Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Fr Pariza´s early years _ By Fr.Civiac s.j

Fr Pariza´s early years

He is known simply as “Fr Pariza”. Few are aware that his full name is José María López de Pariza y de Somonte.

Pariza was born in Bilbao, a town in the North of Spain, almost 96 years ago, on 13 May 1917. It was an auspicious date, marking the apparition of Our Lady to those three little children of Fatima. It comes as no surprise, therefore, that Fr Pariza´s love and confidence in Our Lady have no limits!

Bilbao in those days was one of the most flourishing towns of Europe. It could boast, too, of having very deep Christian roots, with missionaries all through the world.
His father was a much respected engineer in one of the biggest factories of Spain. His mother belonged to a family with many connections in the pharmaceutical world. So they could afford to send their children to the best available Schools.

Fr Pariza, besides being a fast football player, was from the very beginning one of the best students of the School’ and at that, in both Arts and Science. Every one took for granted that like his dad he, too, had engineering in his blood. That however, was not God’s dreams for him. After High School he would join the Jesuits, far away from his people, in Belgium, since the Jesuits had been expelled from Spain. Even now he finds it difficult to explain how he became a Jesuit, when he had had hardly any contact with them before that.

Jesuit life was congenial to him: being close to the Lord, having a flexible daily time-table with Latin, Greek, French, Philosophy… to learn; and, chiefly, many young people like him, with whom to share books, games, long walks and infinite dreams. Frs Juan Gil, Azpitarte, Zubeldia, Echániz… were some of his many friends.

Complete happiness cannot be found in this world. All of a sudden, war broke out in Spain and people were called to the Army. Our young Jesuit was one of them. Since he was not ready to kill or to do any harm to the enemies, he was assigned to the clerical work of his battalion. That would allow him to do his best for many soldiers that were in need of advice and of military certificates. All the same, one may be amazed to know that our then young Brother Pariza was about to be sent to prison. Discipline in that army in war was sacred. The phrase “more or less” was unknown to them. One day, one of his officers gave him car and driver for a concrete job. When coming back they met with a small accident. So car, driver and young Jesuit were late by about two hours. The officer, who was in urgent need of the car, was simply fuming. His sentence of ten days of jail for both driver and Jesuit left no possibility for appeal. Believe it not, Brother Pariza was delighted to hear that. He had been trying for some months, in vain, to find time  for his 8-day Retreat, and where could he find it better… more time and more peace… than in jail? One may be further surprised to learn that, once he had calmed down, the officer retracted his sentence and a disappointed Brother Pariza had to dream for a better occasion to have his Retreat in peace...

War and Jesuit studies completed, Fr Pariza, as expected by all, was appointed to get a difficult degree in the University; which was, of course, in Physics. Prayer and reflection had convinced him that his heart was more attuned to people than to high mathematics or to scientific theories. But, of course, the will of the Lord would come first. And the Lord made his will super-evident to him and to his Superiors:  GUJARAT…!

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