For years, the political situation in Venezuela has been deteriorating causing a humanitarian crisis that has flooded the media all over the world. Coverage of this ongoing crisis has brought to light the struggles of the Venezuelan people.
When I started as a student at Belen Jesuit in September of 1983, I was a thirteen-year-old kid who had just left the comforts of a small parochial school and was tossed into what seemed, at first, a hostile environment made up of giant strangers.
You may not be aware that we are living a historic time in the Society of Jesus. As we speak, hundreds of Jesuit superiors are gathered in Rome for the 36th General Congregation (GC36). This is a gathering that, as the number implies, has only met 36 times since the Jesuits were founded in 1541.
It’s September 8, 1979. Even though the night is humid, there’s a slight breeze coming off the bay and it helps cool us down as we stand waiting for her to arrive. We know she is coming, there is no doubt about that, but she’s late. Isn’t it typical for a Cuban to be late? I know I should be accustomed to that, but the desire to see her is great and so I hope that maybe, just maybe, this one time she would put aside her cubanicity and appear on time. But no, she’s late.
Father Guillermo García-Tuñón, S.J. delivered this address to the entire student body and faculty during a morning assembly in the Garrido Family Plaza to begin the new academic year on August 23, 2016.
In just a few days your sons will be making their way back to campus to begin the academic year. We are very excited for their return and have been working hard over the summer to prepare. I wanted to inform you of a few things that will help get us off on the right foot:
A thought came to me while I was praying over this homily. Thinking about the class of 2016 and what I would want to say to you at your baccalaureate mass, I realized that I would be addressing the last class in Belen history to have had all its members born in the 20th century.
There’s a scene in Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ that always impresses me no matter how often I watch the movie. It takes place just outside the praetorium, Pontius Pilate’s palace, as Jesus and the two thieves who will be crucified with him are being readied for the walk towards Calvary. As the two thieves have the wooden cross sections of their cross tied to their backs and shoulders, Jesus, who is bent over in pain, is presented his cross. How Jesus responds is what gets me every time.
During my three blessed years in the Dominican Republic I was missioned to our school located right on the border with Haiti. The school was founded in 1946 by a Cuban Jesuit as a vocational center focused primarily on educating young men and women from the countryside in the science of agriculture. While I thought I knew much about education because of my studies and previous experience at Belen Jesuit, I knew nothing about farming. Thus began a great learning curve that was nothing short of amazing.
Belen Jesuit Preparatory School was founded in 1854 in Havana, Cuba by Queen Isabel II of Spain. The task of educating students was assigned to the priests and brothers of the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits), whose teaching tradition is synonymous with academic excellence and spiritual discipline. In 1961, the new political regime of Cuba confiscated the School property and expelled the Jesuit faculty. The School was re-established in Miami the same year, and over the next decade, continued to grow. Today, Belen Jesuit sits on a 30-acre site in western Dade County, only minutes away from downtown Miami.