by Gordon Nary
Gordon: When and how did you first learn of Regnum Christi and the Legionaries of Christ?
Kelly: A Legionary of Christ priest came to Michigan and was offering retreats for boys and some of my cousins went. They had a great time at the retreats and my aunts asked if there was anything for girls. So then we met the Consecrated Women of Regnum Christi as they started offering activities for the girls, too. (Regnum Christi includes the Legionary priests, Consecrated men and women, and lay people of all ages and states of life). The retreats were a lot of fun, and at the same time brought me in touch with my faith in ways I didn´t know before- it was like Jesus became a real friend for me and my friends. My concept of God changed from being an old guy up in the clouds or in different paintings, to being a friend who walked through life with me, making each moment fuller. Even just simple fun stuff became so much more meaningful because even having fun could be part of my pathway to heaven, when I was doing it with Jesus by my side.
Gordon: When and why did you decide to be Consecrated in Regnum Christi?
Kelly: You know, I had designed my future house, dreamed of the good-looking guy I would marry and a lot of other typical “life planning” stuff as a teenager. And yet, years later I realized that deep down I kind of always wanted a deeper, total commitment with God. One day, as an adult, several years after my consecration, I listened to a bunch of songs from my middle and high school years. They were all just normal pop love songs…but I realized that deep down, since the moment I first heard them, they all spoke to me in a very real and personal way about Christ. The friendship with him that was built during those retreats, had turned into something much greater, long before I knew what was coming. I actually have a playlist on Spotify called “non-religious religious”- all non-religious songs that speak to me very strongly about my relationship with God. But that realization was all hindsight, years after having the initial stages of my Consecrated life already under my belt.
The more “conscious” side of the story was totally different. At a big event for young people and families that Regnum Christi held in Chicago in the 90´s, seeing how so many other people´s lives had been touched by Christ like mine, I got thinking. Without intending it to be a prayer, I just kind of told God that I wanted my life to be an instrument for so many more to get to know him in the way I had. I don´t really know how to explain it, but it was like a lightning bolt hit me at that moment, to the core of my being, as a response from God saying that he wanted that as well. I understood in that moment that he was calling me to Consecrated life.
Things were great with Jesus as a friend and all, but I wasn´t precisely looking to leave family, friends, and my potential plans for life behind. So no, I wasn´t real happy with the idea at that moment. I shed a good number of tears over this. I would have given him an outright no, but the friendship and the trust I had with Christ were real. Long story short, I started taking one step at a time…and consecrated my life to him three years later. It wasn´t a done deal at that point though. There was a constant pull and tug between wanting to give my life fully to him and not wanting to let go of so many things- good and not so good- that the world has to offer. Believe it or not, I didn’t fully embrace my life with him until 10 years later!
It would probably be too long if I went into details, but the short of it is that I was on a silent retreat on my 10th anniversary and was making a big deal about it in my prayer. From the first moment of that day God had given me an intense experience of his presence- during prayer, as I had breakfast, when I went for a run…it was all really intense and special. Oh, I forgot to mention that I have a pretty independent personality and like my space. So about half way through the morning, I let Him know he could “tone it down” a bit. That was when everything changed…it was like he spoke without words to the doubts and resistance I still felt deep inside and let me know that he didn´t want anything for me other than to make me infinitely happy. He let me know that I was free to choose to leave Consecrated life and that his love would not be less even though it was the path he had gifted to me. I don´t know if I am able to express the love I experienced at that moment- it was overwhelming. I saw how free, selfless, and overwhelming his love for me was. It was like he knocked me off my horse and my perspective on all of life changed. The love I experienced was so great, that the only and most natural response was to embrace this path he had given me, realizing that Consecrated life is not so much a call to leave other things behind, but to receive him fully and to share that fullness with others. I haven´t looked back since (which is shocking to some because if you know anything about Regnum Christi´s history, you know it hasn´t been easy).
Gordon: It was all a clear flow from there or what kind of rocky roads have you run into since then?
Kelly: That being said, I would like to share that ever since we found out about the double life of our founder and all of the abuses connected with that, it has been a very painful and difficult road, for me and for many others. A friend of mine who used to be Consecrated asked me why I continue in Regnum Christi. She was the one who had introduced me to Consecrated life and she felt guilty about it because she knows a lot of people have suffered through our history. My response was to thank her. The reason I thanked her was because she (together with many others) introduced me to Christ and led me to greater intimacy with Him. It has been precisely that personal and real friendship with Him that has allowed me to walk through so many difficult moments accompanied by the only One who knew how to pull through it.
I have yet to meet anyone in any path of life who has not had their taste of bitter suffering or difficulties, and yet I know so many who have shared my experience of being able to transform so much pain by letting Christ lead them through it. And in that sense, I can sincerely say (without making light of what I or others have lived) that my life has been full of light. It is His light that has illuminated the darkness. A lot of circumstances in life aren´t cool, and yet I have found that what has made my life happier or not, haven´t been the circumstances, but walking together with Christ.
Gordon: Where are you currently located and what are your responsibilities as a Consecrated member of Regnum Christi?
Kelly: Argentina! I have loved each place I have been- Michigan (of course!), New England, Atlanta, California, México, Spain and now Argentina… The people here are great. It is a whole new culture for me because European and Latin American cultures have always been pretty familiar to me, but here they have a very particular mix of those two cultures; so I have learned a lot over the past two years as I have gotten to understand their mentality, nuances and all. One of the things I have most loved is that way they give so much importance simply to people- the person in front of you is more important that whatever is on your agenda that needs to be done. It has its setback on a “get things done” level for an American like me, but is a breath of fresh air! It is great to be able to connect with people on such a deep, human level. I have learned so much from them and hope to continue to do so over the next several years!
My primary responsibility while I am here is to complete my pontifical degree in theology, so that is pretty much what my mornings look like for now. But there are also afternoons and evenings, so I have been collaborating with the Diocese of Buenos Aires in the area of consecrated life and the diocesan synod they are holding right now, as well as continuing to work with young adults (which is what I have done most of my Consecrated life) through formation courses, spiritual retreats, and personal encounters. I´m not real consistent in publishing, but I keep somewhat active on producing content on social media as well.
Gordon: What kind of content do you prefer to produce?
Kelly: Almost anything…anything that can help others experience and come to know Christ in a personal and meaningful way. I love helping others grow in prayer, tending towards a greater relationship of union with God; spiritual life is key as well, learning to live it from within, paying attention to the interior movements of God; I also have been more involved in the past few years in the ministry of healing as a way to lead others to live in the truth of who they are and who God is as our Father- which is at the center of Christ´s mission and why he came to live among us.
Gordon: Any last comments?
Kelly: Yeah. I hope that whoever you are that just read this interview, have found at least a little bit of light for your own life. Sometimes we look at others and admire them and feel like that they have something that we don´t. It´s partially true, but it is only part of the picture. Precisely what has made my life full is what makes yours full, too. Life might not always feel full, and that is okay. In the measure we let Christ in and let him enlighten each corner of our lives with the truth of who I really am and who he really is, it is like that scales fall from our eyes and we are able to see things the way they really are. So my hope is that today you have received a little bit more light in your life!
Gordon: Thank you for an informative and exceptional interview.