Posts Tagged ‘Jesuit Father Hernan Paredes’
Jesuit Father Hernán Paredes studied at Colegio Maximo San Jose in Buenos Aires, Argentina, as a Jesuit in formation when Pope Francis, then Jesuit Father Jorge Mario Bergoglio, was the rector and spiritual director. Fr. Paredes, a native of Ecuador who currently teaches at Loyola School in New York City, shared his thoughts on the election of his friend in an interview that will be published in an upcoming issue of JESUITS magazine. Excerpts of the interview follow:
How did you learn of the election of Pope Francis?
I was attending a Broadway show with Loyola School freshmen. At intermission, a student told me there was a new pope but he couldn’t pronounce the name. He showed me the news story on his phone. I cried and prayed for my friend. It did not surprise me that he asked for prayers from the crowd when he first appeared on the balcony after his election. He always asked for prayers, even in his e-mails.
What can you tell us about his influence in your life and vocation?
I am very lucky to have had him as my superior and spiritual companion and to call him a friend. I’m a Jesuit some 30 years because of him. I learned from Jorge … to be humble, practical and available. He wants priests who are faithful to God and willing to serve.
It did not surprise me that his formal installation as pope took place on Saint Joseph’s Day, when we honor a humble and faithful servant of God. As his installation approached, I traveled to Belize with 10 Loyola faculty members and administrators to build homes for the needy. That is the way Pope Francis would have wanted me to celebrate his installation.
What are some of the characteristics and gifts that Pope Francis brings to the church?
Pope Francis is a man who stands for and with the poor. He knows the poor by name, and I have witnessed this many times. Last year, I visited him in his office in Buenos Aires. Later in the same week, I visited a friend’s home in a poor barrio. Our friend praised then Cardinal Bergoglio for giving what money he had to help. He is known for his humility and generosity. Jorge was the community’s superior but he served others in so many ways, including cooking on Sundays for the scholastics.
What does his election mean for Latin America and the church?
It’s overwhelming. We are the Catholic Church, and the word catholic means universal. I’ve received calls from people around the world, in the United States, Ecuador, Argentina and many other places, and they are so very happy. … Long life to Pope Francis, the pope of the poor!
Fr. Paredes said that he was comfortable with his pastoral ministry at two Jesuit parishes, but that “my vocation within the Jesuit vocation, has been teaching high school kids.”
However, coming to Loyola did present some challenges, such as replacing a Jesuit teacher who devoted 23 years of ministry to Loyola and teaching in a coed school for the first time.
Despite the challenges, he writes, “I can say that coming back to teach has been a blessing.”
“To be the only Hispanic male on the faculty, as well as a Jesuit priest, has some advantages when I teach any subject,” Paredes writes. “I encourage my students to open their eyes and see that a different world is possible. I am impressed to see that very often my students relate their experiences to the social teaching of our Catholic faith.”
Paredes writes, “A Jesuit has to be able to engage in any ministry, moving from serving old folks to young ones, from the poor to the upper class, and in so doing fulfill the will of God.”
For more reflections from Paredes, visit the Maryland, New England and New York Provinces Jesuit Vocations website.