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The Spaniard Jose Maria Abella re-chosen as superior general of Claretians

2009-08-31

Today on its 160th anniversary some 3,000 priests and laypeople make up the order.

During the general chapter meeting that takes place every six years, representatives of the order analyze their current situation and the challenges they face. One of the more important ones will be continuing developed projects in Europe and North America with less Claretians.

José María Abella
Superior General
“It’s about a presence that helps resurface the questions that are in the hearts of people. Maybe they don’t really expect prepared answers, the ‘pret a porter,’ so to speak, but instead expect help in finding those questions again and that the missionary have patience to respond to those questions.”

But in Africa, where the number of Claretians is on the rise, the situation is much more different. Here, the order is centered around accompanying and forming new members. In South America and some parts of Asia, the order makes an effort to offer the means necessary so people can live with dignity.

In some cases Claretians interact with communities that don’t know about Christianity. According to Jose Maria, the challenge here is being sensitive to other cultures and religions.

Getting close to young people and responding to the questions they have is another one of the Claretian’s worries.

José María Abella
Superior General

“The fundamental thing is being with them and having fun with them. Without this attitude, without this closeness, without this disposition to accept and offer friendship it’s impossible to enter into dialogue. Also being very clear in why we are there. We’re not trying to fool anyone. We’re there because we believe in Jesus, because we know that the Gospel is an important message for their lives and we want to offer that to them.”

The lives of many Claretians has been marked by persecutions and martyrs. The founder himself had his life threatened when he was Archbishop of Cuba and in 1929 they were expelled from China. John Paul II beatified 51 Claretians that were killed in the Spanish civil war. The last to be beatified was Andres Sola, a Mexican who was killed in the Philippines.

José María Abella
Superior General

In these parts of the world where conflict is very much alive, the missionaries know that they’re risking their lives. What’s great is to see them work with generosity, very much conscious of what could happen to them and not always without taking unnecessary risks.

The Claretian priests will celebrate this Year for Priests in a very special way by remembering their founder, who never waited for people to come to him but rather went to the people himself.

PVB/RS