Special Diploma Presentation

Fr. Willie ‘87 | President
(This speech was given on February 24th at the Belen Alumni monthly luncheon, held 100 years after the first lunch in 1923 commemorating the founding of the Alumni Association. The lunch was extra special, because Fr. Willie, S.J. ’87 presented Alfredo Borras '61, Humberto Martinez de Llano '62, and William Guillermo Muir Celorio '62 with their graduation diplomas. They were unable to graduate with their class because they were part of the Bay of Pigs Invasion, Brigade 2506.)
I have been an educator for over 25 years and have seen how things have changed from one generation to the next. Much of it is good, some of it… well, not so good. There is no question the young men of today have many things going for them. Their understanding of technology far surpasses anything my generation can even fathom. They are much better informed of things happening all over the world. This generation seems to have much more pressure placed on them to do well in school and get into the best possible colleges. 

All of these things are good. But there is one thing I confess concerns me. One virtue, one trait that oftentimes is lacking in this younger generation: OBLIGATION. This is an important word. Obligation comes from the Latin “to bind;” “ob” means “to,” and “ligare,” to bind.

Things happen and get done when individuals understand they have an obligation to perform and respond. It is important to understand that obligation has nothing to do with feeling. Obligation has to do with knowing. It is about knowing we are responsible, that we have a commitment, a duty that no matter how we feel at the moment, must be fulfilled. When I was a young man, my father instilled in me the obligation to go to Mass on Sundays. I assure you I did not feel like going to Mass most Sundays, but I went out of an obligation.

So, what are we obliged to? First, God, our creator, the source of all things that are good, our constant support, our ultimate end. Second, family. Our obligation to our parents, wives, children, are ingrained in us and at the very foundation of our human existence. We owe it to them and they expect it from us. Third is country. Where we live, the nation we belong to, the soil whose fruit we have reaped, obliges us to defend.  

Today, we are here to honor three men who understand the importance of obligation. Three men who understand what it means to sacrifice in order to fulfill an obligation. It wasn’t a fulfillment of obligation exercised at an older age after life had passed them by. No, they fulfilled their obligation to God, to family, and to country at a very young age. They were only 17 years old when duty called at the Bay of Pigs and they responded. 

Alfredo Borrás, Humberto Martínez de Llano and William Guillermo Muir Celorio, members of the Belen class of 1961 and 1962 respectively, found themselves called to fulfill an obligation that led them away from their families, their classmates, and their beloved school and place them in harm’s way in order to fight for what was right, fight for what was just, fight for what was sacred. Their sacrifice came with a cost, but it was one they were willing to pay in order to fulfill their obligation to God, family, and country.

And so, today Belen is officially fulfilling an obligation to these three Belen brothers. This is an obligation that should have been fulfilled many years ago. My only consolation is in knowing that as president of Belen, it is I and the generation I represent who have the privilege to present them with their Belen diplomas. It is my generation that has reaped the fruits of what these men have sowed. 

Mr. Alfredo Borrás, Mr. Humberto Martínez de Llano, and Mr. William Guillermo Muir Celorio, on behalf of all the Jesuits, students, parents, faculty, staff, and alumni of Belen Jesuit Preparatory School, thank you for fulfilling your obligations as men of Belen, true sons of St. Ignatius of Loyola. It gives me great pleasure to finally present to you, your diplomas as graduates of Belen Jesuit Preparatory School. 
500 SW 127th Avenue, Miami, FL 33184
phone: 305.223.8600 | fax: 305.227.2565 | email: webmaster@belenjesuit.org
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.