Our religious experience began in the Diocese of San Rafael, a small and humble diocese in Argentina, located in a picturesque southern region of Mendoza Province, very close to the Andes. The beginning of the religious experience providentially coincided with the Solemnity of the Incarnation of Word, March 25, 1984, which is our main feast.
The first years (1984-1988) were lived intensely, with the fervor and enthusiasm proper to a new work of the Holy Spirit. Only one year after the foundation, a donation allowed us to live religious life with the fullness that was desired: we purchased a small property, a “finca,” in Toledano, San Rafael, destined to be the Mother House of the new Institute; with the approval of the Bishop of San Rafael, the “Villa de Luján” was founded on this land. The first Mass was celebrated on February 22, 1985, the Feast of the Chair of St. Peter.
Gradually, the new Institute began to extend beyond the boundaries of the Diocese of San Rafael, starting with the Diocese of Añatuya, Province of Santiago del Estero. In 1987, the Institute of the Incarnate Word crossed national borders, taking the first steps to concretize its missionary project: in February, the first mission in Peru was founded in the parish of Limatambo, Diocese of Cuzco. In 1989, the presence of the Institute’s members reached America: on July 1, the first priests of the Institute started working in the Diocese of Brooklyn, New York (USA).
“Finca,” in Toledano, San Rafael
Seminarian Marcelo Javier Morsella
A few days later, one of the first desires of our founder, Father Carlos Miguel Buela, which he had nurtured from the beginning so that the formation of our priests would be solid, came true, namely, to have in Rome the possibility of hosting a community of priest-students who would perfect their studies in the Pontifical Universities of the Eternal City. The first community was hosted by a house of religious women in Casalotti (Rome, Italy).
On December 27, 1987, the Feast of St. John the Apostle, the Minor Seminary was officially founded: having begun in great poverty the previous year in the “Villa de Luján,” it then moved to St. Maximilian Mary Kolbe Parish (the Institute’s first parish in San Rafael) until a property was donated to it right behind the Major Seminary in San Rafael.
Several establishments were founded in 1988: the men’s novitiate on February 22, named after the first deceased member of our congregation, seminarian Marcelo Javier Morsella; the women’s branch of our Institute with the name “Servants of the Lord and the Virgin of Matará” on March 19, the feast of St. Joseph; the contemplative branch on December 25.
In the same year, the Institute’s First Ordinary General Chapter took place on September 23. Father C. M. Buela wanted, as far as possible, to live religious life according to the norms of Canon Law; thus it was that, among other things, he arranged for the authorities of the new Institute to be chosen by election.
In the following years, the Institute grew a great deal. An event of particular significance was the founding of our religious seminary, which, until that time, had been united with the diocesan seminary, which was governed until 1990 by the Institute. On April 16, Bishop Kruk authorized the foundation of our own house of formation, “Mary Mother of the Incarnate Word,” in San Rafael.
The ability to have our own seminary meant facilitating for us the task of the formation of seminarians according to the specific purpose of the Institute; for example, it gave us the possibility to study ancient languages (Latin, Greek, Hebrew) and modern languages, and also to accentuate the missionary dimension of formation.
House of formation, “Mary Mother of the Incarnate Word,” in San Rafael
Missio sui iuris in Tajikistan
Other important events were: the drafting of the Constitutions of the Institute of the Incarnate Word in the year 1992; the foundations in Russia, Jerusalem, and Taiwan in 1993 and in Ukraine in 1994. The year 1994 saw the Second Ordinary General Chapter, held between August and September; during this time, the Constitutions and Directories of the Institute were fully approved, the Provinces were organized, and the authorities, ways, and times of election established.
The years from 1995 to 2001 were marked by special events: There were three successive pontifical commissaries—José Antonio Ricco, O.S.B. (1995-1998), Aurelio Londoño, C.M. (1998-1999), and Bishop Alfonso Delgado (1999-2001)—with the task of carrying out the functions of the general government of the Institute. Although amidst trials, the Institute was entrusted by the Holy See with the missio sui iuris in Tajikistan, an Asian country of the former Soviet Union.
Another important decision of the Holy See, communicated in a letter dated April 11, 2011, was to establish that the general house of the Institute be located in the Diocese of Velletri-Segni (Italy) and that a provisional government be established for the purpose of convening a general chapter. The Second Extraordinary General Chapter was held in Segni, Italy from May 21 to 28 of the same year, and Father C. M. Buela was again chosen as superior general.
In the history of the Institute of the Incarnate Word, the event that has had perhaps the most impact was the canonical erection of the Institute as a religious institute of diocesan right, with a decree signed by Bishop Andrea Maria Erba on May 8, 2004, the feast of the Virgin of Luján, patroness of our Institutes. Recently, the Holy See named a new pontifical commissary: His Eminence Cardinal Santos Abril y Castelló, who has been acting as superior general of our Institute since June 2019.