In January 1st 1987 the bishop of Cuenca approved the Disciples of the Hearts of Jesus and Maria. This significant date is preceded by other important dates, mainly feasts of Our Lady. The most important without a doubt was December 8th 1984, when, culminating a time of discernment and prayer on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, the founders decided to leave the seminary to start their Religious life together. This is how we started our path to share our vocation, mission, work, spirituality and friendship with the Lord. In 1987, after our second year of religious life, we got our first approval from the church and the gift of ordination of our first priest, Luis de Prada. In 1988, we had our first novitiate in our mother house in Villaescusa de Haro (Cuenca). During this first period our house of formation was in Burgos. Our lives were dedicated fundamentally to prayer and study, complemented by a few recreational activities, such as trips to the mountains or sports.
In 1994, our Lord opened two new paths for the disciples: Jose Noriega was sent to Rome to do a Doctorate in Theology. Another group of four priests were sent to Madrid to begin our first apostolic community and develop our first missions as priests. It consisted of work with families, youth, spiritual direction, and the spiritual exercises of St. Ignatius. Soon, other disciples where sent to Rome where we established a community near the grave of the Apostles. Rome was a big challenge and an amazing opportunity. There, we were able to meet the great theology teachers who have taught us how to give new answers, solidly rooted in the faith of the Church, to the man of today. Fruit of our work of study are many publications, the “Didaskalos” collection in Spain and the Disciples Books in the United States.
In 1998, the house of formation was transferred from Burgos to Madrid to continue our studies at the School of Theology of San Damaso. A year later, Jose Noriega became a professor of moral theology at this school. Soonafter, other disciples began to teach at this school, and Jose Noriega returned to Rome to work there as a professor.
In 2002, fifteen years after our first approval, the Bishop in Cuenca, Rev. Ramon del Hoyo, approved us as a Religious Institute of the Diocesan Right. This blessing of the lord was the start of new projects.
In 2004, the disciples made themselves present in the new world: Jose Granados started teaching as professor in the John Paul II Institute in Catholic University of America in Washington D.C. Other priests went with him to study and to do pastoral work in the Diocese of Arlington (Virginia). God blessed these first steps with our first two vocations from America. In 2007, Alvaro Montero with two other disciples opened another community in Denver Colorado, where Rev. Chaput welcomed us with generosity, placing under our care the parish of St. Mary in Littleton Colorado.
The last few years have witnessed the birth of two new institutions as a proof of the maturity and experience thus far. In 2010, the Cardinal Archbishop of Madrid approved Families of Bethany as an Association of the Faithful. Families of Bethany is a family movement that helps and works with families, be it with children, youth, and matrimonies. In 2011 the “Stella Maris” School opened its doors in the Ensanche de Vallecas in Madrid.
This is in a few brush strokes our history, a history that God has led to offer the Church the gift of a new religious family. May the Lord will to continue blessing us so that we may give fruit that is abundant and long-lasting.