Living Hope Newsletter – June 2014
The Claretians’ Ministry
Claretian ministries throughout the world are housed in places as varied and unique as the ministries themselves. But perhaps none is as deeply rooted in history as the location of Claretian programs in England. Historic Buckden Towers was built in 1086, nearly a thousand years ago. The brick and stone structure, like many others of its kind in England, was used during World War I as a convalescent hospital, and then left by its owner to the Catholic diocese. The local bishop entrusted the Towers to the Claretians in 1956, which they used as a junior seminary and school. In 1969 Buckden Towers became the home of England’s Claret Centre, and the hub for Claretian pastoral work in the United Kingdom.
Claret centers are a significant Claretian ministry throughout the world, and while each has its own community personality, they function in much the same way—making spirituality the central focus for participants through programs established and run by religious and lay professionals, in a warm and welcoming atmosphere. The Claret Centre at Buckden draws both religious and secular groups for retreats, spiritual direction, and faith formation.
This includes youth groups who travel from around England and abroad to come to Claret Centre for enrichment.
From Buckden, the Claretians go out to offer Mass and other sacraments at their nearby parishes of Immaculate Heart of Mary in Hayes and St. Joseph’s church in St. Neot’s parish. There are primary and secondary Catholic schools at the parishes, where the culture and teaching of Catholicism permeates all aspects of school life. Programs include a dynamic RCIA program, Marriage Care counseling, and faith formation along with events that celebrate the rich ethnic diversity of the parish communities. Their “Soup Run” every week serves the homeless in London with a meal and camaraderie, a program that gives both the servers and the served an opportunity for fellowship.
The hallmark of the Claretian presence in England is their collaborative relationship with the people they minister among. “When asked what it is about a C.M.F. parish that draws more lay people in,” says Jo Farrell, a parishioner in Hayes, “many cite their zest for life, and sense of fun, as well as their desire to walk as Claret— on fire with love for God. This is witnessed also in the way the laity work hand in hand with the Claretians, living out this love of Christ in action.”