Vic 16-18 July 2002. On the occasion of the celebration of the Congregation’s Vocation Year, Fr. General announced at the end of May the holding of these days. The invitation was addressed primarily to Claretian Missionaries of the Organisms of Iberia and the CEC, but it was also open to the Claretian Family and those lay people who share our spirituality and mission.
The Claretian sites in Vic were a most appropriate setting for gathering on these days of intense petition to the Master of the harvest that he might send laborers into his harvest. At the beginning of the Days, Fr. General reminded all of us of their strictly prayerful purpose, permeated with a senseof gratitude and intercession. He then treated reviving the gift of vocation, purifying our missionary life, sharing thanksgiving and asking for vocations. These were the objectives that were pursued.
Coordination of the Encounter was entrusted to Frs. José Vilarrubias and José María Bonaventura from the Province of Catalonia, Fr. Juan Carlos Martos from Bética and Fr. Ángel Esteban, from Castille. Fr. Esteban, at the last minute and for reasons of work, could not be personally present.
The Retreat house, recently renovated, hosted a large group of missionaries from most of the the Organisms of Iberia and the CEC, as well as two sisters of th Cordi-Marian Filiation. A total of no less than 30 people participated in the full program. Another group, composed of Claretian Missionaries, the Claretian Institute, the Claretian Missionary Sisters and the Lay Claretians was present intermittently at some time during the days. Times of gathering and times of prayer alternated in various ways throughout these Days. Moreover, the care extended to us at every moment by the staff of the Retreat House and the members of the Community was exquisite at all times and we thank them all.
The design of these Days guaranteed extended periods of time for prayer. The participants also took part in specific roles of organizing and forstering personal and community prayer. They were careful to ensure that the liturgical, Eucharistic, Cordi- Mairan and Claretian dimensions were all included. There were no conferences or discussions, but rather celebrations and prayer exercises. The only attempt made was to pray for vocations. And, thanks to the efforts of all concerned, there was a good balance between silence for personal prayer and communication of intense, deep faith.
The days thus unfolded through channels of simplicity and participation. The atmosphere of prayer was encouraged by the wordless “eloquence” of the tomb of our Father Founder. The 16 th , the Feast of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel and the anniversary of the founding of our Congregation, was dedicated to thanking God. Before Mary, Mother of vocations and of the Congregation, we relived the mystery of God’s call and we fervently prayed that it would be repeated in many chosen ones. Mary showed us in her response the complete freedom and generaosity that we must strive for in our response. In the Eucharist, at which Fr. General presided, two Claretians renewed their religious profession: Frs. Antonio Gomis, from Catalonia, celebrating his golden jubilee of profession, and Pedro Cabrera, from Bética, celebrating his silver jubilee of profession. We spent the afternoon praying in the museum. In front of the cell where the Congregation began, we prayed for the re-founding of our Congregation, recalling the origins of our charism and fruitfully reviewing the definition of the Missionary.
Throughout the 17 th , a spirit of penance permeated our personal and community prayer. In the morning, we stationed ourselves before the Lord’s cross to contemplate the sins that kill vocation. The Book of Revelation offered us all a wealth of material to pray about in the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. In the afternoon, in the chapel of the old Seminary in Vic, with its deep Claretian resonances, we participated in a penance service that closed with the Eucharist. We were urged to vocational conversion. Together we begged the Lord’s pardon for our responsibility for the present situation of the lack of vocations. The celebration proposed to us the figurte of Zaccheus and Claret’s conversion process as paradigms for conversion.
The final day centered on intercessory prayer for vocations. In the morning we once more contemplated the event of Pentecost, the pouring out of the gifts of the Spirit on the Apostles gathered around Mary. We prayed earnestly that many others who were called would be also be gifted by the Holy Spirit as recipients of our vocational gift. The Eucharist of the Holy Spirit, at which Fr. Ramón Olomí, Provincial of Catalonia, presided, was celebrated at noon. In the afternoon we travelled to Sallent where we prayed a well-participated rosary in the chapel that is located on the very site where Fr. Claret was born. During that simple yet intense time, our brothers from the community in Sallent showed us relics of the house and, at the conclusion, offered us refreshments.
Before Fr. General gave his closing words, we spontaneously evaluated the planning and unfolding of these days of prayer. Everybody concurred in expressing their satisfaction with attending these Days, with their being dedicated to prolonged times of prayer, and with the intense and active participation of the community present. There was particular praise for the freedom that was granted in the proposing of this initiative. It was also noted that this Gospel way of praying for vocations will be a motivation for other Organisms of the Congregation to offer similar experiences that will keep interest in vocations alive and operative. We trust this will happen and that God will bless it.