“Uno solo es el Jefe y Maestro”
During the mid 1920's in Cuba, secular responsibility to keep The Catholic Faith fell predominantly on women and children. After graduating from high school, the number of young men committed to the Church was nominal, to say the least. In 1925, Fr. Felipe Rey de Castro arrived in La Habana from his native Spain to become a "teacher" in the prestigious Colegio de Belén, a Jesuit elementary and high school located in Havana's suburbs.
Fr. Rey de Castro based teaching methods on the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola (founder of the Jesuit order) to motivate and inspire Belén students. Keeping them strong in the Faith, the young priest drove students to absorb the Ignatian ideal of perfection in their lives. Although the Exercises are a great tool in the rational process of structured thought, the question remained - how can these students continue a well balanced spiritual development into adulthood? -
In 1926, Fr. Rey de Castro met with Belén's graduating class and asked them to maintain their fraternal bonds during their college years at the University of Havana. This emerging brotherhood lived a harmonious lifestyle centered on prayer and the sacraments while maintaining academic excellence. During this time, the annual Spiritual Exercises continued to be the source of fortitude that kept these young men and their Faith on a constant state of development. It was then and there that the early seeds of the ACU were planted and germinated. The following years saw the formation of a veritable fraternity comprised of university students and young professionals whom shared the Ignatian Model. From this small group of Catholic men, a spirit of fervor was born that transcends political or generational chasms into a worldwide, far-reaching and the well structured organization that characterizes the ACU of today.
Over the years, the men at the ACU developed the 3 guiding principles: Prayer, Service and Formation. These principles sought to develop 3 most important facets in the life of any catholic: a personal relationship with God and the Catholic Church; giving oneself to family and community and the capacity to reason life's circumstances within each one's particular field of endeavor in Jesus Christ.
The ACU left Havana in the 1960's and founded "Houses" in Miami, Atlanta, Orlando, San Juan, New York and Washington DC. The ACU began as a group of Hispanic Catholic men and continues to reflect this sabor latino with cafecito, lechón, and Spanglish. However, the Congregation is open to all men in pursuit of seeking and fulfilling God’s will in their lives. Agrupados publicly renew their promise of loyalty to Our Mother, the Virgin Mary, at least once a year. Headquartered in Miami, the ACU is privileged to have the leadership and Spiritual Direction of the Society of Jesus, committed to propel the Agrupación onto the Third Millennium with the same Ignatian ideals so persistently instilled by its founder, Fr. Rey De Castro SJ.