ROME, JAN. 1, 2001 (ZENIT.org).- Twenty thousand pilgrims from around the world are in Rome during these last days of the Jubilee to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the foundation of the Legionaries of Christ.
This congregation was founded on January 3, 1941, in Mexico City by Fr. Marcial Maciel, who at the time was a young seminarian. Today it has 500 priests and 2,500 seminarians, according to information provided by the congregation.
The Legionaries of Christ are presently active in Europe and throughout the Americas. For the formation of their seminarians, they operate 16 minor seminaries, 10 novitiates, 2 colleges of classical humanities, and the Pontifical Athenaeum “Regina Apostolorum”, with campuses in Rome and New York.
In the Eternal City itself, the Legionaries have made available to bishops worldwide a center for the formation of seminarians and diocesan instructors. Their permanent installations now house 230 seminarians from 77 dioceses of 22 nations.
Outstanding among the apostolates led by the Legionaries of Christ is their pastoral work in the missionary diocese of Chetumal-Cancun, which includes the entire Mexican state of Quintana Roo, in the Yucatan peninsula. This area is inhabited primarily by the descendants of the Mayans. This apostolic task was personally entrusted to Fr. Maciel by Pope Paul VI in 1970. The territory covers roughly the area of Switzerland.
In addition, this religious Congregation has founded and directs 10 universities for the laity, 116 elementary and high schools, and 630 centers of apostolate in 92 cities.
Over 60,000 lay people from more than 40 nations follow the spirituality and apostolate of the Regnum Christi, an ecclesial movement that emerged at the beginning of the 60s, rooted in the spirituality of the Legionaries of Christ.
Within the context of the celebrations of the 60th anniversary of the Congregation´s foundation, tomorrow, January 2, Cardinal Darío Castrillón Hoyos, prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, will ordain 37 Legionaries of Christs priests.
On January 3, Fr. Marcial Maciel will preside over the Mass in thanksgiving for the Congregation´s 60 years of existence.
John Paul II will participate in the celebrations in person on January 4; he will receive Fr. Maciel in a special audience at the Vatican, together with thousands of Legionaries of Christ and members of Regnum Christi gathered in Rome for the occasion.