On May 27, 1850, Father José Tous y Soler, trusting in God’s approval, launched a daring undertaking that would yield a rich cultural and spiritual patrimony, by placing the foundations of the Institute in Ripoll.It was in this town that Blessed José Tous, a man both intrepid and modest at the same time, firm and joyful, began his work under the blue mantle of the Mother of the Divine Shepherd.
On March 17, 1850, the Bishop of Vic approved the Institute and the sisters began their life in community under the first Constitutions that Father José Tous drafted following the spirituality of Saint Clare.Mother Remedio Palos became cofounder of the order, inasmuch as the other two sisters who had begun life in community did not persevere.
In the year 1858, the sisters left Ripoll and installed themselves in Capellades, the place which is considered the birthplace of the Institute.As the Institute expanded, there were adversities and difficulties, but the virtuous Father continued on with fidelity, loving and striving for the work that God had entrusted to him.
Presently, the Institute has communities in Catalonia, Murcia, the Basque Country and Madrid.It also has houses in several Latin American countries, including Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Guatemala and Colombia.The Institute also has a house in Rome.
Following the words of Father José Tous to “go forth carrying peace and goodness with you as you walk,” at present our pastoral work in the education field has as its objective the carrying of the Gospel message of instruction, giving our students the Christian vision of the world and the possibility of establishing a coherent dialogue between faith and culture. In addition to this apostolate, we are integrated into diocesan pastoral work, in catechesis, in formation of catechists, assisting young university students in residences, hosting groups in volunteer and spirituality centers, forming rural teachers and undertaking apostolic work via audiovisual and news media, all of this in accordance with the needs and abilities of the various dioceses in which we are incardinated.
Consequently, the breath of the Spirit that gave impulse to the educator from Igualada, continues to assist the Institute, giving glory to God through each one of its members and through the apostolate to which the Institute is dedicated.
Blessed José Tous y Soler’s Biography
He was born in Igualada on March 31, 1811, in the midst of a profoundly Christian family.He was the ninth of twelve children.
At a very early age, he sensed God’s call and he did not recoil.He opted to follow Christ in accordance with the “way of life” of St. Francis of Assisi.He began the postulancy in the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin at 15 years of age.Moved by the Spirit, he left a comfortable home life and the social prestige attained by the Tous family, and embraced the life of poverty, penitence and humility of the Capuchins.
In 1827, vested with the Franciscan habit, he began his novitiate as a Friar Minor Capuchin.During his novitiate, he distinguished himself by his exquisite fidelity in his life as a novice, devoting himself generously to his studies and prayer.His Capuchin heart was molded by the Gospels, Mary, Saint Francis and the love of neighbor.In 1828, Friar José de Igualada was already a Capuchin and he began his walk towards the priesthood.He was ordained a priest in Barcelona on May 24, 1834 at 23 years of age, following six years of a hidden life of prayer, silence, committed dedication to study, while living in a Franciscan environment of joy and simplicity of the Capuchin community.Within the year he was assigned to the convent of Saint Madrona.
Hardly two months had elapsed, when on July 25, 1835, he found himself outside the cloister as a result of revolutionary violence. Together with other brothers, and on the advice of his superiors, he exiled himself from Spain.
In the typical Capuchin style of those times, he traveled from town to town, covering the entire Mediterranean coast of France and ending in Gareccio, Italy. Finally, in 1837 he installed himself in Toulouse, France, carrying out his priestly ministry in the monastery of Benedictine nuns of perpetual adoration.There he devoted time to contemplation, to Eucharistic devotion and spiritual direction of young student boarders.
Motivated by his apostolic zeal, he returned to Catalonia in 1843 to work in the local church, as a secular priest inasmuch as convent life was prohibited.He lived with his parents as he developed his priestly ministry in various parishes.Father Tous relied on the Eucharist, his devotion to Mary, Mother of the Good Shepherd, and the Association of Maidens of the Child Martyr St. Romana, in order to instill peace and goodness to the youth who sought him for advice and orientation.
The sentiments of compassion toward children and youth that the Good Shepherd instilled in the heart of Father José converged with the pious wishes of several young women, Isabel Jubal, Marta Suñol and Remedio Palos, to “pour into the tender hearts of children holy thoughts and devotional fondness that God communicated to them in prayer.”After allowing the matter to mature in prayer and after consultation, Father Tous agreed to counsel them.
The years that he had left in life, he devoted to charitable and prudent attention to the Sisters, as well as to the communities that were being formed.
Father Tous left the earth for heaven while he celebrated Mass in the convent of Barcelona.It was February 27, 1871.