Living Hope Newsletter – November 2014
The Meaningful Ministries of Claretian Brothers
Religious brothers play a special role in the Catholic Church, one that significantly influences the breadth and depth of the ministerial outreach of the Church. The Claretian brothers in the U.S. form a strong group of men whose dedication to their ministries is rooted in a longstanding Claretian tradition. From the start of the congregation in the 1850s, founder Saint Anthony Claret traveled extensively throughout Spain and beyond, always with the support of a religious brother to accompany him in his ministry. Claret recognized the need and importance of brothers in sharing the Gospel and supporting the mission of evangelization. His autobiography records Bro. José Saladich as his faithful companion in their effort that “God the Father may be known, loved, and served.”
Claretians continue to cultivate the rich tradition of supporting, educating, and encouraging religious brothers in their vocations. Claretian brothers work in the same diverse, meaningful ministries as Claretian priests, from foreign missions throughout the world to service in parishes and working with youth and adults in hospitals, detention and educational centers, and leadership programs. A few of the Claretian brothers in the U.S. care for senior Claretians at the U.S. Claretians’ Dominguez Seminary, the primary Claretian retirement center, and at other care facilities. The following snapshots profile a few of the brothers and their ministries.
In the 47 years since Bro. Larry Moen, C.M.F., became a Claretian, he has served as a chaplain in places where there is great need for a reminder of God’s presence. His ministry has taken him to facilities where struggle and pain are daily challenges, and where healing is most needed: detention centers and hospitals. “I have come to realize that this is a ministry for people who have a special call,” says Bro. Larry. “As a chaplain, I make the most of being a good listener and try to be present with these individuals in need of someone to talk to during their darker hours.”
At Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center in Los Angeles, Bro. Larry works with people from many different cultures and religions, but all are the same in their need for a loving presence during a difficult time. In addition to being with patients, as well as arranging for services and Catholic Mass, Bro. Larry’s music therapy program at the hospital has brought great soothing to patients and staff there. “As a director and chaplain, it is an honor to have spiritual conversations with our patients and with all the staff of the hospital,” he says. “One may ask: what is spirituality? Spirituality is broadly defined as that which gives meaning and purpose in one’s life. It is so interesting to explore with people the meaning or purpose in their lives.”
Working in the mission, Bro. Rene traveled the region and got involved with the Catholic Relief Services. He gathered basic staples such as milk and flour for the parishioners and surrounding communities, and took on the responsibility of keeping health records of all the children to make sure they were not lacking food or medical attention. When he returned to the U.S., Bro. Rene continued to support the missions in the Philippines, sending school supplies for the children.
In Africa, Bro. Rene’s work took him to Nigeria, where he helped build a formation house. He was part of the new team in Nigeria and saw this as a great opportunity to use his engineering background. The bishop of the region turned to Bro. Rene for help with the construction of the cathedral there. Bro. Rene returned to the U.S., where he continues to serve extensively in the Provincial government, currently as Assistant Treasurer.
Today Bro. Dan Magner, C.M.F., is following in Bro. Rene’s footsteps by accepting a foreign mission role in the Philippines and working as Treasurer to the Board of Governors of the Religious Brothers Conference. In the Philippines, Bro. Dan puts his extensive background—with a B.A. and an M.A. in education—to work with the students in English language acquisition at the Institute for Consecrated Life, as well as working with local priests on their homilies. He’s also writing the curriculum for the English language tutoring program. The majority of his students are religious men and women from China and Vietnam. Prior to this, Bro. Dan earned his Master’s of Divinity degree at Catholic Theological Union, and has served widely in Claretian parishes and ministries throughout the U.S.
The vocation of Bro. Tom Haerle, C.M.F., as a Claretian brother has involved working with people both in the early and later years of life. At the Claretian campus ministry program in Springfield, Missouri, Bro. Tom enjoyed the high energy of working with college students, developing their spiritual paths as they studied for their degrees, and keeping them engaged and involved by instituting a public relations program to publicize the many opportunities for students through Campus Ministry.
His youth ministry also led him to the Claretian Mission in Kingston, Jamaica, where he worked in two parishes serving the needs of the very young and their parents. Bro. Tom’s Jamaica mission experience involved him in working with the elderly as well, a role he continues today at the Claretian Dominguez senior center, bringing much-needed assistance to Claretians in their later years.
“My ministry is very much that of presence,” says Bro. Tom, who accompanies his fellow Claretians, and the many he has served throughout his ministry, in such a way that reflects to them the value and joy of their lives as Claretians through all their life stages.
Affirming the value of the lives of others is at the heart of the ministries of Claretian Bro. Manuel Benavides, C.M.F.. He lives and works at Sacred Heart Parish in Springfield, Missouri, where he is deeply involved with recent immigrants. Their needs are many, and Bro. Manuel provides the encouragement, information, and support they need as they settle into their new lives.
Bro. Manuel has a special gift as an artist, with a strong interest in religious art and mosaics. He sees great potential in using art in Claretian ministries to provide therapeutic healing and support for those in need. “For people with limited resources, youth at risk, and those who are challenged, this may prove to be a way for them to learn to express themselves in artistic forms,” he says.
Bro. Richard Wilga, C.M.F., lives and works in Chicago at the Claretian Provincial offices, and is much like that first Claretian brother, José Saladich, who stayed by Claret’s side. Bro. Richard offers his life of service as a welcoming Claretian presence to the many visitors to our U.S. headquarters here from around the country and the world.