1849. Claret preaches in Santa Lucia (Canary Islands).
1863. Claret applauds Fr. Xifre’s publication of literature about the Congregation, at the same time lamenting that the three congregations recognized by the Concordat of Spain do not prosper: Piarists, Vincentians and Philippians.
1866. News arrives that his sister Rose’s son has died.
THE FOUNDATION (1849 -1858)
THE CONGREGATION IS BORN
Claret did not found a religious congregation, since it was prohibited by the Government. From 1835, men and women religious had been expelled from their convents and their possessions confiscated in order to be sold. In the absence of ordinary preachers, the Mission House in Vic was born out of a group of diocesan priests who initiated a new community lifestyle, free from any diocesan commitment that tied them to a place or to some concrete ecclesiastical benefit, in order to be able to fully dedicate themselves to the preaching of the Word, especially through Popular Missions (they were disguised, since missionary preaching was controlled and restricted by the political authorities), Spiritual Exercises and Catechesis. They lived completely available to be sent by the bishop. Luciano Casadevall considered the first Claretians my missionaries, and he himself, as their Superior; he always defended and helped them. The death of this bishop, on March 11, 1852, was a moment of crisis and uncertainty, which was overcome thanks to the support they found in his successor.
The only structure left today of the first House of the Missionaries
Alfonso Milagro, CMF
Misionero y escritor (1915-1981)
Añatuya (Santiago del Estero, Argentina). He was one of the first vocations in Argentina. First he was a professor of Claretian seminarians, later moving on to the parish environment. His greatest passions were preaching, leading spiritual exercises and, above all, writing. As a good communicator he knew his way around all kinds of media. But above all, he dedicated himself to the publication of widely disseminated books and booklets. There is talk of more than 100,000 books published. The most popular were: Cinco minutos con Jesus [5 Minutes with Jesus], Los cinco minutos de Dios [5 Minutes with God], Los cinco minutos de Maria [5 Minutes with Mary], El Evangelio meditado [Meditating on the Gospel], Consignas [Slogans], Pisando fuerte en la vida [Treading Firmly in Life], Vive la sacramentalidad de tu matrimonio [Live the Sacramentality of your Marriage]. In 1956 he founded the Claretian Publishing House of Buenos Aires, becoming its first director and in which, later, Pope Francis would publish his books, among others. He worked in radio and television and created a school of theology for lay people. He was Judicial Vicar of the Archdiocese of Buenos Aires.
The Mysterious Thread of Providence
Divine Providence has always watched over me in a special way, as will be seen in this and other instances I shall relate. My mother always breast-fed her children, but in my case she could not do so because of ill health. She sent me to stay day and night with a wet nurse who lived in our town. The owner of the house of which the wet nurse was mistress had made a fairly deep excavation beneath it in order to enlarge the cellar. One night when I happened not to be there, the foundations, weakened by the digging, gave way. The walls buckled and the house collapsed, killing my wet nurse and burying her and her four children under the rubble. If I had been in the house that night, I would surely have suffered the same fate as the rest. Blessed be God’s Providence! I owe so many thanks to Mary Most Holy, who preserved me from death in my childhood and has freed me since then from so many predicaments. How ungrateful I am! (Aut 7)
FOR PERSONAL REFLECTION
When Claret wrote this passage, he had already gone through many difficulties.
- Are there moments when you perceive the special presence of God’s Providence in the development of your life?
- Do you recognize God’s Providence in your moments of serenity and difficulty?
“When troubles hem me in, set me free.” (Psalm 4)
- Call to mind and refresh those moments of shadows and light. What did they give you?
- Providence … (complete the sentence)
“In his desire to have and to enjoy rather than to be and to grow, man consumes the resources of the earth and his own life in an excessive and disordered way. At the root of the senseless destruction of the natural environment lies an anthropological error, which unfortunately is widespread in our day.”
(John Paul II, Centesimus Annus, 37)
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