Santiago de Cuba, Cuba. On February 16, 2022, 171 years after the arrival of the new Archbishop, Antonio María Claret, to his Archdiocese of Santiago de Cuba, the solemn Closing Mass of this “Year of Saint Anthony Mary Claret” took place in its Cathedral. It was presided by Monsignor Dionisio García Ibáñez, current Archbishop of Santiago de Cuba, accompanied by the Archbishop of Camaguey, Monsignor Wilfredo Pino, the Bishop of Bayamo Manzanillo, Monsignor Alvado Beyra, and the Bishop of Holguín Las Tunas, Monsignor Emilio Aranguren and his Auxiliary Bishop Monsignor Marcos Pirán. Monsignor Sivano Pedroso, Bishop of Guantanamo Baracoa, was unable to attend. All of these territories in Claret’s time were part of the immense Archdiocese of Santiago de Cuba.
All the priests of the Archdiocese of Santiago de Cuba and several priests of the previously mentioned Dioceses also concelebrated. All the religious men and women participated, together with numerous faithful from the different parishes, filling the beautiful Cathedral of Santiago.
The solemn Eucharist celebration commemorated St. Anthony Mary Claret. From the readings of the day, diocesan priest Don Camilo Salmón evoked in his sermon the life of Claret during his mandate as Archbishop of Cuba. He highlighted Claret’s deep spirituality and missionary zeal, audacity, and commitment to his pastoral task in his extensive Diocese. He also emphasized his love and deep devotion to the Virgin of Charity of Cobre. He encouraged everyone that Claret’s life and missionary style continue being a reference for the pastoral work in the Archdiocese and all of Cuba.
Monsignor Dionisio García Ibáñez, after the blessing, expressed his gratitude to the Lord for having been able to celebrate, despite the difficulties of Covid-19, the Year of St. Anthony Mary Claret. He gratefully said his joy for having St. Anthony Mary Claret in Cuba as Patron of Catechesis, of the Missions, and for having the presence of Claret in eastern Cuba along with his missionary and committed imprint despite the serious situations he has had to live.
He also thanked the presence of the four Bishops, a sign of gratitude and communion for the passage of Claret in their current dioceses. The Bishop also thanked the Claretian Missionaries and the Claretian Missionary Sisters, founded together with Mother Antonia Paris in Santiago de Cuba, for their continued presence and missionary work. Finally, he thanked all the parishes for being there and thus strengthening the communion of the whole Diocese who wants to follow the missionary style of St. Anthony Mary Claret. Then the Archbishop invited all to venerate the relic of St. Anthony Mary Claret and ask for his protection. He did it first, followed by the Bishops, priests, and faithful people.
A video clip evoking Claret upon his arrival in Santiago de Cuba was shown for the first time at the Cathedral as the final act of the Year of St. Anthony Mary Claret. It is a beautiful song enthusiastically interpreted by the young people of the Parishes of Santisima Trinidad, Santa Lucia, the Claretian Lay Family of Santiago de Cuba, and Songo La Maya’s youth group. It is a video clip freely recorded by a technical team in a professional that, through its music and dance, wonderfully challenges all of us to an extraordinary commitment:
“I WANT TO BE LIKE CLARET” “LIKE CLARET… I WANT TO BE”.
(News by Juventino Rodriguez, CMF of Songo La Maya, Cuba)
More images during the celebration: