October 24 - St. Anthony Claret
ST. ANTHONY CLARET
Anthony was born in Spain in 1807. It was the same year that Napoleon invaded the country. Perhaps that was a "hint" of the exciting events that would follow Anthony through life. He became a priest in 1835 and was assigned to his home parish. Later he went to Rome and worked to help the missions. He joined the Jesuits as a novice, but his health failed. He returned to Spain and became a pastor. Father Anthony knew that the whole world was a mission field. He had the heart of a missionary. He was a dedicated preacher in his parish. He gave conferences to priests. Father Anthony was convinced of the power of the printed word. He wrote at least 150 books. His most well-known book, The Right Way, has reached millions of people.
Some people did not understand the value of Father Anthony's initiatives. His success and his zeal threatened them. Perhaps the opposition was permitted by the Lord so that this energetic priest could visit the Canary Islands in 1848. He spent a year there preaching the Good News. Then he returned to Catalonia, Spain, and his preaching ministry there. In 1849, Anthony started a new religious order called the Missionary Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. They are known as Claretians.
Queen Isabella II of Spain thought highly of St. Anthony. She suggested that he was the best person to become archbishop of Santiago, Cuba. His apostolate in Cuba turned out to be an exciting seven years. Archbishop Anthony visited parishes, speaking out against social evils, especially slavery. He blessed marriages and baptized children. He was a reformer and had enemies. He received death threats often but did not stop his wonderful work until he was recalled to Spain in 1857.
During Anthony's priesthood he was head of a seminary in Madrid. He established the school of St. Michael to foster arts and literature and even tried to start a school of agriculture. He went to Rome to help prepare for the First Vatican Council in 1869 and died in 1870. St. Anthony Mary Claret was declared a saint by Pope Pius XII in 1950.