In addition to University Ministry, Marquette’s main campus spiritual resource provider, there are several Catholic student groups on campus, e.g. Catholic Outreach, Bellarmine, and Schoenstatt. Moreover, beyond these organizations, there are a few non-university affiliated Catholic groups that are becoming increasingly popular among students, such as Opus Dei and Regnum Christi. These groups have presented themselves as alternatives for students seeking different ways to enhance their faith.
The 87,000 member strong lay institution, Opus Dei, was established in 1928 by Saint Josemaria Escriva, and it has been the subject of controversy since the release of The DaVinci Code, which fictitiously portrays the organization as clandestine and manipulative. A growing number of Marquette students have begun attending a regular Bible study and discussion group sponsored by Opus Dei, finding it instrumental in advancing their faith.
“Ongoing faith formation is vital to Catholics who desire to live authentic, healthy, spiritual lives,” says Mark Adams, a third year law student. “I have found Opus Dei priests to be great at providing practical advice, as well as theologically sound and orthodox teaching.” Adams also finds that the group helps him evangelize, noting that it is convenient to invite friends to the group as a way of increasing doctrinal awareness.
The Opus Dei group is facilitated by Father Tim Uhen of The Priestly Society of the Holy Cross, the society affiliated with Opus Dei, and by Professor Christopher Wolfe, who teaches Political Science here at Marquette.
Regnum Christi is also seeing increasing interest among Marquette students. Regnum Christi is an international lay organization with close to 70,000 members, affiliated with the Legionaries of Christ, a congregation of priests founded in 1941. Regnum Christi has, like Opus Dei, come under criticism for being too conservative.
Describing the organization’s role in his life, sophomore Nick Preston says, “As a member of Regnum Christi, you have commitments…these provide a structure for my life and help me to be more proactive in my faith, rather than just showing up for Mass on Sundays like many students”.
Joel Mishork, who transferred to Marquette this semester, views Regnum Christi as an “extra tool” to support his faith journey. “It helps remind me that without action my faith means nothing,” said Mishork. Mishork hopes that Regnum Christi will motivate him to be an authentic witness to the Gospel at Marquette, and he aims to live out the doctrines and principles of the Catholic Church while attending school here.
The Regnum Christi men’s section in Milwaukee is administered by Father Robert DeCesare of the Legionaries of Christ, who travels from Chicago to provide spiritual direction and lead Bible studies for the Regnum Christi members at Marquette.
As a Catholic university, Marquette has a duty to provide for the spiritual needs of students; however, many students have found that their own spiritual needs can be best met by organizations outside the university structure. “We all have different ways of serving the Church and growing in our faith,” says Preston, “Regnum Christi is the way I have been called to do just that”.