Institute of the Incarnate Word

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Institute of the Incarnate Word
Abbreviation IVE
Formation March 25, 1984; 31 years ago (1984-03-25)
Type Catholic religious institute
Headquarters Piazza San Píetro, 2
  • Segni, Roma, Italia
Key people
Fr. Carlos Miguel Buela - Founder


The Institute of the Incarnate Word (IVE) is a Roman Catholic religious institute founded in Argentina by Fr. Carlos Miguel Buela on March 25, 1984. The Institute is a Clerical Institute[1] of Consecrated Life of Diocesan Right[2] which includes both priests and religious brothers of either apostolic or contemplative life. The Institute is the first, male branch of the Religious Family of the Incarnate Word established by Fr. Buela; the other two branches are the female religious community known as the Servants of the Lord and the Virgin of Matará (SSVM) and the Secular Third Order.

Members of the Institute imitate and follow the Incarnate Word by means of the profession of the vows of chastity, poverty and obedience. These are the three evangelical counsels through which the religious strives to reach the state of Christian perfection.

In addition, a fourth vow of Marian slavery is professed, all according to the spirit of St. Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort. By means of this vow, members consecrate their whole lives to the Blessed Virgin Mary so as to “Marianize” their lives, doing everything “through Mary, with Mary, in Mary and for Mary.”[3]


Fr. Carlos Miguel Buela, IVE celebrates Mass for missionaries of the Institute of the Incarnate Word in Canada.

Fr. Carlos Miguel Buela founded the Institute of the Incarnate Word in Argentina on March 25, 1984, on the Solemnity of the Annunciation (the same day that Pope St. John Paul II consecrated the world to Our Lady of Fatima[4] with the approval of Bishop León Kruk in the Diocese of San Rafael.

A few years later, in 1988, Fr. Buela founded the female branch, the Servants of the Lord and the Virgin of Matará, with the same charism and mission. From the very beginning, Fr. Buela also received requests from many lay members asking to share in the Institute’s spirituality and to participate in its apostolates. Heeding these requests under the light of God's Providence, Fr. Buela also began the IVE Third Order. After passing almost two decades in the initial stages as a new religious community, the IVE became a religious congregation of diocesan right in May 8, 2004[5] under the guidance of resident diocesan Bishop Andrea Maria Erba of the Diocese of Velletri-Segni near Rome, Italy, the site of the Institute’s main house.

From its original foundation in Argentina, the Religious Family of the Incarnate Word has extended, through the grace of God, to diverse parts of the world. There are approximately 1,900 members (including both those in the IVE and those in the SSVM) who currently serve in 38 countries[6] spanning five continents.


United States[edit]

Priestly ordination of members of the Institute of the Incarnate Word at the Basilica Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC.

The first IVE priests to come to the United States arrived in New York in December 1989, the SSVM sisters arriving shortly thereafter. (Read the late Cardinal Egan’s impression of the Institute titled, “A Gift for New York”, here:

Several years later, given its rapid growth, the IVE officially established the Province of the Immaculate Conception which includes the United States, Canada, Mexico, and Guyana. The Institute began its American novitiate (St. Isaac Jogues & Companion Martyrs Novitiate) in 1998, its seminary (the Ven. Fulton Sheen House of Formation) in 1999, and a high school seminary (Bl. Jose Sanchez del Rio High School Seminary) in 2008. That same year in Guyana, the IVE also started a residence for boys who aspire to the priesthood. In the province there are currently 40 priests and about 75 young men in formation.


IVE priests arrived in Canada in July 1996 at the behest of Cardinal Archbishop Aloysius Ambrozic of Toronto. Saint Augustine of Canterbury Church[7] in North York was the first Canadian parish to be entrusted to the IVE, followed by two churches in the Diocese of Peterborough in the Province of Ontario.


On January 14, 2004, the IVE landed in the Philippines, “the light of the faith in Asia” according to St. John Paul II. The first IVE priests who arrived to the country were entrusted with the chapel of Santa Lutgarda (later to be the first parish dedicated to Our Lady of Lujan) in the Diocese of Kalookan. They have been made chaplains at Manila Central University Hospital as well as various schools such as De La Salle Araneta. In August 2009, the Institute of the Incarnate Word established the Our Lady of Sheshan Seminary in Lipa City, Philippines as a center for Asian vocations. They began in the form of a small rented house in a suburb, but an increasing number of vocations from the Philippines, Taiwan, Hong Kong, India, Nigeria and Cameroon meant that a much larger property was needed. In 2011, thanks to the generous contributions of some benefactors, the Institute acquired some land in a tranquil rural baranggay about 80 km south of Manila. Construction to house the future missionary priests began in earnest in August 2013. In March 2014, Archbishop Ramon C. Arguelles of the Archdiocese of Lipa blessed the priests’ dormitory. The priest-formators and the seminarians have since moved into the new compound, which is still in the process of completion.

Other Missions[edit]

Missionary Priest of the Institute of the Incarnate Word
A missionary priest of the Institute of the Incarnate Word makes a pastoral visit to a village in Papua New Guinea.

As members of the Institute are under the auspices of the local bishops, members of the Institute may assist them in the local Churches, providing formators for the seminaries, or accepting parochial and school assignments. Thus, in addition to managing houses of formation in Argentina, Brazil, Ecuador, Peru, Italy, Taiwan, the United States, and the Philippines, the Institute provides formators and professors for diocesan seminaries and universities in Italy,[8] Peru, the Holy Land, Papua New Guinea, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, and the United States.[9]

One mission of special notice is the Mission “Sui Iuris” in Tajikistan, which St. John Paul II entrusted to the care of the Institute on September 29, 1997. As the Holy See indicates, a mission “sui iuris” is a special missionary territory which is not part of any diocese, vicariate, or apostolic jurisdiction.[10] Thus, to provide an organized structure to such a territory, the Holy Father appoints a religious superior as the highest ranking Church authority within its boundaries. As of 2005 Tajikistan had only 245 Catholics being tended to by three priests, all of whom belong to the Institute.[10]

The congregation is presently divided into 14 Ecclesiastical Jurisdictions of the Roman Rite and various Eastern Rites. Each jurisdiction is under the governorship of a provincial superior; the current Superior General of the Institute is Fr. Carlos Walker, IVE.

Religious Family of the Incarnate Word[edit]

Servants of the Lord and the Virgin of Matará[edit]

Founded on March 19, 1988 by Fr. Buela, the Servants of the Lord and the Virgin of Matará (SSVM) is the female branch of the Religious Family of the Incarnate Word. Sharing the same founder, charism and spirituality, they are indissolubly united while canonically independent from the Institute of the Incarnate Word. Currently there are approximately 1,000 members in 35 mission areas. They also have their own houses of formation as well as a contemplative branch.

Third Order[edit]

The Secular Third Order or the lay order of the Family of the Incarnate Word is an association of lay faithful who live in the world while participating in the spirit of the religious family. Members seek Christian perfection in the wide sphere of the lay vocation in order to help bring about the sanctification of themselves and of all men. For this purpose the Family of the Incarnate Word is united by the same faith, the same ends, the same mission, the same charism, and the same spirit, determined to be the “salt of the earth and the light of the world” (Mt 5, 13-14).

Contemplative Branch[edit]

Contemplative life in the Institute of the Incarnate Word
A contemplative monk of the Institute of the Incarnate Word at the Monastery of Our Lady of El Pueyo, Spain.

For the last two millennia, the monastery has served as fertile ground for the building of solid virtues and has attracted with mysterious and powerful ardor the highest and noblest of souls called to such a life. Time and time again, contemplative life has constantly and consistently played a paramount role in light of the Church’s salvific mission. In choosing a life of prayer and penance, religious obtain from the Lord graces necessary for the salvation of many souls.

Fr. Buela understood the apostolic role of contemplative life in the Church and accordingly founded the contemplative branch of the Institute of the Incarnate Word in December 1988. Ever since, the monks of the Institute have dedicated themselves to prayer, living in community under the same monastery roof as true brothers and subjecting themselves to a rule and an abbot.

The monks live a fraternal life during times of recreation (wherein they seek to practice the virtue of eutrapelia) yet their main concern is to seek to unite themselves to the “one thing necessary” (unum necessarium), that is, God in the context of silence and solitude. As a sign and witness of poverty, they wear a simple monastic habit: white sackcloth, a cowl, a leather belt, and a white scapular onto which the shield of the Institute is embroidered.

Currently the Institute has six monasteries: one in Argentina, Italy, Israel, and Tunisia, and two in Spain.


After taking into consideration the general end of all religious orders in the Catholic Church (which is to seek the glory of God and the salvation of souls), the Institute of the Incarnate Word considers its specific end to be the evangelization of the culture, to work "through the power of the Gospel, to transform mankind's criteria of judgment, determining values, points of interest, lines of thought, sources of inspiration, and models of life" (Evangelii Nuntiandi, 19). Therefore, the charism of the Institute of the Incarnate Word is the grace to know how to work concretely so as to extend the presence of Christ in families, education, the mass media, the scholarly, and in all other legitimate manifestations of human life. As stated in the words of the constitutions, it is to extend the Incarnation 'to all men, in the whole man, and in all of the manifestations of man,' all in accordance with the teachings of the Magisterium of the Catholic Church.

Priestly Identity[edit]

Flowing from the charism and the way of life presented by the Institute’s Constitutions and Directories, there are 14 essential traits that must characterize a priest of the IVE. Within the Institute, itself, they are known as the “non-negotiable” elements of our identity as a religious congregation.[11] The “non-negotiables” are:

  1. Priests of the Institute of the Incarnate Word celebrate Mass
    Priests of the Institute of the Incarnate Word celebrate Mass for seminarians on a mountaintop during a summer hiking trip in the United States.
    He prolongs the Incarnation of Christ
  2. He professes vows of chastity, poverty, obedience and Marian slavery
  3. He intensely practices the virtues of self-denial
  4. He celebrates the Holy Mass with dignity
  5. He practices a serious (and not a sentimental) spirituality
  6. He is docile to the living Magisterium of the Church of all times
  7. He adheres to the teaching of St. Thomas Aquinas[3]
  8. He possesses a missionary and apostolic creativity
  9. He lives a strong community life with authentic joy
  10. He "sinks his teeth into reality"
  11. He chooses the mission no one else wants
  12. He practices works of mercy, above all with the handicapped, etc.
  13. He has a providential outlook on life
  14. He lives through Mary, with Mary, in Mary, and for Mary

A more detailed presentation of the IVE priest’s essential characteristics can be found here:

Missionary Spirit[edit]

The Institute places a high priority on sending missionaries to places that have a greater need, either because of a lack of missionaries or because the faithful are in urgent need of them.[12] First and foremost, the IVE seeks those missions “where no one else wants to go,” seeing these as her emblematic missions. The silent sacrifices of those who give their lives for Christ are an enormous source of blessings, both for the Institute and for the Universal Church.

In order to preach the Gospel and prolong the Incarnation among the Christians of the Eastern Churches (Coptic and Byzantine rites) who form part of the indivisible patrimony of the Universal Church, the Institute also has an eastern branch. (For example, priests of this branch have bi-ritual faculties; in Ukraine, the SSVM sisters wear a modified black habit to reflect the different cultural sensibilities of the region.) This is in accord with the exhortation of St. John Paul II for the Church to breathe with “two lungs,” Eastern and Western.[13]


The Incarnation of the Son of God, the greatest event in salvation history, is the mystery from which the Institute draws its spirituality. Therefore, Fr. Buela wanted the Institute to be named “of the Incarnate Word” to honor the “first and fundamental mystery of Jesus Christ,” in the words of Pope Saint John Paul II.[14] From the mystery of the Incarnation, the member is called “to reestablish all things in Christ,” (Eph 1:10), seeking to be another incarnation of the Word in order to make Him incarnate in all that is human.


Youth Festival of the Institute of the Incarnate Word
The Institute of the Incarnate Word annually hosts a weekend-long "Youth Festival" for high school aged youth at their retreat center in Upstate, NY.

Members of the Institute devote themselves specially to preaching the Word of God, sharper than any two-edged sword (Heb 4:12) in all forms. They study it in Scripture, theology, and in the liturgy; they teach it through the formation of the youth following the model of the Oratory of St. John Bosco; and they preach it in the forms of popular missions (intensive pastoral missions) and the Spiritual Exercises (retreats conducted according to the method of St. Ignatius of Loyola).

The Institute is also involved in works of charity with those most in need (abandoned children, the disabled, the sick, and the elderly) in various houses of charity throughout the world. Members of the Institute recognize that in order to evangelize the culture, charity is essential, for it is both the end of the one who works and the end of the work itself; otherwise, the civilization of love will not be reached.

Theological, philosophical, scientific and cultural research hold a central place in the charism of our Religious family. This intellectual work, though seemingly distant, is not only for the greater glory of God, but for the greater good of souls. To disseminate the Word to the world, members of the Institute make use of articles in journals, periodicals, essays, books, and other kinds of intellectual media. Through these means, the religious, living in a world that believes that error possesses all the same rights as truth, works to combat and correct error with an absolute and total love for the truth.

Cornelio Fabro[edit]

As the teachings of St. Thomas Aquinas hold pride of place in the Church, the Institute places high priority on the study of his writings. In this vein, members give special attention to the writings of St. Thomas’s disciples, among whom Fr. Cornelio Fabro is of particular renown. Fr. Fabro, a priest of the Congregation of the Sacred Stigmata (Stigmatines), was one of the leading Thomists of the twentieth century. He is also renowned for his knowledge and understanding of modern atheism and for his studies on freedom. Of particular interest to the Institute is its own Cornelio Fabro Project which is currently working on publishing, translating, gathering articles, and diffusing the thought of this Thomistic philosopher. It is hoped that one day, through this Project, the writings of St. Thomas Aquinas can shed more light on – and more effectively heal the wounds which stem from - the ills of our current society.


Image of Our Lady of Lujan from the IVE seminary in Washington, DC.

Venerated as the beloved Patroness of Argentina, Our Lady of Lujan is also considered the Patroness of the Institute. Her unique story has won the devotion of countless IVE priests, and her image can be found ubiquitously adorning the walls of the rectories, convents, houses of formation, and all the other foundations common to the Religious Family.

The history of the devotion to Our Lady of Lujan began in 1630 when an immigrant farmer from Portugal decided to build a chapel on his newly acquired land in Argentina. He wrote to a friend in Brazil requesting that he send a small statue of Our Lady for his chapel. The friend responded by sending two statues: one of Mary, Mother of God, and one of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception.

After their safe sea crossing, the statues were then placed on a cart in Buenos Aires to make their journey inland. When the transport caravan arrived at the Lujan River, however, something strange took place: the ox-pulled cart carrying the images of Our Lady would not budge. All efforts to move the cart were unsuccessful until the image of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception was unloaded. As soon as the image was taken off the cart, with the other image remaining inside, the cart was able to be pulled with ease.

The statue of the Immaculate Conception, enrobed in an ornate blue-and-white dress and crowned as Queen, was then enthroned in a small wayside chapel where Mary had chosen to remain. She would henceforth be known as Our Lady of Lujan, "the Woman who waits," eventually becoming the most venerated image in the entire region. This miraculous image of Mary, the woman who could not be moved, reveals the mystery of the same Mother who remains fixed at the foot of the Cross. Wherever the Cross of Christ is, Mary is present. Standing immobile beneath the Cross, she is able to travel to every place where the Cross of her Son is proclaimed.

As patroness of the missionaries of the Religious Family of the Incarnate Word, Our Lady of Lujan continues to journey to foreign lands, attracting the hearts of all men and encouraging them to accompany her at the foot of the Cross, the instrument of Redemption and sign of evangelization.

Shield of the IVE[edit]

Official shield of the Institute of the Incarnate Word

The Institute’s shield incorporates the ideas taken from two writings of St. Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort, who is intimately linked with the spirituality of the Institute.

A. Treatise on True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary:

“They will have the two-edged sword of the word of God in their mouths and the blood-stained standard of the Cross on their shoulders. They will carry the crucifix in their right hand and the rosary in their left, and the holy names of Jesus and Mary on their heart. The simplicity and self-sacrifice of Jesus will be reflected in their whole behavior.”[15] (59)

B. Prayer for Missionaries:

Liberos: men who are free but still in bondage to your love and your will; men after your own heart who, without taint or impediment of self-love, will carry out your will to the full and, like David of old, lay low all your enemies, with the Cross for their staff and the Rosary for their sling: in baculo Cruce et in virga Virgine.[16] (8)

Since, the charism of the Institute is to “inculturate” the Gospel, the red cross that covers the whole silver field indicates that the truth of Christ must include all men and all the realities of man; these it transforms, sanctifying them and filling them with joy. Meanwhile, the golden crown represents His Kingdom, eternal and universal.

The three flames stand for our three religious vows, according to the evangelical counsels: poverty, chastity, and obedience. The fleur-de-lis, a traditional symbol for the Blessed Virgin Mary, makes reference to the fourth vow the members of the Institute make, that of maternal slavery of love to Jesus in Mary according to the method outlined by St. Louis-Marie Grignon de Montfort.

The four letters are each the first letters in the four Latin words: “ Verbum Caro Factum Est” (Jn 1:14), the words by which St. John makes reference to the Incarnation of the Second Person of the Most Holy Trinity in the prologue to his Gospel. It is from this mystery of our Lord Jesus Christ that our Institute takes its name.

The Institute is fundamentally missionary, and as such, its members are responsible for delivering, transmitting and preaching the Word of God, which is “alive and active, sharper than any double-edged sword” (Heb 4:12). The Rosary signifies prayer and the constant company of Mary in all of our Apostolate.

Finally, the colors used in the shield represent the following:

  1. Gold (Or): Faith, charity, temperance and nobility.
  2. Silver (Argent): Chastity, sanctity, humility, and joy.
  3. Red (Gules): Love for God and neighbor, strength, magnanimity, generosity and greatness.
  4. Black (Sable): Constancy, wisdom, prudence and honesty.

General Superiors[edit]

  • Father Carlos Miguel Buela, IVE (Founder) (1984.03.25 – 2010.07.15)
  • Father Carlos Walker, IVE (2010.07.15 – ...)


  1. ^ Can. 588 §2. Code of Canon Law, (Holy See: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1983),
  2. ^ "Approvazione | IVEroma - Istituto del Verbo Incarnato". Retrieved 2015-11-12. 
  3. ^ a b Constitutions and Directory of Spirituality. New York: IVE Press. 2013. p. 317. ISBN 9781939018274. 
  4. ^ "Papal Consecrations to the Immaculate Heart". Retrieved 2015-11-12. 
  5. ^ "Ente | Vicariatus Urbis". Retrieved 2015-11-12. 
  6. ^ Albania, Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Cyprus, Ecuador, Egypt, France, Gaza, Germany, Greece, Guyana, Hong Kong, Iceland, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Lithuania, Mexico, The Netherlands, Palestine, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Russia, Spain, Syria, Tanzania, Taiwan, Tajikistan, Tunisia, Ukraine, United States of America
  7. ^ "St. Augustine of Canterbury Catholic Church". 
  8. ^ "List". Retrieved 2015-11-12. 
  9. ^ "The Roman Catholic Diocese of Columbus - Resources - Diocese of Columbus Directory - Catholic Colleges". Retrieved 2015-11-12. 
  10. ^ a b Annuario Pontificio 2005. Citta del Vaticano: Librería Editrice Vaticana. 2005. p. 1073. 
  11. ^ Constitutions and Directory of Spirituality. New York: IVE Press. 2013. pp. 29, 107–122, 133, 203–317. ISBN 9781939018274. 
  12. ^ Constitutions and Directory of Spirituality. New York: IVE Press. 2013. p. 100. ISBN 9781939018274. 
  13. ^ "Ut Unum Sint (25 May 1995) | John Paul II". Retrieved 2015-11-12. 
  14. ^ "Ángelus, 6 de septiembre de 1981 | Juan Pablo II". Retrieved 2015-11-12. 
  15. ^ "Treatise on True Devotion". Retrieved 2015-11-12. 
  16. ^ "Prayer of Missionaries". Retrieved 2015-11-12. 

External links[edit]