Drawing made by Girabal CMF.

Date: June 13 Today, June 13, in memory of St. Anthony of Padua, we celebrate the anniversary of the priestly ordination of St. Anthony Maria Claret. This took place in Solsona in 1835. Claret was then 27 years old. He had not yet finished his studies, but the bishop of Vic wanted to advance his ordination because he saw in him something singular. Humanly speaking, Claret’s presbyteral ordination was not a joyous experience. He came from long Exercises in which he felt strongly tempted. His friend Bishop Corcuera could not order him in Vic because he was ill. He had to move to the diocese of Solsona, where he was ordained by Friar Juan José de Tejada. All these setbacks were illuminated on the day of the first Mass. “Before I was ordained a priest, I did forty days of spiritual exercises. I’ve never done any more painful or tempting exercises; but perhaps I have never been given such great graces as I understood the day I sang the first Mass, which was on June 21, the day of St. Louis Gonzaga, patron saint of the Congregation, as well as the ordination had taken place on the day of Saint Anthony, the feast of my patron saint” (Aut 102).

The presbyteral ordination meant for Claret the point of accomplishment of a dream he had had as a child. But above all, it was a starting point in his vocation as an apostolic missionary. He lived his priesthood, unlike many other clergymen of his time, as a perfect synthesis between his dedication to the proclamation of the Word, sacramental celebration, and pastoral care for people. He did not feel called to serve in the parish but as a travelling missionary. Therefore, he soon offered himself for foreign missions. Unable to carry out this project, he set out for itinerant preaching in the towns of Catalonia and the Canary Islands.

This memory is a special occasion to thank God for the gift given to our Founder and for all the priests who have helped us throughout our lives to live better the following Christ, beginning with the one who administered the sacrament of baptism to us. It is, at the same time, a good day for the missionary priests to give thanks for their own ministerial vocation and to ask the Lord to grant their Church the right ministers who can serve it as St. Anthony Maria Claret did in his time.

Juan Carlos Martos cmf

Claretian Spirituality Centre

Vic (Barcelona)