Candido Casals Sunyer

Casals Cándido

Born August 22, 1897 in La Nou (Barcelona).

Professed September 8, 1913 in Cervera.

Ordained a priest May 29, 1920 in Zaragoza.

Martyred July 29, 1936 in Barcelona.

Local Superior of the house of Gracia

 

He was born on August 22, 1897, in the Nou (Barcelona). The next day he was baptized in the parish Church of San Saturnino de Malanyeu (Barcelona) of the Diocese of Solsona. He received the Sacrament of Confirmation on September 5, 1899, by the Bishop of Solsona.

His parents were Don Ramón Casals and Ms. Maria Sunyer, who had three other children. Candido was the youngest of their children. In the family and in the parish he received his education and that of the Christian faith. When he was a child, he was attracted by the things of the Church and in discovering his calling to serve in the Church.

He entered the Postulancy of Vic when he was 10 years old. His Prefect was Father Gumersindo Valtierra. There he completed the courses of Humanities, Analogy, Syntax, and Rhetoric. He received excellent grades. Every year he seemed to be doing and better, with remarkable talent, with both physical and moral qualities.

In 1911, he would move on to Cervera with his companions. They all entered the Novitiate but since he was only 14 years old, he would begin his classes in Philosophy and Logic. In the year (1912-1913), he made his Novitiate, but since he wasn’t 15 years old, or of canonical age, he couldn’t receive the habit in August but had to wait until September 7, 1912. His initial Master of Novices was Father Mariano Fernández, who was elected Provincial. Father Ramón Ribera would take the place as the new Master. He made his First Profession on September 8, 1913. There he completed the remaining years in Philosophy, Metaphysics and Ethics, then on to Dogmatic Theology until the summer of 1918. On July 18, 1915, he received Tonsure along with 58 other students and the Minor Orders with a group of 9. During this time, his Prefects were Father’s Felipe de Jesús Munárriz and Jaime Girón.

In 1918, he moved to Alagon to study Moral Theology. And there on August 22nd, he made his Perpetual Profession. The following year, June 14, 1919, he received the Subdiaconate in Zaragoza from the Archbishop of Zaragoza. On August 29th, in Alagon he received the Diaconate from the same Archbishop. On May 29, 1920, he was ordained a priest in Zaragoza. He was a model student because of his application and fervor.

 

Excellent preacher

From Alagon, he moved on to Aranda de Duero to take the course of preparation for the ministry. The preparation was theoretical and practical, in that he would go to preach to the people on important occasions. Completing the course, he was sent to Cervera as a preacher, and in 1924 to Vic. Here developed in an extraordinary way his oratory skills. He was an excellent preacher, with a strong and clear voice. He had a great reputation as a preacher, but would also set aside time to prepare his talks. To do this, knew how to take advantage of the good library available to the House, especially in matters relating to preaching and the needs of listeners. Physically he was a large man and a great preacher. This is demonstrated in his popular missions and by preaching with messages from the heart. In fact, he was often requested to preach in numerous places. In this regard, almost every summers the Superiors appointed him to give the students the public speaking classes. All seemed to recognized him as a great teacher.

 

The office of Superior

In the triennium 1928-1931, he became Superior of La Selva del Campo and from (1931-1934) he was assigned to Lerida as a Consultant. In 1934, he was elected Provincial Superior of the house of Barcelona. This appointment caused questions in the entire province of Catalonia. By very serious and powerful reasons, he resigned – three times – and by virtue of holy obedience, and he had no choice. Naturally as there were many who renounced the Provincial Government. He adopted a closed attitude and found it difficult to listen to reason. I think that if you tried to do evil, these elections couldn’t be any worse.

He would continue until he could no longer. This words streamed throughout the Province that the Provincial Government needed an amen for this house. In addition it was already known that the only choice was Father Fabregat, local Consultant and Provincial Consultant…

Here, it would be said, the Superior doesn’t rule but the Consultant. But one needed to realize all these considerations. This text showed his humility and obedience, because the office as Superior was a heavy load that he accepted in obedience. The office of Superior was a cross that he embraced by obedience.

His subjects considered him an excellent Superior, exhibiting fine treatment, gentle and delicate. He had a great modesty in the way he treated the venerable priests of the community. He was very kind and tried to promote initiatives for his subordinates.

During this mandate, he didn’t lack for problems, both internal and external. The internal order reflected the number of observers, personnal movement, the illness of the local minister for a few months of which he had to take charge. This alone prevented him from fulfilling the obligation of sending the end of year reports. External order, as you may guess were the political and social situation, affecting the safety of the individuals and the running of the college. In a letter written May 25, 1936, to the Superior General, Fr Philip Maroto, he stated the following: “With regard to the community of Barcelona right now (emphasis in the original) things are not so pessimistic. It seems that it will not effect the closure of religious schools. God above all.”

This text was written not even two months before the outbreak of the Marxist Revolution which gives the impression that he didn’t know the ruling political parties or believed the good words he said. It’s good to trust in providence, but one also needs to take prudent steps. This view, apparently was widespread among the religious. “They saw the Revolution come and we don’t know if penetrated from the beginning the gravity of the situation in Spain. There were many who believed that it was a matter of a few days and that normalcy would return shortly to the homeland.”

Anyway, he was concerned for the community. He sought refuge for its members and left money in a pharmacy for the clergy so they wouldn’t lack the money or clothes.

 

Qualities and virtues

He had excellent intellectual qualities.

Faith. He was a man of faith. That could be seen in his missionary activity.

Charity. It was a characteristic of him. Never denied, as reflected in the treatment of others. He acted with an ardent charity to subordinates, in his kindness and concern. In fact, he cared for everyone and even many more in the days of the Revolution. Fervor. Piety. Reflected in his modesty.

Zeal for the salvation of souls, by which he developed ministerial activity. He was a tireless preacher. He insisted that the people who were sick also be assisted spiritually.

Observant. To the Constitutions and very careful with everyone. Truly live his Religious vows.

Exemplary Behavior. As Master of Novices – leading the meditations.

He was simple, humble, modest. With simplicity to his peers.

Acceptance of martyrdom. He believed he would die. This is why he didn’t leave the House of Gracia at first, of which he could he have done. When it was in ruins, this demonstrated the strength of his character. Once leaving the convent, he declared to those to be resigned to the will of God and to shed their blood. He even expressed his desire to die for Christ. He was determined to die for Christ.

 

Martyrdom

July 19, 1936, he took care of everyone except those served by the Provincial and Fr. Montaner. Leaving the convent, they went to the families assigned in advance for refuge: the last minute at the request of the Provincial, Fr. Goñi, they left the Provincial house and moved dodging shots from various points, to the home of a friend, the Casal family, which supplied fish to the community. To escape the bullets was almost a miracle, as there were rifle stationed and ready to shoot any passers-by. The Civil Guard was arriving which created a bit of confusion and the priest moved unnoticed. He went his way, although there was no shortage of bullets flying and he was lucky none hit him. So he was able to get to the house of his friend.

There he spent the night, but he couldn’t sleep thinking about the sick and those left in the house. Even more, his bitterness was accentuated when seeing from the window of house he  took refuge, he could see the flames which consumed the convent and church. Several times he wanted to return to the convent to help but his friends disuaded him. He answered: nothing matters to me to die, if God wants it.

In the morning of the following day, to avoid the inconvenience of a registration for his friends, he left home accompanied by two children of the family to the house of his cousins. As the priest and his companions descended the ladder, the militiants were in the elevator to register the family.

He stayed with his relatives until July 25th, exhibiting tranquility and conformity to the will of God. As a priest, he was ready to accept death. Apparently, during these days he tried to move to France. He went to the French Consulate to obtain a passport, but didn’t succeed. By the evening of the 25th, he moved to another cousin, Dr. Sunyer.

On July 27th, he went to visit his nephews, who were in another house in Barcelona. The house was surrounded by militiants. Two Salesians, were trapped on another street and the Marxist patrols were registering the house. The Father, without realizing the situation, climbed the ladder and they recognized that he was a priest. A member of the militia took the beret off, saw the crown and said:

– You are a priest.

– Yes I am, responded the priest.

Then the militiants said to the owner of the pension; so there is also crown heads in the house? By the inquiries, they found out that he was the Superior of the Father Claret community, where according to them he had been arrested. They beat him with the rifle butts and uttered profanity and insults. They arrested him along with the two Salesians. As he boarded a truck between blows many onlookers witnessed everything from the street. According to information from a nephew of the Father, the four were taken to a Republic, the Union of Gracia, and tortured horribly in order to extract a statement.

Nothing is known of the time and place where they were executed. Their bodies were taken to the Clinic at 7:00 in the morning of the 28th. The picture of his body was recognized by a family member. Shortly after the photograph of his body was seen in the Palace of Justice with a bullet in his temples. It is assumed that he was buried in the cemetery of San Andrés de Palomar, because the Salesians were buried in a common grave in this place.