1848. Claret begins a novena to the Heart of Mary in Barcelona, which he will coordinate with Spiritual Exercises for two groups of religious, the Sisters of St. Mary Magdalene and the Hieronymites.
1862. Fr. Dionisio Gonzalez, as Vice-President of El Escorial, publishes a courageous open letter in defense of Claret against unfair criticism in the Madrid Courts.
1866. Claret spends New Year’s Eve and the New Year with the seminarians of El Escorial, after six months of absence due to the recognition of the Kingdom of Italy by Queen Isabella II.
THE FOUNDATION (1849-1858)
HISTORICAL ENVIRONMENT OF THE
FOUNDATION OF THE CONGREGATION
Antonio Claret was born in Sallent (Barcelona) on December 23, 1807. At the time, Spain was involved in political wars, caused by the liberal and traditional parties. Once the political storm was over, Father Claret decided to found his favorite work: the Congregation of the Missionary Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The laws of persecution of the liberal governments and the suppression of religious Orders with the so-called desamortizacion [seizure] (1835-1836) had dismantled and prohibited the traditional forms of evangelization and the shortage of preachers was a great challenge. But Claret took advantage of a period of relative political calm, in the hands of more moderate liberal politicians, to take the decisive step that had so interested him in his life, to found a Missionary Institute. Times of political instability soon returned which would influence the first steps of the newborn Congregation and would prevent its rapid growth.
ALFREDO MARIO ESPOSITO, CMF
Bishop of Zarate-Campana (Argentina) (1927-2010)
Naples (Italy). Although born in Naples, he was of Argentine nationality, since his father had the role of Argentine consul in that city and the family lived there. Later he had to traverse different countries because of his father’s profession. From 1938 to 1945 he attended high school at the Colegio Corazon de Maria in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria in the Canary Islands. Returning to Argentina in 1946, he established a relationship with the Claretians of Constitucion, in Buenos Aires. That same year he entered the novitiate. He was ordained a priest in 1954. In 1966 he was appointed Provincial Superior of Argentina, where he accompanied the process of conciliar renewal. In 1973 he was elected Consultor and Vicar General. Soon after, in 1976, he was appointed bishop of Zarate-Campana, a newly created diocese. With the help of the Congregation, he worked as a missionary in his diocese, only for a short time due to the deterioration of his health. In 1991 his resignation took place. His life ended during his retirement in San Camilo Clinic.
Reflecting on His Life
Although Father Joseph Xifre, Superior of the Missionary Sons of the Heart of Mary, has frequently spoken and written to request that I write a biography of my insignificant self, I have heretofore always excused myself. I would not have agreed to do so even now had I not been ordered to. Thus I am doing this only out of obedience, and out of obedience I am going to reveal several things that I would rather have left unknown. At any rate, may it all be for the greater glory of God and my sweet mother Mary and for the embarrassment of this poor sinner. I will divide this Biography into three parts. (Aut 1)
The first part will include the principal events of my life from my birth until my departure for Rome (1807-39). The second part will contain events pertaining to the missions (1840-50). The third part will deal with the most notable events that occurred after my consecration as archbishop (1850-62). (Aut 2)
FOR PERSONAL REFLECTION
For Claret, writing his autobiography meant a good opportunity to reflect on his life. This is also an opportunity to reflect about your life and its meaning.
- What moments do you recognize as most important in the history of your life?
- How do you feel when you return to Father Claret’s autobiography and look back on your own biography?
- Which people have accompanied you in the most significant moments?
“The best and most effective means to edify and move people are good example, poverty, detachment, fasting, mortification, and self-denial.”