Immigrants: Claretians have a special dedication to working with immigrants, especially Hispanics. Known for their welcoming manner with people of all cultures, the parishes where Claretians minister are often seen as a haven where newcomers can feel at home. Eastern Province Claretians work in Chicago, Georgia, Missouri, and New Jersey to help immigrants meet their material, social, and spiritual needs.
Youth Ministry: Reaching out to the young, especially those at a disadvantage, is a high priority for the Claretians. In Chicago they founded an alternative school for students who otherwise might not earn their diploma. The Claretians are concerned with providing opportunities for education, recreation, and social activities, as well as spiritual guidance to steer young people away from the lure of gangs. They are also active on college campuses and sponsor year-long volunteers and a summer ministry program devoted to work with children.
Foreign missions: Now the U.S. Eastern Province Claretians have turned their missionary spirit to new parts of the world, Jamaica and Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, as missions abroad have always been an important part of the Province's work.
National Shrine of St. Jude: In 1929 the Claretians founded the National Shrine of St. Jude in Our Lady of Guadalupe church on Chicago's South Side as a place of hope for a community hit hard by the depression. Today the National Shrine of St. Jude is a worldwide congregation uniting devotion to St. Jude.
Claret Center: The Claret Center in Chicago is a rich resource for spiritual development. Claretians work with other trained professionals to accompany people on their faith journey through workshops, retreats, and consultation.
Publications: Following in Saint Anthony Claret's footsteps, the Claretians continue to be active in publishing. They publish the award-winning magazine U.S. Catholic, which celebrates Catholic life and serves as a forum for lay Catholics. They also publish several award-winning newsletters, including Word One, on spirituality in action; Context, on the interaction of religion and culture by world-renowned church historian Martin E. Marty; and At Home with Our Faith for families who want to nurture spirituality. The newsletters can be found online at claretianpubs.org
Social Justice: The Claretians bring the charism of social justice to all of their ministries. The men and women who work at the 8th Day Center are especially devoted to issues of justice, peace, and the environment. They provide a critical alternative voice that calls Catholics to work for a more just world. Find them at http://www.8thdaycenter.org/. The Claretians also host Salt of the Earth, an online resource for social action.
Parishes: While Claretians engage in a variety of ministries from foreign missions to publishing, they do not forget that their founder, Saint Anthony Claret, was a preacher of parish renewal as well as a missionary, author, and publisher.
At the request of various bishops and in response to urgent needs across the country the Claretians of the Eastern Province in the United States staff six parishes. Just as their founder Saint Anthony Clarets worked for justice in his time, the Claretians bring their missionary zeal and dedication to each of their parishes. They reach out to the surrounding community and work with parishioners, residents, and civic organizations to help foster strong communities.
Perth Amboy, New Jersey: Our Lady of Fatima Parish was founded by the Claretians in 1940 and was the first Hispanic church in New Jersey. Today the parish continues to serve immigrants from the Caribbean, Mexico, and South America. The parish also works with other parishes providing shelter, food, and clothing for the homeless in the area.
The parish is known for its evangelization. Trained lay people began making home visits through the parish's neighborhood in the early 1990s and invited people who were not active in the church to take part in weekend retreats. The program led to larger Mass attendance and greater participation in the parish. Youth leaders also reach out to their peers through retreats and an intramural basketball league.
Stone Mountain, Georgia: The Claretians began staffing Corpus Christi Church in 1992. Corpus Christi pastor, Father Greg Kenny, C.M.F., says parishioners grow spiritually by sharing their faith with others, caring for the poor through the St. Vincent de Paul Society, working with other churches, and praying in the perpetual adoration chapel.
The Claretians collaborate with parishioners to bring together a family Bible study program and adult discussion groups, as well as to plan mission trips to Jamaica. In their first year at the parish, the Claretians began an International Day festival to celebrate the diversity of the parish, which represents more than 40 countries and cultures.
Chicago, Illinois: The Claretians staff two parishes in Chicago: Our Lady of Guadalupe, and Holy Cross/Immaculate Heart of Mary. Both churches serve sizeable Hispanic populations.
The Claretian mission in these parishes is to establish a sense of community for Hispanics, many of whom are recent immigrants. They help both children and adults learn about their faith, while offering a number of social services such as legal and immigration aid, marriage counseling, food pantries, and job assistance.
Claretians at all both parishes reach out to the unchurched and those who may not have a strong understanding of the Catholic faith.
An important element in the parishes is youth ministry. The Claretians involve the young people in their neighborhoods through weekly meetings, youth choirs, service projects, and CCD. Our Lady of Guadalupe maintains a grade school. In the Holy Cross/Immaculate Heart of Mary neighborhood, the Claretians founded an alternative school for teenagers who are no longer able to attend public schools. The school keeps kids in classrooms and off the streets.
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