Together with the group of 22 Spanish Oblates martyrs beatified was one layman. Cándido Castán San José, born in 1894, was married with two children and lived in Pozuelo de Alarcon, Madrid, where the Oblate scholasticate was. Employed in the railways, he was a convinced Christian and socially involved as the President of the National Confederation of Catholic Workers. Very involved in the life of the church of Pozuelo, he would have had contact with the Oblates and with some of the public Eucharistic devotions in the their chapel. His daughter recounts:
“In our home we lived in a deep religious climate. My father prayed the rosary every day and was very devoted to the Blessed Virgin, teaching us that she was our Heavenly Mother. In the afternoon he visited the Blessed Sacrament. Many times I accompanied him and on other occasions he told us that he had prayed in this or that Church.”
On July 23 1936 he was arrested from his home by the militia and brought to the Oblate scholasticate, where he was detained with the community – and put to death with the first group of Oblate martyrs.
“More than one asked us why the Oblates included this family man in the cause of its martyrs, since he is not a religious, and not part of their Institute. The Postulator’s answer is clear and unequivocal: the eve of his martyrdom they locked him in the convent of the Oblates, shot him on the same night with the first group of religious and, without giving rise to doubts, for the same reason: “in odium fidei” , for his clear testimony of consistency with the faith he professed and lived. If it had not been included, it would have been an unforgivable injustice.” (http://martiresomimadrid.blogspot.com/2010/01/candido-castan-san-jose_13.html)
Blessed Cándido was definitely not an intentional Oblate associate, but having shared his final and total oblation with the first group of Spanish Oblate martyrs, his life and death teach us a powerful lesson on the spirit of oblation. For me, he is a member of the Mazenodian Family, whose life and death speak loudly of Eugene’s ideal.
We strive to reproduce in ourselves the pattern of his life. Thus, we give ourselves to the Father in obedience even unto death and dedicate ourselves to God’s people in unselfish love.
Our apostolic zeal is sustained by the unreserved gift we make of ourselves in our oblation, an offering constantly renewed by the challenges of our mission
CC&RR, Constitution 2
(See “SAINT EUGENE SPEAKS THROUGH THE SPANISH MARTYRS” http://www.eugenedemazenod.net/?p=1142 – and following)