Foundation and early years
Father Carlos Miguel Buela is the founder of the Institute of the Incarnate Word. He was born in Buenos Aires (Argentina), and as a diocesan priest, was inspired to start a religious congregation on May 3, 1981. His desire to be faithful to the foundational inspiration, made him to seek permission to begin the new experience of religious life. Only three years later, on May 25, 1983, on the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord, the new institute began in the Diocese of San Rafael (Mendoza) with the blessing of its Bishop, Leon Kruk. The opening took place, however, at the local Diocesan Seminary, Mary Mother of God, operated then by the new order itself. The Institute of the Incarnate Word was established as a Public Association of the Faithful the same day that The Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, consecrated the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary at the Saint Peter Piazza in front of the statue of Our Lady of Fatima.
In 1985, the Institute purchased its first house, establishing the “Villa Luján” in El Chañaral. On February 22 of the same year, the liturgical Feast of the Chair of Peter, the first Mass was celebrated in the new house. This “Mother House” of our Institute continues, even today, to host many sons who prepare themselves to take our charism –the evangelization of culture- to different parts of the world. It is the headquarters of our Religious Seminary, Mary, Mother of the Incarnate Word.
For the novena and feast of Christ and the Virgin del Milagro (Salta), the first group of seminarians accompanied by some priests, travelled to the northern province where they professed their first vows of slavery to Mary, according to the method of Saint Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort. The first vows of poverty, chastity and obedience were professed the following year, 1986.
Initial missionary expansion
We see God’s providential hand in the rapid expansion of the young Institute. As early as 1985, three priests travelled to work in the Diocese of Añatuya in Santiago del Estero (Argentina). In 1986, in the Diocese of San Rafael was consecrated a new parish, Saint Maximilian Maria Kolbe, whose pastoral care was entrusted to the Institute.
The first foundation outside of Argentina took place in 1987, in the legendary city of Cuzco, Peru; during the same year, the Minor Seminary Saint John the Apostle was opened in San Rafael. In 1989 two priests were invited to New York, in the United States, to the Diocese of Brooklyn and Queens. Shortly after a few priests travelled to Rome to obtain their licentiate in the Roman universities.
Divine Providence guided our steps to become a Religious Institute. In 1988 we opened the first Novitiate, Marcelo Javier Morsella, the masculine contemplative branch, and the female branch, i.e., the Institute of the Servants of the Lord and the Virgin of Matara. The first General Chapter was also celebrated in 1988, and the second, only a year after in 1989.
The early expansion of the nascent congregation helped increase the missionary drive of its members. In 1992, we established a community in Israel and the Novitiate Pier Giorgio Frassati in Italy. In 1993, we opened new communities in Holy Land and Taiwan; in 1994, in Ukraine and Sezze Romano (Italy) with the creation of the International Roman College John Paul II for priests who were taking their licentiates in Rome. The year 1995 saw the birth of new foundations in Brazil, Egypt, Camana (Peru) and Guyana. In 1996, we went to Sudan, opened a new monastery in Holy Land, the Minor Seminary in Brazil, and the Missio Sui Iuris in Tajikistan was entrusted to the IVE. In 1997, the Lord blessed us with the communities in Hong Kong and Papua New Guinea, and in the Peruvian Amazonia; and in 1998, in Chile, Ecuador, Canada, Cuba, in the Diocese of Hsinchu (Taiwan) and in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia (United States).
The third General Chapter took place in 1994, which merited this description: “... the greatest joy, the most profound impression is that this Chapter was a hymn of praise to the Incarnate Word, so much so that the most important heritage of the Chapter is: Jesus Christ is Lord!” (Father Carlos M. Buela). During this chapter Pope John Paul II was pronounced “Father of our Institute”. Our Constitutions were approved by the capitular fathers and presented to the competent authority; most of the proper laws of the Institute (Directories) were approved, and the petition of canonical erection as a Religious Institute was requested. At the end of the chapter it was decided to transfer the General House to Rome.
From 1995 until 2001, the Holy See appointed three papal delegates to accompany the life of the Institute. It was also the Holy See that in 1997 entrusted to us the Missio Sui Iuris in Tajikistan to bring the life of the Catholic Church to that country. That was an unprecedented gesture toward a Public Association of the Faithful. On May 24, 2001, during the fourth General Chapter taking place in Segni (Italy) ends the appointment of the papal delegates.
It was Bishop Andrea Maria Erba, Bishop of Velletri-Segni, who in 2004 erected the IVE as a Religious Institute of Diocesan Right. The date was May 8, feast of Our Lady of Lujan, who shortly after was proclaimed Patroness of our Institute.
The transfer of the General House to Italy favored a considerable expansion: the opening of the Major Seminary San Vitaliano Papa, the Minor Seminary San Giovanni XXIII, the Center for Advanced Studies San Bruno di Segni, the EDIVI Press (Editrice del Verbo Incarnato), the Cultural Project Cornelio Fabro. Some priests and nuns became professors in the Pontifical Universities: the Angelicum, the Urbaniana, the European University of Rome, the Lateran… A similar increase in publications, cooperation with centers of study, academies, and diocesan seminaries took place in other religious provinces.
During that time, new parishes and apostolates were entrusted to the Institute: in Italy (Palermo, Tarquinia, Trivento, Palidoro, Canneto, Ravenna, Asti and Morolo); in the United States (Brooklyn, San Jose, Bridgeport, Washington, Phoenix, Ohio, Mankato, Chicago, Philadelphia and the Bronx); San Bernardo in Chile and La Plata in Argentina; Lotward in Kenya, Mucachevo in Ukraine, Reykjavik in Iceland; in Russia (Omsk, Siberia, Ulyanosvk, Khabarovbsk); Rumbek in Sudan, La Marsa in Tunisia, Le-Luc-en-Provence in France, Killmyshall in Ireland, Manresa and Santiago de Compostela in Spain; Manila in the Philippines, Athens in Greece, Nuuk in Greenland, Bagdad in Irak, Oruro in Bolivia and Alkemaar in the Netherlands.
The following years saw more foundations in Iceland, Siberia, Kazakhstan, Ireland, the Minor Seminary Jose Sanchez del Rio in Minnesota (United States), Greek, Irak, Gaza, Madaba the Shrine of the Baptism of the Lord in Jordania, Santiago de Compostela and Siria, among others.
The foundation of the Seminary in the Philippines has a particular importance, as well as the Monastic House of Formation Our Lady of El Pueyo, in El Pueyo (Spain) and the cooperation agreement with the Gustav Siwert Academy in Germany.
The statistics provided by the last Official Bulletin of the Institute from July 1, 2017 list 143 religious houses, our presence in 87 dioceses or Ecclesiastical Jurisdictions in 38 countries, 414 members of perpetual vows (390 priests, 8 deacons, 16 religious brothers), 192 members of temporal vows, 133 novices and postulants and 83 minor seminarians, which makes a total of 822 members. We pray to the Good Shepherd to send more vocations to help us continue the work of the evangelization of culture, as it is proper to our charism.
A gift of 30 new "tabernacles"
In 2009 father Carlos M. Buela offered to Our Lady - imitating the gesture of Mother Teresa of Calcutta - 30 new "tabernacles", on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the foundation of our religious family, i.e., 30 new foundations; and 30 more from the female branch, trying to respond to more than 300 requests for help from bishops from different parts of the world.
Thanks to the generosity of our religious, in less than two years those 60 foundations were completed, and such commitments continue today. Among the most significant are the Gaza Strip, Aleppo (Syria), Madaba (Jordan), Odessa (Ukraine), Pumpenai (Lituania), Beit Jala (Palestine), Lipa (Philippines), Al Fayum (Egypt), Ontario (Canada), Ciudad del Este (Paraguay), Kallmet (Albania), Dallas and Venice in the United States, Granada (Spain), Paphos (Cyprus), Ushetu (Tanzania), Merida (Mexico), Berlin (Germany), Lyon (France), etc.
The Year of Mercy, years of mercy
On May 6, 2010 in the sanctuary of "Our Lady of the Mountain", entrusted to the pastoral care of the IVE, in Anjara (Jordania), a religious sister of the Incarnate Word and others saw the statue of the Virgin crying. Immediate extensive tests were done at a nearby hospital at the request of the local bishop. The results of the tests confirmed that the tears of the statue were indeed human blood. Because of this extraordinary event, religious leaders and many pilgrims, as well as Muslims who visit the shrine, remembered that in the past there were other images that wept blood announcing times of suffering and persecution. In fact, shortly after there was an increase of hostilities throughout the Middle East.
Despite wars and cruel persecutions our religious, together with religious of different congregations, continue even amidst the many dangers, to minister to their people without abandoning them. The priests and the sisters of our Institutes remain in the only Catholic parish in the Gaza Strip, and have endured several bombings and destruction. For years, they have worked in Baghdad and have recently started to help in the Chaldean seminary in Erbil, Iraqi Kurdistan. The work in Tunisia continues, as well as in Aleppo (Syria) in the middle of a country decimated by the atrocities of years of war.
Pope Francis has been often in contact with our missionaries through telephone calls, encouraging them as well as the laity to be a living testimony of fidelity and mercy, which they are.
“There is no point in extending ourselves to many countries or having numerous members if we lose our spirit. Infallibility and indefectibility are only promised to the Catholic Church, in the person of Peter and his successors. We will not lose our spirit as long as we are faithful to the Church and observe the will and intentions of the founder in everything related to the patrimony of the Institute.” (Constitutions 35).