ROME, SEPT. 2, 2003 (Zenit.org).- The Claretians have chosen a standout missionary of the Far East as their new superior general.
Shortly after his appointment, Father Josep María Abella Batlle told ZENIT: “The greatest challenge facing me is how to live ‘inter-culturality,’ which is very strong in the congregation, and how to serve the missionary plan of the Church in the third millennium.”
Father Abella, 53, was born in Lleida. In the past, he carried out intense evangelizing work especially in the Far East. He arrived in Japan while still a seminarian.
In recent years, his congregation appointed him general counselor and leader of the missionary activity of 3,000 Claretians spread throughout the world. He has also promoted the congregation’s sector of Justice, Peace and the Safeguarding of Creation.
According to the information service of the 23rd General Chapter, the new superior is “a tall, thin, dynamic, smiling man who speaks with the same facility his native Catalan and Spanish, English, French, Italian, some Portuguese and Japanese.”
The new superior general, chosen on Monday by 76 religious during the general chapter in Rome, will replace Father Aquilino Bocos.
The Claretians, or Missionary Sons of the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary, were started in the Catalan city of Vic in 1849, by Father Antonio María Claret. He was canonized a saint in 1950.
The congregation has 17 bishops, 2,033 priests, 257 brothers, 598 professed students and novices, and 145 novices, working in 60 countries, the majority in the Americas.