Fifty years dedicated to strengthening and to strengthen the consecrated life in its mission
The Institutes of Consecrated Life in Rome and Madrid celebrate 50 years of service to consecrated persons around the world
The first event of the 50th anniversary celebration will be the 50th National Week for Institutes of Consecrated Life, organized by the ITVR of Madrid.
A phrase widely quoted among the Claretian Missionaries recalls that prayer and study are the two feet of the missionary. In his Autobiography, St. Anthony Mary Claret affirms the following: “I, before preaching, should move and beat the wings of study and prayer”, referring to the relationship between his apostolic activity and his intense dedication to study. His library, which can still be consulted, is a good proof of the interest of the holy missionary to be up to date in everything. This legacy of the Founder has been taken up by the Claretian Family, with the firm will to improve the quality of its service to the People of God, and to respond adequately to the challenges of evangelization.
The Claretian tradition of uniting study and evangelization has been expressed in many ways in the almost 200 years of congregational history. Concretely, since the Second Vatican Council, it has been expressed in the service to the theology of consecrated life and in the personal and institutional animation of consecrated men and women. It is not to exaggerate to say that, because of their dedication to this evangelizing service, the Claretian missionaries have become a formative point of reference for many congregations throughout the world.
2021 is a year of remembrance. Fifty years have passed since the first two Institutes of Consecrated Life – the “Istituto di Teologia della Vita Consacrata Claretianum” (ITVC) in Rome and the Theological Institute of Religious Life in Madrid (ITVR) – began their work in 1971. A time of walking with the Church in the light of the Second Vatican Council, bringing light and nourishing reflection on the gift of consecrated life, its relationship with other forms of ecclesial life and its evangelizing task; as well as, stimulating the missionary work of frontline and the specific formation for the communities of consecrated persons. Through the classrooms of both theological centers have passed women and men who, to a certain extent, have been able to anticipate the future, illuminating it, opening paths, nourishing utopia. Consecrated women and men have not only been provided with the best tools to manage the present, but have also become critical sentinels of our journey as Church.
To recall the fruitful journey of these fifty years, strengthening religious life in the desire to know God deeply and thus strengthening it for the challenges of the prophetic mission, is also to rejoice in the continuity that these centers of study have had in other continents. This is the case of the ICLA, Institute for Consecrated Life in Asia, based in Manila (Philippines); the Institute of Consecrated Life, Sanyasa, in Bangalore (India); and the recently founded ITVCA, Theological Institute of Consecrated Life of America, in Bogotá (Colombia). It is to be applauded the zeal of the Claretian Congregation to continue making possible that also in Africa the evangelizing service of quality increases, with the next opening of an Institute of Religious Life in Nigeria.
All these contributions to the various ecclesial realities and vocations are well worth celebrating. The ITVC Claretianum of Rome is already preparing an extensive program of activities for the 2021-2022 academic year, when the pandemic will be more under control. For its part, the ITVR of Madrid is finalizing the imminent start of the 50th National Week for Institutes of Consecrated Life, organized online between May 17 and 22. This 50th Week will have a marked commemorative character and “will be the first event of the fiftieth anniversary”, as its director, Fr. Antonio Bellella, affirms.
The program of the Week for Institutes of Consecrated Life in Madrid was presented a few days ago to various Spanish media. The days of reflection, entitled “Consecrated for the life of the world. Consecrated life in today’s society”, are intended to be an opportunity to engage, as consecrated women and men, in an open dialogue with today’s culture and world. They will be attended by a large group of speakers, including Card. João Braz de Aviz, Prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, sister Jolanta Kafka rmi, President of the International Union of Superiors General, and the Superior General of the Society of Jesus, Father Arturo Sosa sj, President of the Union of Superiors General.