Popular name for the Missionary Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (abbreviated: CMF, Official Catholic Directory #0360), a religious congregation of simple vows founded in 1849 by (St.) Anthony Mary claret in Vich, Spain, for the ministry of preaching.
Foundation and Development. When anticlericalism in Spain after 1835 led to the suppression of all but a few Dominican and Franciscan monasteries, a group of diocesan clergy in Catalonia, led by Anthony Claret, took up the work of the suppressed religious, who had had almost exclusive charge of catechizing and popular preaching. Claret realized that the necessity of forming a community in which the preachers could practice the evangelical counsels and the common life without formally professing religious vows or even promises, at that time prohibited by law. Thus he and five young Catalan diocesan priests formed the first community on July 16, 1849, at the diocesan seminary of Vich.
The community, left without a written rule when Claret was appointed archbishop of Santiago, Cuba, in 1850, had a difficult time for the next few years. Confusion arose as to the founder's purpose in establishing the association, and as new members entered, much of the earlier missionary zeal and fervor waned. In 1857, at the insistence of José Xifré, who became the second superior general (1857–99), Claret drew up a constitution of 15 chapters that became the core of the Claretian rule; in it the active ministry of preaching is emphasized. In 1859 the constitutions were approved by the Spanish government; the following year they received the decree of praise from the Holy See.
At first only priests were admitted into the community after a year of probation. They were bound neither by vows nor promises and were free to leave without formality at any time. After the general chapter of 1862, however, all members were required to pronounce private vows of obedience, chastity, and poverty in a public ceremony after a year of novitiate. At the same time they were to make an oath of perseverance in the community and promise not to accept any honor outside the community without the express permission of the superiors or the command of the Holy See. The revised constitutions received the definitive approbation and confirmation of Pius IX on May 8, 1870. The community was also raised to the status of a religious congregation and all members were required to make a public profession of simple vows. After the constitutions were revised in accordance with the 1917 Code of Canon Law, Pius XI solemnly approved them on July 16, 1924.
Ministry. The earliest work of the Claretians was to continue the popular preaching begun by Claret. This preaching had always centered on devotion to the Holy Eucharist and to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. After 1862 the ministry of the Claretians was extended to include teaching in diocesan seminaries and the direction of parishes. By the time of their founder's death (1870), Claretians had been sent to their first foreign mission in North Africa. In 1885 the vicariate of Fernando Po, in Spanish Guinea (Africa), was entrusted to the Claretians. In 1963 they had missions in Spanish and Portuguese Guinea, Colombia, Panama, China, the Philippine Islands, and Japan. In the field of scholarship, Claretians have distinguished themselves especially for their studies in the Canon Law for religious and in Mariology. In 1920 a quarterly dealing with canonical questions related to the religious life, Commentarium pro Religiosis, was founded at Rome. In 1951 another journal, Ephemerides Mariologicae, was initiated by the general government of the congregation to further Marian studies.
U.S. Foundations. The Claretians were first invited to the U.S. in 1902 to preach to the Spanish-speaking in Brownsville, Tex.; from there they soon spread to San Antonio, Tex., and Los Angeles, Calif. To them Bp. John Forest entrusted his Cathedral of San Fernando in San Antonio, and from this center they spread out through central Texas, preaching and founding parishes and missions for the Spanish-speaking. In 1907 the Claretians were established at San Fernando Mission, Los Angeles, but the following year they transferred to San Gabriel Mission. In the earliest years the Claretians confined their labors almost exclusively to the Spanish-speaking of Texas, Arizona, and California. In 1922 when there were nine American communities, the general government separated them from the Mexican province and formed an independent American province.
In 1925 the Claretians went to Chicago, Ill., where they erected the National Shrine of St. Jude, and in 1929 the League of St. Jude, to foster devotion to the Apostle. The league also fosters vocations and supports Claretian seminaries; it publishes two Catholic monthlies of general interest, U.S. Catholic and Today, and a devotional magazine, Immaculate Heart Crusader. In 1932 a special branch of the league was added for the Chicago Police Department, ministering to the special needs of policemen and placing them under the protection of St. Jude. This Claretian initiative led other cities, such as Milwaukee, Wis., Indianapolis, Ind., and Grand Rapids, Mich., to adopt St. Jude as patron of their Catholic police organizations, though they are not affiliated with the Claretian League.
In 1926 Rev. Joseph Maiztegui, a consultor on the government of the American province, was appointed vicar apostolic of Darien, Panama, which was made dependent on the American province for its missionaries. From the U.S., missions were established in the Philippine Islands (1947) and in Japan (1951). In 1954 the American province of the Claretians was divided into the Eastern province, centered in Chicago and having jurisdiction over two communities in Canada; and the Western province, centered in Los Angeles.
By the end of the 20th century, the Claretians had foundations in 58 countries in five continents. In addition to their original charism of preaching, the congregation is heavily involved in parishes, missionary outreach, publishing, and ministering to refugees and immigrants. The generalate is in Rome.
Bibliography: a. m. claret, Escritos autobiográficos (Madrid 1959). m. izquierdo gallo, Historia sucinta de la Congregación de Misioneros Hijos del Corazón de María, 1849–1973 (Madrid 1975). j. m. lozano, Una vida al servicio del evangelic: Antonio Maria Claret (Barcelona 1985).
[t. p. joyce/eds.]