Medical Doctor, Priest
Memorial : 31 August
Pere (Peter) Tarrés i Claret was born on 30 May 1905 in Manresa, province of Barcelona, Spain, to Francesc Tarrés Puigdellívol and Carme Claret Masats. His parents were deeply religious, which was a positive influence for his two sisters, Francesca and Maria, who both entered the convent.
Pere had a very joyful and open spirit and loved nature and helping others. As a boy, he assisted at the local pharmacy and the shop owner, Josep Balaguer, encouraged him to continue his studies in medicine.
In 1921 Pere transferred to Barcelona to study; he made the decision to follow his dream and one day become a doctor to help others.
During these years of study, Pere received spiritual direction from Fr Jaume Serra, a priest who encouraged him to enter the "Federation of Young Christians of Catalonia". This organization, which met regularly at the Oratory of St Philip Neri, worked for a renewal of the Christian spirit within society.
Pere was appointed President of the Federation, and with his openness and enthusiasm he knew how to give extraordinary "vigour" to the group. He was a beacon of good example for others, and his zeal motivated him to travel the roads of Catalonia in his little automobile (which he called his "instrument of work") as a lay missionary.
He spoke openly of God, the Church and Christian living to the youth and those who were gathered along the streets; he also assisted in the formation of new Federation groups.
His "secret" in the spiritual life was Eucharistic devotion and filial love towards the Mother of God.
Pere maintained a written correspondence with many members of the Federation (of whose federal council he was later appointed vice-president) and wrote articles that were published in the Federation's weekly paper.
In addition to his work within this group, the young man was also involved in Catholic Action. In 1935 he was appointed vice-secretary of the new diocesan committee; he later became secretary of the archdiocesan committee, having received the recommendation of the Cardinal, Francesc Vidal y Barraquer of Tarragona.
A year later, having earned his degree in medicine, Pere began his residency in Barcelona. Here, together with Dr Gerardo Manresa, he founded a medical clinic for all those who needed assistance but could not afford it.
As a doctor, Pere was exemplary in his charity and life of piety. He never lost his habitual joy and was always available to help and speak to those who needed him. During the Spanish Civil War (July 1936-April 1939), Pere lived as a "refugee" in Barcelona because the persecution of Christians forced many into hiding; during this time he prayed, read and studied.
In May 1938 he was forced to enter the Republican army to provide medical assistance; these were eight long months of suffering for Pere, and living through the horrors of war probed deep into his soul. Day after day he wrote about his life on the battle front in his "War Diary".
The war experience and assistance given to the wounded and dying made Pere understand the necessity for "spiritual assistance", and he felt that God was calling him to be a "doctor of souls" by entering the priesthood. As a result, he entered the Seminary of Barcelona on 29 September 1939 and was ordained a priest on 30 May 1942.
Fr Pere began by serving as a parochial vicar at the Parish of St Stephen Sesrovile, and a year later he was sent to the Pontifical University of Salamanca to study theology.
After he earned his degree in 1944, Fr Pere returned to Barcelona where he dedicated much of his time to Catholic Action, as well as providing spiritual assistance to religious congregations and material and spiritual help to the sick, especially the poorest of the poor. He also served as the diocesan delegate for the Protection of Women and as spiritual director of the "Magdalen Hospital" for female prostitutes.
Fr Pere lived his days to the full and had little time for rest; nonetheless, he carried out all his activity in peaceful recollection and a prayerful spirit. Everyone who came into contact with him was left with the impression that he was a very holy priest who truly cared, sacrificing himself for the spiritual and physical well-being of all, particularly the most desolate.
At the beginning of 1950, Fr Pere noticed that his health was deteriorating; shortly thereafter, he was diagnosed with lymphatic cancer. He accepted his illness and offered it up for the sanctification of priests, resolved to die "as a good priest".
Fr Pere said that it was a "joy to have the possibility to be a priest and to die in a continual act of love and suffering... worthy of the Heavenly Father".
Fr Pere died on 31 August 1950 in the clinic that he founded. He was 45 years old.