationers with 20 auxiliaries gave its first annual report. The new legionaries contacted a mother of five children and all are now preparing to be received into the Church. A praesidium of 6 in Perry Bar reported the Baptism of 12 children from visits to parents and from home visitation 3 people are taking the RCIA course for reception into the Church. A city praesidium of seven members gives particular attention to lapsed Catholics and a talk organised for non-Catholics had an attendance of four. Coventry Curia, which has five praesidia attached visit a “half-way” house for homeless teenagers and good contacts are made with staff and residents. From an Ecumenical service held at St. Paul’s Church in November the Vicar and some of his congregation as well as a visiting Evangelical Bishop from Burundi have been taught how to say the Rosary.
South Birmingham Curia has 11 praesidia and efforts are continuing to extend into parishes without the Legion. From 3 Exploratio projects 200 homes were visited and some very good contacts were made. Birmingham Junior Curia has praesidia with a membership of 38. In October one of the praesidia organised a celebration in honour of Venerable Edel Quinn. Four papers on her life were prepared and read by juniors. The parents of juniors attended and Fr. Peyton gave a talk on his work as a junior legionary. Wolverhampton Curia has 4 praesidia attached. One praesidium reported that after a long period of visitation a lapsed family returned to practice and the children were helped to prepare for their First Holy Communion.
Liverpool Senatus: The first annual report of a new praesidium showed that there are 7 members. A Mass was arranged in a nursing home. The book barrow featured in the report of another praesidium, successfully marking the Liverpool Year of Culture. Home visitation is the principal work of the praesidium, many Miraculous Medals are given out and Advent cards “Come Home for Christmas” distributed. Cathedral newsletters are distributed to city centre hotels. Following a PPC project a lady who had been baptised but hadn’t received any other sacrament was helped to do so, she now helps at RCIA meetings.
Newcastle Comitium has 5 Curiae, 28 senior and 1 junior praesidia. A day with Mary was again very successful and the praesidium in South Shields continues to spread devotion to Our Lady of Walsingham. The other works mentioned include the apostleship of the sea, Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and a thriving junior praesidium, which helps the Liturgy group.
Manchester Comitium: Legionaries visiting one family with the Parish Priest brought them back to the Church. A new junior praesidium started with 8 members, now has 10. The Holy Hour for the Servant of God Frank Duff had an attendance of over 100 people. Legionaries visited a primary school and were asked for Rosaries for the children and teachers. A Rosary Rally in September had almost 100 in attendance. The PPC project in St. Joseph’s Halliwell, resulted in a new praesidium being set up.
Leigh Curia is actively recruiting and the Rosary is promoted, particularly in the homes. Each Monday in October a Rosary and torchlight procession is held. In Warrington Curia home and hospital visitation is done; at Warrington Hospital legionaries attend every Saturday to help take people to Mass in the Chapel. Another Curia organised a public rosary and book barrow apostolate in Kirby Town centre in October. This attracted many visitors and several of them asked for prayers.
The new Central London Curiareported that the praesidium in the Cathedral parish has 9 active members with 1 Praetorian and 50 Auxiliary members. Lapsed Catholics, the elderly and a prison are visited and Hotel contact is done. Another praesidium has 13 active members with 1 Praetorian, 40 Auxiliary and 4 Adjutorian members. The works include crowd contact in a park, visitation of the housebound and nursing homes and involvement with Church activities. Brentwood Comitium governs 15 directly attached praesidia and 2 Curiae in the Diocese of Brentwood. Since 2003, 12 extension and 5 recruiting drives were held.
Southwark Comitium: The territory of the Southwark Comitium covers the Archdiocese of the same name in addition to the 3 suffragen dioceses of Arundel and Brighton, Plymouth and Portsmouth and takes in about 560 parishes in total. Statistics for the Legion are based on reports presented during 2008. The Comitium has 17 senior, 2 junior and 2 intermediate praesidia directly affiliated in addition to 6 Curiae. Membership includes 119 (for the 17 senior praesidia), 26 junior and 49 intermediate members. The 6 Curiae are situated in Mid Kent, East Kent, Surbiton, SE London/North Kent (each have 4 praesidia), North Surrey (5 praesidia) and Croyden (8 praesidia). Works undertaken are heavily concentrated on visitation of the sick, bereaved and elderly at home and in nursing homes. Some home-to-home visitation is done very effectively. There is an outreach to the lapsed especially in the lead-up to Easter and Christmas. Mention is made of promoting Auxiliary membership, the Rosary, the Fatima Statue apostolate and Maria Legionis. Other works mentioned include the running of a prayer group, Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, conducting a children’s Bible study class and liturgy for children and helping with parish activities.
North Surrey Curia report included mention of coming in contact with non-Catholics when visiting homes for single parents, teaching some residents how to pray the Rosary, a number of whom are interested in the Catholic faith. A legionary was contacted by a lady having a problem with alcohol who is now attending Mass weekly and is much improved. Another lady spoken to at a bus stop is now attending the RCIA programme. Surbiton Curia listed 20 parishes visited over a 2-month period - some showed promise in respect of extension. The Intermediate praesidium in Peckham organises nativity plays in the parish, welcomes people to Sunday Mass, visits the nursing home and brings a blind lady to Mass. The parents were met on a monthly basis and outings to the park and cinema were arranged. Follow up in parishes where a Peregrinatio project took place is undertaken. Tube station contact led to 196 invitations being issued to people to attend Easter services. 98 Miraculous Medals were accepted. One man went to Confession that evening and expressed his gratitude to the legionaries. A Patrician group is well attended in Rotherhithe.
Northampton North and South Curiae: Since the splitting of the Northampton Curia just over 2 year ago, Northampton North has established two new praesidia while Northampton South has also established another praesidium. Both Curiae are making great efforts to contact Priests and legionaries, are very involved in the recruiting drives, where members speak at the Masses and also promote the Miraculous Medal after the Masses. Visitation to a local prison is going well, worthwhile contacts are made with the prisoners, some of whom attend a Prayer meeting and they are encouraged to replace some of the pictures in their cells with a religious one. Visitation to schools has been well received.
Wrexham Curia - an afternoon of meditation in October had an attendance of 60 - all praesidia were represented. A pilgrimage to Walsingham was held in October.
Cardiff Comitium (5 praesidia and a Curia at Gwent with 3 praesidia). Religious instruction is given to pupils at a large primary school. The Servant of God Alfie Lambe was remembered at Anniversary Masses in St. David’s Cathedral and in Abergavenny. A retreat at Merthyr was well attended.
Swansea Curia in the Diocese of Menevia with four praesidia attached has permission for extension in 3 parishes. Street work in Swansea city centre and the weekly running of a drop-in centre are among the works carried out by the legionaries. A young lady who was a drug addict was met on street work and prayed with many times recently died in Church and was given a Catholic burial with the help of legionaries and the local Priest.
OVERVIEW OF MEXICO / CENTRAL AMERICA
Mexico and Central America are Catholic countries but a large percentage of the Catholic population may not be practicing or may not even have been instructed properly in the faith. The sects are also very active in all those countries. There are 15 councils in Mexico and Central America affiliated to Concilium, all 15 are in contact with Concilium and each council has a correspondent. The correspondence is reasonably up to date, maybe delays but no council is out of touch. Equally so the Concilium correspondents are in regular contact with their councils.
The Legion of Mary spirituality is very suitable to the Latin American people. They have a great love for Our Lady and a great devotion to the Rosary. Main works would be hospital visitation, teaching catechism and visiting the sick. Home visitation and street contact is done but on a lesser scale. There is a need to guide and encourage more home-to-home visitation. A common weakness in most of the councils is the strength of the Curia on which the council was set up or in other words the directly attached praesidia. With time the directly attached praesidia seems to decrease and consequently the foundation of the council is weakened.
The population of Mexico is 142 million. There are 93 dioceses and 6,100 parishes and about 87% is Catholic. In more recent years there is an obvious change for the better in the practice of the faith. Attendance at Sunday and weekday Masses has increased.
There are large numbers in the Legion, mostly women but there are men, also married couples, young people and juniors. All are very conscious that they must recruit the young.
Of the 93 dioceses in the country the Legion is established in 64 of them. Recently the councils were reorganised and a number of new Regiae were set up. There are now 8 higher councils (2 Senatus and 6 Regiae) attached to Concilium. Each council is aware of its territory and the dioceses for which it has responsibility. The Legion is stronger to the south of the country, they are extending, doing Peregrinatio Pro Christo projects, understand Legion government and have good contact with attached distant councils.
The three Causes are encouraged and promoted among the legionaries but there is a need to broaden the promotion to reach the general public.
Mexico City Senatus: There are 10 praesidia, 1 junior and 18 senior Curiae and 12 Comitia affiliated to the Senatus. The city alone is very big with a population of 22 million.
was set up recently, very active and have extended into the communities. Legionaries arrange a Eucharistic service when there is no Mass. They also teach catechism. There is a praesidium of 15 seminarians in the Dominican seminary. A number of them were legionaries before they entered and said that the Legion helped them to decide their vocation. The Regia has also visited the newly attached Comitium of Oaxaca and its corresponding Curiae.
Merida Senatus in the south of the country is a very active council. A PPC project was carried out last year to Guatamala and another is planned for this year. They also carry out Exploratio Dominicalis projects. Street contact work is done weekly.
Leon Regia was set up recently. Here there are large numbers of young legionaries, all very active. The young legionaries carry out an apostolate to drug addicts and their families with great success.
To the north of the country are the Regiae of Guadalajara, Monterrey, Durango and Hermosillo. They are conscious of the importance of extension. In addition to home and hospital visitation the legionaries visit prisons and teach catechism. Prison work is well done; regularly legionaries make contact with the families of the prisoners particularly if the prisoner has lost contact.
Belize is a small country with one diocese and 18 parishes. The Diocese is a suffragen Diocese of Kingston, Jamaica. There is a population of 285,000 of which 214,000 are Catholic.
There are 7 praesidia in the Curia and recently a new praesidium was set up on the Island of San Pedra. Two visitors from Houston Senatus have just completed a visit to Belize.
Nicaragua is a small country; the least densely populated country in Central America with a population of 6.3 million, 82% Catholic. The Legion is established in 4 of the 8 Dioceses. There is a Comitium in the capital Managua, affiliated to Concilium with 5 Curiae attached.
Of the 13.5 million population in Guatemala 77% are Catholics. The Legion is established in 9 of the 14 Dioceses in the country. In 2006 the Concilium raised the Comitium of Camaton to Regia status and affiliated the Comitium of Guatemala city and Jalapa to the new Regia. At that time the Comitium of Camotan was the strongest body but it was pointed out that the seat of the Regia will eventually be transferred to Guatemala City, which is the capital and also one of the two Archdioceses in the country.
Costa Rica is a small country with 7 Dioceses and 1 Archdiocese, 307 parishes and a population of 1.9 million, 84% Catholic. There is a Senatus in San Jose (the capital) with 10 Comitia, 16 Curiae and 12 praesidia attached but it is not clear if there is a Legion presence in each Diocese. Recently a bad earthquake hit Costa Rica and especially towns close to the capital, there were many casualties, whole villages were buried.
There are 7 Dioceses and 1 Archdiocese and a population of 5.7 million with 80% Catholic and 182 parishes. There is a Legion presence in all 8 Dioceses, but in 3 of them there are praesidia only.
There are 7 Dioceses and 1 Archdiocese and a population of 7.1 million with 76% Catholic and 418 parishes in the country. There is a Senatus in the capital San Salvador with 2 Regiae, 2 Comitia, 10 Curiae and 9 praesidia attached. The Legion is established in all the Dioceses and progressing well. Solid apostolic apostolate is carried out resulting in conversions, returns to the Sacraments, etc. Every month the Senatus sends a contribution to the Concilium.
Panama has a population of 2.1 million, 85.3 per cent Catholic, 1 Archdiocese and 7 Dioceses with 186 parishes. For a long time the Legion did not extend outside Panama city, then a Curia was set up in Colon about 15 years ago and at this stage there is at least one Curia in 6 of the 8 Dioceses. In all there are 15 senior and 3 junior Curiae attached to the Comitium. Two extension workers from Bogotá will visit Panama soon.
THE GOVERNMENT OF THE LEGION
“The government, local and central of the Legion, shall be carried on by its councils, whose duty in their respective spheres shall be to ensure unity, to preserve the original ideals of the Legion of Mary, to guard the integrity of the Legion spirit and rules and practice as set forth in the official handbook of the Legion, and to spread the organisation. The Legion in any area will be as good as these councils wish to make it”. (Ch.28:1:1)
Handbook on Government of the Legion?
The handbook devotes about twenty pages to this chapter on government. It may be asked: why do we need rules and regulations. The handbook says, in regard to elections: “The fact that the election is in respect of officers of a spiritual organisation is not to be held to justify casual methods.”(Ch.28:1:13) This could be applied to Legion government in general. Do away with the legal structure and it is hard to see how the Legion could survive. The government of the Legion, however, could become very mechanical, without a constant striving to infuse the spirit of the Legion of Mary, which is the spirit of Mary herself, into our meetings, and into our dealings with others.
Council is the Governing Body?
Some councils find that a pre-council meeting of the officers can be of great help in the administration of the council. It is the council, however, which is the governing body. While council officers have a special role, all the members of the council have a responsibility for the functioning of the council. The handbook says: “The very essence of a legionary council is its frank and free discussion of its business and problems. It is not merely a supervising or decision-making body, but a school for officers.” (Ch.28:1:22)
Visitation of Praesidia and Extension?
A major function of Legion government is to promote the well being of each praesidium and therefore, the visitation of praesidia, with the aim of encouraging them and “seeing that all things are being carried out as they should be” (Handbook Ch.28:2:11), the taking of reports, the appointment of good officers and generally providing a supporting structure and a system of formation for the members, through the organisation of Legion functions, are required. One of the benefits of visiting praesidia can be the discovery of potential officers, for their own praesidium or for another. Another major function of the council is to promote extension of the Legion. It would be helpful if councils could have a systematic approach to this.
A Higher Council governs attached subordinate councils but always retains curia function itself Higher councils should take regular reports from their attached councils and perhaps they might occasionally visit them. It may be necessary and desirable for the higher council to appoint correspondents for distant councils. The higher council, of course, still has the responsibility of carrying out the functions of a Curia in relation to its directly-attached praesidia.
Election of Curia Officers?
In regard to elections of council officers, it is very important that the proper procedures be followed. A basic requirement is that the election be free. “Every legionary is eligible for such election”. (Handbook Ch.28:1:10) Elections should be held once an officership becomes vacant, allowing, of course, for notice to be given. A complete record including the names of the candidate or candidates, the names of
Management of Legion Funds?
The management of Legion funds is an important aspect of government. Praesidia and councils should see that there are proper procedures in place to ensure that they are managed properly for the purposes of the Legion. For example, it should be normal practice that any expenditure of Legion funds should be sanctioned by the praesidium or council and that at least two officers should be required to sign cheques and that blank cheques should never be signed. The handbook states: “The Treasurer’s books shall be audited annually. It is suggested that two members of the Praesidium or the Council (as the case may be), other than the Treasurer, be appointed to that duty.”(Ch.24:8) The auditors should verify, through current bank statements and/or actual cash in hands, the balance shown in the Treasurer’s book or report. Some time ago, the Concilium recommended that some higher councils, which may have to manage fairly large funds, should arrange for a professional audit to be carried out. In the case of any funds associated with a work of a praesidium, the funds must be managed by the praesidium. No individual officer or other legionary should be left in the position of controlling any funds on their own.
Visit by Senatus of Egypt
The Officers of the Senatus of Egypt who visited Concilium were Rev. Fr. Gabriele El Ahmar Spiritual Director, Ashraf Michel Betros President, Ramy Sami Habib Awad Vice President together with the correspondent for Egypt Senatus, Vince Cachua (Malta Regia) and the Secretary of Malta Regia Bruno Attard, held a meeting with the Concilium Officers on Saturday 14th February and attended the Concilium meeting on the Sunday.
Ashraf Betros gave comprehensive information on the government, works and spiritual exercises undertaken by the Legion in Egypt. There are approximately 300,000 Catholics in Egypt (0.35% of the population) of which 1,457 are senior legionaries, 1,807 junior legionaries and 1,253 Auxiliary members. Affiliated to the Senatus are 2 Comitia, 6 Senior Curiae, 1 Junior Curia, 4 praesidia and 3 Curiae are under formation. Members undertake the usual apostolic works of visiting families, hospital and prison visitation. They also hold an annual conference, Junior Curiae conferences, leadership courses, visitation of councils, etc. He said the Senatus would discuss the Concilium’s suggestions for the development of the Legion of Mary in Egypt.
Fr. Gabriele in his talk to Concilium said the Legion was in Egypt for 67 years. He emphasised the necessity to interest young people in the Legion; Christ through Mary calls them in a special way to be legionaries. He also said that is was a pleasure and honour to be able to talk to the Concilium.
Tommy McCabe, Concilium President, thanked the Egyptian officers for their visit, which was very fruitful and also expressed his gratitude to the Maltese legionaries.
Bernardo de Nardo - Envoy for Central Asia
Bernardo is presently in Georgia and in its capital Tbilisi he was invited to talk at all the Sunday Masses and recruit when people were coming out of the Church. The first Mass was celebrated in English, the second in Georgian and the third in Latin and Russian. The first praesidium set up in Georgia was on 3rd February in the Parish of Saints Peter and Paul, four members attended; a second praesidium has been set up in the capital and on the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes a third praesidium was set up in the villages of Vale and Arale. One praesidium holds their meeting in English, the other two in Russian. At the second meeting three prospective members came.
Prayer for the Beatification of the Servant of God, Frank Duff
God our Father, You inspired your servant Frank Duff with a profound insight into the mystery of your Church, the Body of Christ, and of the place of Mary the Mother of Jesus in this mystery. In his immense desire to share this insight with others and in filial dependence on Mary he formed her Legion to be a sign of her maternal love for the world and a means of enlisting all her children in the Church’s evangelising work. We thank you Father for the graces conferred on him and for the benefits accruing to the Church from his courageous and shining faith. With confidence we beg you that through his intercession you grant the petition we lay before you
We ask too that if it be in accordance with your will, the holiness of his life may be acknowledged by the Church for the glory of your Name, through Christ Our Lord, Amen.
Favours attributed to the intercession of
The Servant of God, Frank Duff should be reported to:
Legion of Mary,
De Montfort House,
Morning Star Avenue,
North Brunswick Street,
Dublin 7, Ireland.