Living Hope Newsletter – February 2024
Claretians of the Americas
As the Claretian Missionaries celebrate their 175th anniversary of the founding of the Congregation, the milestone presents an opportunity to reflect on vital aspects of the mission. In the world of the Claretians, there is a “do more” energy palpable in their ministries everywhere. These ministries are remarkably varied, responding to and meeting needs in locations both remote and urban across the globe.
There are some 3000 Claretian priests and brothers in more than 60 countries. For such an expansive international effort, both the Claretian religious and their lay partners recognize that their “do more” spirit becomes a reality when they do more . . . together.
The Claretians have always taken a collaborative approach to the organization of their many ministries. Their structure includes geographical provinces that share and build resources together. One thriving alliance among these strategic affiliations is the international association of Claretians working in the American continents and the West Indies. This includes Claretians from North American (Canada, USA, and Mexico), Central America, South America, and the Caribbean Islands. The group is formed under the Spanish name, Misioneros Claretianos de America, or MICLA, the Claretian Missionaries of America.
“Through MICLA, Claretians from various countries are able to do ministry together what would be impossible to do alone,” says Claretian Fr. Rosendo Urrabazo, who has served in leadership of the Claretian U.S. province for many years.
While all Claretians in MICLA countries are members, the primary participants are the leadership teams of the provincial governments with their various committees: Formation, Apostolate, Spirituality, Bible study, Youth, and Finance. The work they accomplish by bringing the various arms of the organizations together is a remarkable testament to the power of “doing more, together.” The structure of MICLA provides all under its umbrella the freedom to thrive.
Forming Priests and Brothers
The most foundational of the Claretian ministries is the formation of priests and brothers. Seminarian training begins with the Novitiate, a period of preparation where those considering entering religious life officially begin their discernment. With the seminaries seeing a shrinking number of people seeking religious life, a shared Novitiate is a centerpiece of MICLA for all of the Americas.
Early in 2022, the MICLA international Novitiate was inaugurated in the city of Cordoba, Argentina. The first gathering included the Provincial Superior of Brazil, Claretians involved in formation, and novices from six locations. The benefits of combining efforts in one common Novitiate experience are many. Educators and leaders work together to share their best practices, ideas, and resources for the process their novitiates entrust to them. The novitiates in turn find a heightened sense of community with a larger number among them, walking the path of discernment together.
Other meaningful gatherings of new and youthful Claretians thrive in the communal structure of MICLA. The recent interprovincial “Encounter” of the Claretians brought together a group of eleven young Claretians with the purpose of sharing their missionary experiences and receiving training about discerning leadership. “Our focus was on further developing our identity, loyalty, and leadership,” says Fr. Rosendo. “We value this emphasis for both the Congregation on the whole and in our respective organizations.”
Gathering for Growth and Renewal
International Encounters of Claretians, through MICLA, allow the many Claretians working in Governance, Finances, Formation, Youth Ministry, and Education to gather, share, plan, and grow. Claretians from the locations that form MICLA met as recently as this past fall, where high level planning and renewed commitment to ministries took place—along with a renewed commitment in solidarity with Claretian founder St. Anthony Claret to service. The assembly looked to the key Papal writings of the Social Doctrine of the Church (Laudato Si and Fratelli Tutti) to keep the charge of the Church always at the front of discussion.
The Claretian Future, Together
The Claretians embrace the future of their mission with the essential collaborations that MICLA offers. Common goals are met for education, continents-wide volunteer programs, vocation recruitment and formation of seminarians along with the rich array of Claretian ministries. “Claretian founder, St. Anthony Mary Claret, believed he could do more in ministry working with others with a shared spirit,” says Fr. Rosendo. “This shared spirit of missionary availability at home and around the world is amplified through MICLA, our organizational structure that helps make our dreams a reality.”