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Claretian Missionaries – PROCLADE Internazionale

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More than a dialogue between faith and culture. in Cuba SDG 4, 10, 16

by | Jan 24, 2022 | America, Gente | 0 comments

A dream of Claret, coming true in Cuba

More than a dialogue between faith and culture


Miguel Fernández Fariñas, cmf

Director of the Center.

Mirtha Clavería Palacios

Executive Director


The return of the Claretian missionaries to Santiago de Cuba took place in the middle of the decade of the ’90s of the past 20th century. They found a depressed city with excellent material and spiritual needs, whose population had lived more than 30 years of institutional atheism and religious silence. In that context, 22 years ago, the Claretian missionaries, Frs. Faliero Bonci and Carlomán Molina opted for a difficult path: the dialogue between faith and culture to contribute in some measure to the revival of the city.


They launched the project of the San Antonio María Claret Cultural and Missionary Animation Center, a re-reading of what was the San Miguel Academy conceived in Cuba and founded in Madrid by St. Anthony Mary Claret, materialized in a new type of missionary project, according to the times and the specific reality of Cuban society and culture. Claret sought in the 19th century to establish a genuine dialogue between the manifestations of art and culture in general, with the Gospel; to this responded the creation of the Academy of San Miguel, formed by intellectuals and artists of the time. The enrichment sought by Claret was to be mutual: culture embraced Christian values, and the Gospel was expressed in the molds, styles, and contents of the Spanish 19th century. In Cuba, the dialogue has been carried out through openness, inclusion, listening, service, personalized attention, respect, and the missionaries and the team of the Cultural Center in different cultural, academic, and scientific spaces of the city and the country.

The main actions of the Cultural Center and Missionary Animation


From the set of actions deployed by the Center during these years, we would like to share some experiences: the foundation of the magazine Viña Joven on July 16, 1999. This was the first step on the road to dialogue. Its purpose: to provide a space for publication to all writers, artists, specialists, and teachers, from our identity as Claretian Catholics, and at the same time contribute to disseminate materials on Fr. Claret, the Claretian family, and the magisterium of the Church fundamentally. To date, 72 issues have been published every four months.


To nourish the magazine and widen its radius of action, in 2003, the first Viña Joven Literary Contest was convened; the award ceremony was precisely on October 24. Various literary genres (poetry, short stories, essays, articles, testimonials, and chronicles) have been called for. There has been increasing participation of writers from the country and from abroad. Particularly relevant was the XVIII contest (2020), dedicated to cultivating literature for children, where both adults and children participated in two age categories. In some of these calls, the theme has been directed (the figure of José Martí, the figure of San Antonio María Claret, the Virgen de la Caridad del Cobre, the city of Santiago de Cuba, the challenges of society and religion in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic), and in others, the theme has been free. Whenever possible, the winners residing outside the city have been invited to be present at the awards gala. The XX Contest, called for 2022, will be on religious poetry.

The Religious Art Salon began its journey in 2000. Frs. Faliero and Carlomán were aware that the new generations of plastic artists were unaware of Christianity, even as a historical-cultural event, which prevented them from appreciating, understanding, and using the immense wealth of codes and symbols that Christianity contributed to the History of Art. 


Therefore, the call necessarily had to guarantee a minimum training for artists to interpret the biblical text to capture it in their works. Thus, a specially designed workshop was conceived and carried out for each theme, in which they were given the Bible, taught how to use it, and taught the topic called for. This practice was carried out between 2000 and 2006 (for the first seven classrooms). The Sixth and Twelfth Salons (2005 and 2011) had as theme “La Virgen de la Caridad de El Cobre, Patroness of Cuba .”Later the theme was declared Free, except in the XIV (the Year 2013): “The Christian in the faith of the Cubans,” and in the XVII (the Year 2016): “Ecology, Art and Religion.” All the workshops for plastic artists were given by Fr. Emilio Gómez Jaramillo, CMF, except for the XVII Salon, whose workshop was given by Fr. José María Vigil, CMF, in El Cobre.

The impact of the Center’s activities on Cuban society


The Center enjoys prestige and recognition among the cultural and ecclesiastical institutions of Santiago de Cuba after 22 years of systematic and coherent insertion in the world of culture and science. Over time, its reach has been extending throughout Cuba. Proof of this is the national and international responses to the Viña Joven literary contests and the national responses to the calls of the Religious Art Salon.


This recognition is also endorsed by the invitations received by the Center to exhibit samples of the works of the thesaurus of the San Antonio María Claret Art Gallery by civil and ecclesiastical institutions, namely: the Archdiocesan Museum Mons. Adolfo Rodríguez Herrera of Camagüey, the Diocesan Center of Formation and Lay Promotion “San Arnoldo Janssen” of Holguín, the parish maría Auxiliadora of Santiago de Cuba, the parish La Milagrosa of Guantánamo, the church of San José of La Maya, the Evangelical Seminary of Theology of Matanzas, the art gallery Rodolfo Hernández Giro of La Maya and the Provincial Center of Plastic Arts and Design of Santiago de Cuba, these last two cultural institutions.

The voice of friends of the CCAM: letting the artists speak


“For me, it is a great pride from the bottom of my heart to be able to share such joyful days with you. Believe me that you are part of my family, thank you for giving me such joyful days. A greeting and a hug with much affection for all of you”. Marcel Molina, engraver from Cienfuegos. Personal exhibition Desnudando el tiempo, 2014.


“Here I am again with my family, in jubilation, in another wonderful day of art, sensitivity, and beauty, for the future. Thank you, thank you very much to Marcel Molina, the exhibitor and the Claretians!” Carlos René Aguilera, painter. Personal exhibition Stripping Time, 2014.


“Silence, the divinity speaks”. Jesús Martínez León (Chuchi), matancero photography artist. Personal photographic exhibition Notas al Paso, by Tomás Sánchez, 2016.

“The best of visual art happens in this place. Thanks to Janet, the curator of Sana Antonio María Claret Gallery and faith in art.” Mario Trenard, Santiago sculptor.


“Many thanks to this Center that radiates culture, so necessary in these times for the openness it gives us to enlighten us even more. The conferences have repositioned us in new coordinates of interpretation of the work of art. We hope to repeat this wonderful experience of learning and union. Thank you. Dr.C. María Teresa Fleitas Monnar, Professor of Art at the Universidad de Oriente. I Sacred Art Week, 2019.


“Grateful for having the opportunity to approach Art History from the theological perspective and with so many codes and signifiers for learning. may it be repeated!”. MSc. Julieta Aguilera, History major. Sacred Art Week, 2019.



Santiago de Cuba, January 17, 2022.


Miguel Fernández Fariñas, cmf

Director of the Center.

Mirtha Clavería Palacios

Executive Director






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