Mons. João Scognamiglio Clá Dias, EP, honorary canon of the Papal Basilica of Santa Maria Maior, is the founder of the International Private Association of Faithful of Pontifical Laws Heralds of the Gospel, of the Clerical Society of Virgo Flos Carmeli and of the Feminine Society of Apostolic Life Regina Virginum . She is currently Superior General of Virgo Flos Carmeli and Heralds of the Gospel.
Mons. João Scognamiglio Clá Dias was born in São Paulo, Brazil, on August 15, 1939, the solemnity of the Assumption of Our Lady. Her parents, António Clá Dias and Annitta Scognamiglio Clá Dias, were a family of European immigrants (her father was Spanish and her mother, Italian), in which the Catholic Faith, inherited from her elders, was still very much alive.
This vigor of the Faith manifested itself early in the young John, for already in the school benches he tried to organize with his colleagues a movement to give young people a virtuous orientation to existence. He was a member of the Marian Congregations and joined, on May 23, 1956, in the Terceira do Carmo Order, of the PP. Carmelites of the old observance, in the city of S. Paulo, fact that marked his life.
He received his secondary studies at the Roosevelt State College and studied Law at the traditional Faculty of Largo de São Francisco, in São Paulo. During higher studies, he stood out as an active Catholic university leader in the convulsed years preceding the Sorbonne Revolution of May 1968.
Seeing that music would be an effective means of evangelization, he perfected his knowledge with the renowned conductor Miguel Arqueróns, regent of the Paulistano Choir of the Municipal Theater of São Paulo.
His intense desire to dedicate his life to the apostolate, for which a broad doctrinal knowledge was necessary, led him to undertake Thomistic theological studies with great professors of Salamanca (Spain), such as Fr. Arturo Alonso Lobo OP, Fr. Marcelino Cabreros de Anta CMF, or Fr. Victorino Rodríguez y Rodríguez OP, or Fr. Esteban Gómez OP, or Fr. Antonio Royo Marín OP, or Fr. Teófilo Urdánoz OP and Father Armando Bandeira O.P. As a token of deep gratitude to his masters, he later published the biographies of several of them, with editions in Spain and the United States: "Antonio Royo Marín, master of spirituality, brilliant preacher and famous writer", "Father Cabreros de Anta CMF , a firm pillar of Canon Law in our century. " He graduated in Philosophy and, in Theology, at the Centro Universitário Ítalo-Brasilero, in São Paulo; he holds a doctorate in Canon Law from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (Angelicum) and theology from Pontifical Bolivarian University in Medellin, Colombia. He has a degree in Humanities from the Pontificia Universidad Católica Madre y Maestra in the Dominican Republic.
A deep yearning for perfection led him, in 1970, to begin an experience of community life in a former Benedictine property in São Paulo. Of the first companions, no one persevered. However, after many difficulties, that experience became solid, giving rise later to the Heralds of the Gospel. From this original focus they multiplied themselves with houses of community life where their members dedicated themselves to prayer and study as preparation for evangelizing action.
Legally, the movement formed by Mons. João Clá took the form of a Private Association of Faithful, the Heralds of the Gospel, in the diocese of Campo Limpo (Brazil). And as a result of its implementation in 20 other countries, it was recognized by the Pontifical Council of the Laity on February 22, 2001, as a Private International Association of the Faithful of Pontifical Law, which today extends its activities to around 70 countries on five continents . Mons. João Clá Dias is the founder and current President of the Heralds of the Gospel.
It also organized a feminine branch of the Heralds, which concretized - in a similar way, but separately from the masculine branch - the ideal of community life, as a means to attain holiness and better prepare for the evangelizing mission. From the feminine branch of the Heralds was born later the Society of Apostolic Life Regina Virginum, recognized on April 4, 2009, by the Holy Father Benedict XVI.
The desire for greater surrender to the Lord and to the brothers led Mons. John Clá to prepare for the priestly ministry, along with some of his companions.
One of the remote origins of the Heralds of the Gospel, the Third Order of Carmel, was a Carmelite prelate, Lucio Angelo Renna, then bishop of Avezzano, Italy, who welcomed the first priests of this Association.
They were ordained priests, together with Mons. João Clá, 15 of June of 2005, in the same Basilica of the Carmo where almost 50 years before he had begun his activities in the service of the Church and the brothers. The ceremony was honored with his presence by Cardinal D. Claudio Hummes, while concelebrants were seven more bishops and seventy priests.
Mons. John Clá founded together with these first priests of the Heralds of the Gospel the Clerical Society of Apostolic Life Virgo Flos Carmeli, approved April 4, 2009, by Pope Benedict XVI. Currently Mgr. João Clá is your Superior General.
He wrote works of great divulgation (some of them surpassing one million copies), published in Portuguese, Spanish, English, Italian, French, Polish and Albanian: "Fatima, dawn of the third millennium", "The Rosary, , "Sacred Heart of Jesus, treasure of kindness and love", "Miraculous Medal, history and heavenly promises", "Way of the Cross", "Jacinta and Francisco, beloved of Mary", "Prayers for everyday life" , "Mother of Good Counsel", "Dona Lucilia" and "Comments to the Little Office of the Immaculate Conception". The doctoral thesis in Canon Law is entitled "The genesis and development of the Movement of the Heralds of the Gospel and their canonical recognition", and that of Theology, "The gift of wisdom in the mind, life and work of Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira" .
He is founder and collaborator of the monthly magazine Heralds of the Gospel, published in English, Portuguese, Spanish and Italian, totaling around 800 thousand copies. Since 2002, it has maintained the section "Commentary on the Gospel". Also the academic magazine "Lumen Veritatis", of which it collaborates, published by the Faculty Heralds of the Gospel, came to light in October of 2007, thanks to its stimulus.
In view of the need for intellectual, spiritual and doctrinal formation of the Heralds of the Gospel, Msgr. João Clá founded the Philosophical Aristotelian Institute of Tomate (IFAT) and the Theological Institute of St. Thomas Aquinas, as well as the Philosophical-Theological Institute Santa Escolástica, for the feminine branch. In order to encourage the emergence of vocations among the youngsters, it promoted the opening of secondary schools, of which the first was the Heralds College of the International Gospel in Greater São Paulo.
In order to help underprivileged ecclesial works, she created in the Heralds of the Gospel Association in Brazil the "Misericórdia" assistance fund, which collects donations through direct mail.
The construction of the church of Our Lady of the Rosary, at the Seminary of the Heralds of the Gospel in Caieiras, in Greater São Paulo, was one of its most recent achievements, and it was almost completed, thanks to its initiative, the Monastery of Monte Carmelo, - Mother of the Regina Virginum Women's Society.
Mons. João Clá is a member of the International Society of Aquinas, of the Marial Academy of Aparecida, and of the Pontifical Academy of the Immaculate. He was awarded in several countries for his cultural and scientific activity, receiving the Medal of Sciences of Mexico and the title of Doctor Honoris Causa, granted by the Centro Universitário Ítalo-Brasileiro, of São Paulo.
On August 15, 2009, the Holy Father Benedict XVI, in recognition of the work he has done in favor of the Holy Church, conferred on Msgr. João Clá, by the hands of the Emmo. Cardinal Franc Rodé, prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, the "Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice" medal, one of the highest honors granted by the Pope to those distinguished for their work in favor of the Church and the Roman Pontiff. Mons. João Clá is also honorary canon of the Papal Basilica of Santa Maria Maior, in Rome, and Apostolic Protonotary.