St. Anthony Mary Claret, in one of his apostolic trips to Tarragona in the year of 1850, met the novice Maria Antonia París. During the dialogue they held, she expressed to him what she had understood to be God’s Will regarding the foundation of a new apostolic Institute for the proclamation of the Holy Law of God. He assured her that the work would push through.
The Venerable Maria Antonia París was born in Vallmoll, a small town of the Province of Tarragona in Spain, on June 28, 1813. The following day, feast of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, June 29, she was baptised in the Parish of St. Mary of Vallmoll. In keeping with her religious vocation, she enters the noviciate of the Society of Mary on October 23, 1841. In 1842, while in prayer, she has a mystical experience in which the Lord makes her understand her calling as a foundress. She is to found a new Institute of apostolic life, in which the living of evangelical poverty and the proclamation of the Holy Law of God play a very important role in promoting the renewal of the Church. In 1851 she leaves the noviciate in order to be more free to carry out the work God had shown her. For one and a half years she devotes herself to the formation of the young ladies who join her in order to share her own ideal. On August 15, together with them, she makes the vow not to leave the group and to cross the ocean, should this be God’s will. On February 22 of the following year, called by St. Anthony Mary Claret, newly consecrated Archbishop of Santiago de Cuba, she embarks, together with her four companions, headed for the pearl of the Antilles. After a journey full of dangers and vicissitudes, she reaches Santiago on May 26, 1852. A little time later they begin their apostolic labour among the Cuban children, thus collaborating with the pastoral plan of the Archdiocese.
On August 25, 1855 Archbishop Claret signs the Decree of Foundation and, two days later, on August 27, Maria Antonia makes her profession in the hands of the saintly Archbishop, Founder together with her of the Religious of Mary Immaculate, Claretian Missionary Sisters. In 1859 St. Anthony Mary Claret, who was in Spain at the time, calls Maria Antonia to the Peninsula for the purpose of establishing a noviciate house in Tremp, Province of Lerida, for the missionary formation for the New World. Then follow the foundations of Reus, Province of Tarragona, Carcagente, Province of Valencia and Vélez-Rubio in Almeria, in Spain, and Baracoa in Cuba. On January 17, 1885, after a long sickness, Maria Antonia dies in Reus. Her cause of Beatification and Canonisation has already been introduced. The Decree on the heroicity of her virtues was signed on December 23, 1993. At present the Sisters, faithful to the mission bequeathed to them by their Founders, are working in the spreading of the Gospel throughout all the different parts of the world where the Congregation is established.