A Saintly Example

The Claretians’ approach to tackling issues like poverty and violence in the communities where they serve may seem modern, but it has a long precedent. St. Anthony Mary Claret, the founder of the Claretians, took a similar approach himself when he was the Archbishop of Cuba more than 150 years ago.

St. Claret was born in Spain in 1807 and ordained a priest when he was 27 years old. After being named Archbishop in 1849, St. Claret arrived in Cuba and quickly realized that, in addition to great spiritual needs, many Cubans were mired in poverty and living in difficult conditions. He worked continuously to find creative ways to meet these needs.

He saw poor children begging in the streets, so he built homes and schools for them. He visited prisoners in jail and arranged for them to receive education and vocational training so they would have a way to provide for themselves upon their release. He realized the poor had few ways to support themselves and he founded a credit union so they could borrow money to start businesses. He even worked to improve farming methods on the island, which he tested himself.

St. Claret recognized that spiritual poverty and material poverty were related, and it was not possible to alleviate one while ignoring the other. Claretians today are living out St. Anthony Mary Claret’s legacy by ministering to the whole person at the parishes where they serve. This has led to the network of community development programs that make up SJL Community Development.

You can browse Our Programs page to find out what this looks like for at-risk communities across the United States where Claretians are making a real difference for those in great need.