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Sep 29th
Home Sections Literature and Fourth Estate Ateneo AB Class '61 Sponsors Launching of Father Bernad’s Six Books
Ateneo AB Class '61 Sponsors Launching of Father Bernad’s Six Books PDF Print E-mail
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Sections - Literature and Fourth Estate
Tuesday, 17 February 2009 15:42

On Wednesday, February 18, 2009, from 5.30 p.m., six books by Father Miguel Bernad will be launched at the fourth floor of the Ateneo Professional Schools, Rockwell Center, Makati City. The special event has been organized by members of Ateneo AB Class '61, and various presses.


The six books, Father Bernad's latest publications, give readers a glimpse of the breadth of his scholarly interests, the variety of his experiences, and the vast reservoir of grace and humor that enlivens his work and life.

In A NIGHT ON THE LAKE AND OTHER MUSINGS (Giraffe Books) he reflects on, among many other things, Cervantes and Charlie Brown, and the simple beginnings of the Sinulog of Cebu, and remembers how it felt to be on the Lake of Galilee one dark night standing on the prow of a modern replica of the fishing boat in Jesus's time.

* In UNUSUAL AND ORDINARY (JesCom Foundation), we read about the people many of us sadly know only as formal names of streets and buildings (Federico Faura, Teodoro Arvisu, Henry L. Irwin, Joseph Mulry, to cite a few). All the Jesuits in the book (except two Spaniards) are people whom Father Bernad knew.

* He writes about another much admired Jesuit in a fuller biography, BENIGNO P. DAGANI, SJ, 1903-1988 (JesCom Foundation), whose grave in Buug, Zamboanga del Sur, located on a mound surmounted by a cross, "is a tribute to the man...whom everyone considered a saint."

* In JOURNEY TO THE ANDES AND OTHER PLACES IN LATIN AMERICA (New Day Publishers), we see an adventurous and sprightly Father Bernad, at one time hiking ten miles to Cuzco when his Peruvian train broke down, finding it serendipitous that a thief on the train had allowed him to "travel light."

* THE IMMORTAL SEA AND OTHER PUBLIC CONVERSATIONS (Xavier University Press) gathers his homilies, addresses, and lectures, a fitting initial release from the University where he has been teaching and writing in the last 32 years as Professor of Literature.

* Finally THE WAITER AND THE FISHERMAN (Ateneo Press) collects his essays in literary criticism, some of which go back to the 1950s, leading one reviewer to question their relevance in this day and age of cultural studies. In fact, some of Bernad's writings seem to have predated postcolonial critique, and as the reviewer later affirms, "the present millennium yet needs the clarity of his critical vision."

The conversations begun in these books continue on Friday, February 20, from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., when students will have the rare privilege of interacting with Father Bernad about the Ateneo and the Humanities. This special encounter will be facilitated by Dr. Marlu Vilches, dean of the School of Humanities of the Loyola Schools, and will be held at the NGF Conference Room, De la Costa Hall, Loyola Heights campus. # # #

Mary Anne Suyom-San Agustin
Ateneo de Manila University Press
Bellarmine Hall, ADMU Campus
Katipunan Ave., Loyola Heights
Quezon City, Philippines
Tel.: (632) 426-6001 loc. 4610



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Last Updated on Tuesday, 17 February 2009 15:43
Comments (3)
1 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
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2 Thursday, 26 March 2009 06:15
Bobby, check out this edition of the Blue Post, scroll all the way down to the section titled "In Memoriam".....This edition reported the recent passing of Fr Bernad.......the ides of March, 2009....


J Luis (Jolo) Y Buktaw
Glendale, CA
3 Thursday, 26 March 2009 06:19
In a message dated 3/23/2009 8:11:41 A.M. Pacific Daylight Time, writes:

fr bernad died lasrt march 15 in cag de oro city. .... fr b

(Editor's Note: All the three remarks about Fr. Bernad's death -- as posted in the User's Comments -- were received by e-mail by Bobby Reyes at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it )

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