The weekend at the Legionaries of Christ Novitiate and College of Humanities was full of gratitude and joy this past Labor Day weekend. We were celebrating the closing of the 40th Anniversary of the establishment of the current Novitiate in Cheshire, Connecticut. Over this past year, we have been celebrating, with deep gratitude, God’s goodness and fidelity. We closed the year of celebration by gathering with over three hundred Legionaries, Regnum Christi members, benefactors, and Friends to celebrate this occasion.
The celebrations began on Friday afternoon. We opened with a Mass of gratitude, presided by Fr. Shawn Aaron, LC. Afterward, we began our forty hours of adoration of the Blessed Sacrament in thanksgiving for our forty years in this formation house, with priests, brothers, and lay people all taking shifts to adore Christ. That evening, we gathered as a spiritual family to enjoy a meal together.
Saturday began with Mass, celebrated by newly ordained Fr. Markus Stehmer, LC. That afternoon we had a picnic outside where we shared stories and experiences of life in the Novitiate over these past forty years. In the afternoon, Fr. Shawn Aaron, LC, Territorial Director of North America, and Fr. John Bartunek, LC, Territorial Vicar of North America, gave talks about what this house of formation means for them.
Fr. Shawn spoke about the memories of all the blessings and hardships he experienced in his years of formation here in the Novitiate and College of Humanities. He reminded us that through all of this, the brothers in Cheshire always had a spirit of joy. This deep joy of being a religious never faltered no matter the circumstances. And this same joy is present in all the brothers today.
Fr. John Bartunek spoke about the Novitiate in Cheshire as a turning point in his life and the lives of so many other young men. He said that after visiting as a guest, seeing the life of the brothers, and witnessing their deep Eucharistic Life, something in his own life had to change. This formation house became a decisive point for him in his own discernment. This experience was not unique for only him; the Novitiate is a turning point for many other young men as well.
The final day of Celebrations for the 40th Anniversary was beautiful. In the morning we concluded our Forty Hours of Adoration with Benediction with all the priests and brothers. Afterward, Archbishop Leonard Blair, Archbishop of Hartford, Celebrated the Closing Mass at St. Thomas Becket Church. The Liturgy was beautiful. In his Homily, Archbishop Blair preached about the Christian way of life, and how Jesus challenges us that if we desire to follow him, we must deny ourselves, pick up our cross, and follow him. He reminded us that the way to Heaven is the way of the Cross. No one is exempt from that, not even Christ Himself. But Christ promises to be at our side every step of the way. After mass, we ate our final meal together at the Novitiate. It was such a joyful celebration. God has truly been so good to the Legion and to all of us over these past forty years. May we never cease to praise Him.