When I was in Regnum Christi — the lay movement of the now-disgraced but somehow still not suppressed Legionaries of Christ — it wasn’t long before it became clear to me that Opus Dei was seen as a direct rival organization. When I attended the Highlands School in Irving, Texas, for my senior year, one of the college-aged “co-workers” (full time lay volunteers essentially aping Mormon Missionary program) who lived with me would sometimes speak about the challenges he was facing trying to recruit college students from the University of Dallas. It was right next door to our campus, but there was an active Opus Dei group there as well, and he saw them as competition.
After participating in a handful of their missions in several countries, I became a mission director for Youth For the Third Millennium (YTM). YTM was one of the LC/RC front organizations set up for recruitment purposes — although I didn’t realize it at the time. The way YTM worked was by hosting superficial efforts to revitalize parishes run by Legion-friendly diocesan priests. The method of operation was to come in for a week and engage in a program of door-to-door evangelization efforts in the neighborhoods surrounding the parish, with young Catholics doing the evangelizing. The kind of people YTM attracted — zealous, knowledgeable, outgoing, and usually between high school age up to about 35 or so — were exactly the kind the LC/RC wanted to recruit into their organization. I’d done missions in Dallas, the Bahamas, Mexico, New York City, and Canada, before I was selected to run the Miami mission. And somehow, during all that time, I hadn’t realized that it wasn’t actually about the missionary work. Nevertheless, I was placed in charge of their January, 1997 mission in Miami, Florida — a mission effort that would last two weeks, with two different sets of missionaries for each week.
One night during that mission, I found myself in a room with only those other missionaries who were “co-workers” or active members of Regnum Christi. I already knew I was on my way out, though not everyone else in the room did. I had notified my superior in Atlanta the previous month that I was done with the program. I had to get away from the vocational pressure. And to be honest, I didn’t want to be at that meeting. I was irritated and chafing to leave. The Legionary priests on site — men I’d been friendly with for years — were already beginning to distance themselves from me in what appeared to be a purposeful attempt to make me feel excluded. But it was fortunate that I was there, or I would never have heard the truth.