Are You Impressive Enough to Get Co-opted by Opus Dei? Randy Engels tells us what you are in for. Watch out for the Narnia Clubs!
Dr. Chojnowski: The brains of the Novus Ordo seems also to be the bank account of the New Religion. Watch out for all the "fronts" of Opus Dei. Many of these are mentioned by Randy Engel below. In my own experience, they established a number of study circles at Fordham University when I was studying there in the late 80s and early 90s. This organization, along with being wed to the Liberal Democratic Capitalism of the Neo-Conservatives, also was an extremely enthusiastic fan of John Paul II, even to the point of being advocates of his Phenomenology and his Leftist Personalism.
Here is the rest of the Third Part of the article by Randy Engel on Jones/Voris/Opus Dei:
No Money for Burial of Opus Dei Members?
On the afternoon of September 13, 2016, a tragic head-on accident in Mexico between a Mercedes Benz Sprinter van, a crane and a truck claimed the lives of eleven members of Opus Dei including two female numeraries and nine numerary assistants as well as the driver of the van. The women were returning from an annual pilgrimage to the Basilica of Our Lady of San Juan de Los Lagos in the State of Jalisco, one of the most important Marian shrines in Mexico.
Bishop-Prelate Javier Echevarría Rodríguez sent a letter of condolence from Rome in which he offered support and asked for prayers for the deceased and their families. The letter read in part:
I have to tell you that, in the face of so much sorrow, I don’t know how to begin. But I want to accept God’s will; may each word, each letter of what I am writing be a suffrage with the whole Work for the eternal rest of these beloved daughters. I ask the Blessed Trinity to grant them a very rich Heaven, and we will not forget to remember them each day.
On September 15, a Novus Ordo Mass of Christian Burial was conducted by Msgr. Francisco Ugarte, Regional Vicar of Opus Dei in Mexico at the Church of S. Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer in Guadalara for the deceased Opus Dei daughters. In his homily, Msgr. Ugarte stated that “Opus Dei is a family that never separates,” and went on to quote another section of Bishop Echevarría’s letter:
When I first read the names, and even now, my eyes filled with tears. This isn’t being sentimental, but rather the reality that we are a wonderful family, closely united, and therefore this painful happening is so difficult to accept. I don't want to speak any more about the accident, but rather to dwell on their souls, so that also now they may sense that we are never separated, and this tragic event may lead us to strengthen the fraternity we need to live.
Shortly after the accident, two public announcements appeared asking for donations to help cover the burial expenses of the Opus Dei women killed in the accident – one account was set up at the Banco( Cuenta en Banco de Santander y otra en ) . de Santander, Opus Dei’s largest financial institution and a second at a GoFundMe Website (https://www.gofundme.com/ayudafao ) .
The reader may recall that in Part I of this series, “All the Men Behind the Opus Dei Curtain,” I explained the nature and obligations of Opus Dei numeraries and numerary assistants.
Both groups are linked to the Prelature of Opus Dei by simple agreement, but they are also required to make private, personal vows which are between them and God. Unlike religious orders where candidates take public vows and are taken care of by the order, Opus Dei has no legal or Canonical responsibility for the numerary or numerary assistant.
The former, both men and women, live in Opus Dei residences. They are celibate, have professional careers and turn over their salaries to the Prelature. The latter group, the numerary assistants, are generally Spanish-speaking servants and maids. They also make a pledge of celibacy and receive clothing, food and shelter at an Opus Dei facility. They rarely see their paychecks as money is first taken out for their upkeep. Female numeraries shop at high-end fashion boutiques and their poorer counterparts are taken by a numerary to shop at second-hand shops or places like K-Mart.
So here we have professional and housekeeping daughters of Opus Dei who have turned over their salaries for their lifetime in Opus Dei, and yet the multi-billion dollar, multi-national conglomerate cannot cough up enough bucks to bury their dead. What kind of a “family” is this? What kind of a family does this?
I am not the only one to ask these same questions. Here is a rough translation of a portion of comments made by an anonymous former Opus Dei numerary that appeared on the Correspondence website of www.Opuslibros.org on Friday, September 16, 2016. Under the title, “How dare you say: A splendid family and very united,” Mediterranean paints a different picture of the Opus Dei “family” as described above by Bishop Echevarría:
… How dare you say: A splendid family and very united!
… A family with more sick members than healthy. A family that ignores the excruciating pain of many of its members; a family that binds its members and deprives them of any personal freedom; a family where the secret to remain is slavery; a family with a high number of suicides… .
So, I ask again. What kind of a family is Opus Dei?
I hope that Opus Dei priests, numeraries, supernumeraries, and cooperators who are reading this column will ask themselves this question. I know they are reading this column because two different sources have reported to me that Opus Dei confessors are telling their penitents that I am an unreliable reporter based on E. Michael Jones’ statement that the Ferndale affair highlighted in Part II of this series was a “fabrication.” Why then hasn’t the Archdiocese of Detroit or Opus Dei disavowed my account publicly? An honest question! And honest questions may yet be the death of the Prelature of Opus Dei.
Opus Dei’s Narnia Clubs – A Fatal Deception
I first learned about Opus Dei’s Narnia Clubs from my dear friend Marge Garvey of New York City, wife of Joseph Garvey, the author of the 58-page booklet Parents’ Guide to Opus Dei, published in 1989 by Our Lady & St. Joseph in Search of the Lost Child – An Ad Hoc Alliance to Defend the 4th Commandment.
While Opus Dei continues to feed off its “pro-family” reputation based largely on the Prelature’s creation and promotion of John Paul II Marriage and Family Institutes, the reality is that it’s systemic cultic practices using deception, manipulation, and mind control are destructive of not only its members, especially its numeraries, but also the families from which Opus Dei members are drawn (and spiritually quartered).
As noted in the Parent Guide, “Opus Dei members are trained in a recruiting technique called “the path of friendship and/or “friendship and confidence.” Major recruitment centers include Opus Dei residences, hostels, catering colleges, Opus Dei parishes and private schools, Catholic and secular elite universities such as Notre Dame, Harvard and Yale, and cultural and catechetical centers for children and teens, as well as Vatican-endorsed events such as World Youth Day.
The New York-based Narnia Catechetical and Cultural Center, aka, Narnia Clubs, is located at 163 East 81st Street. The red-brick cooperative represents a prime piece of real estate on the Upper East Side where apartments, and offices and penthouses sell for $1 to $3 million and rent monthly for $3,000 to 5,000 and upwards to $24,000.
The Narnia Clubs bills itself as “A personal approach to teaching the Catholic faith in the heart of Manhattan.” The Center was founded by Mrs. Mickie Teetor in 1981. She is credited with the idea of teaching Catholic children the faith in an atrium or home setting using the techniques developed by Sophia Cavalletti and her Montessori collaborator, Gianna Gobbi in Rome in the mid-1950s.
The database Buzzfile indicates that the Narnia Clubs are a religious organization which has been located at its current location for 15 years and has an estimated annual revenue of $110,000.
The following information was taken from the official website of Narnia Clubs at www.narniaclubs.org.
The Atrium Program [$500] enrolls children ages 3 to 5. Classes are held on a weekly basis at the Narnia Office. Teachers use the Montessori method in a prepared environment to introduce each child to the basics of the Christian faith according to his or her individual needs and curiosity.
Program for Penance and Holy Communion Year One [$645] Year Two [$745] prepares children ages 6 to 7 for the Sacraments of Confession and Holy Communion. Topics include “human persons made in the image of God, the life and presence of Jesus, the importance of prayer, distinguishing right from wrong.”
Third, Fourth and Fifth Grade Religious Education [$645] Topics include the Corporal Works of Mercy and God’s plan of salvation from the Incarnation to Pentecost; Exploring and comparing the Old and New Testament; and the Creed and saints.
Program for Confirmation Year One [$645] Year Two [$745] prepares Narnia students for the Sacrament of Confirmation.
The Socractic Circle [$150] Those in grades eight and above who have completed Confirmation are “invited” to join the Socractic Circle. Its stated purpose is to “To encourage critical thinking through scholarship. With an aim to foster the habit of discernment, the students and leader will examine various sources and viewpoints on the topics being discussed. The program will contemplate, among other topics, the relationship between faith and reason, freedom and human passions, the distinction between science and technology, the nature of work, leisure, and culture, as well as the role of ethics and conscience in human acts.” [Note: A Socratic circle is a form of “values -clarification.” In a catechetical setting, student understanding of a particular text or doctrine is arrived at by dialogue and the use of the dialectic. Instead of the student being the active recipient of revealed truths of the Catholic faith and Catholic doctrine, he is told by the group facilitator to suspend assumptions and biases and that there is no right or wrong answer or approach to the question or problem set before him. Instead of accepting revealed truth the student is encouraged to question revealed truths and discover his own truth.]
Regarding the intellectual caliber of its students and teaching staff, the website exudes snob appeal:
… we recognize that these children are often precocious and require a religious curriculum that is at least as challenging as that offered by their schools.
As they come to understand their catechism, these children need a sense of deeper Catholic values to cope with the intense secular pressures of New York City life. An emphasis on personal moral and spiritual development is crucial, as many of these children may be leaders in the next generation.
Our volunteer teachers are dynamic, successful, busy people from various walks of life, including bankers, professional writers, educators, as well as mothers and fathers of our own children. Our teachers are well-informed and generous with their time because they care deeply for our children and the mission of the Church.
If the reader’s brain has been automatically acting as a cash register, he will note that the total basic cost per child for his Narnia religious education ranges between $4,715 to $7,000. Yet the Narnia Catechetical and Cultural Center insists it’s a “charity:”
Financing: The Narnia program relies on contributions in order to continue its mission. Mindful of the expenses to families, we try to keep tuition as low as possible. Unfortunately, tuition revenues do not cover all of our costs. Like any charitable organization, we rely on donations large and small. Please do consider making a tax-deductible gift by visiting the Donate tab.
Today, the Narnia Clubs enrolls more 250 children, ages 3 through 17, in its various classes and programs.
The Narnia Catechetical and Cultural Center states it “operates under the jurisdiction of the Archdiocese of New York and is in compliance with Archdiocesan guidelines.”
A Conversation with the Catechetical Office
The New York Archdiocesan Catechetical Office coordinates Catholic religious education on the parish level for children of all ages from pre-school through grade 6, adolescents from grades 7 to 12, and children with special needs. Leadership, policy development, training and support for this vast network is provided by the Central Office in Manhattan; Regional Catechetical Offices located throughout the Archdiocese; Parish Directors and Coordinators of Religious Education; and trained catechists at the parish level. The Director of the Central Catechetical Office which “oversees total religious education in all parishes” is Sr. Joan Curtain, CND.
On Wednesday afternoon, September 13, 2017, I had the pleasure of speaking with Sr. Curtain from her First Avenue office. She was accompanied by Sister Nancy Elizabeth Doran, SSC, the Liaison for Catechist Formation and Regional Director for Manhattan.
Prior to our conversation, I sent Sr. Curtain an e-mail asking for information on the Narnia Clubs operating in Manhattan. Specifically, I wanted to know what was the nature of the relationship, if any, between the Narnia Clubs and the Archdiocese of New York. I also asked if Narnia candidates for First Confession and First Communion, and Confirmation received the Sacraments through their own parishes; and if Narnia volunteer/teachers receive any training from the Archdiocese; and if the Archdiocese sponsored the Narnia Clubs’ annual day of retreat?
I believe that both religious spoke truthfully when they explained that they knew of the existence of the Narnia Clubs, but contact with the group over the 15 years of its existence had been limited to just a few meetings, although it was the sisters’ hope that communication would be expanded in the future. Their office, however, played no role in the training of Narnia instructors, and no role in the development of Narnia programs and policies including retreats. One of the sisters did inform me that the Narnia candidates received the Sacraments at St. Thomas More Parish in Manhattan.
I asked the sisters if they did not think it odd, that the Narnia Clubs operated outside the oversight of the Archdiocese, but that did not appear to engender any verbal reaction one way or the other.
That’s when I asked them if they were aware that the Narnia Clubs is an Opus Dei “apostolate.” Both sisters reacted with great surprise and said no. Thus, while the head administrator of the Archdiocese Catechetical Office of New York had some limited knowledge of the Narnia Clubs, neither she or her assistant, Sr. Dolan, were ever informed by the Narnia Clubs that it was an Opus Dei apostolate.
At this point the conversation switched over to a discussion of why the Archdiocese of New York in general, and the Catechetical Office in particular, should be concerned about Opus Dei’s control of Narnia Clubs and the implication for parents who have children enrolled in the Narnia programs.
I explained that as the Catholic Church’s only “personal prelature,” Opus Dei is a kind of “universal, floating diocese,” which can establish “apostolates” like the Narnia Clubs without publicly identifying itself as an Opus Dei entity.
Readers of this series are already aware of the Ferndale scandal in the Archdiocese of Detroit as described in Parts I and II of this series.
I noted that one of the most serious objections to Opus Dei’s cultic behaviors and early recruitment practices was its violation of the Fourth Commandment – Honor thy father and thy mother, and I promised to send the Catechetical Office a copy of the Parents’ Guide to Opus Dei from which the following examples of the Prelature’s deceptive practices and attacks on the family are taken:
It [the Opus Dei movement] takes over the parental role in the lives of children very early, and very gradually, and in an undercover kind of way… this is certainly nefarious. Now there may be parents who get involved in it themselves… who don’t feel this is the case. But for parents who don’t get involved in it themselves and buy the whole thing, it [Opus Dei] will eventually come between them and their children. [Statement of Canadian parish priest, Fr. Jim MacDonald, whose nephews were surreptitiously recruited by Opus Dei.]
Under the persuasive influence of “get-togethers” and “circles,” recruits (as young as twelve) are gradually encouraged to unfold their private and personal lives for “fraternal correction” and “formation.”
From the very beginning, recruits are culled from their families into peer groups for their weekly “circles”; elementary school students, high school students, etc. … Isolating them further one by one within these carefully circumscribed “circles,” the “spiritual director” (a lay numerary) indoctrinates the younger recruits in four ways: first, by winning their confidence; second, by projecting a highly attractive image of Opus Dei…; third, by establishing regular spiritual direction and confession with an Opus Dei priest; and fourth, by directing the adoption of the all-important “plan of life. …”
Although Canon law forbids admitting anyone younger than eighteen, Opus has a way around that: the category aspirant. … From the Opus point of view, expressing a desire to join thereby can make juveniles as young as twelve secret members of the Work, with no notification necessary to the competent authorities, their parents.
An example of biased (private) instruction (publicly denied) used to shape impressionable minds is the Opus Dei interpretation of the Finding of the Boy Jesus in the Temple. From a recruit’s notes we read: “He [Jesus] allowed His parents to suffer [before announcing His mission]. “From then on, Jesus obeyed them, within limits. He allowed them to take care of Him, just as He allows us to take care of Him in the sanctuaries in the world.” Finally, the underlined statement, “When God enters the picture, parents’ rights cease. (emphasis added).”
In virtually every talk, homily, and exhortation to the members, “the Father” refers to them as “my children. …” Inexorably, this helps to effect the radical transfer of normal family loyalties to the “new family” of Opus Dei. No natural family can compare with this family of the sainted monsignor. …
The conversation with Sister Curtain and Sister Doran ended on a cordial note. I hope to engage them both in a follow-up call after this article is released.
For the record, I also contacted Jon Woods, the editor of Catholic New York, the largest diocesan newspaper in the nation, to find out if the paper had ever done a story on the Narnia Catechetical Clubs on the Upper East Side? He replied that he didn’t think so. When I contacted the Archdiocesan Office of Youth Ministry asking the same question, the respondent told me she didn’t know about the Narnia Clubs, but she would try and find out.
Also, although the Archdiocesan website under the title “The Council of Ecclesial Movements and New Communities of the Archdiocese of New York” listed a number of familiar groups including Communion & Liberation, Cursillo Movement, Focolare, Neocatechumental Way and Regnum Christi NY [Legion of Christ], Opus Dei was not listed. According to Director Fr. Brian E. McWeeney, the reason for their omission is very simple. The Prelature has never asked. They would be welcome, of course,” he said.
Narnia Clubs Refusal to Answer Questions
On September 14, 2017, one day after my conversation with Sr. Curtain and Sister Doran, I e-mailed Miss Nivi Toth, the Narnia Clubs’ Program Director. I explained I was doing a story on the charity, had reviewed their official website, but still had some unanswered questions. I asked if she would prefer to answer them by phone or communicate by e-mail.
A few minutes later, I received a reply from the Assistant Program Director, Allison Baughman. According to her Linkedin profile she is a graduate of Ave Maria University, a self-employed free-lance writer and a volunteer teacher at the Narnia Club. Miss Baughman stated she wanted more information “before we answer any questions.” A rather curt response for a non-profit religious charity, I thought.
In my second e-mail, I explained I was doing a story on Narnia Clubs and how they operate and that my questions were open and straight forward, for example, “Are you a 501 (c) (3) charity”
The next day I received the following reply: “Dear Randy, you are correct, we are a 501 (c) (3) in good standing with the IRS and the Archdiocese of New York. We would prefer not to do an interview.”
In my final follow-up message to Miss Baughman I noted that I was not seeking an interview, but merely asking some basic questions that any tax-exempt, tax-deductible public charity should be willing to answer regardless of the questioner.
I asked her under what title the charity was registered with the IRS since I could not find any reference to the Narnia Catechetical and Cultural Center, Narnia Club, or Narnia Clubs on Guidestar which maintains a national data-base on non-profit organizations. I also inquired about where Narnia students receive the Sacraments, where their volunteer catechetical teachers were trained, and if any of the volunteer teachers and host families were numeraries, supernumeraries or cooperators of Opus Dei? Finally, I formally requested copies of Narnia Clubs’ tax returns for 2013, 2014, and 2015 [990 or EZ forms]. IRS disclosure laws mandates that tax-exempt organizations must provide copies of their tax-returns to persons requesting them within a 30-day period.
Opus Dei Dominates Board of Directors
The Narnia Clubs’ listing of its Board of Directors reveals the presence of a several high-level Opus Dei Members. Here is a sampling:
Mary Elise Eckman is an Opus Dei numerary. She resides at Alderton House, 117 East 70th Street, in Manhattan, an Opus Dei residence for women. As President of the multi-million dollar Rosemoor Foundation, whose officers and directors are all female numeraries, she oversees “financial support for apostolic initiatives, centers and activities whose origin and mission are inspired by the Catholic Prelature of Opus Dei.” In addition to providing grants to Echman’s residence, Alderton House which has $12 million in assets, The Rosemoor Foundation provides financial grants to:
· Arnold Hall, Inc., Mass. – Opened in 1964, it is a Conference Center for religious and educational programs, retreats, and other activities. Total assets over $2 million.
· Palm Trail, Inc., Florida – With $1 million plus in assets, the charity helps women shape society.
· Vancourt, Inc. – A cultural, educational and religious resource for women.
· Association for Educational Development, IL – With $10 million in assets, engages in supplementary education in areas of character formation, philosophy, and theology.
· Murray Hill Place, Inc., NY – With just under $50 million in assets, the 17-story luxury U.S. headquarters of Opus Dei in the center of Manhattan caters to professionals and university students visiting or living in New York City.
· The Heights Foundation, Inc., NY – With over $5 million in assets, the foundation provides chapels, residences and retreat facilities for Roman Catholic worship, instruction and moral guidance.
· Corporation for Social and Educational Development – Founded in 1968, the $ 4.7 million charity promotes intellectual, moral, cultural and religious development irrespective of race, color, creed, nationality and financial resources. In 2015, it gave grants to the Rosemoor Foundation, Woodlawn Foundation and the Petawa OD Residence in Wis.
· Trimount Foundation, NY – Provides chapels, residences and retreat facilities for Roman Catholic worship, instruction and moral guidance. Among its properties is the Frederick Ayer mansion in Boston designed by Louis Comfort Tiffany purchased by the Trimount Foundation and Bayridge Residence and Cultural Center.
· Lexington College, Chicago. Trains women in Hospitality Management. Closed in 2014.
· Grandevue Study Center – Opus Dei Women’s Residence and Study Center, Pittsburgh, Penn. All officers are numerary/volunteers. Sponsors retreats and Days of Recollection.
· Longlea Conference Center, Inc., Virginia. Provides a chapel and chaplain as well as lodgings and meals for its guests attending retreats and workshops.
· Clevemont, Inc. Washington, D.C. – Connected to Yuma Center, provides classes in spirituality and social ethics classes for parents.
· Yuma Study Center, Washington, D.C. – Provides leadership programs for girls and women on work and life that “bring fulfillment and freedom.” Total assets of $16 million.
· Shellbourne, Inc., IN – With $7 million in assets, the Shellbourne Conference Center sponsors “traditional, silent retreats, conducted by priests of the Prelature of Opus Dei for either men or women.”
· Wiggins House – Opus Dei Princeton Women’s Cultural Center. All officers/director members are numerary/volunteers.
· Trumbull Manor, Inc., San Francisco. Opus Dei Retreat Center with assets over $3 million.
· Roseaire Retreat, Inc., Florida – With over $6 million in assets, the center sponsors educational and charitable activities. Spiritual Direction provided with a lay person or priest.
· American Initiatives For Social development Foundation, N.Y.C. – In 2015, this charity provided educational and nutritional funds for Ethiopian women and pre-school children [$17,050]; basic education and technical assistance for poor women in the Dominican Republic [$3,948]; and raised money [$2,505] to expand a vocational training center for girls and women in India.
· Association for Cultural Interchange (Saxum Project) – The biggest grant and most interesting grant of $5,258,860.00 made by the Rosemoor Foundation in 2015 went to the ACI for the Saxum Project in Israel. The $60 million Conference Center/Multimedia Center/ and Hospitality Training Center, aka OD maid and cleaning training center for local girls, is located on the road between Jerusalem and Emmaus. Its stated purpose is to create “dialogue among people of different religions and cultures,” and “highlight the Christian heritage and the Jewish roots of the faith.” “The Prelature of Opus Dei will provide for the spiritual needs of those attending Saxum’s retreats, workshops, and conferences inspired by the writings of Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer.” [Note: Visitors will also receive instruction on the spiritual patrimony common to Christians and Jews as enunciated in Vatican II’s “Declaration on the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions,”
George Sim Johnson III is another of the Narnia Clubs’ Directors. The former investment banker is a highly placed Opus Dei operative who sits on the Board of Directors of the Woodlawn Foundation, whose assets exceed $70 million. The Woodlawn Foundation is an Opus Dei holding company which solicits money and provides grants to Opus Dei and its non-profits. In 2014, it gave million-dollar grants to Murry Hill Place, the ACI (Saxum), and Shellbourne. Grants of half-million dollars and down went to about 40 other Opus Dei residences, study centers, private schools and foundations including Roseaire, Heights Foundation, Arnold Hall, Longlea, Association for Educational Development, Trimount, and Rosemoor, all mentioned above. Opus Dei’s Scepter Publishers has printed some of Sim Johnson’s writings.
Sim Johnson is a parishioner of the historic St. Thomas More Church in Manhattan about nine blocks from Narnia headquarters. Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis was a member of the parish. And a private memorial service for John F. Kennedy, Jr. was conducted there in 1999. The Narnia Club holds many of its sacramental events, receptions and meetings at the parish.
Among the other dozen members of the Narnia Club’s Board of Directors are professional women, well-known in their own right, and women married to influential, wealthy New York men in the fields of business, healthcare, banking and finance, wealth management, real estate and the arts. They include Mrs. Thomas Lehrman, a member of the Lehrman family. Lewis E. Lehrman is an investment banker and former candidate for the Governor of New York and a famous convert of Fr. C. John McCloskey, Opus Dei’s priest among the rich and famous.
Lawrence Kudlow, the famed economist and pundit is another of McCloskey’s successes who was baptized in a small chapel adjacent to St. Thomas More. On February 28, 2017, Kudlow gave a “Faith in Action Talk” titled A Spiritual Rebirth: An Evening with Larry Kudlow.
Narnia Clubs Speaker Barbara Falk
Parents whose children are registered for Narnia Clubs’ First Communion classes are required to attend special programs usually held at St. Thomas More.
The Narnia Clubs’ calendar for October 2017 featured a talk to parents titled “Practical Tips for Raising Children of Character,” by Barbara Falk. Who is Ms. Falk? The calendar doesn’t say and I don’t know if her Opus Dei credentials were given to Narnia Clubs parents at that meeting, but she is well known in Washington D. C’s. elite social circles and among EWTN watchers.
Falk is a celibate numerary who joined Opus Dei at the age of 24. From 1990 to 2001, she was the headmistress of Oakcrest School in the Metropolitan area of Washington, D.C., an independent school for girls in grades six to twelve. Since leaving Oakcrest she has become a well-known lecturer in Catholic and conservative circles. Asked to comment on the movie The Da Vinci Code, Falk said, "We're [Opus Dei] out to change the world. But we're not shrouded in something weird."
Transparency Needed for All Opus Dei Apostolates
“Shrouded?” “Weird?” These words bring us to the reason I included the Narnia Clubs in this concluding segment to the Jones/Voris story.
How incredulous is it that the Director of the New York Archdiocesan Catechetical Department did not know that the Narnia Clubs is an Opus Dei cash cow and recruiting operation?
Why is it that the Narnia Catechetical and Cultural Center does not, in any way, publicly and clearly identify itself as an Opus Dei “apostolate.” Indeed, as of September 7, 2017, neither the words Opus Dei or the Prelature of Opus Dei appear anywhere on their website?
The statement that the Narnia Center “operates under the jurisdiction of the Archdiocese of New York is misleading at best. A more truthful statement would be that the Center operates in the Archdiocese of New York, but is under the control of Opus Dei and not the Archdiocese.
What’s with all the secrecy? Why doesn’t the Narnia official website clearly carry an up-front statement such as:
WARNING: The Narnia Clubs is an apostolate of Opus Dei. If your child or teenager exhibits strange and unusual behavioral patterns after attending Narnia classes, he or she may be the target of premature, aggressive recruitment tactics. Seek immediate help from competent spiritual and legal sources.
It is an obscenity of the highest degree, especially under the Narnia pre-school and grade-school program, that very young children can be pre-selected as “aspirants” by Opus Dei teachers and their consciences can be systematically deformed without their parents having the slightest clue, since these youngsters are told not to discuss their “vocation” with anyone other than their Opus Dei tutors.
Think I am exaggerating? Think again!
An Opus Dei Life Plan for an Eleven-Year-Old
On October 2, 2017, Opuslibros.org carried a story from a very angry mother from Spain whose 11-year-old daughter had been attending an Opus Dei school. The mother states that she and her husband sensed something was not quite right with their young daughter, but didn’t have a clue what it was.
Then, at the end of the summer upon the start of a new school term, the mother was carrying her daughter’s backpack and chanced to look inside. There were attractive leaflets, one for each month of the year, with pretty, pastel covers picturing Our Lady of Fatima and cute children’s faces. Good. Fine.
Upon opening a brochure, the mother saw a curious list of proposed readings and actions for each day – 5 minutes of reading and 5 minutes of talking with God – and “A Life Plan ‘Only for the brave ’” which included;
· Heroic minute
· Visit to the oratory
· Pray the mysteries of the Rosary
· Make an examination of conscience
· Prayer – Mary’s Psalter
There was a chart with boxes marked off by 15- minute intervals with instructions to mark X every time her daughter performed a specific task such as praying the Angelus or studying, or performing an examination of conscience at night..
The mother of this child was a faithful Catholic who took an interest in her daughter’s school activities and played an active role in the life of the school. Yet at no time did any teacher or tutor inform the parents of the “Life Plan” Opus Dei had initiated for their daughter. The parents are looking for a new school for their child.
Just maybe some parents who have children in Opus Dei nurseries, and elementary and secondary schools or catechetical classes will want to do the same. Better late than never.
Transparency in Opus Dei Membership
Why, except for designated public OD figures like Fr. John McCloskey, do members of Opus Dei keep their membership a secret, especially when these members have public careers such as journalists, politicians, and, yes, catechetical teachers?
Even at a personal level, non-disclosure of Opus Dei membership prostitutes and poisons true friendship between persons. It is a bitter experience to find out that what you believed to be a legitimate caring and loving friendship turns out to be mere systematic, exploitive recruitment tactic which may or may not have panned out.
If the Vatican will not insure the right of the Catholic faithful to full disclosure of Opus Dei’s activities, programs and membership, then that duty falls to the Ordinary of the diocese. If both fail to carry out this task with due diligence, then faithful Catholics must rise to the challenge.
Opus Dei WATCH
For any reader who is interested in learning more about Opus Dei, I am creating an informal e-mail list called Opus Dei Watch. If you would like to receive periodic news and commentaries on the Prelature of Opus Dei just send you name to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.