Tribute to Father Joaquin Masmitja
Fr. Joaquin Masmitjá was born in Olot, Spain, on December 29, 1808, the fourth child of Francisco and Maria Gracia. He was baptized on the same day in the Church of San Esteban. He was quiet and unassuming, wishing to get along with others but not afraid of showing piety; in addition, he was extremely intelligent. Joaquin, from an early age, desired to be a priest. He entered a high school seminary and then went on to get degrees in canon and civil law. However, his greatest achievement came when he was ordained a priest on February 22, 1834.
He was assigned to a parish right after ordination and was noted for his spiritual direction. Eventually, he was sent to his hometown parish. He worked diligently, providing his parishioners with spiritual nourishment. He became friends with St. Anthony Mary Claret and even brought him in to do a parish mission.
Fr. Masmitjá became increasingly concerned over the poor education of young girls; he sought to rebuild society through their education in prayer and Christian Doctrine. He was inspired as well by the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary. On July 1, 1848, Fr. Joaquin Masmitjá founded the Daughters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
A short time after the foundation of the community, he was assigned to the Cathedral in Gerona, becoming Pastor on September 19, 1849. He began work on a Catalonian Catechism at this time to enable more people to learn the faith. Unfortunately, he had to leave this project unfinished. When Pope Pius IX asked each diocese for its opinion on the possibility of making the Immaculate Conception a dogma, Fr. Masmitjá prepared his diocese’s statement. He promoted devotion to Mary in many other ways. For example, he established the Archconfraternity of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in the Cathedral Parish in 1849.
Eventually, he was appointed judge in the diocesan tribunal and the bishop’s spiritual director. On September 30, 1853, he was appointed to the office of Penitentiary at the Gerona Cathedral. After the death of the bishop, Fr. Masmitjá led the diocese until a new bishop could be appointed. After a bishop was named, he became the vicar general of the diocese.
Fr. Masmitjá continued to guide his spiritual daughters despite his many duties. On Thursday, August 26, 1886, Fr. Masmijtá died as the result of a serious fall.
Fr. Masmitjá continually accepted God’s plan as it unfolded in his life; he truly imitated Mary’s fiat. He had a true love for all people, desiring sinners to be brought back to God. People were attracted to holiness by the witness of Fr. Masmitja.
It was said of Fr. Masmitjá: “[He] is not an ordinary man, but one of those whose sanctity is transparent and noticeable even when they try to hide it.”
He desired to live his life for God and for others; he was a priest dedicated to His Lord. He deserved the high praise of one: “His priestly life was perfect.”
What did Father Masmitjá mean by an 8th sword?