WorldSpanish priest Francisco Oliva, a leader in social cause,...

Spanish priest Francisco Oliva, a leader in social cause, dies in Paraguay


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The Spanish priest Francisco de Paula Oliva, journalist and champion of social causes, died this Monday in Paraguay at 93, as confirmed by the religious order of the Jesuits, to which he belonged.

“Today on the feast of the Most Holy Name of Jesus, head of the Company, at 3:00 pm, our colleague Francisco de Paula Oliva went to the Father’s House. The Jesuits of Paraguay thank God for his testimony of life ”, indicates a post on Twitter.

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His mortal remains are veiled in the Tinglado Centro Comunitario Cristo Solidario, in Bañado Sur, the populous and humble neighborhood of Asunción where he worked for decades and where he was just another neighbor.

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From this place that was part of his daily life, the funeral procession will depart this Tuesday in the direction of the Cristo Rey church, where at 8:00 am (11:00 GMT) a mass will be celebrated to honor his memory.

Later, Oliva will be buried in the Santos Mártires Retirement House (Jesuit), in Limpio, on the outskirts of Asunción.

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Expelled by the dictatorship of Alfredo Stroessner (1954-1989), Pa’i Oliva, as he was known (pa’i is father in Guaraní), saw the first light in Seville (southwestern Spain) on October 14, 1928 , although he assured that having set foot in Paraguay for the first time in 1964 had been “to be born again”.

“The country changed my social and political thinking. Until then, I had lived in Spain a religion separate from reality. In Paraguay I realized that, for a faith to be authentic, it has to be committed to the environment ”, Oliva explained in an interview with Efe in 2015.

As a result of that “illumination”, The Jesuit turned to “Help young people think”, Through the radio station he founded at the Catholic University of Asunción.

In the 1960s, Stroessner did not look favorably on the work of a preacher like Oliva, who sought to awaken a critical conscience, so he was arrested and “encouraged” to go to Argentina, where he lived.

He also did it in Nicaragua and Spain, from where he returned to Asunción in 1996.

“When I returned to Paraguay, they welcomed me like a hero, almost like a kind of museum. It was very boring. So I decided to go live in Bañado “, he reported in 2015 about that neighborhood that barely reaches the services of the State or the capital city municipality.

There he preached in various chapels, maintained a secondary training school, a community radio and a dining room for people with disabilities.

In addition, she founded a cooperative for single mothers who worked in a hairdresser and restaurant in the neighborhood.

“It is not enough to arrive and ring a bell for people to go to mass. Poverty keeps people from coming to church. You have to fight to change things. Christianity is revolution and commitment to the real”, He sentenced.

In 2019, Oliva was honored by the Paraguayan Chamber of Senators in an act of recognition that he said he accepted on behalf of the Paraguayan people.

At the beginning of November, during a visit to Paraguay, in which she learned first-hand about the work of Spanish cooperation in the South American country, Queen Letizia was able to share time with him.


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