In our Claretian family, this weekend (july1st) marks the beginning of the jubilee year (2023-2024) to celebrate the 175th Anniversary of the Claretian Missionaries, formally known as the Missionary Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Our missionary community began in a small seminary room in the diocese of Vic Spain (near Barcelona) on July 16, 1849, under the direction of a diocesan priest named Fr Anthony Claret. St Anthony was joined by 4 other diocesan priests (Fr Dominic Fabregas, Fr Stephen Sala, Fr Manuel Vilaro, and Fr Joseph Xifre) who shared a heart like his to be evangelizers in a time in Europe’s history when that was rarely done.
From these humble beginnings the Claretians have grown to be an international community of brothers and priests with almost 3,000 members serving in over 70 countries around the world. St Anthony challenged the founding fathers and our subsequent generations of missionaries “to use all means possible” to spread the Good News of God’s love to the world, especially the poor. For this reason, the Claretian Missionaries are not restricted to one ministry or another. While our ministries in Spain centered on building Catholic schools, as we expanded into other countries, we expanded into churches, advocacy/relief for the poor/homeless, Biblical institutes, defense of the marginalized, health ministries, retreat ministries, youth work, radio and television ministry, immigrant and refugee outreach, leadership institutes, art ministry, and more.
The purpose of this jubilee is like what we are doing in our preparations for the National Eucharistic Revival in 2024, and that is “reviving the original spirit.” This spirit is captured in what we call the “pen portrait” of a missionary where St Anthony wrote, “, “A son of the Immaculate Heart of Mary is a man on fire with love, who spreads its flames wherever he goes. He desires mightily and strives by all means possible to set everyone on fire with God’s love. Nothing daunts him: he delights in privations, welcomes work, embraces sacrifices, smiles at slander, rejoices in all the torments and sorrows he suffers, and glories in the cross of Jesus Christ. His only concern is how he may follow Christ and imitate him in praying, working, enduring and striving constantly and solely for the greater glory of God and the salvation of humankind.”
In a word, our anniversary is about reigniting the fire of our charism. We the Claretians of the United States and Canada province recently elected our new leadership with 3 of the 5 members having served here in Springfield (Frs. Eddie DeLeon, Tom McGann, Francisco Javier Reyes) as well as Fr Reegan Soosai from Canada and our new provincial Fr Paul Keller who visited us this past year. It is our hope the new infusion of leadership to the province and new members to our community will bring that fire to life in Sacred Heart and beyond.
With a heart for Mission,