In Solidarity with our Venezuelan Brothers and Sisters
Fr. Guillermo M. García-Tuñón, S.J. | President
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.
More recently, the situation has become more violent and the lives of our Venezuelan brothers and sisters are in jeopardy. At a public demonstration yesterday, in the capital city of Caracas, the life of one of our brothers and fellow Jesuit alumnus was lost. Miguel Castillo, graduate of Colegio San Ignacio’s class of 2007, was killed while protesting against the oppressive government of Nicolás Maduro.
Unlike many other places in the world, Miami feels deeply the pain of the Venezuelan people. Ours is a city composed of individuals who are here because of similar struggles and challenges. In particular, Belen Jesuit is a community of exiles. Many of our students, families, alumni, faculty, and staff were forced out of their homes by brutal dictatorships that made it impossible to continue safe and productive lives in their countries of origin. The history of Belen is itself a testament to this unfortunate reality.
It is for this reason that our school can never forget its commitment to the basic principles of life, liberty, and a just society as mandated by our loving Creator. These principles are at the very core of the many reasons why the Society of Jesus founded our alma mater 162 years ago. It is the reason why Jesuits have worked so hard and for so long in the venerable field of education. It is the reason why Belen Jesuit, enlightened by our tumultuous and courageous past and firmly focused on our promising future, will continue to keep its doors open for our Venezuelan brothers and their families.
Now, more than ever, we stand in prayerful solidarity with the hundreds of Venezuelan families who now call Miami and Belen their home and with the millions who courageously face such powerful opposition in their native land. I strongly encourage the whole Belen community to ask Our Lady of Coromoto, patroness of Venezuela, for her powerful intercession for Venezuela and for the repose of the soul of our fallen Jesuit brother Miguel Castillo.
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.