Legionaries of Christ North American Territorial Director Appointed for a Second Term
On March 21, 2023, Father John Connor, general director of the Legionaries of Christ, announced the appointment of Father Shawn Aaron, LC, as North American territorial director for a new three-year term. Additionally, Father John Bartunek, LC, was named territorial vicar, and Fathers Steven Reilly, Bruce Wren, and Juan Pablo Durán as territorial councilors.
Father Connor also thanked Fathers David Daly and Juan José Hernández for their selfless service and support in the territorial government. They have made significant contributions, in recent years, as territorial councilors and will be missed.
The letter also states that the current territorial government’s term is extended through June 30, 2023, in order to sync with the Legionaries of Christ’s custom of starting new terms in the summer. The new territorial government begins its term on July 1, 2023.
Father Shawn Aaron, LC, North American Territorial Director
Father Shawn Aaron was born in Ridgecrest, CA on January 25, 1968. He is the oldest of four children, with three younger sisters. On April 29, 1978, his family entered the Catholic Church. They later relocated to Modesto, CA, where he attended Central Catholic High School, lettering in several sports: football, basketball, baseball, and track.
After completing high-school Fr. Shawn attended Modesto Junior College where he studied liberal arts and ran track. In 1989-90 he served as a team leader for the National Evangelization Teams (NET) and traveled throughout the United States providing retreats for students. After NET he began working with St. Paul’s Outreach (SPO), in St. Paul, Minnesota, their mission is to build transformational communities that form missionary disciples for life.
In 1991, he joined the Legionaries of Christ in Cheshire, Connecticut. He studied at the Pontifical Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum in Rome, Italy receiving degrees in philosophy (1996) and theology (2002). On Christmas Eve, 2002, Father Shawn was ordained to the priesthood at Colegio Internacional Legionarios de Cristo in Rome, Italy.[Text Wrapping Break]
After ordinations, he served as development director for the Legionaries of Christ for several years, and from 2007-2009 also served as retreat director for Our Lady of Santa Clara retreat center in Cupertino, CA.
From 2009 through 2010, he was appointed as President of Southern Catholic College, in Dawsonville, GA. From 2010 – 2017 he was the National Chaplain of The Lumen Institute based in Manhattan. He currently serves on the Board of Directors for Divine Mercy University and the Lumen Institute.
He was appointed as the North American Territorial Vicar General for the Legionaries of Christ in 2017, a role he held until being named as the North American Territorial Director on March 30, 2020 (effective April 1, 2020). He was appointed to a second three-year term on March 21, 2023. His second term begins on July 1, 2023.
Father John Bartunek, LC, Territorial Vicar
Father John Bartunek, LC, S.Th.D, received his BA in History from Stanford University in 1990. He comes from an evangelical Christian background and became a member of the Catholic Church in 1991.
After college, he worked as a high school history teacher, drama director, and baseball coach. He then spent a year as a professional actor in Chicago before entering the religious Congregation of the Legionaries of Christ in 1993. He was ordained a Catholic priest in 2003 and earned his doctorate in moral theology in 2010. He has taught moral theology at various ecclesiastical institutions at both the graduate and undergraduate levels.
He provided spiritual support on the set of Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ while researching the 2005 Catholic best seller, Inside the Passion, the only authorized, behind-the-scenes explanation of the film.
Father John has contributed news commentary regarding religious issues on NBC, CNN, Fox, and the BBC. He also served as the English-language press liaison for the Vatican¹s 2005 Synod of Bishops on the Eucharist.
Father John is a published author. He has written several books. His most widely known book is called The Better Part: A Christ-Centered Resource for Personal Prayer. His most recent book is Spiritual But Not Religious; The Search for Meaning in a Material World.
Before moving to Atlanta to join the territorial team, Father John resided in Michigan, where he practiced his writing apostolate and served as superior for his religious community. On March 30, 2020, he was named to the North American Territorial Council for the Legionaries of Christ. March 21, 2023, he was appointed for a second term on the council and was appointed as the new Territorial Vicar (term to begin on July 1, 2023).
Father Steven Reilly, LC, Councilor
Father Steven Reilly, LC, is a member of the Legionaries of Christ. After having joined the congregation in 1982, he was ordained in 1994, in Mexico City. He studied philosophy in Rome at the Pontifical Gregorian University and theology at the Legion’s own Pontifical University, Regina Apostolorum, also in Rome.
He has served in the Legionaries of Christ General Directorate and also held positions such as vocation director and apostolate coordinator in the Legionaries of Christ North American Territorial Directorate. From 1996 – 2003 he was the superior of the Legionaries of Christ in Dallas, Texas, and director of formation at The Highlands School. In 2003 he was assigned to the Legionaries of Christ’s center in Potomac, Maryland and served as vice-rector. Among the apostolic positions he held were chaplain of Woodmont Academy, the executive director of the Center for Family Development in Crownsville, Maryland, and director of Regnum Christi in Baltimore.
He was the Legionaries of Christ safe environment coordinator from 2008 until 2019 and directed the Legionaries of Christ safe environment accreditation from Praesidium, Inc., which was awarded in 2010 and reissued in 2014. He returned to school in 2011 and received a master’s degree in Social Work from Fordham University in 2013. Also, in that year he was named superior of the Legionaries of Christ community in New York and served in that capacity until recently. Since 2015, he has been the spiritual advisor to the Clergy Consultation and Treatment Service at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Harrison, New York. On March 30, 2020, he was named to the North American Territorial Council for the Legionaries of Christ and then re-appointed for a second three-year term on March 21, 2023. His second term begins on July 1, 2023.
His younger brother is also a priest with the Legionaries of Christ, Father Scott Reilly, LC, who is currently assigned at the Legionaries of Christ center near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Father Bruce Wren, LC, Councilor
Father Bruce Wren, LC, was born on January 8, 1962, in Cottonwood, Idaho. After finishing high school as salutatorian of his class in 1980, he attended St. John’s College in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where he received a Bachelor’s Degree of Liberal Arts in 1984.
At the age of 23 a good friend, who was also a Jesuit priest, suggested he look into joining the Legionaries of Christ. He later began novitiate with the Legion in the fall of 1985 and in the years that followed received degrees in classical humanities, philosophy, and theology. He was ordained to the priesthood on January 3, 1996, and began his priestly ministry as Instructor of Novices at the Legionaries of Christ‘s former Noviate in Cornwall, Canada. From 1999-2014 he served in France as Rector of “École Apostolique de l’Immaculée Conception,” and superior of his community. In 2014 he returned to the states and served in Chicago as the local superior for the Legion’s community there and as chaplain for several groups. Then, in August of 2022, Father Bruce was assigned to superior of a Legionary community in Atlanta, Georgia, and chaplain to the local men’s section. Later, on March 21, 2023, he was appointed as a North American territorial councilor for a three-year term beginning on July 1, 2023.
Father Juan Pablo Durán Rueda, LC, Councilor
Father Juan Pablo Durán, LC, was born in Tucson, Arizona on November 30, 1980. Throughout his childhood, he lived in several countries with his parents and four siblings. He graduated from high school in Atlanta, Georgia, and intended to stay in Georgia to attend Emory, but not before taking a graduation trip to Italy. The trip turned out to be a pivotal time in Father Juan Pablo’s life, ultimately leading to his priestly ministry.
Father Juan Pablo entered novitiate in 1998 and was ordained to the priesthood in 2011. He has earned a Ph.B. from the Pontifical Gregorian University, a S.T.B. and Ph.L. from the Ateneo Pontificio Regina Apostolorum, and an M.A. in Theology from the Augustine Institute in Denver, Colorado.
Following his ordination, Father Juan Pablo served as Vice Rector of the Legionaries of Christ College of Humanities and as a Regnum Christi local director in Cheshire, Connecticut. In 2015, he was appointed Vice President, and eventually President, of Our Lady of Bethesda Retreat Center in Maryland. While in Maryland he was also chaplain to the Regnum Christi women’s section. In 2019, Father Juan Pablo moved back to Atlanta, where he remains still, and has served as director of “3 To Get Married,” chaplain to the local Regnum Christi men’s section and young men’s section, and most recently as Chaplain of Holy Spirit Preparatory School. On March 21, 2023, he was named a Legionaries of Christ North American Territorial Council member and will begin his first term, for a period of three years, on July 1, 2023.