General Plan of Formation (GPF 2020)

GPF can quite fittingly be considered as the Magna Carta on Formation that the Congregation, as mother and teacher, offers to its members, and above all to its new missionaries. It gathers up the core essentials of our missionary life and high lights its dimensions: charismatic, Christocentric, ecclesial, cordimarian, and human.




  1. By agent of formation we mean the person or group of persons who collaborate with a formative intention in this process, offering and putting into practice the dynamisms and means that help achieve the aims of formation. Each formative agent acts in a specific way, in keeping with his own nature.
  2. By model, we mean a person who acts as an authentic and living intermediary of the values he wishes to transmit through other dynamisms and means. The formative power of the model resides not only in the effectiveness that authenticity of life has in itself, but also in the fact that he shows in a tangible and attractive way that the values being offered in formation are possible in reality. These models may or may not coincide with the agents of formation.

The agents

  1. We are convinced that throughout the course of our formation, the Lord Himself who has called us will keep accompanying us to the end: He who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.[1] He is the one Master and we are His disciples. The agents to whom we will be referring derive their meaning by reference to Him. We always look at them from the viewpoint of our Founder’s charismatic experience.

1.1. The Spirit who anoints us for the mission

  1. The first and foremost agent of formation, without whom there could be no authentic following of Christ, is the Spirit. It is He who leads us to acknowledge that Jesus is Lord[2] and enables us to reach conformity with Him. For us, the Spirit of the Father and of the Son – and also the Spirit of our Mother – is the integrating center for all the dimensions of our life and mission.[3] This is the same Spirit who called and consecrated the prophets so as to make of them the mouth of God,[4] who anointed and sent Jesus to bring Good News to the poor.[5] This Spirit is the Paraclete whom Jesus gives to His community to be with them always.[6] The apostles, gathered together with the Mother of Jesus, were the first recipients of this gift.
  2. The Spirit is also the protagonist of our mission[7] and hence, the principal agent of our formation as missionaries. It is only in the Spirit that we acquire our identity as servants of the Word.[8] This is how Claret experienced the Spirit. Like Jesus and the prophets and the apostles, our Founder felt that he was anointed by the Spirit[9] to proclaim the Good News to all human beings.
  3. In our formative itinerary, the Spirit’s action is of a different order from that of psychological data or of historical events, although it is also manifested in them.[10] Rather, it is a principle of inner life, creativity and communion. It unifies the life of the formandus and re-creates the formation community as a community of prophets and apostles. Its creative and renewing action affects our personal core, changes our vision of reality and offers us the indispensable key and power to live that vision from God’s viewpoint, in constant reference to Jesus Christ and to the world. Although we cannot know it in a precise way, we can perceive its fruits.
  4. The Spirit who conforms us to Christ is the same one who calls us to follow him, who anoints us for the mission that the Father entrusts to us, and who makes us enjoy, esteem, judge and choose everything relating to Jesus and his Reign. It is the Spirit who comes to our aid in our weakness when we experience the hardships of the way.[11] The Spirit is, in short, the “inner teacher” who leads us into all truth[12] in our following of Christ and gives us the strength we need in order to give our life in proclaiming the Good News of the Kingdom to the poor and to face the difficulties of evangelization.
  5. In order to receive and follow through on the Spirit’s action within us, we need to develop certain fundamental attitudes. On the one hand, these include openness, humility, docility and bent of disciples who allow themselves to be taught. On the other hand, they include the practice of discernment in order to be able to clarify our vocation, to adjust our own formative way, and to recognize the Spirit’s presence in all aspects of life and history and through human intermediaries.[13] The anointing of the Spirit, who dwells in us, equips us to become fitting ministers for the proclamation of the Word and demands of us a constant commitment, one that is fulfilled in the measure that our experience of the Lord and our encounter with others, especially the poorest and most suffering, gradually transforms our life.[14]

1.2. Mary, formator of missionaries in the forge of her Heart

  1. The Virgin Mary, the first human being consecrated to the cause of her Son, is associated with the work of the Spirit.[15] Hence her presence in the formation of those called to the following of Christ is determinative. For us, who are called and are Sons of her Immaculate Heart, Mary’s action takes on a particular importance. This sonship is not just a title,[16] but is, rather, an existential dimension of our missionary life.[17] It is a gift of the Spirit to be lived and experienced, one that shapes our inner being and energizes it for apostolic mission.[18]
  2. The presence of Mary in our Founder and in the Congregation is a distinctive charismatic experience. Within the mystery of the Church, of which she is Mother, Mary is, for us Claretians:
    1. The Foundress of the Congregation.[19] Mary founded us to be a missionary and apostolic Congregation in the service of the Church.
    2. Our Mother. We are called and are sons of her Immaculate Heart. In our spirituality, Mary acts as a mother towards us and we relate to her as sons.[20] Like the beloved disciple, we welcome Mary as mother in our home.[21]
    3. Our formation guide. By her maternal action she forms us into true and authentic missionaries and apostles, as she conceived Jesus and formed him to be the missionary of the Father and as she formed Claret to be an apostolic missionary. More concretely, Mary forms us by her maternal action through an interior process to be ministers of the Word, to be evangelizers devoted to spreading the Reign of Jesus throughout the world. She is also the godmother who accompanies us in our growth in faith.[22]
    4. Our model. Our charismatic heritage defines us as hearers and servants of the Word.[23] Mary is our model. We, like Mary, as sons of her Heart, want to welcome and meditate on the Word in our hearts and proclaim it with passion.[24]
  3. Mary forms us in the forge of her heart, in the furnace of her love and mercy.[25] By her presence and her formative action:
    1. She shapes us in her heart by making us grow in the traits of a perfect disciple of Jesus, whom she conceived in her heart before she conceived him in her womb.
    2. She forms us to welcome into our hearts, as she did, the Word of God, whose ministers we are. She teaches us to listen to the Word, to meditate on it, to bring it to life and to announce it throughout the world.
    3. She forms us in the apostolic charity that drives us to work tirelessly and spend ourselves for the sake of the Kingdom; that proclaims a God who is love and mercy and has given his life for us; that announces the Gospel stamped with her hallmark of humility, gentleness and warmth or maternal love;[26] and that moves us to love those for whom the Lord shows a special love: the very poor and needy, and those who are most in need of salvation and liberation.
    4. She associates us in our apostolic mission with her maternal care for the Church.[27] Our Founder felt that he was collaborating with Mary, the Mother of Victories, in the struggle against the evil one and his offspring. He felt that he was Mary’s instrument, an arrow poised in her mighty hand to be unleashed against Satan and his followers.[28] Out of this life-experience, transmitted to his missionaries, whom he regarded as the arms of Mary,[29] he was able to tell us, in a reference to the Gospel according to Matthew: You yourselves will not be the speakers; the Spirit of your Father — and of your Mother — will be speaking through you.[30]
  4. The filial and apostolic surrender of ourselves to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, which we make in our profession, takes form and unfolds by means of certain attitudes that keep shaping our life:
    1. Finding in her the person who inspires the living synthesis that each formandus must work at throughout the process of his formation until it reaches fulfillment in an inner oneness.[31]
    2. Welcoming her as mother, teacher and formation guide,[32] and loving her as sons, disciples and apostles.
    3. Imitating her in those Gospel attitudes in which she shows herself to be the first of the evangelized and of the evangelizers: her faith, her sense of praise and thanksgiving, her attitude of listening and of availability, her inwardness, her sensitivity to the needs of people, especially the poorest of the poor, and her solidarity with them in sorrow and in hope.
    4. Imitating her in her more typically missionary behavior: living as Jesus lived,[33] embracing in faith the evangelical counsels,[34] welcoming, meditating on and announcing the Word of God, experiencing the cross and forming the Christian community as the family of the Kingdom.
    5. Discovering her as the consecrated woman whose life is transparent in committed women of our localities, and in the life and faith of people.
    6. Venerating her in the liturgy, in Marian devotions, especially those traditional in the Congregation,[35] and in popular religious expressions.
    7. Proclaiming her blessedness by announcing in our apostolate the mission of Mary within the mystery of Christ[36] and of the Church.

1.3. The Church

  1. The following of the Missionary Christ is realized in a full and authentic manner in the Church, Sacrament of salvation for the world.[37] The Claretian cultivates his faith in God within the Church and lives in communion with the people of God, preparing himself to be an effective helper of her pastors.[38] The Claretian publicly professes the evangelical counsels as an expression of the life and holiness of the Church[39] and, in fidelity to the Church, participates in its mission through his testimony of life and apostolic work, according to our charism.
  2. As an agent of formation, the Church, mother and teacher, welcomes the gift of Claretian vocation and provides the adequate means so that the formandus may prepare himself to assume the mission that has been entrusted to him. In the formation for mission, the lay faithful and other men and women religious, working together with the pastors of the people of God, play a very important role. The Church’s authority strengthens us and its mandate legitimates our missionary sending.[40]
  3. In his process of growth as missionary disciple,[41] the Claretian is helped by the Church to:
    1. Become witness of the sense of the presence of God in the world.
    2. Progress in the knowledge of the Catholic faith.
    3. Feel with the Church in its love for truth and the salvation of humanity.
    4. Foster the missionary and ecumenical spirit.
    5. Promote the search for justice and peace.
    6. Understand the missionary meaning of obedience and collaboration with pastors.
    7. Advance in the prophetic spirit of his life and mission.
    8. Assume with conviction the option for the poor.
    9. Make transparent his commitment to reconciliation and forgiveness.
    10. protect the common home in an attitude of ecological conversion.[42]

1.4. The person in formation, protagonist of his process

  1. Formation concerns, directly and first of all, the person. Only he can carry out the process of growth by internalizing the values that sustain his life, by personalizing relationships and by dealing positively with events. Hence, the first one responsible for his formation is the formandus himself.[43]
  2. To be a formandus is to be a disciple in the school of following Christ, an apprentice in the workshop where the missionary is forged. It is proper of an apprentice to do the same thing, that is, to imitate his master. This is the royal road of formation and of growth.[44] Being an apprentice implies actively and personally following in the footsteps of the Master.
  3. On the part of the formandus, this presupposes not only the outward observance of norms and adaptation to situations, but above all the capacity to discern and to consciously assume the values and inner motivation that can enrich his attitudes and behavior. The community’s acceptance bears out and expresses the truth of his personal growth.[45]
  4. The responsibility of the formandus embraces everything that can, directly or indirectly, affect his own formation. He should, however, pay special attention to:
    1. Cultivating docility to the Spirit, by opening his mind and heart to Him.
    2. Discerning if he has received the charismatic gift of Claret[46] with which his missionaries feel identified.
    3. Allowing himself to be shaped in the forge of the Heart of Mary.
    4. Examining the sincerity of his intentions[47] and the authenticity of his motivations, purifying them, if need be.
    5. Getting to know and develop his skills in line with our mission.
    6. Fostering harmony within his own being by recourse to his own conscience, where he finds himself alone with God, whose voice resounds in his innermost self.[48] He must appeal to this voice and to his own responsibility, above all in order to internalize and personalize the values of our missionary life as they are set forth in our Constitutions and in our formation plans.
    7. Having the “spirit of an initiate” in order to accept the intermediaries that the Lord places at the service of his development; also, in order to learn from these intermediaries, and from the tradition of the Church and the Congregation.
    8. Living his formation as a process that lasts his whole life long and that demands an ever-attentive, ever-new and ever-responsible answer to the Lord.[49]
    9. Respecting the pace and rhythms of his own maturation and resolving them adequately as possible crises, conscious or unconscious conflicts, and tensions keep appearing.
    10. Overcoming obstacles to the responsible development of his person in order to train his heart in freedom, learning from the movement of his daily history.[50]
    11. Making use of adequate means to safeguard his physical, mental and spiritual health.
    12. Feeling co-responsible for the formation of his brothers.
  5. The recognition of the formandus as primary agent of his formation:
    1. Calls for a pedagogy of trust, in which the formandus is guaranteed a broad and adequate margin of responsible freedom.
    2. Requires, in practice, a just balance between the formation of the group and that of each person, between respect for the times set apart for each phase of formation and their adaptation to the formative pace of each individual,[51] between each one’s personality, community solidarity and the fulfillment of the mission received with and in the community.

1.5. Formators, the formation teams, and mentors

  1. By formators we mean those entrusted with an immediate responsibility for the integral formation of our missionaries in initial formation. Mentors are th0se who accompany our missionaries in ongoing formation (as directors, in spiritual accompaniment, etc.) so that they may progress in the process of configuration to Christ in the style of Claret.[52] Their specific task is articulated with the tasks of the other missionaries within the single, common Claretian mission. Through these formators and mentors the Spirit of Jesus is at work. Hence, living in an attitude of listening to the Spirit and of being attentive to his movements and inspirations must be a permanent attitude on the part of both the formator and of the formandi.
  2. In order to exercise their ministry effectively, formators must possess certain specific qualities:
    1. A human capacity for insight and acceptance of others.[53]
    2. Mature experience of God and of prayer.[54]
    3. Openness to forming a team with other formators[55] and availability to participate in the Congregational initiatives in the field of formation.
    4. Love for the Church, for its apostolic tradition and for its liturgy.
    5. Love for the Congregation and sufficient knowledge of its history.
    6. Pastoral sensitivity and experience,[56] identifying themselves with the options and preferential recipients of our mission.[57]
    7. Adequate cultural and psycho-pedagogical competency.[58]
    8. Availability of time and good will in order to accompany each formandus and not just the group,[59] and a right understanding of their responsibility in spiritual accompaniment.[60]
  3. The functions of the formator and of the formation team, both with regard to each formandus and to the group as a whole, are:
    1. To discern with the formandi the work that God is carrying out in them and the ways along which He wants them to make progress.
    2. To accompany them in their different stages of growth, recognizing and respecting their pace and potentials, and at every moment offering them the help they need for their development.
    3. To provide them in each phase with solid doctrinal and practical nourishment that responds to their personal needs, to the demands of the present moment, and to their future responsibilities.
    4. To evaluate the results obtained and judge whether they possess the capacities demanded by the Church and the Congregation.[61]
  4. Claret was a formator of missionaries by his witness–by being present and living with them whenever possible–as well as by his word–in the spiritual exercises he gave them, in the conferences he addressed to them, in his conversations with them and in his writings. In the same way, the formator must educate not only by word, but above all by his own life, so that he can say with Saint Paul: Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.[62]
  5. In order that the formation task may be more well-rounded, it is fitting that there exist in our centers formation teams with complementary abilities, whose members, aware of their common responsibility, work together in concord. Under the direction of the superior, they should live in close fellowship of spirit, forming a well-knit family among themselves and with those they are educating. This team of formators, which may come from various cultures and mentalities, should always act under the principal responsibility of one of their number.[63]
  6. Formators need a specific preparation that should be truly technical, pedagogical, spiritual, human, theological and pastoral, in order to carry out their tasks effectively.[64] Besides the preparation they receive prior to beginning their work,[65] they have need of a continuing formation that will help them rise above the routine and will allow them, above all, to engage in a continual renewal that reflects their life-experience.[66] This experience becomes a source of formation, provided that it is subject to constant fraternal evaluation. Interchanges with other formators, the analysis of concrete formation situations and problems, consultation with experts, an updated knowledge of the world of young people, short courses or systematic programs devoted to theological and pedagogical updating, apostolic experiences and spiritual renewal will allow the formators to evaluate their task and to prepare themselves to keep on carrying it out productively.[67]
  7. So that the formators may carry out their work in a dedicated and fruitful manner, they should be free of obligations and charges that might hinder them from doing so.[68]

1.6. The formative community

  1. Formation is also the work of the community, because the whole Congregation is involved in formation.[69] But the formation community is the one whose direct aim is initial formation. It should, therefore, make a special effort to achieve the objectives of the plan of formation, with a particular concern for:
    1. Being, above all, a community of life,[70] a fraternal environment of prayer,[71] of apostolic work[72] and, for that very reason, of belonging to the Congregation.
    2. Facilitating, already from its configuration, the intercultural character that disposes it for the universal mission.
    3. Creating bonds that facilitate emotional maturity, fostering interpersonal relationships based on faith and charity, and that also prepare one for teamwork and for the kind of missionary collaboration that our Founder sought.[73]
    4. Helping each one to fulfill his own responsibility faithfully by means of personal service.[74]
    5. Contributing to the gradual process of integration between initial and ongoing formation.
    6. Employing dialogue as a moment of discernment and co-responsibility and stimulating the growth of persons and of the group.
    7. Accepting the cross of a fraternal life that is also built on trial and tribulation, bearing one another’s burdens.[75]

1.7. Other agents

  1. Besides those who make up the formation communities proper, there are also different agents who, in shared mission, take part in initial formation through tasks that complement it: professors, spiritual directors, confessors, pastoral assessors, families and others. The participation of some laypersons, both men and women, who offer specific contributions based on experience, psychology or other sciences, is necessary for the integral formation of the formandi. During the whole formative process, doing with others expresses our style of missionary life.[76]
  2. Professors, including those who exercise their task in academic centers that do not belong to the Congregation, should be regarded as true formators,[77] since the doctrinal formation they impart should not be aimed solely at the transmission of concepts, but at the integral education of the students,[78] creating in them a solid mindset of faith in order to be able to proclaim the Gospel and serve the People of God.[79] This means that in order to carry out their task adequately, these professors must:
    1. Be well-enough suited to live in an integrated way their condition as witnesses to the faith, their apostolic zeal and their scientific and teaching competency.
    2. Take stock of their formative responsibility, which can sometimes be more decisive than that of the other formators.[80]
    3. Transmit a teaching that is whole and entire, with depth and critical insight.
    4. Help the students, by way of studies carried out in a climate of mutual collaboration, to lay the foundations for their missionary vocation.

2. The inspirational models

  1. Following Claret’s example,[81] the first model of inspiration for our life is Jesus Christ. Union and conformity with Christ, the evangelizer, anointed and sent to preach Good News to the poor, is a lifelong process and task. Other models who inspire us in this adventure of following Christ are Mary, our Founder, the prophets, the apostles, many men and women saints with an apostolic charism, missionaries of yesterday and today, Claretian martyrs, and other martyrs.

2.1. The Founder

2.1.1. Claret as charismatic model

  1. In recognizing Claret as our founder and in approving the Congregation he founded as a prolongation of his spirit and mission, the Church has recognized his apostolic charism as a form of Christian life that can be shared by many and be of benefit to the People of God until the end of time. Thus, a responsibility of the Congregation within the Church is to preserve in it, in a lively and effective way, the charism of Saint Anthony Mary Claret.[82]
  2. Like the Claretians of yesterday, we Claretians of today, who live in a cultural context and situation that is quite different from that of our Founder, feel that we are graced with his charism and spirit, with the example of his life and with his writings. We cannot copy his missionary means and methods or his attitudes and models of behavior in a literal way. There is a need for creativity, originality and spontaneity in our missionary formation in order to update and actualize this spirit.

2.1.2. The Autobiography as Claretian itinerary

  1. Claret wrote his Autobiography at the express command of Fr. Xifré, his spiritual director and then Superior General of the Congregation.[83] Without such a command, it would never have occurred to him to do so, since a work of this sort was quite alien to his character and temperament. Once he had begun the work, it dawned on him that it could be helpful for his missionary sons. He wrote it, then, with a deliberately formative intention. He wrote it as a Founder, for the missionaries of his Congregation.[84] It is, then, both a testimonial and pedagogical document.[85]
  2. The witness of Claret’s own life is useful in initiating us into a panoramic view of the way in which the Spirit goes on forming the missionary from the outset of his calling until he reaches its fulfillment. In this sense, we are dealing with a true manual of missionary spirituality which introduces us into the experience of a life dedicated to the Gospel.[86]
  3. A charismatic re-reading of Claret’s Autobiography obliges us to discern between what belongs to his charism and spirit that he transmitted to the Congregation – and is thus valid for all times – and what might be only personal gifts or a product of his culture and his times. There are some traits that belong to his personal psychology or to his environment that cannot be transmitted to the whole Congregation. But this does not hinder us in using the Autobiography as a pedagogical tool in the formation of the different Claretian generations.

2.1.3. The Forge as a pedagogical proposal

  1. Throughout his missionary life, our Founder lived a singular experience of God that enabled him to devote himself fully to the proclamation of the Gospel. This gift of the Spirit is granted to us also so that we might become fitting ministers of the Word.
  2. The allegorical description of the formative process that Claret himself lived through is found in his Autobiography: At the beginning of my stay in Vic, I was undergoing an experience not unlike what goes on in a blacksmith’s shop. The smith thrusts an iron bar into the forge, and when it is white-hot, he draws it out, places it on the anvil, and begins to hammer it. His assistant joins in, and the two of them keep alternating hammer blows in a sort of rhythmic dance until the iron takes the shape the smith had planned.[87] This allegory is not just one more among the many that Claret used. In fact, in the prayer he used to recite at the beginning of every mission, he reminds Mary: You are well aware that I am your son and minister, formed by you yourself in the forge of your mercy and love.[88]
  3. As in every allegory, so too in the case of the forge, each one of the symbolic elements corresponds to one or several aspects of reality. Thus, the smith’s workshop is the formative milieu of Vic; the smith or director is the Father, Christ, Mary and the different persons in charge of formation; the iron bar is Claret himself as a passive subject, as a disciple who allows himself to be shaped; the forge is above all the Holy Spirit, but also the Heart of Mary and various ascetical means, such as prayer and the spiritual exercises; the anvil represents the situations and trials of life; the assistant is again Claret, this time as an active subject; the hammer blows are equivalent to the various formative actions; the shape or form that the director has planned is none other than Christ himself. This is the process that prepares the end product, the arrow that is to be unleashed against the enemies of the Gospel.
  4. In the process described in the allegory, the basic core elements which Claret lived, with varying stresses throughout his life, are also symbolized:
    1. The first (Quid Prodest) refers to the relativizing of the world and to the discovery of God as the only Absolute, as it appears in Mt 16:26: What does it profit a man if he gain the whole world, and suffer the loss of his own soul?
    2. The second (Patris Mei) is the experience of the love of God, communicated through his Spirit, which Claret found expressed in summary form in the child Jesus’ statement in Lk 2:49: I must be about my Father’s business.
    3. The third (Caritas Christi) is the experience of imitating, following and becoming conformed to the Christ, sent by the Father, born of Mary and anointed by the Spirit, as summed up in 2 Cor 5:14: The charity of Christ impels us.
    4. The fourth (Spiritus Domini) is the experience of feeling oneself anointed and sent out by the Spirit to proclaim, like Jesus, the Gospel to the poor, as highlighted in Lk 4:18: The Spirit of the Lord is upon me… He has sent me to proclaim glad tidings to the poor.
  5. For us, this allegory takes on a special importance for formation when we interpret it, not in isolation from, but in the overall context of our Founder’s life. Only in this way can we find summed up in it the core fundamentals of our charism and even the pedagogical process for living that charism. It is not a matter of reproducing, without further ado, an experience which is in itself non-transferable, but rather of making use of a brief and symbolic expression that can favor the transmission and deepening of the charism in our present-day formation. Thus understood, it becomes a symbol of the workshop in which we are forged as missionaries throughout our lives.

2.1.4. The saints

  1. The saints who have already arrived in the presence of God maintain with us bonds of love and communion…we are surrounded, guided, and led by these friends of God.[89] Like our Founder, we also find in the saints living models of the following of Christ the evangelizer. One thing that spurred Claret on to the apostolate was his reading of the lives of the saints and, among them, the lives of those who were moved most intensely by zeal for the salvation of souls.[90] In the Autobiography he mentions, first of all, the example of the prophets: Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Elijah and the Lesser Prophets.[91] The lives of the Apostles Peter and Paul, James and John, captured his admiration. But the ardor of Saint Paul always awakened his deepest enthusiasm. He also felt moved by other men and women saints who were distinguished for their apostolic zeal, such as Saints Francis Xavier, Vincent de Paul, Ignatius of Loyola, Alphonsus Mary Liguori, Francis de Sales, John of Avila and Blessed Diego of Cádiz, Saints Catherine of Siena, Teresa of Jesus, Mary Magdalene of Pazzi and Rose of Lima.[92]
  2. Along with them we also find inspiration in numerous missionaries and martyrs of our own time who have been distinguished for their apostolic zeal and have borne witness to the name of Christ in different cultures and countries. The martyrs of the Kingdom who continue to lay down their lives in today’s world are a clear sign of the vitality of the people of God.[93] They, together with the multiple saints next door,[94] form the most beautiful face of the Church.[95]

2.2. The Congregation

2.2.1. The exemplary meaning of its history

  1. Born in the Church through the inspiration of the Blessed Virgin, called together and consecrated under the action of the Holy Spirit and heir to the missionary spirit of Saint Anthony Mary Claret, the Congregation was raised up to reproduce the style of life of Jesus and his apostles in order to evangelize humankind. At present, the Congregation feels a responsibility to update and promote apostolic initiatives that are in keeping with the missionary service of the Word.
  2. Its charism, as an experience of the Spirit, has been welcomed, deepened, developed and enriched[96] by several different generations of missionaries who have kept giving our Claretian project meaning and life.
  3. The history of the Congregation is the incarnation and existential realization of the founding charism of Claret. The tasks that the original community carried out were preaching popular missions, catechizing children and giving retreats to clergy, seminarians and religious. As the number of its members increased, the Congregation experienced missionary expansion in Europe and America, thus opening itself to new geographical and cultural areas.
  4. Toward the end of his life, our Father Founder proposed that some of our missionaries be dedicated to Christian education. With the passage of time, this service acquired a certain relevance in the Congregation, as many of its members dedicated themselves to educational institutions. At the start of the 20th century, the first parishes were taken up with a view to missionary service.
  5. Following the spirit and missionary activity of Claret, the Congregation gave special attention to the formation of clergy and religious. It is likewise fitting to highlight its dedication to the apostolate of the press, which has doubtless been of great service to the Church. Later, the Congregation heightened its focus on forming evangelizers, directing or teaching in seminaries and universities, and on issuing both specialized and popular publications. From the earliest times, in assuming the first missions of Algiers and Santiago de Chile, the Congregation has maintained very much alive her universal spirit and has not ceased to expand throughout the world, Also to be highlighted is a particular attention to the popular classes, a determined consequence of its option for the poor and the displaced.[97] These characteristic facts manifest that the missionary history of the Congregation is a page of service to the needy, to popular classes, and to the promotion and formation of agents of evangelization.
  6. Throughout its history, many students, brothers, priests, inspired by the example of their Founder, have not hesitated to suffer persecution, exile and death.[98] The history of our Congregation is martyrial[99] for, beginning with Father Claret himself, who shed his blood in Holguin, and following with Fr. Francisco Crusats, protomartyr of the Congregation, the list of martyrs has not ceased. We highlight in a special way those officially recognized by the Church; the 51 martyrs of Barbastro; Fr. Andres Sola, martyred in Mexico; the 23 from Sigüenza, Fernán Caballero and Tarragona; and those 109 from Barcelona, Castro Urdiales, Cervera, Lérida, Sabadell, Vic, Sallent and Valencia. All these brothers of ours remained faithful to the Lord and to their vocation in the midst of great trials and difficulties. This fidelity reaches us as a testimony that questions and encourages us. Their fidelity unto death was a grace of God and at the same time, fruit of the solid formation they received.
  7. In our 51 brothers, the Blessed Martyrs of Barbastro, we contemplate in a special way the paradigm of what we are called to be: sons of the Heart of Mary, from the Magnificat to Calvary. This “martyr seminary” has also become for us a model formation community by reason of its unbreakable and joyful faith, its full availability to the will of God, its constant and trusting prayer, its living of cordimarian sonship and of the Eucharist, its mutual brotherly help, its love for the Congregation and its apostolic zeal.[100] On the other hand, the offering of his own life in exchange for that of his postulants establishes Fr. José María Ruiz Cano as a model of faithful love and generous dedication for Claretian formators.
  8. As we look back over our tradition, we feel a sense of gratitude for those who have gone before us and, at the same time, we feel invited to learn from their history and to carry on their fidelity, seeking to embody in the Church the legacy of Claret as good news on the frontiers of evangelization.

2.2.2. The Constitutions: the Congregation’s project of missionary life

  1. In the very year of the founding of our Congregation, our Founder wrote the text of the Constitutions and entrusted it to his missionaries before he went off to Cuba toward the end of 1850. The first text that we still have dates from 1857. Their official definitive approval by the Holy See came in 1870, a short time before the death of our Founder.
  2. In the first Constitutions, our Founder described his personal experience of the gift he received from the Spirit for the building up of the Church and his program for imitating Christ, the guide and model of missionaries, so that they could serve as an identity model for Claretians of all times. In them, the first Claretians found the expression of the aspirations sown in their hearts by the Holy Spirit. This has also been the experience of the Claretians of today and of all times.
  3. The Constitutions renewed according to the orientations of the Second Vatican Council, and with the accommodations required by the new Code of Canon Law, obtained their definitive approval on 15 May 1986. The Constitutions are an expression of the action whereby the Spirit calls some members of the Church to follow and imitate perfectly the evangelical life of Christ according to the form in which our Father Founder lived and proposed it. Their approval on the part of the Church certifies the ecclesial nature of our Congregation.[101]
  4. Our Constitutions spring from a life experience. They motivate us to relive the experience of our call from God and the charism of the Congregation. They are the word of the Gospel as referred to our community and set as a pivot point for our model of following Christ: hence, a necessary point of reference in order that our life in common may continue to have a Christian and ecclesial thrust, and that the charismatic gift of Claret may conserve its power to summon and to mobilize.[102]
  5. Bearing in mind the different cultures and contexts into which the Congregation has kept sinking its roots, an inculturated reading of the Constitutions is necessary. This reading consists in incorporating the spiritual riches and cultural values of the peoples among whom we live,[103] in such a way that the Claretian charism can be lived as something of their own and also contribute to enlighten these same cultures from the perspective of the Gospel.
  6. The assimilation of the Constitutions ought to be gradual, taking the various stages of formation into account. Moreover, the Constitutions must be read and interpreted in the light of our Founder’s spirituality, of the history of the Congregation, and of the evolution of religious life in general. Their contents should be more deeply probed taking into account all aspects, theological as well as charismatic and pedagogical.


[1] 1 Th 5:24.


[2] Cf. 1 Cor 12:3.


[3] SW 13; cf. Aut 687.


[4] Cf. Is 30:2.


[5] Cf. Lk 4:18ff; Mt 3:1 ff.


[6] Cf. Jn 14:16.


[7] Cf. RMi 30.


[8] Cf. SW 3.


[9] Cf. Aut 687.


[10] Cf. PI 19.


[11] Cf. Rm 8:26.


[12] Cf. Jn 16:13.


[13] Cf. PI 19.


[14] SW 16.


[15] Cf. PI 20.


[16] Cf. CC 1.


[17] Cf. Aut 488; CC 8.


[18] Cf. Dir 34-35.


[19] Cf. J. CLOTET, Annales 1885, 179: CC 8.


[20] Cf. Aut 1, 5, 154-164; EsC, int. III; CC 8, 36, 61.


[21] MS 46.


[22] Cf. Aut 5.


[23] Cf. SW 14.


[24] CC6; SW 7.


[25] Cf. Aut 270.


[26] Cf. Dir 34; Aut 447.


[27] Cf. CC 8.


[28] Cf. Aut 270.


[29] EA p. 665.


[30] Aut 687; cf. Mt 10:20.


[31] Cf. CC 68; MCT 150.


[32] Cf. CC 8, 36, 61, 73.


[33] Cf. CC 5.


[34] Cf. CC 20, 23, 28.


[35] Cf. CC 35-36; Dir 35 b.


[36] Cf. Dir 35c.


[37] Cf. LG 1; CC 3.


[38] Cf. CC 6.


[39] Cf. LG 44; VC 29.


[40] Cf. Aut 454, 456.


[41] Cf. CELAM, Document of Aparecida, 20.


[42] Cf. LS 217.


[43] Cf. PI 29.


[44] Cf. CF p. 18-19.


[45] Cf. PI 29.


[46] Cf. Aut 489.


[47] Cf. CIC 597 § 1.


[48] GS 16.


[49] PI 29.


[50] NWNW 35d; CF, p. 21.


[51] PI 29.


[52] Cf. CC 39, 41, 54-55.


[53] Cf. PFS 33-36; PI 31.


[54] Cf. PFS 26-27; PI 31.


[55] Cf. PFS 29-32.


[56] Cf. PFS 28.


[57] Cf. MCT 228.


[58] Cf. PFS 41-42: VC 68.


[59] Cf. PI 31; CC 68, 77.


[60] Cf. PFS 37-40.


[61] Cf. Dir 163.


[62] 1 Cor 11:1; cf. Aut 340, 388; CC 77.


[63] Cf. Dir 162; MS 75:3.


[64] Cf. PDV 66; OT 5.


[65] Cf. PFS 49-64.


[66] Cf. PFS 65.


[67] Cf. PFS 66-71.


[68] Cf. CIC 651 § 3; MS 75: 5.


[69] Cf. CC 76.


[70] Cf. VFC 21-28.


[71] Cf. VFC 12-20.


[72] Cf. VFC 58-59.


[73] Cf. CF, p. 26; cf. NWNW 16.


[74] Cf. Dir 164.


[75] Cf. 1 Cor 12:25; CC 15.


[76] Cf. MS 57.


[77] Cf. 1F 166.


[78] Cf. OT 17.


[79] Cf. PFS 46.


[80] Cf. PDV 67.


[81] Cf. Aut 221.


[82] Cf. DC 14-15.


[83] Cf. Aut 1; EA, p. 102.


[84] Cf. EA p. 77-99.


[85] Cf. EA p. XVII.


[86] Cf. EA p. XVIII.


[87] Aut 342.


[88] Aut 270.


[89] GE 4.


[90] Cf. CC 35.


[91] Cf. Aut 215-220.


[92] Cf. Aut 214-263. Most of them are co-patrons of the Congregation (Cf. CC 35).


[93] Cf. SW 2.


[94] GE 7.


[95] GE 9.


[96] Cf. MR 11; MCT 71.


[97] Cf. MS 49.


[98] Cf. MCT 77.


[99] Cf. SW 17.


[100] Cf. TM 1-13, 18-26.


[101] Dir 4.


[102] CCR: Annales, vol. 55:320.


[103] Cf. SW 13: 2; PTV 68:4.