Living Hope Newsletter – June 2011
Claretians in Los Angeles: Inspired in Ministry
The city of Los Angeles has a deep Catholic history, one that the Claretians have been a part of for more than 100 years. Claretian ministries in Los Angeles respond to the many needs of their communities in creative, practical ways that reflect the mission of the congregation. Here is an introduction to some of the Claretians in Los Angeles and the effective work they do to share in the lives of those they live among and minister to:
- The Claretian Parish of Our Lady Queen of Angels, known as “La Placita,” is located in the heart of the city center and plays a significant role in the history of Los Angeles. Claretian Father Richard Estrada works with city planners in preserving this historic part of downtown Los Angeles and in making visitors aware of the history of the parish. The Claretians recently celebrated the centennial of their presence at La Placita.
- Claretian Father Richard Estrada is helping homeless young men in L.A. get a fresh start in life with housing and vocational training through the organizations of the Kolping Society and Jovenes, Inc.
- Engaged couples throughout Southern California
enjoy spiritual guidance and marriage preparation
with Claretian Father Mark Clarke, who is very
much in demand as the priest for the Engaged
Encounter Movement of Southern California.
- Ministering to Catholic youth has always been
a particular focus for Claretians throughout the
United States. Claretian Father Paul Keller, a former
teacher and campus minister at L.A. archdiocesan
Alemany High School in San Fernando Valley,
continues to hold a regular Sunday evening Mass
on campus for the young adult graduates of the
school and for families that otherwise tend to drop
out of the church community.
- Los Angeles, like many communities throughout
the country, does not have enough priests to staff its
many parishes city-wide. Claretian Fathers Paulson
Veliyannor and Paul Keller also serve as priests in
three of the parishes in Los Angeles that have no
priests in-house: St. Marcellinus, St. Agatha, and
St. Stephen of Hungary.
Claretians Celebrate 100 Years in the United Kingdom
It is a special time for the Claretians of the United Kingdom as they mark their anniversary of 100 years of missionary service. That service is expansive in its scope as the Claretians minister in three parish communities. Two are in London, and the third parish is associated with Claret Centre, a large retreat center located at Buckden Towers about 50 miles north of the city. The U.K. Claretians also have two priests in Belize, where their missionary work provides basic human and spiritual services for this developing country.
The parishes in London, Immaculate Heart of Mary and St. Joseph Church, cover ministries serving parishioners of all age groups while celebrating the sacraments and assisting those in need. And like many Claretian parishes worldwide, the Claretians here run an elementary school, making Catholic education a significant focus of the mission.
The Claret Centre sits in Buckden Towers, a former palace built in 1086. Buckden Towers was originally the home of the Bishop of Lincoln, but served many functions in its over 900 year history until the Claretians took possession of the Towers in 1957. Under Claretian care, the center offers programs from facilitation of retreats, spiritual direction, and education through adult formation. There are a variety of groups who come to the Claret Centre, including secular groups, religious orders, and youths from the schools.
Claretian Father Paul Smyth, of the U.K. community, has just spent a year serving at the Claretian international headquarters in Rome, going out among the missions and engaging with Claretians throughout the world. He reflects on that experience in light of his many years serving as a priest in England. “Claretian Missionaries work in schools, seminaries, universities, parishes, retreat houses, publishing, and media,” he says. “These are the instruments that enable us to fulfill our mission—a mission which challenges us to preach the Word of God, to respond to the cry of the poor, to challenge injustice, to help people know God and prayer, and to bring the gospel message to those who have never heard it.
“I know I speak for every member of the U.K. Claretian community when I say that we are wholeheartedly dedicated to our mission as Claretians, as we have been for 100 years. And our hearts are grateful for our vocation to serve here.”