Living Hope Newsletter – February 2014

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U.S. Claretians at 2013 World Youth Day

"Go without fear to serve." — Pope Francis, World Youth Day, July 27th 2013

Last July, the Claretians were among the millions of people from around the world who descended on Rio de Janeiro to connect with Pope Francis and one another for World Youth Day 2013. Some 600 pilgrims from Claretian provinces attended the annual event, twenty-three of whom were from Claretian ministries in the U.S.A.

Their aim in attending was to be strengthened in faith and inspired to share that faith in service to others. The U.S. Claretians stayed with Brazilian Claretians and at the Claretian College which is located in Rio.

The U.S. group included eight people from St. Anthony Mary Claret Church in Fresno, including Associate Pastor Fr. Rey Alcantara, C.M.F., and one person from Delano, CA. Eleven people from the Claretians’ San Gabriel Mission in California joined them. Three people made the trip from Chicago, including Claretian seminarian candidate Marco Vasquez. Mario Delgado, who assists in overseeing the training of Claretian seminarians in the U.S., says, “It was an amazing adventure and such a positive experience—because we are a people of faith.”

Over the course of the three-day event in Rio, millions celebrated Mass, Vespers, the Rosary, and the Stations of the Cross with Pope Francis. Gathered for a prayer vigil at Copacabana Beach, he challenged the 2.5 million young people to build up the church following the example of St. Francis of Assisi. He said:

“In the Church of Jesus, we ourselves are the living stones. Jesus is asking us to build up His Church, but not as a little chapel which holds only a small group of persons. He asks us to make His living Church so large that it can hold all of humanity, that it can be a home for everyone! To me, to you, to each of us he says: ‘Go and make disciples of all nations.’ Tonight, let us answer Him: ‘Yes, I too want to be a living stone; together we want to build up the Church of Jesus!’”

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During Vespers, the Pope spoke to the crowd about planting the seed of the Gospel in good soil—the soil of our own hearts.

A focus on faithful service enlivened the World Youth Day events. Young people were urged to put this notion into action by having a “personal encounter with Jesus, day by day,” in a message delivered by Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia. He urged that participation in the sacraments provides a path to that personal encounter with God.

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The Claretians who came to Rio took advantage of their time together to celebrate a Claretian Family retreat at the Basilica Coracao de Maria in Rio. Everyone there received a journal to encourage them to write their notes and thoughts about this momentous spiritual experience. The Claretians took time to reflect on missionary life and the call to be missionary priests. With an emphasis on the missionary style of ministry—going out to serve where the need is greatest— the men spent time in reflection and discussion about missionary service.

World Youth Day 2013 concluded with a Mass celebrated by Pope Francis, which drew 3 million people. In his homily, the Pope said: “Go without fear to serve. Follow these words and when you evangelize, you will be evangelized. People who transmit the joy of faith will receive more joy. Dear young people, when you return back to your homes, don’t be afraid to be generous with Christ and give testimony of the Gospel.”

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Claretian Martyrs Inspire a Movie

The Claretians have always held close to their hearts the painful yet inspiring incident of the imprisoned and ultimately martyred Claretians in Barbastro, Spain during the Spanish Civil War. This story of tremendous emotion and faith has been written and shared widely among the Claretians since its occurrence nearly a hundred years ago.

Now the story is shared more broadly with the world in a medium understood by so many: a major motion picture. Spanish Director Pablo Moreno’s film, “Un Dios Prohibido” (“A Forbidden God”), takes place in the summer of 1936 in the small community of Barbastro. The movie recounts the story of 51 Claretians, most of them seminarians, in the weeks of their captivity before they were shot to death by militants for refusing to renounce their faith. The seminarians stood strong in the face of relentless duress during their imprisonment.

Director Moreno was moved to make the film by the profound message of love and forgiveness left by the Claretian martyrs, who clung to and honored their faith during a time of crisis. Similarly, during the making of the movie, one of the actors noted that his life was positively influenced by the courage and ideals of the Claretian martyrs.

April 14, 2013, Barbastro, Spain - The second of two memorial sites just outside of Barbastro for the 51 Claretian priests and seminarians murdered at the start of the Spanish Civil War in 1936. The second and third groups of those who were murdered in August 1936 were brought to this site to be shot.

U.S. Claretian Provincial Superior Fr. Rosendo Urrabazzo, C.M.F., saw the film at a special showing in Rome last year for the Claretians. The U.S. Claretians were asked to assist in writing the English subtitles for the Spanish film. “I hope we will continue to look to the Martyrs of Barbastro as an evangelizing moment to speak about a Gospel worth dying for,” says Fr. Rosendo, “and a way of life worth imitating.”

The film became a number one hit in Spain last year, was presented at World Youth Day last summer in Brazil, and was released in the U.S. in December.