Ossó y Cervelló, Enrique (Henry) de, St.
OSSÓ Y CERVELLÓ, ENRIQUE (HENRY) DE, ST.
Priest and founder of the Society of Saint Teresa of Jesus (Compañia de Santa Teresa de Jesús ); b. Vinebre (village near Tarragona), Spain, Oct. 15 or 16, 1840; d. Gilet near Valencia, Spain, Jan. 27, 1896.
The youngest of the three children of Jaime de Ossó and his wife Micaela Cervelló, Enrique was apprenticed at age twelve to his uncle, a Barcelona merchant, when he fell gravely ill and was sent home. Upon his recovery he was apprenticed to a businessman in Reus, Don Ortal, but Enrique left everything behind following his mother's death (Sept. 15, 1854).
He began to study for the priesthood at Tortosa's seminary (1854–60), and then at Barcelona (1860–61, 1863–66), where he completed spiritual exercises for the subdiaconate (May 1866) under the direction of Saint Anthony Mary claret. He was still a seminarian when he returned to the Tortosa seminary to teach in 1862. There he was ordained in 1867. In June 1870, Enrique made a pilgrimage to Rome in the company of two other later saints, Claret and Emmanuel domingo y sol. He began his catechetical work and offered popular missions in Tortosa in 1871, while continuing to teach mathematics in Tortosa's seminary until the bishop relieved him from his faculty duties.
Ossó y Cervelló founded several associations for lay people: the Association of the Immaculate Conception for farmers (1870); Association of the Daughters of Immaculate Mary and Saint Teresa of Jesus for youth (approved 1873); Brotherhood of Saint Joseph for men (1876); and Little Flock of the Child Jesus (Rebañito del Niño Jesús, 1876) for children.
The inspiration for his greatest work came during his prayer in April 1876, and was realized several months later (June 23) when eight young women committed to help him found the Society of Saint Teresa of Jesus for Christian education. In 1878 the cornerstone was laid in Tortosa for the first house and the following year the eight founders pronounced their vows in the chapel of St. Paul in Tarragona (Jan. 1, 1879). The foundation quickly spread to Portugal and Latin America, and, in 1885, to Algeria, but was not without difficulties.
Ossó used modern methods to communicate the Gospel message. The weekly El amigo del puebla (The People's Friend, founded in 1871), which responded to the prevailing anticlerical attitudes, was censured. In October 1872, he published the first edition of the monthly magazine Santa Teresa de Jesús as well as his first book, Guía práctica del catequista (Practical Guide for Catechists ). In 1874, he produced the first edition of El cuarto de hora de oración (Fifteen Minutes of Prayer ). He also published Handbook of the Friends of Jesus, Treasure Chest for Children, Novena to Saint Joseph, The Spirit of Saint Teresa, Tribute to Saint Francis de Sales, Novena to the Holy Spirit, and Novena to the Immaculate Conception, as well as textbooks used by the sisters and many other publications.
On Jan. 2, 1896, Enrique retired to the Franciscan convent of Santo Espiritu at Gilet, where he suffered a stroke and died. Initially he was buried in Gilet; in July 1908 his body was translated to the chapel of the Company of Saint Teresa in Tortosa, Spain. Ossó's cause for beatification was introduced in 1923, but suspended from 1927 until 1957, when it was reintroduced. He was declared venerable in 1976. Pope John Paul II both beatified (Oct. 14, 1979) and canonized him (June 16, 1993, at Madrid, Spain).
Feast: Jan. 27 (Carmelites).
Bibliography: m. gonzÁlez martÍn, The Power of the Priesthood: A Life of Father Henry de Ossó, tr. by l. bonnecarrÈre (Barcelona 1971). m. v. molins, Así era Enrique de Ossó: biografía del fundador de la Compañía de Santa Teresa (Burgos 1993); Henry de Osso, priest and teacher, tr. o. daigle, ed. j. rox-borough (Covington, La. 1993). Acta Apostolicae Sedis (1982): 673–76. L'Osservatore Romano, Eng. ed. 43 (1979): 13–14.
[k. i. rabenstein]