nealjconway.com

EmailAbout

CATHOLIC MATTERS

Parallel Churches and The Benedict Option

My Experience With Cult-like Institutes in Washington, DC

May 19, 2017

"Lou Devolio" was a guy in one of my Dad's outer circles of friends. Lou looked like Dobby in Harry Potter. When my Dad was suffering from terminal dementia and I was acting as his caregiver, Lou came around occasionally to keep him company, to take him out to lunch.

"If you ever need anything," Lou swore to me, "Just dial D for Devolio!"

One day after he dropped my Dad off, Lou paid me some compliments and said, "You oughtta be in [Parallel Church]! Ever hearda [Parallel Church]?"

"Yes, I have," I said.

Lou went silent. He didn't just drop the subject of [Parallel Church]. He lobbed it over the trees and housetops into the next block. He left and that was the last my Dad and I ever saw of him.

Good thing I never needed to dial D for Devolio!

"Parallel church," "PC" for short, is my term for what others call cult-like organizations. Today, among informed Catholics, a hot topic is "The Benedict Option" The title of a book (which I have not yet read) by Rod Dreher, The Benedict Option is named for St. Benedict of Nursia, the 6th-Century Roman who founded monastic communities as the empire disintegrated. The modern proposal named for Benedict is about dealing with a world that is more and more hostile to Christianity. No one is yet talking about a Charles "The Hammer" Martel Option or a Simon de Montfort Option.

"...the real Catholic church hopes for all people to come to it: the African nanny, the single guy, the young military family. Parallel churches don't hope for everybody, only the attractive, the affluent, the exploitable. That's why they do not hand out flyers after Mass or have tables at parish organization fairs. "

The Benedict Option seems to mean many things to many people. For some it means establishing a community imbedded in the world, as Karol Wojtyla did with his theater group, right under the Nazis' noses in World War II Krakow. However I gather that for many, the Benedict Option means establishing tightly-knit Christian communities, including actually building compounds in specific locations that are deemed to be out of corruption's way. From commentary I've read, Dreher seems to believe in staying "in the world," engaging with it, enriching it and evangelizing it. However there are always frightened, simple people, and a few who are not so simple, who believe that they can hermetically seal out the world and its taint.

Believe me (and read the rest of this essay) you don't want to live with such people. However there's one of them born every minute and parallel churches thrive on sucking them in. Parallel Church groups such as the original Mother of God Community offer many lessons about thinking that one can escape from a corrupt world.

Fireflies in a jar

If you haven't figured out what was going on with Lou Devolio, let me explain. Lou only visited my father because he was targeting me as a recruit for [Parallel Church]. The corporal work of mercy was only incidental.

With parallel church members such as Lou, it's never only about the corporal work of mercy, never only about teaching faith formation or singing in the choir or advertising for roommates or even selling cosmetics. It is always about looking for prospects.

In PCs quantity is everything; quality and things such as honesty and other virtues and habits that make up good character take a back seat, if they're not left by the curb completely. PC members, including priests who have been formed in parallel churches, have been convinced to believe that growth, merely increasing numbers, especially numbers of vocations, is equal to holiness, both the group's holiness and the recruiter's personal holiness. It's all about signing people up, about catching souls like fireflies in a jar. The more fireflies you catch, the holier you are. How one goes about catching the fireflies doesn't matter. Winning recruits isn't everything. It's the only thing.

It's an easy mission to get across to naive, eager people who are experiencing their Pentecost morning, who are discovering or rediscovering religious faith and who perhaps are also trying to atone for sins. Some Catholics cannot imagine that one atones by going to confession and saying a few Hail Marys, not by signing on to propositions wherein there is little regard for treating people justly and which often involve running roughshod over others.

Lou didn't know what to do when he was faced with someone who had actually heard of what he was trying to recruit me for. When he made his pitch I immediately rendered myself ineligible for recruitment in [Parallel Church] because I had heard of [Parallel Church].

Parallel churches typically don't want prospects who have heard of them. Chances are it's because what people have heard isn't good. The less interested a group is in being honest and treating others fairly, the more obsessed that group will be with controlling its image.

Parallel churches are all about money. A couple have accumulated vast amounts of wealth with which they can purchase the good will of bishops and even buy sainthoods! PCs demand a high percentage of tithing from members. Thus they seek recruits who are affluent or whom they can exploit.

Lower-income, even middle-class people, are usually safe from parallel churches. Exploitable exceptions include single people who can be convinced that they have "vocations" to be single so they'll put their earnings to the parallel church instead of to raising a Catholic family.

People who grew up with lots of siblings are desired marks because, in a group, they tend to fall in and go along. Attractive women are prime targets. With attractive women, you can attract anyone you want.

A stay-at-home mom is an indication that her husband earns good money. Other prey are recent converts who don't know much about the Catholic church. The conventional image of the convert to Catholicism is that she is a person who knows more than cradle Catholics about the faith. While that is true in many cases, there are still converts who just plunge in, make commitments to things they have not examined. They will eagerly commit to a parallel church without knowing what it is. One PC is notorious for drawing attendees to events and then, out-of-the-blue, asking those attendees to "make promises."

PCs also trawl for those who have recently returned to Catholicism after a long absence and whose faded memories have been recolored by imagination. Among recruits are people who have had lousy parish experiences.

Lackluster parishes are in part to blame for the attractiveness of parallel churches. Members admit that they were drawn to PCs because the typical parish is lacking. The parish priests may be "maintenance pastors" and avoid talking about tough subjects such as abortion and traditional marriage. The parishioners may be cliquey, and look right through strangers, even at the sign of peace.

Parallel church priests, on the other hand, unabashedly dress in sharp blacks and ooze enthusiasm. They sweep women off their feet. They join protests outside abortion facilities. They gladly hear confessions. Lay PC members are over-the-top friendly -- "love-bombing" it's called -- as long as you fit the types they're targeting.

If this were pointed out to the targets, most of them would probably respond, "Doesn't everyone have blond cougars making a fuss over them, inviting them to all kinds of parties etc.?!"

That's a reason parallel churches are parallel. As I've written elsewhere, the real Catholic church hopes for all people to come to it: the African nanny, the single guy, the young military family. Parallel churches don't hope for everybody, only the attractive, the affluent, the exploitable. That's why they do not hand out flyers after Mass or have tables at parish organization fairs.

In fact, PC members generally regard non-members as second-class Christians and oftentimes as complete dolts who can't possibly notice, for example, that PC members are sneaking around in parishes, directing the young people's choir, joining the sodality, all in an effort to chivvy out prospects.

Typically and historically most PC members are loathe to reveal that they are members. In one parallel church, the secrecy is called "reticence." Members of this PC laugh off the accusation that they're secretive. They laugh off everything that the poor dolts accuse them of. Or they say, "Oh, we're working on fixing that." Or they justify the secrecy by saying that their membership is nobody's business.

Well, if a guy leading the childrens' choir your son is in, or the gal teaching your daughter's faith formation, or employees at your kids' Catholic school are in parallel churches that aggressively and deceptively recruit young people, it is your business.

There being exceptions to every rule, one parallel church is really going on the offensive to make itself legitimate. Members of this PC actually brag about their membership on Facebook or LinkedIn or in You-Tube videos.

Cultures of deception

Concealing the fact that one is a PC member is an act of deception. From that act of deception grows a culture of deception. If members are not straightforward about their membership, then it's a short step to not being straightforward about many other things. It's another short step to outright lying. Casual lying is common among people formed in PCs. On the other hand, all PCs have strict rules and norms with respect to talking about other members and about the PC, even if such talk is speaking the truth, especially truth about leaders. The worst sin imaginable in the PC mind is what it considers "slander."

Another form of deception is perpetrated among and through unmarried parallel church members -- mostly women -- who are sort-of nuns in that they practice celibacy and sort-of laypeople in that they dress like laypeople, act like laypeople (which includes even dancing, a courtship activity) and otherwise enjoy pleasures of life sacrificed by real sisters who wear habits and live in convents.

Parallel churches have convinced these women that they have "vocations" to be single. They call them fancy names such as "consecrated" which ain't really consecrated if the ladies did not make vows before a bishop or his proxies. These in-between states are an advantage to the parallel church. As I wrote above, an unmarried man or woman can have a good-paying job "in the world" and thus tithe more income to the PC.

These women may pray more than the average Jane and go to Mass every day, but all they give up in the end are men and sex which they are likely to be terrified of anyway. In this age of man-hating, when marriage is on its way to extinction, "consecrated women" who aren't habit-wearing, convent-inhabiting sisters are just another single gals' pajama party. They are doing no service to a church that desperately needs wives, mothers, families.

That one can simultaneously live as a celibate like a nun, yet also behave and dress as an available woman is not only deceptive but can also be psychologically damaging to the person pretending to be one state, then another. Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote in The Scarlet Letter, “No man, for any considerable period, can wear one face to himself and another to the multitude, without finally getting bewildered as to which may be the true.”

In other words, wearing the face of a nun in private and the face of a laywoman in public can really mess you up in the head. Someone should develop a counseling regime for ex PC members.

The creepy priest who encouraged such a muddle understood nothing about men, women, attraction, love, courtship. He was probably not emotionally mature enough to understand them. Yet he founded what became a powerful institute in the church, an institute wealthy enough to purchase his sainthood.

The same creepy priest also encouraged lay spiritual direction. All parallel churches allow and encourage select laypeople to direct other members. Of course, in cults the function of the "spiritual director" (who may also be called a "guide" or a "head"), lay or ordained, is to manipulate and brainwash subjects and to pump them for information, especially information about their financial condition. PC spiritual directors may also pry into family matters and personal health issues; I mean, very personal health issues.

Lay spiritual guides, it should be noted, are NOT under the seal of the confessional.

In parallel churches, the welfare of the spiritual director's subject doesn't matter. The qualifications and competence of the spiritual director don't matter. One PC offers training for spiritual guides to bolster the practice's legitimacy. It's the usual dolled up in "Ignatian spirituality."

One can join a PC as a recent convert and a divorcee, perhaps even as a divorcee committing adultery, and a month later start giving spiritual direction. One can be a half-crazy housewife who tells her charges such nonsense that it's a sin to pray in the bathroom. One can be a bitter old maid out to convince as many young women as possible to avoid men and follow a "single vocation." The inability to bear children, she tells her charges, is a call from God to be a "consecrated" woman. And the more "vocations" she racks up, the holier she is to boot.

Lay spiritual direction always, always, always leads to abuse. The fact that practices are described in the Catechism of The Catholic Church, or permitted by canon law or by the Vatican-approved constitutions of an organization does not mean that those practices are sound and prudent.

Goshen House

Goshen House

Part II: Mother of God: The Benedict Option Tried

The Archdiocese of Washington, DC and the trans-Potomac Diocese of Arlington have a nearly five-decade history of parallel church activity.

My own experience of PCs stretches back four of those decades, beginning with the Mother of God Community when I was a teenager. Half a century before the "Benedict Option" was conceived, the original Mother of God Community tried the version of the option that involves being closely-knit and gathering in a specific place.

The experiment was a disaster.

Mother of God (MOG) was founded in the 1960s as a community of charismatic Catholics, a type that went in for high-energy Masses with simple, jingle-like tunes played on guitars. Charismatics were also noted for wagging their tongues: udludludludla, as Buddhists hum their Om mantra.

MOG's cofoundresses were the undegreed Edith Difato and the more educated and professional Judith Tydings. The community rooted itself in the Montgomery Village development of Gaithersburg, Maryland, 15 miles outside of Washington, DC. Eventually Difato's sons, the oldest of whom had tried professional golfing, joined their mother in what evolved into a family enterprise.

MOG attracted people from all over, including the usual folks who come from afar in their pick-ups laden with all their wordly goods. Above I discussed how barely breathing parishes can drive people to parallel churches and the types of people that parallel churches target. Certain types are attracted to PCs, especially those anchored to a location, because those types:

1) believe the world is going to hell in a handbasket;

2) want a refuge from that world;

3) want their "innocent" children to grow up uncorrupted by that world;

4) want to save that world;

5) want "community;" and

6) want heroes they can worship.

My grade-school Religion and Science Teacher, Janice Zimmerman, a sweet, kind lady abandoned Bethesda for Montgomery Village. MOG also attracted several priests including the distinguished theologian, Fr. Thomas Weinandy, OFM. There is no such thing as having too much book larnin' (as distinct from street sense) to join parallel churches. One merely has to be a sucker for purity and community.

Four decades on, despite occasional newsmention, such as celebrating an anniversary with Pope Garrulous, the Catholic charismatic movement's heyday has long passed. Some charismatic Catholics have discovered the real beauties of the church and have moved on to tradition and standard practice. Others dabble with dissenting groups or have signed on to new buncombes.

Judith Tydings Mother of God

Judith Tydings in 1978

"Blessed are the smilers," wrote Flannery O'Connor, "Their teeth shall show." This was apparently true of Edith Difato.

In describing the uncollege-educated Difato's personality, which included the usual ingredients of charisma that fools fall for, Judith Tydings noted that Difato was very perceptive about people. Difato knew "how his mind works." (1) In other words, Difato had the invaluable skill of the panhandler, the palm reader, the con-man, Tom Monaghan (who is also a charismatic Catholic).

Like all cult-like organizations, MOG expected its members to tithe a percentage of income. Of the several Catholic high schools in the Washington DC area, Mother of God targeted my school, Georgetown Prep for recruiting. That was not because Prep was the closest to MOG's Montgomery Village center. It was because it was an upper-income boys' school.

Remember: the real Catholic church hopes that all people will come to it. Parallel churches hope only for an attractive, monied few.

MOG goes all out

I still wonder why the Georgetown Prep Jesuits allowed the relationship with MOG to develop. I suspect that some saw -- and still see -- charismatizz as a useful tool in dismantling the faith of our fathers.(2) Most likely it was because a few boys who were being raised by Mother of God familes were enrolled -- or were perhaps planted -- in the school.

The three boys who joined my class in our junior year were nice guys, the sort who really impress adults, who make grown-ups exclaim, "Such well-behaved, polite young men! There must be something to that Mother of God place!" The three displayed none of the insecurities and aggressions that most other students did.

MOG cofoundress Judith Tydings also came to teach at Georgetown Prep. If she saw herself as an infiltrator, it's likely she believed her infiltration earned her holy points or was for the good of a wonderful community. Again, members are conditioned to think that expansion equals holiness and that signing up new members makes them personally holier.

I liked Mrs. Tydings. She was smart, mature, svelte. She impressed me much more than Religion teachers in my first three years who seemed to be completely at a loss about how and what to teach in Religion.

Unfortunately I cannot remember what Mrs. Tydings taught. Perhaps it was nothing at all delivered with charismatic confidence and enthusiasm.

During my junior year, on a March day in 1978, Mother of God went all out with a day-long recruiting event at Prep.

I signed up for the program. Always up for something religious, I would elect the field trips to houses of worship instead of to King's Dominion and I was one of the few who frequented once-a-week daily Mass. I prayed the Rosary often, usually begging Our Lady to get me out of jams (which she always did). However the main reason I signed up to hear MOG's spiel was because, like any red-blooded American boy, I wanted to get out of class. I wanted a one-day staycation. I had no intention of letting Mother of God change my life. I just didn't want to sit through Trigonometry instruction that I was doomed to sit through again in summer school.

I don't remember what the program was, however all through it I was accompanied by my own MOG buddy. "Chris" (maybe his real name; I forget) was a freshman at Georgetown U. He was a handsome, blond guy with large, warm brown eyes that reminded me of our two cocker spaniels. As we went along from event to event, Chris kept checking my reactions to this or that. Because I was a nice, polite kid, my responses were positive: Great! etc.

You should have seen how sad Chris's eyes got, how they went from cocker-spaniel to bassett-hound eyes at the end of the day when he essayed to close the sale. The horror, the shock, the incredulity, the utter desolation was brought on by an exchange that went something like this:

"So you're going to join us, right?" he asked me.

"No, thanks," I don't think I even included regret or a promise to think about it, "Not interested."

Nothing on earth or in heaven could have made me join Mother of God. I wasn't even in The Photography Club. Then Chris treated me to a sample of manipulative cult thespianism. He truly looked like he was going to burst into tears, like I was making the worst mistake of my life, like he could see invisible Satan taking hold of my arms and turning me toward Hell, like I was telling Jesus to his thorn-crowned face, "Cram walnuts!"

Which I would have told Christ had He asked me to join Mother of God.

I can't remember how long our painful parting endured, but Chris's performance was so hammy that even a dumb kid like me could recognize it as a form of intimidative bullying. My thought was this, if not in these exact words: C'mon, Pal! Cool it! These other guys and I are only here to get outta class!

Indeed, that day at Georgetown Prep in 1978, Mother of God got only one new member.

As with the prospecting, the intimidative bullying was likely mixed with true belief. Chris probably felt that he had failed in God's eyes to switch another soul onto the true track. And God knows what kind of a guilt trip he was awarded by the Mother of God Sales Managers for not meeting his quota.

Manipulative thespianism is standard practice in parallel churches, including being Jekyll one minute and Hyde the next. Leaders and members don't persuade other members; they manipulate them. If they think that non-members such as Neal Conway are dolts to be persuaded by histrionics, they also think that their own members are "sheeple" to be shooed this way and that by scurrying and barking. People who are raised in that from childhood, although they escape, may exhibit Jekyll/Hyde-like temper swings throughout their lives (another reason there should be counseling for ex-members).

What I got from Chris is nothing compared to what parallel-church members get should they want to leave. They're usually told that they're going against "God's will" (2010s version: "call from God"). Playing the "God's will" card, especially if the card is played by a priest in a Roman collar, can certainly send away a departing member tortured by guilt and doubt if it doesn't stop her in her tracks on the way out.

The charismatic community's reputation was not good. What outsiders knew about MOG was that they were the people who speak in tongues. St. Paul mentions tongue-talk, but nobody really, really knows what speaking in tongues was. It may have been simply being multi-lingual, having Greek, Latin, local languages which could come in handy for evangelization. Older exegetes explain it as something miraculous that occurred in the early church. Most normal Catholics thought the udludludla was just plain weird. It is a known form of mind control. Noise keeps people from thinking. A member of a charismatic group admitted to me that he and others fake it.

A classmate of mine who lived near the Mother of God Community in Gaithersburg augmented the bad press. He called the members "Jesus freaks." Otherwise they were known in the neighborhood as "The MOGfia." Add to that the intimidative bullying I got from the previously over-the-top friendly Chris, I thought that these appellations were quite appropriate.

MOG goes kaboom

Eighteen years passed during which I didn't hear or think much about Mother of God. In the '80s and '90s MOG leaders built a huge community center called "Goshen House," an edifice that looks like it was transplanted from Colonial Williamsburg. The naming of an establishment after the road it fronts, rather than, i.e., "Mother of God House" is typical PC practice. If a Catholic place has a vague, non-religious name such as "Evergreen Center" or "Hilltop Institute" instead of say, "St. Joe's," it's probably connected to a parallel church.

Goshen House had apartments for community leaders and their favorites. There are always favorites.

Then in April of 1997 came a story spread over two consecutive issues of The Washington Post Magazine (3) about how Mother of God had been exposed as a cult requiring then-Washington-Archbishop, James Cardinal Hickey to intervene.

The straws that were heaped higher and higher on the camel's back mostly had to do with lay spiritual direction, a practice, as I wrote above, guaranteed to create problems. "Heads" as they were called, pried into members' personal business, dossiered it and passed it on to the leaders. Heads told members whom they should or should not date and even succeeded in arranging a couple of marriages. At least one later ended in divorce.

One member became fed up when he was told not to buy a house too far from the community. Judith Tydings, to her credit, added her voice to compaints made to the archdiocese. Rev. Thomas Weinandy left for Oxford University but thoughtfully sent back a letter.

The other priests? Well, if you expect PC-involved reverend fathers to stand up for what's right, to stand up for you and for others who've gotten hurt, you probably also expect Santa Claus to do all your Christmas shopping.

Mother of God being a true and legal parallel ecclesial structure, Cardinal Hickey could bring only moral authority to bear on its disposition. As was tragically to be repeated with other parallel churches in the future, Hickey stopped short of saying, "WE DO NOT NEED MOTHER OF GOD! Shut it down! Mind your own family's business! Get involved in parishes like normal Catholics."

Hickey urged Mother of God to go on, but with elected leadership, a constitutional change. Change of leadership and rules are always seen as -- and depicted as -- the silver bullet that slays the werewolf of abusive leadership. Everything will be better if we elect new leaders and change the rules! This remedy doesn't take into account that while leaders and rules may change, the followers -- that is, the enablers, especially the old-timers -- are the same.

Cult-like institutes cannot be reformed. Because their founders designed them to be cult-like.

The Difatos departed with an immunity agreement. Some of their supporters went one way. Some disenchanted went another. Enough stayed on to keep the community going.

In the early 2000s, MOG elected as leader, Dr. Mary Healy, a consecrated virgin -- You are probably not supposed to know that. -- with a long list of degrees in Theology and Philosophy. She is the daughter of Nicholas J. Healy Jr., former enforcer to Tom Monaghan, both guys themselves the builder of a Catholic Xanadu, Ave Maria, Fla.

Healy, to her credit, tried to open up Mother of God and make it a center of culture and learning i.e., something useful. It was during her tenure that I went to Goshen House for a few events. One was a Holy Thursday seder meal where a MOG member at our table whined that there wasn't enough lamb left for her and her son. So somebody at that table was greedy!

I saw it as a taste of the Church of Jerusalem that tried the community crap and collapsed, forcing St. Paul to beg money for it on his travels. Another visit was to attend Mass said by a priest from another parallel church. No surprise that a guy from one PC associates with another; birds of a feather. Because they all draw the same types, parallel churches make perfect poaching grounds for other PCs.

Healy was not reelected to a second three-year term. I suspect that she was too smart for the community. Following her departure, Mother of God closed to the world again. Outsiders were no longer welcome.

The last time I was at Goshen House I saw a roomful of frightened, shy, not-very-bright people. Indeed, the Mother of God members that I've had anything to do with are the types who keep their heads down, except to see which way the wind is blowing, and who look the other way when an injustice is being perpetrated. They're afraid of the world. They're cowards. They're even afraid of their fellow cowards. They don't think anyone outside their clique has anything to offer.

So, you see, Mother of God is a get-away-from-it version of The Benedict Option that has already been tried. Ave Maria, Fla., is a more recent attempt. It is not what its founder, Tom Monaghan promised. It could not possibly be. Such enterprises always turn out to be huge disappointments if not hellish nightmares. In the pickups with their worldly goods, the pilgrims bring to the New Jerusalem their human nature, their ignorance, their meanness, their pettiness, their hypocrisy, their cowardice, their fear.

The story of parallel churches in Washington DC and its Maryland and Virginia suburbs does not end with Mother of God. I've had more recent experiences with other PCs -- one an episode involving an interfering "spiritual director" -- that I will not relate at this time. However I've accumulated a great deal of material, including captures of videos of PC members making fools of themselves or showing their true colors. My "reticence" is because of a "wheat and weeds" issue, for the sake of a couple of people for whom I have respect and more.

Sadly, parallel churches are thriving around Washington. They are avoiding the overt weirdness that hobbled PCs in the past, offering events and fellowship for the right people (good-looking professionals, except me, of course), bringing the influential (and at least one scoundrel) into their networks, even in one case, starting a new "university."

However, in researching and preparing this essay, I have come to think that I should not worry too much. For one thing, PCs can only get so far. Most affluent Catholics in the DC area are too compromised for groups that are outwardly so orthodox, even if such groups have the appeal of exclusive clubs. Hillary Clinton Catholics aren't interested in Catholicism that is "too Catholic."

The other thing: Underneath the wrapper of charismatic Rev. Fathers sweeping women off their feet and fun, gorgeous lady friends (that is, for women who are swept off their feet), parallel churches are running the same old software. As I wrote above, they were not designed to run any other kind. Eventually the abuses will be repeated and come to light, despite denial and coverups and indignant accusations of "gossip" and "detraction."

Someone's daughter at one of their camps will become dangerously ill because the leaders told her that her complaining about pains was being selfish. Spiritual directors or guides or whatever will unmask themselves as abusive, unqualified idiots after they tell enough young women that their genital warts are a sign from God that the latter have a vocation to be "consecrated."

Speaking of "consecrated" women, that scoundrel who nows hangs around one of the local PCs will goose one or two of them. Because he's running the same old software, too.

Endnotes and for further reading

The Washington Post Magazine feature about Mother of God from April, 1997 is still on-line. Every word is worth reading.

(1) Justin Gillis, "Origins: Warmth and Harmony Drew People In" Part One: The Believers Next Door, Washington Post Magazine, April 13, 1997.]

(2) There is a charismatic prayer group associated with a Jesuit residence in Georgetown, DC.

(3) Gillis, "Origins: Warmth and Harmony Drew People In".

The following article covers typical parallel church atrocities. No speculation about why is offered here (but see my The Single Vocation: Why It's A Lie) and I am aware of Sts. Dominic and Ignatius being exceptions, but most problematic institutes that become cult-like were founded by Hispanic males. catholicnewsagency.com, "New Sodalit report details severe sexual, psychological abuse," 02/14/2017.

Unfortunately ex-members of parallel churches are very amateurish when they take to blogging about their experiences. If you want to persuade people, you can't bury the juicy morsels in heaps of verbose lettuce. The following is one outstanding exception. "The logic of my experience" could be subtitled "It works for me. Who cares if anyone else is hurt?"

Anonymous, The logic of "my experience," life-after-RC, 07/29/2009.

"Stop insisting to the Church that you are a “work of God,” writes Rev. Thomas Berg in this First Things piece about a very resilient and growing parallel church. Berg, Rev. Thomas V., "Legion Reformed? The Legionaries of Christ after Maciel," firstthings.com, 01/14/2014.

Neal J. Conway, "The Single Vocation: Why It's A Lie," nealjconway.com, 05/19/2016.

About Neal J. Conway