The consecrated women of Regnum Christi, the lay association of the Legion of Christ, have elected Spaniard Gloria Rodriguez as their next general director.

The lay association's general assembly, which has been meeting in Rome since Dec. 2, marks the first time the consecrated women have elected their leadership through a participatory process.

One delegate to the association's general assembly, Marilú Rodriguez, said the election process will choose a government that will help Regnum Christi "to continue going deeper into our identity" and guide the women "on the path that we have begun."

"It is a collegial act, an expression of maturity and responsibility," she said.

Gloria Rodriguez, 38, expressed her gratitude to the team of councilors she has worked with since 2012. She said all the consecrated women of the lay association are in her heart, Regnum Christi reported Dec. 11.

Rodriguez has been a consecrated woman for 15 years. She is from Madrid and studied psychology at Madrid's Complutense University.

Her mission will be to lead the association in fidelity to its mission. She will work in communion with the Legionaries of Christ, lay consecrated men and non-consecrated laity.

The Regnum Christi general assembly was composed of 42 delegates. The assembly elected Rodriguez, five councilors and a general administrator to lead their apostolic movement for the next six years. Candidates must be at least 35 years old and have been consecrated for five years since making their final promises.

The councilors are Paula Errázuriz of Chile, Viviana Limón of Mexico, Mari Carmen Ávila of Mexico, Denise Funke of Canada and Cristina Danel of Mexico. Beatriz Pimentel of Venezuela is the general administrator.

The general assembly, which began Dec. 2, also worked to revise and approve a draft of its new statutes and other documents, including its rule of life and its formation process.

Regnum Christi said the election is "an important step in the renewal process" of the association.

The Legion of Christ's founder, Father Marcel Maciel, was removed from public ministry in 2006 after he was revealed to have led a secret life of grave impropriety. The congregation and its affiliated lay associations has been undergoing reform.

As of mid-November, there were 630 consecrated women in Regnum Christi, including 26 in formation.