In this section of his autobiography, Claret provides a summary of what was his extensive apostolic and social work as archbishop of Santiago de Cuba. Very shortly after his arrival in the diocese, he was informed about the education of children. Regarding Santiago, he could write: “the branch of girl’s education is perhaps the best organized in this city; there are two schools that I have visited” (EC I, p. 557). He found that not so well served were the boys and so, for this reason he requested the Government of Madrid that Paulines and Jesuits could go to Cuba and establish schools (EC I, p. 652).
But he made an offer to intensify attention to the girls: the Venerable M. Antonia Paris wanted to found a convent (enclosed and teaching) in Santiago -, as was common in those days – under the guidance and authority of Claret, whom she had known in Tarragona in 1850. In 1852 she moved to Cuba with four companions, and got to work. The paperwork and arrangements took time, like everything else in those days. Finally, on 25 August 1855, Claret left the convent officially established with a girls’ school. The Congregation of the Claretian Missionary Sisters was born.
Claret gave great importance to education. When he made his pastoral visits, he “visited in all the towns the boys and girls schools” (Aut 560). A year before his death, he said to his missionaries that he had known in Rome a congregation of teaching Brothers and it seemed to him that “at present they are those who do more good to the church” (EC II, p.1406); therefore he recommended his missionaries also to take up this ministry.
The event that we are commemorating today shows us the attention that Archbishop Claret paid to his duties as pastor: care for the various aspects of evangelization and to make channels for the new charisms or forms of spirituality and apostolate in the Church.
Are we builders of the Church, open to the plurality and complementarity of services?