The Hartford Courant (a newspaper that has for years been vociferously antagonistic in its coverage of the Legionaries of Christ and their founder, Father Maciel) reccently reported the story of a new court fight between the Legion and the family of the late Gabrielle Mee, a wealthy widow who, in her old age, became a consecrated member of the order's Regnum Christi women's branch.
Mee's family is fighting to recover the millions in cash and real estate that she donated to the Legion. They want the money returned to them, arguing that, "Had she been aware of what is going on with the [order and its leader] there is no way she would have left everything to them."
It will be interesting to see who emerges victorious in this struggle over the money, mainly because the court's ruling could portend how future such lawsuits may be adjuticated if more are brought by others who have the same type of complaint against the Legion.
In addition to the Courant's report below, be sure to also read an opposing view of this matter, written last month by someone identifying himself as a relative of Mrs. Mee who disagrees with the arguments the rest of the family are making against the Legion.
When Gabrielle Mee died in May 2008 on the Greenville, R.I., campus of the Legionaries of Christ, her caregivers mourned the loss of the order's "grandmother."
Leaders of the secretive Roman Catholic order rushed from Connecticut and New York to pay their final respects. Six of her consecrated "sisters" carried her plain wooden coffin to the cemetery where she was buried next to her husband, Timothy Mee.
None of her family attended the service for Mee, who was 96 when she died. In fact, many of her relatives didn't find out that Gabrielle Mee had died until nearly a year later when a letter from the Legionaries' lawyer arrived, notifying them that the Probate Court in North Smithfield, R.I., was about to administer her will.
What relatives discovered is that since the mid-1990s Gabrielle Mee steadily turned over real estate and money — upwards of $7.5 million — to the Legionaries of Christ, which is headquartered in Orange, Conn.
Stunned family members are accusing the church of taking advantage of a lonely, deeply religious older woman. They have hired a Providence attorney to contest her will . . . (continue reading)