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I regret to inform you that Father Berna PDF Print E-mail
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Thursday, 26 March 2009 06:05
I regret to inform you that Father Bernad passed away last March 15, 2009. He is sorely missed. Thank you for your prayers, Maricor Baytion ------------------ Miguel A. Bernad, S.J., 1917-2009: A man of letters, a man of God In one of his last books, The Waiter and the Fisherman, Father Bernad writes: Three decades after his first stories were published, a quarter of a century after his first novel, Hemingway in his old age writes of an “old man who fished alone in a skiff in the Gulf Stream and he had gone eighty-four days now without taking a fish.” On the eighty-fifth day he goes farther out to sea than before, and then for three days and nights he battles mightily with a mighty fish. It is a monster fish, eighteen feet long, great, beautiful, indomitable, but it is finally conquered by the equally indomitable spirit of a weakening old man… It is true that the story ends on a despondent note: the old man has lost not only his fish but even the glory of his achievement. Some tourists come and in their abysmal ignorance dismiss the enormous skeleton as that of a shark! But the old man is unaffected by the inane remarks of ignorant tourists. He is asleep and dreaming of lions. (pp 77, 79) Ironically Hemingway’s old man brings to mind Father Bernad himself. He wrote for most of his life, publishing close to thirty books and countless articles in the last fifty or so years. He taught history and literature to young men and women who later became philosophers, businessmen, lawyers, teachers, writers, mentors in their own right. Tirelessly, he edited journals and articles, wrote reviews and newspaper columns, delivered lectures and homilies, applying to each one the same scholarly zeal and lively wit that has made any Bernad piece such a pleasure to read or listen to. All this with nary a complaint about his difficulties in walking or his failing eyesight, particularly in the last few years (he would check proofs with a magnifying glass!). At the booklaunch organized in his honor by his Ateneo AB Class ‘61 students, exactly a month ago, Father Bernad talked about each of his featured books in turn. He made each of the six come alive, at times sounding like he was reading from them, so eloquently and deliberately did he speak. Yet he did so without notes. It brought to mind his talk that accompanied another booklaunch of his five years ago, “Dante’s Cosmic Journey,” which moved the audience with its spirited delivery of several passages from the Inferno, similarly rendered without a glance at his prepared lecture. On March 18, Father Bernad was laid to rest in his beloved “Great Island” Mindanao, in the city he had come to love and lived in for the last three decades. He has left us deeply grateful not only for his innumerable works, but also the memory of, according to one tribute, “a remarkable person whose life has been an example of how scholarship can be dedicated to the Lord’s work.” Miguel A. Bernad was indeed a great, beautiful man, with an indomitable spirit, who must have had been dreaming of lions to the last. ------------ P.S. Father Bernad was buried on March 19, at the Manresa Jesuit Cemetery after a simple Requiem Mass at the Xavier University chapel, in Cagayan de Oro. It was officiated by the Father Provincial, concelebrated and attended by his Jesuit brothers. His three sisters, numerous nephews and nieces and many other family members were there, and so were his staff and the teachers from Xavier, neighbors from Ozamis, cousins from Dipolog, former students from Manila. Father Barcelon delivered a touching homily. THis morning, en route to the airport, the sun was still gentle on the fire tree seemingly standing guard over his grave when I bade him goodbye once more. It is a lovely place, where he is. -- Ateneo de Manila University Press Bellarmine Hall, AdMU Campus Katipunan Ave., Loyola Heights Tel 02-4265984; 4266001 ext 4613 unipress@admu.edu.ph Visit our website: www.ateneopress.org

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