The extraordinary history of Belen Jesuit Preparatory School is one that truly embodies what is commonly referred to as the “American dream.”
After forcefully being exiled from Cuba, the Jesuits of the Antilles Province understood that this difficult situation was also an opportunity to exercise virtues of faith, hope, and courage. Taking advantage of the great possibilities afforded to them by the United States, these godly men joined forces with hundreds of exiles throughout the world and the local Church in Miami to rebuild from the ground up an institution of learning that continues, to this day, to be a beacon of light in a world so often plagued by great darkness.
This experience means that like many in this country, Belen Jesuit understands firsthand the plight of the immigrant and refugee; it is our story. Our past struggles empower us to be particularly compassionate and understanding. We can never lose sight of this. For this reason, throughout our 56-year history in Miami, Belen Jesuit has always kept its doors wide open to receive young men and their families from countries that have suffered a similar fate to that of our Cuban ancestors.
Our nation currently finds itself in a moment of great turmoil. The recent executive order signed by President Donald Trump suspending entry to the United States to citizens of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen and severely restricting refugee admission to the country (temporarily for some and indefinitely for Syrian refugees), has provoked, to a feverish pitch, a nationwide debate that finds our nation divided. It is an understandable fear that has fueled much of this debate and has motivated, in large part, our government’s decision. But no matter how real the nation’s distress, we can never surrender our obligation to be compassionate, our call to be men for others.
As the implications of our President’s executive order on immigration continue to unfold, all students, families, and alumni of Belen Jesuit may rest assured of the continued care and support of our faculty, staff, and administration to men, women, and children of all races, creeds, and colors. Our classrooms, hallways, and fields will continue to be a place of nurturing love and fraternal exchange for everyone. Our primary role as a Catholic, Jesuit school commits us unconditionally to the words of Jesus to “love one another as I have loved you” (John 15:12) and is understood by Belen not as a suggestion, but a mandate. We therefore join our voice unequivocally to that of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) in echoing that, “we will not waver in defense of our sisters and brothers of all faiths who suffer at the hands of merciless persecutors.”
Our continuous commitment to defend life from the moment of conception to the moment of natural death, most recently demonstrated in our participation in the annual March for Life in Washington, D.C., is a clear and definite option to defend life at every moment, under every circumstance. To stand in solidarity with and defend the rights of those men, women, and children who suffer unjustly at the hands of tyrants and oppressors and who flee their countries of origin in search of freedom and a better way of life is consistent with this good and holy cause.
Let it be clearly understood that Belen Jesuit’s desire is not to enter the political arena, but rather to proclaim Christ alive in the world today. Such a powerful proclamation implies a clear conviction that the presence of Jesus is most evident in those who suffer and are in greatest need. The call to esto vir (to be a man) that was issued to our students at the beginning of this academic year by the Belen Jesuit administration commits us completely to the words of our Lord who tell us, "whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me" (Mt. 25:40).