PASTORAL LETTER BY BISHOP DANIEL P. REILLY
CONCERNING THE APOSTOLIC FORMATION CENTER
Sent on December 31, 1985 to the parishes in Norwich, Connecticut which
had been affected by the Apostolic Formation Center and its activity.
My brothers and sisters in the Lord:
On this first Sunday of the New Year, I extend to each of you and all of
your loved ones best wishes for a blessed, peaceful and happy 1986.
I am writing to you about a matter of importance to the Diocese of Norwich
and especially to this area of Tolland County, the Vernon Deanery of our
Diocese. Today in many of the Catholic Churches in this area this pastoral
letter is being read. It concerns the former Mary, Queen of the Apostles
Center which was situated in Somers. Until a few years ago, it was known
as the Apostolic Formation Center for Renew-All and also for a brief
period of time was apparently called Our Lady of Grace Center. The mission
of this Center was the religious formation of lay-catholics by
In recent months articles appeared in the media alleging that some
teachings and practices contrary to the Catholic faith had taken place at
the Center. I wish to speak to you in the context of those allegations.
Mr. J. Roy Legere was the founder of the Apostolic Formation Center. He
came to Somers from Warren, Massachusetts, where he began his apostolate.
The original Center and its successor never enjoyed the official approval
of the Church. However, over the years of its existence the leaders of the
apostolate informed the Bishops of the Diocese of Norwich about their
general work listing the number of retreats held and the numbers of people
who attended them. The priests who ministered at the Center, although
neither invited nor appointed by the Bishop, received the faculties of the
Diocese of Norwich when their Superiors and/or Bishops indicated they were
priests in good standing.
The sudden death of Mr. J. Roy Legere in December of 1978 was a cause of
discord and division among some of those associated with the Center and
much angry emotion surfaced. In mid-1980 I appointed a committee of three
priests of the Diocese of Norwich to hold a series of public hearings to
determine the nature of and reasons for this division. The findings were
inconclusive but apparently the death of Mr. Legere had left a vacuum of
leadership at the Center. Subsequently, Mr. Charles Shattuck became
President of the Center. Its name was changed to Mary, Queen of the
Apostles Formation Center in the hope of producing a new sense of unity
and purpose. However, the problems continued and on June 1, 1985, I
informed Mr. Shattuck that I was withdrawing the privilege of priest and
Blessed Sacrament from the Center. This was done. On June 3, 1985, the
Board of Directors closed the Center and it was subsequently sold. I
informed Mr. Shattuck that he would not be allowed to re-open the Center
in the Diocese of Norwich. Shortly thereafter, I also informed the Bishops
of seventeen other dioceses where branches of the Center were said to
exist that the Center had been closed at my initiative.
Shortly thereafter, a series of articles appeared in the media about
practices alleged to have occurred at the former Apostolic Formation
Center when Mr. J. Roy Legere served as its President.
I have investigated these allegations from a theological, moral, legal and
psychological perspective. I have concluded that moral and theological
breaches did occur by a small number of people involved in the former
Apostolic Formation Center. Identifying publicly who these people were and
what these breaches were serves no valid purpose. However, I have taken
steps to insure that these breaches of religious and moral conduct have
ceased and will not re-occur. I am very grateful to those who have
assisted me and the Diocese of Norwich in this matter. A number of very
competent and concerned people have given much time and effort to insure
that a proper investigation was made for the welfare of all concerned.
In dealing with this matter, I have a very genuine pastoral concern for
those hundreds and hundreds of good and sincere people who came to the
Center seeking spiritual nourishment and counsel in the context of
Catholic Church teaching. These people have been very disappointed and
disillusioned by the adverse publicity which the Center has recently
received. They were unaware of any problems at the Center and are
incredulous about them today. Many of them have written letters to me and
others stressing the good the Center has done for their Christian living.
I would not want this to be harmed in any way.
However, my decision made last June 1, 1985, to withdraw the privilege of
priest and Blessed Sacrament from Mary, Queen of the Apostles Formation
Center in Somers stands firm and final. Neither it nor its predecessor,
The Apostolic Formation Center, will be permitted to re-open in the
Diocese of Norwich.
But I do wish to reach out to those people of good will who have found
stronger faith and spiritual sustenance at the Center. The Diocese of
Norwich stands ready to help any of them needing assistance at this time.
Therefore, I am forming a Diocesan Committee to assist those people who
found the Mary, Queen of Apostles Formation Center and the former
Apostolic Formation Center for Renew-All to be a positive source of
personal growth and holiness in their lives. In the near future an
announcement will be made concerning the membership, the purpose, and the
program of this committee.
As we begin this New Year, let us pray that the Lord will fill each of us
with His love and peace and that together we may do our best for His
greater glory and the salvation of His people.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Daniel P. Reilly
Bishop of Norwich
This document was taken from "Cults, Sects, and the New Age," by
Rev. James J. LeBar, available from Our Sunday Visitor Press,
200 Noll Plaza, Huntington, IN 46750.