Dunedin Bishop Michael Dooley ordained James Cleary to the diaconate at St Joseph’s Church in Brockville on August 6. Deacon Cleary, of the Legionaries of Christ/ Regnum Christi, is currently working with 14–16 year old students at Everest College, a Regnum Christi school in Santiago, Chile.
“I chose the Legionaries of Christ/Regnum Christi because I went to a summer camp in 2001 for their vocational high school there [Santiago],” he said.
At the time, he said, he was not really thinking of becoming a priest. “[It was] more for the overseas experience,” he said.
However, he said he “felt at home” with the legionaries so that instead of returning home to Dunedin after camp, he stayed on.
“[It’s] kind of hard to explain — it was a sensation that ‘I’m meant to be here’,” he said. “Over time I discerned better and more clearly the vocation.”
“It was here that I discovered Jesus as a real person and the emphasis on his humanity and his great heart and mercy for each of us resonated in a special way. Both the spirituality, the community life and support, and the apostolic outreach fitted me like a glove,” he added.
Deacon Cleary said his ordination to priesthood will be in early May next year. His brother, Fr Simon Cleary, LC, was recently appointed chaplain for the Regnum Christi Movement in New Zealand and Australia. Fr Cleary explained this means he will be directing periodic retreats and offering spiritual direction to RC members.
However, he [Fr Cleary] will be based in Manila in the Philippines, working with a school called Mano Amiga (Helping Hand), which helps low-income communities through education and skills training.