Fr Jose Xifre, cmf: Basic Biographical Data
José Xifré i Mussach was born in a farmhouse called “Can Sibiu” on the outskirts of the town of Vic on February 19, 1817. His parents were Josep and Teresa. He was the fourth of six siblings.
After having studied at the diocesan seminary of Vic, on February 16, 1840 he received the Priesthood ordination in Rome since the Spanish government had forbidden the bishops to confer Holy Orders. There he probably met a fellow countryman who was trying to offer himself as a Propaganda Fide missionary in the Near East countries; his name was Antonio Claret.
In 1842, the priest Xifré returned to Vic and was destined as Vicar to the town of Prats de Lluçanès. There he began to dedicate himself to preaching; later also in Sant Quirze de Besora.
On July 16, 1849, he was a member of the small group of five young priests who, summoned and thrilled by Fr. Claret, founded the first Claretian community in Vic.
In 1850, having been meanwhile appointed Archbishop of Santiago de Cuba, Claret had to leave the group, putting it under the direction of one of the five fellow members, Fr. Esteban Sala. In those early years, Fr. Xifré assiduously dedicated himself to preaching around the villages and, above all, to doing sessions of Spiritual Exercises.
On April 18, 1858, Fr. Esteban Sala died in Barcelona. On May 1, Fr. Xifré was elected to succeed him as Superior General; A position that he held until his death, which occurred on November 3, 1899, in Cervera.
Throughout his long Governing term of almost 42 years, Fr. Xifré gave new impulse with energy, zeal and enthusiasm, to the missionary group, passing from one house and a dozen missionaries, to 61 houses, scattered around the world (Europe, America and Africa) and a total of 1782 members. He traveled tirelessly, summoned 6 General Chapters, had the group recognized as a religious Congregation by the Holy See and the civil government of Spain, preached and wrote books and circulars, with a frenetic pace, despite his delicate health. In his book “Spirit of the Congregation”, he outlined in particular his missionary ideal that he fostered everywhere. He always put forward the figure of the Founder, Fr. Claret, as a model; From 1880 he also began to promote his glorification. In 1897 he managed to transfer the remains of Claret from the monastery of Fontfroide (France), where he had died exiled on October 24, 1870, to our Mother House of Vic.
Ultimo despidoDuring the funeral of Fr. Xifré, Fr. Martín Alsina read a piece of paper that had just been found among the papers of the deceased. It was his “Last Good-bye.” It began like this: “My dearest Congregation: I have loved you as much as I could until the end, and I will not forget you in eternity. I have lived exclusively for you, without avoiding sacrifices or dangers … “.Then he asked for forgiveness for his defects and the sufferings he might have caused to others in his long years of government, and he forgave all those who might have offended him. He renewed his love to all in the Lord.
Some years ago, the remains of Fr. Xifré, considered as the second Founder of our Congregation, were transferred from the Cervera cemetery to the crypt of the Temple of Vic, where they rest in a niche near the tomb of his admired Founder and Father, Saint Anthony Maria Claret.