1850. Claret continues convalescing in Barcelona, waiting for a medical discharge in order to depart for Tarragona to visit the archbishop and other friends.
1852. Claret travels from Puerto Principe to Sibanicu (Cuba), where the next day he would begin the mission and the pastoral visit.
1859. Having already obtained royal authorization, Claret communicates to Fr. Dionisio Gonzalez that he can now decide which three Sisters from the Convent La Enseñanza will travel from Santiago to the Peninsula.
THE FOUNDATION (1849 -1858)
THE COMMUNITIES OF VIC AND CUBA
With Claret’s departure, the growth of the community in Vic was stagnated and went through several moments of serious crisis. The death of Fr. Manuel Vilaro and Fr. Ignacio Carbo, in 1852, caused confusion in the midst of such a small group. The revolution of 1854 and the subsequent Progressive Biennium (1854-1856) plunged the Institute into even greater difficulties. During this period, they worked with cholera patients and preferentially devoted themselves to leading Spiritual Exercises. Fr. Stephen Sala assumed the leadership of the Congregation of Carmelite Sisters of Charity on behalf of Bishop Casadevall, since it was going through a time of great difficulty.
Meanwhile, the Congregation lived dormant in Cuba near Claret; with distinct characteristics, obviously, but with the same rule and spirit. He had taken with him Fr. Manuel Vilaro, co-founder. Despite the distance, there was some contact between Vic and Santiago; indeed, at the request of Claret, in La Merced there were priests and seminarians preparing to go to Cuba. Later, on May 26, 1857, Claret returned to the Peninsula, having been named confessor of Queen Isabella II.
João da Freitas Alves, CMF
Apostolic Administrator of São Tome and Principe (1930-1984)
Faial (Madeira, Portugal). He had a degree in Dogmatic Theology from the Gregorian University in Rome. He was elected President of the Portuguese Conference of Religious Institutes and Director of the College of Applied Psychology. Provincial Superior of Portugal from 1968 to 1980. He directed the magazine Reinado del Corazon de Maria [Reign of the Heart of Mary] for many years. After this stage, in 1980 he departed as a missionary to São Tome and Principe, where he was named Apostolic Administrator that same year. Celebrating the jubilee celebrations of the 450th anniversary of the founding of the Diocese of Luanda, Angola, he died in a car accident. In 1978 he had written his will from which we collect these words: I was born poor and I have lived poorly, before and after making my vows… If I possess anything until the day of my death, let the Congregation do with it as it pleases. I give it all to her, as she gave it to me, because through her almost everything came to me.
Soft-Hearted and Compassionate
The reason is that, as I have said, I am so soft-hearted and compassionate that I can’t bear seeing misfortune or misery without doing something to help. I would take the bread out of my own mouth to give it to the poor. In fact, I would abstain from putting it into my mouth in order to have something to give to those who are asking for it. I am even scrupulous about spending anything at all on myself when I think of the needs I can remedy. Well, then, if these momentary physical misfortunes affect me so much, it is understandable what I feel in my heart at the thought of the everlasting pains of hell – not for me, but for all those who willingly live in mortal sin. (Aut 10)
If I were to see someone about to fall into a pit or a fire, I would surely run and cry out a warning to save him from falling. Why shouldn’t I do the same to save someone from falling into the pit and fire of hell? (Aut 12)
FOR PERSONAL REFLECTION
- Do you worry from the bottom of your heart about the human and spiritual good of others?
- What space does tenderness and compassion occupy in your missionary life?
- What place do the poor have in your life?
“It’s weird, isn’t it? The life of every man affects many other lives.
When it’s not there, it leaves a terrible emptiness, right?”
(Movie, A Beautiful Mind)