Living Hope Newsletter – February 2011
As with any process of discernment, determining a vocation to the priesthood requires a combination of experiences, prayer, and study—all under the guidance of a specialist who can be of great help along the path.
The Claretians consider their vocation outreach to potential new priests and brothers to be a true ministry. They assign priests and laypeople to connect with, and walk beside, the many young men who have some interest in exploring their call to serve in religious life.
“The intention is to help young people discern their vocation and discover God’s will in their lives,” says Mario Delgado, Claretian Vocation Director. “Through the Claretian Vocations Office, we offer young people the necessary tools for an ongoing process of discernment.”
Giving potential candidates for the priesthood the exposure they need to begin the journey is the first step in the Claretians’ process of getting to know someone who is interested—and vice versa. Delagdo and his staff hold Vocation retreats twice a year, in the spring and fall. During these weekend retreats, participants tour Claretian parishes, meet Claretians, and learn more about the many ministries the Claretians have developed to serve those in need.
The Claretian Summer Ministry Program takes an interested young person to the next level beyond a weekend visit.
Participants have the opportunity to experience the Claretian lifestyle of service, community, and spirituality by spending the summer working together side-by-side with Claretian priests and brothers, as well as the many laypeople working in the different ministries. Summer Ministry Program participants work with inner-city youths in Chicago, working together as a team in ministry and living together in community.
But there are some big challenges when encouraging young people to religious life. Mario Delgado sees, among the many young people he interacts, that there often is not a basic idea of what religious life is all about, or how to become a religious priest, sister or brother. As a result, the Claretians have launched “The Companions Group,” a program for discernment for junior high and high school-aged young adults. Through this program, participants come together once a month and share their experiences of God and look closely at what God is calling them to be. The groups also take a serious look at religious life from a missionary context.
“These ‘Companions’ are young men and women who share similar interests,” says Delgado. “The monthly meetings are a place to question, seek, and explore various vocations within the Church, including religious life.” “The most important element of recruitment for any vocations director is the personal contact you have with each young person you encounter,” explains Delgado. “Just being there for them means a lot.”
For more information on the Claretian Vocations programs, please visit www.claretianvocations.org.
The Claretian Missionaries in Rome and the Vatican
Fr. Vicente Sanz, C.M.F., General Prefect of the Apostolate, tells the story:
The Claretians in Rome have numerous meaningful ministries today—all rooted in a history that reaches back more than 150 years. After the Claretians were founded in 1849 by St. Anthony Mary Claret, Fr. Claret traveled to Rome twice: to consult with the Pope, and to celebrate the first Vatican Council.
In the early 1900’s, young personalities started to emerge within the Claretian Congregation who taught at many of the Roman universities. Some of them would even participate in the Second Vatican Council many years later.
In 1920, the Claretian Missionaries founded a magazine that still holds great prestige in the Faculties of Law in Rome, entitiled Commentarium pro Religiosis. They also published the Institutum Luridicum. Still today, the Claretians in Rome are a resource to a number of Law professors of the Roman universities and are consultants of some of the departments of the Holy See. Claretian publications about canonic law and religious life are highly valued there.
In 1922, the Claretians accepted a free piece of land given to them by the Holy See in the residential area of Parioli, Rome, for the construction of a temple dedicated to the Heart of Mary. The project was given to the famous architect Armando Brasini for construction. On May 9, 1936 the new parish-Basilica was completed and the Claretians dedicated it to the Heart of Mary.
There are many activities that take place in this Claretian Basilica today, including the sacraments, catechesis, programs for families and youth, theatrical activities, social meetings, and ministries which call attention to the plight of immigrants. The Basilica also houses the remains of two deceased Claretian cardinals, Fr. Arcadio M. Larraona, C.M.F. and Fr. Arturo Tabera, C.M.F.
In 1953 the Claretians’ highest governing body in Rome, the General Curia, moved near the Basilica of the Heart of Mary. Currently, from this location, the whole coordination for the Congregation throughout the world takes place. It is the place of residency for the Claretian General Government, as well as the home of the young Claretian priests that come to Rome to specialize in the different academic disciplines. Here is also the General Archive of the Congregation, where documents as important as the Autobiography of Saint Anthony Claret and the records of the first meetings of the Claretians are kept. There is a small museum here that houses relics of St. Anthony Claret. The Basilica is the center of publications and information for the entire Claretian congregation, which spans more than 60 countries and a community of more than 3000 priests and brothers.
It has been nearly 150 years since the Claretian Missionaries set foot in Rome. Their history has fulfilled the dreams of St. Anthony Mary Claret, and their presence continues to be of great importance-- not only to the Claretians throughout the world who look to their headquarters in Rome for guidance, but also to the many people they serve.